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For the price, I can't afford the expensive Japanese versions, so I carry on with my trusty Wusthoff.

Many people can't afford the expensive versions either. That's why they have cheaper versions. At JCK.com, check out Tojiro DP for $40 (touted as the best bang for the buck among users) and also to be considered is Tojiro Powdered Steel. At EE.com check out THESE bitchin knives or THESE knives using blue steel.

There are so many affordable Japanese blades that there's no reason not to get one. They are harder, thinner, sharper and stay sharp longer. I used to have all Henckles and replaced them with all Japanese blades...I now have 13 of various shapes. There is so much out there to choose from and since this is a gift, venture out of your comfort zone and get something new and different from what you're used to. Whether you get a Santoku or Gyuto, go for a Japanese blade.

Bob

I agree with Bob, here. Among the knife cognescenti (aka knife nuts) the Tojiro is considered the best buy for a really sharp Japanese knife. I'm planning to try the powdered steel one myself - but first I must research powdered steel, being the geek that I am.

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Hmm..I have the opposite problem - I've pretty much forgotten what it was like to use anything BUT Japanese knives.

I have a short Santoku which I hate (bought it for the kids - they use it occasionally). I have a longer Santoku (blade a touch over 6.5 inches) which I use a lot, but I probably use my Gyuto (7.5 inches) most of all. Partly size, partly because it happens to be a better quality knife.

I have large hands - about 8 inches from wrist to middle finger-tip, so my Gyuto blade comes closest to the length of my hands...if that' significant!

That said, there are jobs which even a good big Gyuto doesn't do perfectly - a nice sharp nakiri or usuba (flat square-bladed knife) really is the best thing for slicing a quantity of greens or herbs finely.

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I had no idea that this would become such an emotional thread when I started it, but I suppose I should have known better. I have checked out the websites, and there is some fine looking steel. Couple questions here: (1) I had heard (as some of the posters indicated) that Japanese steel is in fact harder than its European/American counterpart. Why is that? Anyone who knows the answer should keep in mind that I have about much of a background in chemistry as does my Boston Terrier. (2) If I am able to get a hold of one of these knives do I need to use it/care for it any differently than I do my German chef’s knives?

That’s all for right now. Thanks

P.S. I’m not really comfortable posting other “naughty” pictures of Rachel Ray on this website, that one was just kind of a joke, sorry guys. They’re floating around the web, just google “Rachel Ray” and “FHM” and they should pop right up.

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I had no idea that this would become such an emotional thread when I started it, but I suppose I should have known better. I have checked out the websites, and there is some fine looking steel. Couple questions here: (1) I had heard (as some of the posters indicated) that Japanese steel is in fact harder than its European/American counterpart. Why is that?

First, read THIS web page. It talks about what Japanese steel is and how it's made. It boils down to a different chemical makup of the components of the steel allowing it to be forged to a higher level of hardness. This higher hardness (HRC) then allows for a thinner blade. The con to Japanese knives is that it's more fragile than euro knives because it's harder. Basically you'll be fine if you don't cut anything frozen, let it get near bones (talk about that later), bang it around, leave it in the sink, don't put it in the dishwasher...you know...take care of it. Not all blades are created equal. They each have their own characteristics that differentiates themselves from the others. The powdered steel term refers to the process of making the blade and not the steel itself. This process creates a harder/tougher blade than the usual forged knives. I'm no expert in metalurgy so I can't go into much detail without doing the reading but as a user like myself, it means I won't have to sharpen as often, I won't have to worry about dinging the edge or maybe even chipping it. It's a fairly old process newly applied to kitchen knives. That's why there aren't many powdered steeled knives out there. Tojiro Powder and Ryusen Blazen have powdered steels.

(2) If I am able to get a hold of one of these knives do I need to use it/care for it any differently than I do my German chef’s knives?

Yes. What I wrote above points some things out. Since these knives are thinner, harder and sharper the bevel angle is more acute than German knives. This means that you will not be able to sharpen them the same way nor will you be able to take them to a shop to have it sharpened because they are just not equipped to properly sharpen these knives. All knife forums (most notibly Knife Forums.com and Foodie Forums.com highly suggest learning how to use wetstones to sharpen your knives. It is a process that needs to be learned but the good news is that it doesn't take long to learn it. Korin.com sells a DVD that teaches you how to do it and it's really not hard at all. The amount of time it takes to KEEP you're knives sharp depends on your usage. The average home user can touch-up their knives once a week and it only takes 10 to 15 minutes. The goal is to keep them sharp so it doesn't take a lot of time and energy to re-sharpen them. I've stopped using my steel entirely. When I need to realign the edge, I just get out a stone and do a few quick swipes and I'm ready to go. So not only did I realign the edge, I just did a quick sharpening too. It truely is the way to go. Chad Ward made a Sharpening tutorial here on egullet that does a great job of talking about sharpening. It would be a good idea to read it.

