Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

One good knife, recommendations?


Recommended Posts

Zeemanb,

I have had the exact same knife for over a year. It was love at first slice for me, too. I look for it first, and if it's dirty I might wash it or I might pick up a Henkels, if it's sharp.

About Octaveman's comments, I would say that he is right on the money! Perhaps I'm riding on Octaveman's coat-tails, but I know enough about steels, from being a machinist (AND, I watched a special about Japanese swordmaking) to know that these Japanese knives are very special and deserve special treatment. Just like a ceramic knife, they are often too hard (meaning brittle) to use for chopping and cutting through hard objects. It would have to be an extremely controlled environment for these super hard edges to be used to cut through bone; I.E., the bone would have to be held rigidly and the knife the same. This cannot be done consistently (or at all) while working in a kitchen. That's why there are meat cleavers. I have chipped my Shun on numerous occasions (as I got to know it) because I have used it on chicken and for deboning a steak. I have no one to blame but myself! There are softer steels available in these Japanese knives that I think could better endure cutting a mix of materials. And, like Octaveman suggests, you can sharpen the knife differently to suit the material being cut. Sometimes you are defeating the point of it being razor sharp and razor hard! If you choose a softer Japanese steel then there is the trade-off of it dulling faster, more like a German knife's steel. Germans found a better, all-purpose compromise in their typical steel.

Just my 2 cents worth of seat-of-the-pants experience and a dangerous amount of knowledge!

Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

Link to post
Share on other sites

A gyuto is an all-around prep/chef's knife. General food prep is NOT a specialized duty therefore a gyuto is NOT a specialized knife. It cuts any usual prep stuff any German knife does. Nobody would call a German knife a specialized tool so the same goes for the Gyuto. This is another term that people label Japanese knives with (besides "fragile") that makes no sense to me. Some Japanese knives are indeed specialized but so are German knives but we're not talking about them...we're talking about the loley chef's knife aka Gyuto. But a gyuto is based very closely to the French styled chef's knife. Nobody was/is calling the Sabatier chef knife specialized. Just because the Japanese changed the steel type doesn't make the knife a specialty knife. It is made/designed to be a workhorse every day chef's knife. Sure, there are knives that are more prone to chipping than others so if you have a problem with that, don't buy it. Buy the die-tooled steels that are forged to HRC 61-63 (no harder than most other Japanese steels) except these tool steels are made to cut steel and form tools. I think these tough tool steels can handle chocolate just fine. Or you can buy Japanese knives that are HRC 59-61 (Misono UX10 for example...a fantastic knife) rather than those knives a few points higher (too many to list). And to add to what Scargo touched upon, even though you sharpen your blade to a slightly more obtuse angle the geometry of Japanese blades are still in a different class than German knives. Meaning it's still much thinner and will still glide through food with ease more efficiently than the German knife regardless of the minute 0.5-1mm difference worth of obtuseness you make the angle on your edge.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it partially depends on your sharpening skills but I see no reason a japanese gyuto won't handle anything a german chef's knife can if they are sharpened to the same angle ( except if you use the full bolster for some special task ). A 59-62 hrc knife which is the hardness lots of gyutos come in can also be sharpened to a finer edge that will make veggie tasks easier, but if you go past a certain point you'll probably want to keep it from chickenbones etc. To some extent you can use a double bevel to get the best of both worlds though you might have to make some adjustments to your technique.

I'd never use a gyuto to crack veal bones or something like that, then again I wouldn't use a german chef's knife for such things either.

Personally I prefer having several knives, I'll use a thin gyuto to make beets, onion etc a breeze. Then I'll use a knife with a thicker edge for tasks that apply more pressure on the edge.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't sharpen the knives to the same angle, because the whole point of the Japanese knife is to be razor sharp. I sharpen each knife to the sharpest angle that I think the steel will hold. About 18 degrees per side on the german knife, 12 degrees on the japanese. They both hold their edge about equally long.

An important difference is the failure mode. The japanese steel is brittle; the german steel is resilient. I have ocasionally put barely visible ripples in the edge of the german knife, which would likely have been chips in the japanese knife.

