Advice on chef knife set

Discussion in 'Kitchen Cutlery & Tools' started by MattyMatt, Dec 26, 2020.

  1. MattyMatt


    Dec 26, 2020
    New member, so be kind!

    I find myself in the market for a new limited set of knives... Santoku, paring, carver, and maybe an 8” Chef. I have relatively large hands and am admittedly a stickler for hand feel... I toil in a similar fashion over the feel of handguns that I purchase. Also, I am a guy that will appreciate the artistic side of the form and function of my knives.

    So does anyone here have any first-hand experience with the Kawashima line from Messermeister? I’m attracted by the seeming ergos of this line. Pricey though, as compared to the VERY similarly shaped blade of the Zwilling Pro Rocking Santoku.

    Other brands I’ve looked in to are the Victorinox, Warthers, Lamsons, Cangshan Thomas Keller line, and custom made knives (Weige - Obviously, it’s tough to go wrong with a custom set... and they use Crucible s35vn steel that is made here in Syracuse where I live, so I really like that - warthers do too)

    I’ve read more about steel in the past 2 weeks than I ever cared to know. But it’s just like any hobby/passion, I suppose. My bonsai hobby is the same way. The Rabbit hole goes as deep as you want it to go.

    Any help finding some clarity would be appreciated. thanks!
  2. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    Welcome to the forum, Matt. Are you going to be the only person using the knives?
  3. MattyMatt


    Dec 26, 2020
    Yes, 95% of the time, I’ll be the only user. Will likely keep a few other paring knives around for my wife/ kids’ needs.
  4. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    If I may suggest, get the chefs knife. You won’t regret it.

    Most professional chefs recommend a paring knife, bread knife, and a chefs knife as the absolute minimum. That’s where I would start.

    As for the steel, I would recommend ergonomics first, steel second.
  5. Ourorboros


    Jan 23, 2017
    First I don't recommending buying knives as sets - buy what you need.
    In that regard, the standard recommendation is some sort of main knife (chef's, santoku), paring knife, and bread knife.
    Which I disagree with. What you buy should be based on your usage and planned/hoped for growth. If you don't have crusty breads or make cakes (which favor different kinds of serrated edges!), the bread knife is of little use to you. If you roast meats larger than a turkey breast, you'll want a real slicer. I also prefer a petty/utility/couteau 'd office knife instead of a paring knife. Much easier to take apart a chicken.

    So - chef's knife. The most versatile. It lets you rock chop, some are built to let you push cut or chop. The western versions are built for occasional light butchery of chickens. The tip lets you do some fine work instead of grabbing a paring knife. You can slice a chicken breast or even turkey breast just fine with it. Anything bigger wants a longer, more narrow blade.
    The Santoku doesn't have the same versatility, but not everybody needs it. If you don't rock chop and can grab a paring knife this might be just fine for you..
    Paring knife - to me an expensive one isn't going to give me enough of a performance boost. Least versatile, but handy.
    Petty knife - this has far more use to me. You can trim meat, use it as a boning knife, and do fine work with it.

    After that, it has a lot to do with your own usage. If you process a lot of vegetables, a Chinese vegetable cleaver or a nakiri is excellent.

    Knives should fit your mechanics and usage. If you don't rock chop, a flatter profile on that chef's knife is good. Otherwise you want a big belly. If you hear a *thump* a lot when doing prep work, you want a European knife.
  6. Spideyjg


    Nov 7, 2017
    Everybody is different but those humped handles really are hit and miss for me. My Favorite knife is an F Dick Premier which has a slight hump, Chicago Cutllery had "ergonoming handles that had a high hump like those and I hate them. I say you have to lay hands on it.
  7. Phydeaux


    Mar 4, 2006
    If you can, find a shop that has a variety of kitchen knives. Handle the knives so you can get an idea of what shape and size of handle you like. Some places like Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table usually have a good selection of kitchen knives.

    Like others have said, just get the a few knives that you will use. I use a chef's knife, a couple of paring knives and a boning knife. These are good for most stuff I do in the kitchen.
  8. Spideyjg


    Nov 7, 2017
    In Covid world laying hands on a lot of knives may be iffy.
  9. MattyMatt


    Dec 26, 2020
    I’ve been to my local WS and while that had a decent selection of knives, none of them just knocked my socks off... I believe that I’ve narrowed myself down to the aforementioned Messermeister Kawashima line or the Miyabi Artisan line. Problem is I can’t lay my hand on either without just buying one a trying it out. Any comments regarding these 2 lines in particular?
  10. KenHash