In a nut shell, take care of the knife, don't use it to cut hard things, don't let it get dull and keep it sharp on the stones and you'll be one with your knife. Oh, I forgot to talk about knives to cut up harder stuff. The Honesuki is a boning knife for chicken and fish. A Western Deba is a thick version of the gyuto. It's thick, heavy and strong so it would'nt have any problem with the heavier jobs. The gyuto or Santoku is a chopping/slicing/mincing knife, not for bones of any kind.

Hope I didn't get too wordy. There is so much else I could say but I tried to keep it down.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

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ATK did a testing of these knives and found they were great for slicing and chopping veg, but not for heavier tasks.  Since I have limited space I'll stick with my 12 inch chefs.

I will second this comment. I have a Global Santoku which is honestly the single greatest knife in the history of the universe. And, no, there is no discussion on this point. If you don't agree - tough. :raz: That being said, it is light. Which is great for throwing at people who bother me while cooking, but not so great for butchering small animals. For that I use a heavy crappy chefs knife that I keep barely sharp; that's its only purpose - to butcher small animals. Everything else I can do with the Santoku. I have the Global paring knife and the Global Santoku; if I had a heavy duty Global butcher's knife and bread knife I'd be set.

In other words. It will do everything you want, except butcher small (or large) animals.

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Oh, I forgot to talk about knives to cut up harder stuff.  ...The gyuto or Santoku is a chopping/slicing/mincing knife, not for bones of any kind.

I bought a beautiful hand made gyuto from Artisan which is sharper than my ability to describe. Unfortunately I hadn't read the above sentence when I first bought it, and chipped the blade a couple of times on pork crackling. Incredibly sharp, but incredibly fragile.

Edited by MobyP (log)

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they're not all that delicate. i've got a misono ux10 that i dearly love. and while i wouldn't use it to chop chicken bones or split a beef shank like i mgiht with my old wusthof, i certainly don't baby it. i've been using it regularly for more than a year and i've sharpened it maybe 2 or 3 times. i do steel regularly and for me that is enough to keep it plenty sharp.

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Though I have large hands, I use to use a 8.5" (that is the actual blade length though think they refer to it as 9") Chef's knife. I liked the idea of the santuko for the scalloping on the blade and wound up getting one. I found the santuko to be awkward due to the flatness of the blade as has been pointed out here. What I wound up doing was buying one of the newer, more or less hybrid, chef's knives that has the scalloping (sometimes referred to I think as an East/West knife) of a santuko. This knife is slightly lighter than a comparitive old fashioned chef's knife and has the beneift of items sticking less due to the scallops while retaining the overall benefits of the Chef knive. I've been very pleased with this knife as giving sort of the best of both worlds.

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Steel - Japanese knifemakers use quite a variety of steels, and then of course they like to do their sandwiching thing, combining different steels in one knife. So a Santoku could be made of quite hard steel or quite soft steel - the soft steel can be sharpened to a very fine edge, but it doesn't keep that edge as long, nor is the metal as forgiving of sloppy care.

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The soft steel is what surrounds the hard steel in the sandwich configuration you spoke of. This is called the Warikomi process. The process of laminating a piece of hard steel with softer steel. Surrounding the hard steel with softer steel serves as a dampening affect and adding toughness to the blade. I've never seen a Japanese blade use soft steel as it's core. Some knives are certainly softer than others but still tempered to a higher HRC than Euro knives. For example, most Japanese knives are tempered to 60-64 HRC. Euro knives highest HRC would be about 58-59. This may not seem a big difference but it is. The highest a kitchen knife will get tempered to is 65-66 and that knife costs $1,500 and uses Cowry-X as it's blade material. Anything higher and the edge will constantly get chips or worse, break.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

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I had no idea that this would become such an emotional thread when I started it, but I suppose I should have known better. I have checked out the websites, and there is some fine looking steel. Couple questions here: (1) I had heard (as some of the posters indicated) that Japanese steel is in fact harder than its European/American counterpart. Why is that? Anyone who knows the answer should keep in mind that I have about much of a background in chemistry as does my Boston Terrier. (2) If I am able to get a hold of one of these knives do I need to use it/care for it any differently than I do my German chef’s knives?

That’s all for right now. Thanks

As Octaveman said the Japanese knives are harder on the RC scale than Western knives. This makes a big difference in their performance.

Also the bevel on most Japanese knives is different; it is usually straight on the left side and beveled on the right (which is why left-handers have to special order theirs). For example:

Western knife: V

Japanese knife: |/

This bevel also makes finer slicing possible.

