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ScoopKW

Help me select a 10" chef's knife....

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I'm in the market for a 10" chef's knife. I need a little more leverage and heft when dispatching poultry. I also like the extra two inches for when I'm rocking.

I have a good set of Wusthof classics that I'm OK with.

I much prefer these Watanabe knives -- http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/standard/l6knife.htm -- they're not the best he makes, but I love the edge I can put on them and keep on them. And I do a lot of pull cutting. My one problem with this set is it tends to oxidize onions and bruise basil compared to my stainless Wusthofs. (Yes, I wash and wipe regularly during use. If anyone has any advice as to why my nakkiri oxidizes onions so quickly, I'm all ears.)

I don't have a means of trying out Hattori or any of the other high-end knives. I could go to Williams Sonoma and try some Shun Ken Onions -- but they top out at 8 inch.

I don't mind spending a little more for this knife because I've been borrowing a friend's 10" Wusthof, and I much prefer it to the 8" that I have. But in general I prefer the Watanabes, so I'm wondering if Iwao's 10" knife would be the knife for me. (It would run about $500 for the left handed 240mm Gyuto. (http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/pro.htm)

Do you think Iwao's blue steel blades would oxidize veggies as quickly as his carbon steel blades? Other than the veggie oxidation thing, I quite happy with the knives. Anyone know a place in Las Vegas where I can demo decent steel? I can't find any place that sells such knives (which I find odd considering all the restaurants in the area).

Or am I being ass-backward? Should I just buy the Wusthof because it's built like a tank? (And it's going to be used for a lot of poultry dispatching.) And then find a nakkiri that doesn't oxidize onions?

Thanks in advance for what I'm sure is going to be a broad range of opinion!


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I have a 10" Wusthof extra wide chef's knife, and even though it is quite hefty, I find the edge a bit delicate for chopping through bone. It's great for chopping vegetables though. If you're going to be processing a lot of chicken and want to do it with a chef's knife, this knife looks interesting--

http://www.metrokitchen.com/product/WU-4690-26

Had I known about it when I bought mine, I might have gotten that one instead. It looks like it's designed like a "chef de chef" style with more German curve to the edge.

What I've done instead is just to get a proper 7.5" meat cleaver from F. Dick for splitting bones to save my other edges.

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Forgot to mention -- I have a serviceable cleaver (another Wusthof -- I have about a dozen Wusthofs from the 8" Chef's knife on down to the pairing knife.)

I like the chef's knife for removing the backbone. If I have to go through anything tougher than that, I'll reach for the cleaver. I've also been wanting to reach for a 10" knife often these days, and don't own one. So it will be used for a lot of things.

My experience is limited, but I think if I had a 10" French knife or Gyuto, it would be my "go-to" blade. (The Go-to -- that's kind of funny. Maybe a Japanese knife maker with a sense of humor will release a line of Gotos.)


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I use a Japanese honesuki to break down chickens and for cutting out backs. It has a thicker blade and doesn't suffer from chipping as much as my gyuto. I use my German Chef for cutting hard items and if hard chopping on the board and things like mashing garlic into paste with salt. But for general use my 270mm Japanese gyuto is my go to knife.

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for backs, Henckels Poultry shears...I have lotsa knives but use the shears,, much easier, faster,and a better, more accurate job...

Bud

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Maybe I didn't have good enough shears. My honesuki or Henckel is much faster than my shears. I gave up on them. Take a back out in around 8 seconds.

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Maybe I didn't have good enough shears. My honesuki or Henckel is much faster than my shears. I gave up on them. Take a back out in around 8 seconds.

I have not timed the cuts but I am sure its not much more than that #..

Its just one cut on each side of center, 5 or 6 inches long...4 squeezes total..

Bud

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It so happens that I have a couple of Watanabe knives; one a blue and stainless santoku [hush, Virginia ] and the other a really hefty 10 inch gyuto he made for me as a special request - both kurouchi. The big carbon backed knife browns some vegetables really fast, pretty much on contact, and I think it's the probably the chemical reaction rather than oxidation from cell damage that you're seeing with the nakiri.

I'd drop Shinichi a line; you could probably get what you want for nearer $300 than $500, I'd guess.

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My personal choice would be a Wusthof 10" but, if you are concerned about cutting chicken bones (and the regular cook's knife is not really designed for that) you could also consider the Bone Splitter item 4690. It has a section for bones and a part of the blade for regular slicing and chopping.

Wusthof website link

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500 bucks ? You could buy 10 or 15 of the 10" knives from this range. Like your Wusthofs, they'll need more steeling than the Japanese blades, but whilst they'll roll, they'll not chip so readily. You could keep 5 sharpened for chopping, 5 for pull cutting and five for bone-hacking - or just have one for each purpose and eat steak for dinner every week for a year.

ETA: and if you sharpen the rear of the blade for bone-hacking, that's one less, and steak and truffles on your birthday, too.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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It so happens that I have a couple of Watanabe knives; one a blue and stainless santoku [hush, Virginia ] and the other a really hefty 10 inch gyuto he made for me as a special request - both kurouchi. The big carbon backed knife browns some vegetables really fast, pretty much on contact, and I think it's the probably the chemical reaction rather than oxidation from cell damage that you're seeing with the nakiri.

Thanks for that info.

What I really want, I suppose, is a blade that takes (and keeps) an edge like the Watanabe knives I have, but doesn't brown onions* just by touching them. Is there a "best of both worlds"?

* And also bruise basil, and practically ruin avocados upon contact.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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$500 for the lefty 240mm Watanabe? Where are you getting that info? The righty is what, $275?

