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howard88

Knife Dilemma

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I have a gift card for Williams Sonoma.

I do a lot of cooking and need a good, all around chefs knife.

Williams Sonoma features Wusthof, Henckels, Global and Shun Ken

Onion.

So for those in the know, what do I do.

Seven or eight inch or ten inch?

Which brand?

Santoku or regular?

My price range is 100 to 150 dollars

Reading about knives on this forum indicated some comments

that the Santoku style may not be good for harder type applications

such as cutting up chicken and going through bones periodically.

Most of the chefs knives listed are about 100 dollars in the 8 inch range.

Any advise is really appreciated

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I would get a santoku for mutli-purpose applications because the tend to not have the ability to roll (rock front to back). The Shun santoku has a mild curve in the tip but it hardly helps. I would say get an 8 inch chef. To me, 7 inches is two small and with 10 inches I feel like I should cutting down bushes with it; too big.

This is my opinion out of the brands listed:

I can't stand Globals because of the metal handle. If my hands get wet that handle is going to lose a bit of grip.

Henckel make a quality forged blade but they can be a bit on the heavy side. I have a Henckel 4 star with a granton edge. I lost a part of my finger because of it too. It haolds a edge decently.

Wusthof makes a really solid knife. Lightweight, strong, and holds an edge forever. The granton edge Cordon Bleu chef knife is one knife I really wish I had. Sexy.

Kershaw Shun blades are in a league of there own but I would never get one of those Ken Onion abominations. They should sell those things in head shops for christ's sake. Form over function. Unless your trying to impress waitress at Medieval Times with your fancy dragon slayer knife, stay away from those things. The Alton Brown versions are quite different though. Better ergonomics. Easier on the wrist. All in all, Shun knife are top notch. But if all they have are Ken Onions, don't bother.

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i have a normal shun 8 inch and it is a perfect overall everyday knife. enjoy!

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If you are looking for a general purpose chef's knife, you may want to go for one longer than 8 inches. If I were buying a new one today it would probably be a 9" or 10 " Wusthof or Kershaw. But the best advice I can give is to go to a store, hold them in your hands and rock them on a cutting board to see what you like best.

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Perspective: I am just a home cook that also does some volunteer large group cooking (50-60 people) connected with Rennaisance Pleasure Faires. But I have been doing the home cooking and entertaining things for about 40 years.

Santoku knives, of which I own 1 for my home kitchen and 2 that travel with me, are NOT general-purpose knives. I was rudely reminded of this last year when I mistakenly grabbed my Santoku instead of my Chef's knife and proceeded to damage the blade on some chicken bone. Good thing I was in the process of learning how to sharpen and re-sharpen knives at the time. They do a nice job on veggie prep but that is all I use them for.

You have listed several reputable brands of knives you willing to look at. My advise is always the same. You have to go to the store and handle the knives. Picking among quality brands lets you focus on how the knife feels in your hand which, IMHO, is the most important factor given that you are comparing comparable quality knives. I have been told (but have no personal experience) that this is how new culinary students pick their knives when starting culinary school. In my home I still reach for my 10" Chicago Cutlery (yes I know it's not a top brand) chef's knife ahead of my Henckels or F.Dick knives simply because the balance and feel of the knife is better than these others that I have added along the way. I've had this particular knife for over 2 decades and it's still going strong. Side note: Since my wife, daughter and I sometimes are all in the kitchen cooking at once we have many similar knives available.

edited to fix silly typos. Porthos


Edited by Porthos (log)

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Chef's knives or santoku's of any brand are not made to go through bones. These are general prep knives of veggies with double usage as slicers in a pinch. You can probably use them to go through joints and to take the meat off the bone but never use them to split bones in half or any portion thereof. Rib bones, maybe but you'd be taking your chances on folding or chipping your edges. If you insist, I can recommend a good knife sharpener.

Santoku's don't get very long so they're only useful to a point. An 8" chef is the smallest you should go with 10" being about the top end but some of the longer Euro knives start to get blade heavy at this length.

