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May 3, 2014 07:06 PM

Starter Knives

I looking for a starter set of knives. Nothing to fancy. I'll get the fancy ones once I'm out of college. That being said, I love to cook!
In particular, I was eyeing the Kai Komachi 2 vs. Kuhn Rikon COLORI lines...

Any thoughts, recommendations, or ideas?

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  1. Forschner. /thread

    In all seriousness, Forschner knives are the best cheap knives I've ever used. They are easy to maintain, easy to sharpen, and easy to use.

    There are much better knives out there, but I don't think there are any knives as good for such a reasonable price.

    10 Replies
    1. re: cacio e pepe

      Yes, if you're looking for bang for the buck, these are difficult to beat. What you get depends on your budget, and if you are restrained right now, Forschner is an excellent choice.

      1. re: cacio e pepe

        < I don't think there are any knives as good for such a reasonable price.>

        Kiwi knives (as mentioned celesul) are much cheaper ($5-10), and are very good, but they have limited styles.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I haven't used them before. Forschner I can vouch for, but I would trust your word on the Kiwis!

          1. re: cacio e pepe

            Kiwi is very rustic looking, but inexpensive. Victorinox/Forschner stamped knives are nice. Dexter-Russell are also good too. They are quiet different in price than Kiwi knives: $5-10 vs $25-35.

            I personally have not used Mercer knives, but I heard a lot of good thing about them from people who have good knowledge of knives, like knifesaver and others. Mercer knives are actually on equal price footing as the Victorinox and Dexter -- around $35.


            Particularly, good reviews are for the Mercer Renaissane and Mercer Gensis, but not Mercer Millennia.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              How does Mercer compare to the Mundial 5100 Series?

              The knife blanks aren't German but, I hear they are good ... just haven't seen one for myself.

              1. re: Sid Post

                Me neither. Therefore, I don't know how they compare. If you find out more, please let me know. I am interested. Thanks.

                1. re: Sid Post

                  I've seen some forged Mundials in the restaurant supply store and through the package I could see the edge wasn't ground to the bolster.

                  In that regard of proper finish Mercer beat them hands down.
                  Once the fit and edge issues are addressed they are fine. The high end Brazilians are pretty good bang for buck.

                  Some Mundials and the Mercer Genesis can have big ass bolsters.

                  I have done a few Mundials and Tramontina restaurant knives and they are OK, sort of along the line of Dexter.


            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Chem, if you were to pick just one Santoku, no matter the price or obscurity, which one would it be?

              1. re: mcgoose

                On top of my head, I would probably lean toward something rustic looking like Takeda Funayuki. Takeda does not make "santoku", but his "funayuki" is pretty much a santoku:



                or a custom thinner Watanabe Santoku:


                Or a Mizuno Tanrenjo Honyaki Wa Santoku:


              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Big fan of Kiwi knives, at least for vegetables.

                We have three different sizes, all purchased in California from the Seafood City market chain, after I watched one of the employees there topping celery. I asked what he was using and he kindly showed me the knife aisle display.

                No, not made in New Zealand as the name might sound, but Thailand. They last, clean well by hand, make good cuts, and cost about $ 2.50 - 3. USD each there.

            3. Perhaps a set of knives isn't the best way to start. Pool your money for one good chef's knife and use it for everything. Learn how to sharpen it yourself, and you're set for life.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cls

                So buy something like a Classic Shun Chef's Knife or Santoku and acquire other quality pieces slowly?

                1. re: mcgoose

                  What is your budget? How and what do you cook?

                  As crazy as it sounds, the Paula Deen 3 piece set sold at Wal-Mart for $35 before her epic fail was a good value and performed well. I have heard good things about the Brazilian forged knives too.

                  A good chef's knife (forged) will serve you well. If you watch, a new 8" Henckels/Wusthof will run ~$80. Avoid the cheaper stamped alternatives.

              2. Forschner is used in many restaurant kitchens. They are available in most restaurant supply stores (Surfas, Star) The chefs knife and the paring knives are great for very little money.

                1. I use Kiwi knives. They are very cheap and can be kept very sharp. It's good to have something else around for hacking through bones or squash though.

                  1. My first recommendation is to buy just 1-2 knives instead of a set. This way, you can buy better quality knives and save money. Most people can easily get by with 1-2 knives.

                    Usually, we are talking about a main knife (Chef's knife or Santoku or Gyuto...etc) and a small knife (a standard Western paring knife or utility knife or a Japanese petty knife). It is the main knife which you should focus on because 90-99% of your kitchen works depend on it.

                    In term of "inexpensive knives which have good functional properties", then I recommend Victorinox/Forschner or Dexter-Russell. Both lines are for restaurant professionals. They definitely work.

                    I have Kai Komachi 2, and read quiet a bit on Kuhn Rikon. I rate them about the same. They are thin knives (which is not a bad thing), so they are light and good at cutting through objects. They are not for heavy works.