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If you really need a knife for breaking down birds, presumeably you do a lot of it. A knife made for the task will be much faster than a 10" chef's knife. People who butcher poultry all day long use a honesuki; I can't recommend a brand, but there's no need to spend a lot of money. I personally find an 8" chef's knife faster and more nimble than a 10" knife for this task, and the specialized poultry knives are smaller still.

If you also butcher a lot of fish, a 165 to 180mm deba will do a quicker, cleaner job on poultry than a western knife.

I would not get a knife like a watanabe or any of the gyutos you mentioned for this task. These knives are designed with a thin edge geometry and are made for high performance with softer foods. You could regrind the edge and make it tough enough to butcher birds, but this makes about as much sense as getting a ferrari and putting monster truck tires on it. Those are all great knives (not counting the Ken Onion ... blech) but none are meant work working around bones.

My choices, in order from most generally useful to most specialized and high performance, are: 8" german chef or 210mm cheap, thick gyuto with fat bevel angles; generic 6" boning knife (this works pretty well); 165 or 180mm cheap deba, with a back bevel put on the last couple of inches for crashing through bones; honesuki.


Notes from the underbelly

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I went to a few places and tried out some knives.

Nothing really did it for me. It seems like Las Vegas should have a high-end cutlery store considering how many restaurants are in town. Maybe I should ditch my dream of opening my own brewpub and just open a knife shop instead....


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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What did you try?

With most good knives, there's limited value in holding them at the store. You can get a sense of the shape, weight, edge geometry, esthetics, etc...

But the factory edges range from workable to dull, and you won't know anything about performance and edge retention until you've sharpened it and gone to town on some big piles of prep.

If you haven't had a chance to use someone else's (well sharpened) buying a knife requires leaning on recommendations, and a certain leap of faith. Which also means that you don't sacrifice much when buying online.

The good news is that the Japanese brands that have a good reputation among knife nuts can be resold for close to what you payed.


Notes from the underbelly

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I tried all the blades I am able in Las Vegas which means:

1) Wusthof Classic 10" -- decent feel. But I have a lot of this line already and prefer Japanese knives for the sharpness.

2) Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu 10" -- Blah. Too light.

3) Wusthof Grand Prix 2 -- Wonky handle. No thanks.

4) Ken Shun Onion -- Meh. Another wonky handle. I pinch-grip my knives, so no-go.

5) Ken Shun Kaji -- better than the Onion, I guess. But looks to be more about pretty faux-damascusing than actual use.

6) Henckels -- Didn't like it as much as the Wusthof Classic


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Yeah, none of those are great knives. Your best bet is the web. I have one of the best knife retailers in the country within close reach, and while I've bought quite a few things from them, I bought my last three chef's knives directly from Japan. Local selections are always limited ... it takes a stroke of luck to find your ideal knife at a store, even if you have a good store.


Notes from the underbelly

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The thing that bothers me is that in Las Vegas, if I wanted to try a Patek Philippe, Rolex, etc. -- no problem. $10,000 watches are everywhere. Hell, I can buy a $20,000 Cartier watch at my freakin' Costco.

A decent 10" chef's knife? No such luck.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I have some very expensive knives but when it comes to breaking a chicken or a duck and cutting bones, I reach for the 10 inch Forschner with the fibrox handle that doesn't get slippery when wet or greasy.

Check Smart & Final. I know there is one on Boulder Highway just off the 515.

The store here carries the Forschner and the price is around $30.00.

It's inexpensive but not cheap. The blade is stiff and while it doesn't have a whole lot of heft, it has enough to do the job very well.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Back to the OP, on the topic of carbon steel knives discoloring onions. I personally prefer stainless gyutos, but have a lot of friends who prefer carbon. All swear up and down that once a decent patina forms, there is no food reaction ... no discoloration, odd tastes, smells etc..

The only catch is that sharpening exposes unoxidized steel, so you have to keep your bevels relatively small and flat. This means not smoothing your cutting bevel into the the main bevel of the blade with a large concave shoulder.


Notes from the underbelly

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The Shun Kaji is an excellent knife. It is not just about looks, although you're paying some for that and the marketing. It has more belly than some other Japanese knives, but would be more similar to the Wusthofs you're used to. The handle is very comfortable too. There are many alternatives in your price range, but it sounds like you wouldn't be able to try any of them out in person. The steel is excellent, and Shun will sharpen your knife for cost of postage.

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I'd advise against any shuns, especially considering that you have experience with knives like watanabe. Some points against it:

-thick edge geometry means poor performance compared with better Japanese knives (ones not designed for the western export market)

-big belly is a disadvantage if you want to use any of the more sophisticated Japanese techniques

-the blade is thick and clad, which gives a dull, damped feel

-the sg-2 steel is difficult to sharpen. there aren't many benefits that come with this. sending to shun for sharpening is a poor fix, because you're not going to do that often enough, realistically. and a factory edge should be considered the barest minimum level of sharpness for a good knife, not the standard.

-for the same price you can get many, many much better knives.


Notes from the underbelly

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Paul,

Would you go to this page: http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/pro.htm

And look at the bottom of the page about the steel recipes. With the chromium in the "blue steel" it seems to me that these blades would not be immediate onion oxidizers.

I've been using my other Watanabes for about six years, and I've not noticed any kind of patina that stops onions from browning. I don't mind spending $500 on a knife. But I want to be sure it isn't going to ruin food.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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If you're worried, why not get a Watanabe knife with carbon center and stainless cladding?

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