Shun Classic (not Ken Onion) would be my choice and the 8" is well balanced. The 10" is a bit blade heavy but would be more versatile. If you want a good, cheap boning knife to go along with your new chefs knife, get the Honesuki (F-803 Boning) at this retailer. It will be on your doorstep in less than a week.


Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I triple the comment that a santoku shouldn't be used to go through chicken bones. If you go the route of Japanese steel, I would get a knife specifically for chopping bones, such as a cleaver.

OTOH, once you try some Japanese steel, I wouldn't be surprised if you demoted your current knives to boning duty.


Edited by sanrensho (log)

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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Don't confuse "boning" a chicken and chopping it up.  Boning is just taking meat off the bone.  A cleaver is not needed for that but is a good idea if you want to split thigh or leg bones in half.

Thanks for correcting my sloppy writing. I meant "going through bones." The most I would use a santoku for is to go through chicken cartilage.

After re-reading the original post, I wonder if the author means "boning" instead of literally "going through bones."


Edited by sanrensho (log)

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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I can't stand Globals because of the metal handle. If my hands get wet that handle is going to lose a bit of grip.

I've heard a lot of people complain about this but have yet to experience any slippage with any of my Globals, even when thoroughly slimed with mango or avocado squishings. I definitely do not like all of the handles on all of their pieces, but I really don't get it.

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I use a 'fake' santoku, similar blade shape but a lot more resilient steel. Also fairly hefty towards the handle so I do use it on chicken bones. And it has a moulded and comfy handle. No idea on the make, I bought it unboxed in a sale, but I love it.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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While the 7" would give you more control, it's too short for all-purpose use. Go for at least 8". Like others said, hold a bunch of knives and see which feels best for you (weight, balance, handle shape, etc.).

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All the brands you listed are excellent. I think Porthos gave you the best advice, I would go the Williams -Sonoma and try every chef's knife between 8-10" and pick the one that feels most comfortable.

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I'm a big fan of Wusthof knives, particularly the Grand Prix series. The chef's knife and paring knives have excellent grip, balance (at least for my hand), etc. Really couldn't be happier, until they sadly departed the house along with something not nearly so precious. :hmmm: Can't speak for their santoku blades; never handled theirs.

Henckels have never felt good to me - too light, something subtle in the hand that makes it hard to forget it's there as an extension of the hand - but YMMV.


David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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I'm a big fan of Wusthof knives, particularly the Grand Prix series.  The chef's knife and paring knives have excellent grip, balance (at least for my hand), etc.  Really couldn't be happier, until they sadly departed the house along with something not nearly so precious.  :hmmm:  Can't speak for their santoku blades; never handled theirs.

Henckels have never felt good to me - too light, something subtle in the hand that makes it hard to forget it's there as an extension of the hand - but YMMV.

Sorry to say, but they redid the handles on the Grand Prix line. Not nearly as comfortable IMO.

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. . . .

Kershaw Shun blades are in a league of there own but I would never get one of those Ken Onion abominations. They should sell those things in head shops for christ's sake. Form over function. Unless your trying to impress waitress at Medieval Times with your fancy dragon slayer knife, stay away from those things. The Alton Brown versions are quite different though. Better ergonomics. Easier on the wrist. All in all, Shun knife are top notch. But if all they have are Ken Onions, don't bother.

There's no question that the Ken Onion knives are idiosyncratic, but I wouldn't dismiss the chef's knife out of hand (so to speak). I also disagree that it hasn't been designed in a functional manner. The handle works perfectly for me (I have pretty big hands); the half-bolster protects your fingers while allowing full-length sharpening (Messermeister has a similar bolster on its Meridian Elite line); and I suspect that the dip the blade takes is responsible for better balance than most of the German knives, which, at comparable lengths, tend to be blade heavy. For more discussion, see this topic.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I suggest looking at Henckels' new four star II line. If you want an absolutely general purpose shape, an 8" chefs is pretty much the standard. That will handle all the prep work you can do and work acceptably for trimming, but not full scale butchering of meat. None of the combinations of shapes and manufacturers mentioned are really for going "through" bones -- not sure what you meant by that.


If you have a coupon for it, you don't want it.

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