As for care of the knife: I do not use a western metal honing steel but a Japanese ceramic one. You can get one made by MAC for about $20. It is much gentler on the thinner blade. They are also generally sharpened on a water stone rather than a whetstone - but maybe that is more history than really required, I'm not sure.

Don't put the knife in the sink with other dishes as it is extremely sharp and could easily cut the dishwasher.

Finally, put the knife away when your in-laws or friends arrive and want to cook in your kitchen. For their own safety, of course. :wink:

(edited to fix spelling errors)

Edited by mrsadm (log)

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Ah I love a good knife thread. People sure do get fired up about their babies.

Here's my story: I got a Henckels 5-Star Santoku for a wedding gift, and I loved it - was the go-to knife. (BTW someone mentioned that they are 6.5" max, but I'm pretty sure mine is 7". Maybe this is not traditional, as mine is German not Japanese?) Anyway, this summer I picked up a 5-Star 10" Chef's at a sale and have since switched to this as my go-to.

I still really like the Santoku, because of the reasons stated above - namely, the flatness & shape of the blade. It is really good for veg prep (perhaps because I find the large blade surface good for transferring chopped pieces), and it has no bolster, which I kind of like as well for the chopping - and even moreso for garlic mincing, chiffonade and similar stuff where maybe there is a little more "touch" involved.

However I am lazy, and once I have the Chef's knife in my grip, that is where it stays for most/all the tasks at hand. It is versatile that way (as you all know). Also my block does not have another wide slot to accommodate the Santoku, so therefore it sits in the drawer (with guard). Out of sight, out of mind?

Don't know if you have one already or not, but have you thought about a good boning/filleting knife instead of the Santoku? I am currently on the search for one of these myself.

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Don't know if you have one already or not, but have you thought about a good boning/filleting knife instead of the Santoku? I am currently on the search for one of these myself.

I have this knife, a boning knife from Kasumi (western style):

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=1107

It is fantastic.

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Don't know if you have one already or not, but have you thought about a good boning/filleting knife instead of the Santoku? I am currently on the search for one of these myself.

I have this knife, a boning knife from Kasumi (western style):

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=1107

It is fantastic.

mrsadm, that is a gorgeous knife. I was looking at one the other day, but my main fear is spending too much for a boning knife and having said knife break. I know it's just paranoia - and I can't quite remember but that one probably comes with a lifetime warranty. If someone were to give that to me as a gift, though... As it stands I am leaning towards purchasing the Victorinox which is about $25 CDN.

Anyway, sorry for the mini-hijack, please carry on with the santoku debate!

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I believe that the Santoku is a fad that will eventually fade away, but I'm probably wrong about that.

If I hadn't already become comfortable with a Chinese chef's knife (aka cleaver) ages ago, I'd probably think that santokus were great.

I bought a Shun santoku some time ago to try, and returned it the same day without actually cutting anything. When I got it home with the other implements of deconstruction, I found that the santoku was way too short compared to my 10" gyuto, and the scooping ability was miniscule compared to the cleaver. The santoku seemed to want to be a hybrid of the two styles, but it would never replace either the gyuto or cleaver, so there was no point in keeping it.

Of course, it's all personal preference; my preference is to not use a Santoku.

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I believe that the Santoku is a fad that will eventually fade away, but I'm probably wrong about that.

[snip!]

Of course, it's all personal preference; my preference is to not use a Santoku.

I think that the current Rachael Rae-driven upswing in popularity will eventually fade away, but the santoku itself won't.

All the santokus I've tried have felt a bit off to me; I have become more comfortable using a nakiri or a deba for most things.

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However I am lazy, and once I have the Chef's knife in my grip, that is where it stays for most/all the tasks at hand. It is versatile that way (as you all know). Also my block does not have another wide slot to accommodate the Santoku, so therefore it sits in the drawer (with guard). Out of sight, out of mind?

I think both of these are excellent points. I would not say I am lazy (well, maybe) but I generally use the chef's knife for as much as I can (other than my chef's I really only use a paring knife and, occasionally, a boning knife). In one of Bourdain's books (I think it was Kitchen Confidential) he mentions that one should become very comfortable with their chef's knife and use it the majority of the time so eventually it becomes like part of your arm (I am paraphrasing). I have tried to follow this, which is why I use my 10" chef's except for really small stuff.

Also, it really frustrates me that the Santoku doesn't fit into my Henckel's block. In fact, it is not just the Santoku. I also can't fit both my 10" and 12" chef's knives into it at the same time.

Is there a henckel block that has multiple large slots, so I could accomdate all three of these?

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I think that the current Rachael Rae-driven upswing in popularity will eventually fade away, but the santoku itself won't.

Well-put. Every mass-market crap knife company seems to be offering Santokus currently; this seems to be due to the mass-media exposure they've had.