Octaveman, do you think I should be using my gyuto (RC-62-63 carbon steel edge) to hack up chickens, chop chocolate, and cut heads and tails off of fish?

(I don't own a knife that I'd use to crack veal bones, but I use the german chef's knife routinely for all these other tasks).

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't sharpen the knives to the same angle, because the whole point of the Japanese knife is to be razor sharp. I sharpen each knife to the sharpest angle that I think the steel will hold. About 18 degrees per side on the german knife, 12 degrees on the japanese. They both hold their edge about equally long.

Of course you don't sharpen at the same angle, the German knife couldn't hold it. The German knife at 12* would fold the first time it hit the cutting board. A Japanese knife sharpened at 15-18* both sides would still perform very well. It could still get razor sharp and it would indeed be mui strong.

An important difference is the failure mode. The japanese steel is brittle; the german steel is resilient. I have ocasionally put barely visible ripples in the edge of the german knife, which would likely have been chips in the japanese knife.

I would rather have a knife that chips every now and then than have and edge that ripples or rolls. SOME Japanese steels are brittle. Making all encompassing statements like the one you made are inaccurate. BTW, we're not talking big chips here. I'm talking chips that can only be seen or felt upon close inspection. I had a Hiromoto AS that I banged the edge against the Thai granite mortar and there was barely and I mean barely a chip. Then there was the Hattori HD I used and it chipped in three places the first time I used it. Again, not all Japanese steels are brittle.

Octaveman, do you think I should be using my gyuto (RC-62-63 carbon steel edge) to hack up chickens, chop chocolate, and cut heads and tails off of fish?

Well, since your gyuto is RC62-63. I wouldn't recommend it unless you changed your angles. A gyuto that was 59-61 would certainly be less of an issue. To me, THESE you mention are specialized tasks that require specilized knives. But to answer your question directly...

1. "hack" up chickens - no, but only because my gyuto's are almost 11" long and it just doesn't make sense. I wouldn't even use an 8" knife for this. I would use a smaller 165mm Japanese boning knife RC-62-64 to bone a chicken. Matter of fact, I have been using a single beveled deba (more "fragile" edge than a gyuto with combined angle behind the edge of about 10 degrees) for chickens for over a year now and without a single chip....nada...never...nope. It is RC 60-61.

2. "chop" chocolate - not to chop but to sliver, absolutely, and I have.

3. Cut heads and tails off of fish - if I worked with whole fish regularly I could sharpen one of my gyuto's accordingly and use it, yes.

I'm really not saying anybody should do anything. I'm just a proponent for Japanese knives and attempting to correct erroneous statements that...

1. Japanese knives are brittle;

2. Japanese knives are specialized.

They are NOT all brittle and they are NOT all specialized. If someone had a set of German knives and wanted to get a Gyuto, I would not say ditch all your German knives and replace all of them with Japanese knives. I would and have said get a gyuto. The only other thing I might say is to keep is the heavy duty chef for those times when it would be nice to have if money is tight. If money wasn't an issue, then I would most definately say sell the German knives to someone on ebay and get all Japanese knives. This brings up another opinion of mine. A Japanese western deba can do anything a heavy duty German knife can do except roll it's edge. Actually, it probably could do more. I have a Western Deba that has gone through chicken thigh/leg bones cleanly without fraying and the edge is still 100%. I've actually had this knife over a year and it's not needed to be sharpened. But this is beside the point at hand. AGAIN, The OP was asking for rec's for a single good knife. Not a single knife to replace everything. A German knife would not be my recommendation for a single good knife. I do have many recs for great knives though.

Bob

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I haven't expressed myself clearly enough; you seem to be misconstruing what I'm saying. It's two simple points.

1) when sharpened to the angles that give it a performance advantage that I can detect, my gyuto is more fragile than my german knife.