It'll be interesting to see if they survive as a mass-market crap product once Ray and her ilk fade from view. (Mass-market crap product meaning a knife that you can buy in the cookware aisle of a grocery or variety store, rather than a store catering to cookware).

Edit: Clarify last para

Edited by Human Bean (log)
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Don't know if you have one already or not, but have you thought about a good boning/filleting knife instead of the Santoku? I am currently on the search for one of these myself.

I have this knife, a boning knife from Kasumi (western style):

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=1107

It is fantastic.

mrsadm, that is a gorgeous knife. I was looking at one the other day, but my main fear is spending too much for a boning knife and having said knife break. I know it's just paranoia - and I can't quite remember but that one probably comes with a lifetime warranty. If someone were to give that to me as a gift, though... As it stands I am leaning towards purchasing the Victorinox which is about $25 CDN.

Anyway, sorry for the mini-hijack, please carry on with the santoku debate!

Perhaps I should clarify .... I use the Kasumi mainly to take meat off the bones ... I don't actually try to cut through any bones with it ... as you say I would not want to break the knife. I use a cheapo (about $23) Deba to cut through chicken and fish bones. That's a heavy, short knife designed mainly for cutting off fish heads :wacko:

Here is a picture of a Deba:

http://www.acemart.com/merchant.mv?Screen=..._Code=MERM24106

Edited to add link to picture of Deba knife

Edited by mrsadm (log)

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Perhaps I should clarify .... I use the Kasumi mainly to take meat off the bones ... I don't actually try to cut through any bones with it ... as you say I would not want to break the knife.  I use a cheapo (about $23) Deba to cut through chicken and fish bones.  That's a heavy, short knife designed mainly for cutting off fish heads  :wacko:

Here is a picture of a Deba:

http://www.acemart.com/merchant.mv?Screen=..._Code=MERM24106

Edited to add link to picture of Deba knife

Oh yeah? Well, MY deba is 6mm thick at the handle, weighs 3/4 of a lb and was made by Watanabe in Japan. :biggrin: Here's a Picture (from Watanabe's site). Good idea to clarify the use of the boning knife. I repeatedly tell people to not use a Santoku or Gyuto around bones as you could easily chip it (the knife that is). Matter of fact, since the traditional Deba is for fish bones and not chicken bones, it chipped the first time I used it. I sent it back and he reground the bevel to be more obtuse making it stronger and I haven't had a problem since. I love it.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Perhaps I should clarify .... I use the Kasumi mainly to take meat off the bones ... I don't actually try to cut through any bones with it ... as you say I would not want to break the knife.  I use a cheapo (about $23) Deba to cut through chicken and fish bones.  That's a heavy, short knife designed mainly for cutting off fish heads  :wacko:

Here is a picture of a Deba:

http://www.acemart.com/merchant.mv?Screen=..._Code=MERM24106

Edited to add link to picture of Deba knife

Oh yeah? Well, MY deba is 6mm thick at the handle, weighs 3/4 of a lb and was made by Watanabe in Japan. :biggrin: Here's a Picture (from Watanabe's site). Good idea to clarify the use of the boning knife. I repeatedly tell people to not use a Santoku or Gyuto around bones as you could easily chip it (the knife that is). Matter of fact, since the traditional Deba is for fish bones and not chicken bones, it chipped the first time I used it. I sent it back and he reground the bevel to be more obtuse making it stronger and I haven't had a problem since. I love it.

Oh my goodness, "knife envy" strikes me again! (smile) :biggrin:

Bob I'm sure your collection would beat mine any time ---- but I'm just getting started!

mrsadm

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I've been at it for a year but there are others that have way more and super exotic stuff than me. You belong to Fred's FF forums, right? What about KF? I/we love to see people get new stuff so don't keep us waiting too long now. :cool: I remember going nuts over the my first Japanese knife so I love to hear how others are blown away too. Watanabe's knives are not really that expensive at all for a beautiful hand made knife. You could easily pay twice as much for the same quality. Very nice stuff.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I've been at it for a year but there are others that have way more and super exotic stuff than me.  You belong to Fred's FF forums, right?  What about KF?  I/we love to see people get new stuff so don't keep us waiting too long now.  :cool:  I remember going nuts over the my first Japanese knife so I love to hear how others are blown away too.  Watanabe's knives are not really that expensive at all for a beautiful hand made knife.  You could easily pay twice as much for the same quality.  Very nice stuff.

I'm a member in both groups, Fred's cutlery and knife forums, lots of good information at both. For folks here who may be interested in greater discussion of japanese knives, here are the links:

http://216.91.137.210/ubbthreads/postlist....0/Board/cutlery

http://www.knifeforums.com/ubbthreads/post...=&Board=Kitchen

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