2) at these angles, in my experience the gyuto does some thing exceptionally well, and some things not at all. the german knife can do everything, and do it all acceptably well. this fits my criteria for the difference between specialized and all-purpose.

as soon as I start hearing things like "you can sharpen it at different angles if you want to do that," or "that's what a deba/sujihiki/honesuki is for," it reinforces my impression of specializaiion. If you look at a french text on knife skills, you the classic chef's knife being used for virtually everything. Different approach, that's all.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate to jump in the middle of the Japanese/German discussion...but I will :smile:

I will (in the next day or two) be buying my first "real knife". I'm coming from a land of 8 year old Cuisinart, $40 dollar per set, never been sharpened knives, so the task of choosing what to get has been daunting. I started out at Bed Bath and Beyond a couple weeks ago trying to decide between Wusthoff and Henckels, since then I've been reading, and reading, and then reading some more. It's enough to make your head spin.

I want to start out with a good all around knife, so a 210mm or 240mm is what I decided on. However, WHICH gyuoto has proved to be a much more involved process.I started out leaning towards the Tojira DP, and in between have seriously considered the Blazen, Misono Swedish Steel, Hattori HD, Kanetsug, then finally came back to the Tojiro again, if anything so I could "learn" on it and purchase something bigger and better down the road.. Then 2 things happened:

A) I remembered how much I hate buying something twice.

B) I stumbled upon the Yoshikane at EE.

Lust at first sight, lol

http://www.epicedge.com/pics/85676_3_b.jpg

So, here's my quandary, can anyone give me a good argument against getting this?

While I know this a "personal" decision, I've went from looking to spend $40-50 on a knife to $160. I have no problem doing so, but am slightly fearful of buyers remorse.

I would especially any comments you have Octaveman, as a passionate oration of yours that I read here at eGullet set me out on this "Japanese Quest".

Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, here's my quandary, can anyone give me a good argument against getting this? 

Not me. The Yoshikane is basically the stainless version of the Kumagoro and a kick-ass knife. Some people who have tried both will give a very slight edge (no pun) to the Kumagoro but to the average user the difference will not be noticable. Actually even to well seasoned users it might be difficult to tell a difference. Of the other choices you had the Blazen is excellent. Obviously the main difference between them is the traditional Japanese handle. I have no problem with them and find it makes for a unique look to the knife. As far as size is concerned 240mm would be my recommendation. Specially if you use a pinch grip when using your knives. These knives will balance just fine at either length and the extra length would definitely come in handy.

I did the same thing as you before making my first Gyuto purchase. If money is not keeping you from buying the Yoshikane then absolutely, buy it. You will not be disappointed. Also, EE.com is a great place to buy knives. If you get it and decide the knife is just not what you thought (can't hang with the handle style for example) then they are good with returns. I seriously don't think you will decide to return it.

Let us know what you decide and most definitely report back when you get it. :biggrin:

Bob

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I got the Pro-M today. Me likey.

Made a mushroom sauce for dinner; it cut the shrooms like butter, and mincing herbs was easier and produced better results (no bruising).

Based on some of the comments in this thread, I was a little scared of it at first, but quickly found that I could still brush stuff off the blade with my finger and could even scrape stuff off my finger with the blade without any trouble.

Edited by phatj (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

While I definitely have a Hiromoto HC gyuto in 180 or 210mm in my future, I'm trying to figure if i need something a little heavier to compliment it...I don't presently do a *lot* of work like breaking down chickens or whole fish, but it's something I do from time to time, and I'm a right-tool-for-the-right-job person....also the idea of possibly chipping the blade of a relatively expensive (at least to me) knife gives me the creeps.

Would something like a deba or honesuki be appropriate? I *do* have an old harris teeter cleaver and chef's knife knocking around somewhere, but I'm wondering if the effort to keep a good edge on those would be somewhat akin to the old saying about polishing a turd.

Edited by Malkavian (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Right tool for job, got it. A Honesuki or small western deba would work great. The honesuki is a dedicated boning knife. A western deba can be used any way the user sees fit. I know a pro chef who uses a 165mm western deba for chicken among other things. Honesuki's a typically 150mm but I think 165mm is more versatile.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...