    Sep 11, 2014
    Hi Matt
    The Messermeister Kawashima line is manufactured by Suncraft in Seki Japan which has been in business since 1948. In fact, "Kawashima" is the last name of the president/owner. See website: SUNCRAFT
    Miyabi of course is made in Seki Japan also at Zwilling's Seki factory they opened in 2004. Both are established makers and I don't think there's any need to worry about quality. Neither are going to be steel different from what's represented or fall apart on you.
    If the handle shape/size and that distinct blade profile (looks more like a Bunka to me) on that Messermeister works for you, fine. I have never even seen one, whereas I've handled Miyabis.
    The only maker in Japan that I can think of who makes R2 knives with fairly thick handles is Saji Takeshi. But his stuff can be a bit more costly. Plus you may be looking for more handle than he offers. But it's top quality.
    Takeshi Saji Custom Knife Collections From JapaneseChefsKnife.Com
    These days if you go buy knives at WS, Sur La Table, BBB etc, you'll only see Wustoff, Zilling/Henckels, Sabatier, Global and Shun.But at least you can handle them if you want. Your 2 choice candidates make it clear that you want a big thick handle. If you buy from Amazon (ships from Amazon) you can return it no questions asked. That's one way you can handle one before keeping for good.
    As others have correctly mentioned, it is generally better to but knives separately as needed to suit your cooking, rather than a full "set". However some people may find it easier to go that route.
  11. MattyMatt


    Dec 26, 2020
    Ken Hash, thanks for the info, I THINK. You’ve gone ahead and introduced options that will consume more of my time! In all reality, I think I’ll be staying in the $200-$250 range for a Chef knife. We honestly don’t eat much bread in our house, so I can’t see spending any money there, but I will certainly be getting a matching paring knife and utility. I’ve read nothing but rave reviews about the Vic boning knife, so I may go that route as far as a “utility” knife, and match that with their slicer.

    Thanks for replies, and keep the replies coming! The research has been a lot of fun
  12. coxhaus


    Nov 8, 2006
    Henckels makes a nice 4-star boning knife 5.5-inch I believe. They also make a 7.25-inch version which I use as a filet knife for cleaning fish.

    To me I would buy as big of a chef knife as I could find. I only like using my big chef knife for things like watermelon, spaghetti squash, and cutting chickens in half, etc. I have 4 chef knives.
  13. Khromo


    May 25, 2018
    I strongly agree with those suggesting you handle a few different ones side by side. That process only takes a couple of seconds. You'll get rid of a few immediately, and the process becomes pretty easy.

    I just decided to move along from our Kramer by Zwilling Stainless knives, and I wound up with Miyabi Artisan SG2 knives. I wanted to move on from the Kramers because the seams in the handles were starting to get prominent, and because I wanted the challenge of sharpening SG2.

    The Miyabi Artisans look and feel like jewelry. In my (left) hand, they balance beautifully, and they cut like lasers. Thin, moderate weight (8" chef was about 200 grams?), very comfortable, and most importantly they felt good in both my wife and my hands. I can't comment on maintenance yet. They are lot more elegant looking than those bottom line Kramers, although we loved handling the Kramers as much or more.

    Only other comment I would make is that those Kramers were made of Swedish Sandvick 13C26, often described or dismissed as a mid-line steel. I was extremely impressed by how well the edges held up, and by how easy they were to touch up. Over a few years I put a couple of the heavy use knives on the stones once or twice. There may be a few in there that I didn't put on a stone at all. I used a 12" ceramic rod from Messermeister when they stopped popping hair, and wow! They were fine for months.

    Moral of the story is mid-line steels these days can be outstanding performers, so if it fits you hand,...

    The magic handle for me, if I wasn't intent on SG2 steel, was the flattened hexagon on the Miyabi Koh line. Those knives felt like I was holding hands with a supermodel! Sandvick 13C26, fits my hand like my own skin, lightweight (8" chef is about 170 grams?), unbelievable balance (!!!), reasonable price, and if they heat treat them as well as Kramer they will perform great.
  14. MattyMatt


    Dec 26, 2020
    Khromo, do you have the Rocking Santoku in the Miyabi Artisan line? Trying to choose between the 8” Chef and the Rocking Santoku. The Rocking Santoku would fit my cooking style well, just wondering if you had any comments between the two.

  15. Khromo


    May 25, 2018
    Sorry, Matt I got the 7" and the 5" (1/2"?) santoku blades, but not the rocking version. The 7" santoku has about the same curvature as the chef.

    My wife is slicing up an eggplant as I type this. She is using the 7" santoku. It is a handful for her small, feminine hands, but she can handle it. She's just getting used to choking up on the handle a little, and it is starting to get more natural for her. Before she was trying to "steer" the blade from the rear of the handle, and that was not working well!
  16. Bilateral


    Jan 25, 2021
    Global has been mentioned on here by someone else, but it's worth saying that their forged knives are not only relatively affordable, but also very comfortable in the hand and perform well in the kitchen. Their GF-33 8.25" knife is pretty fantastic as production knives come.
    MattyMatt likes this.

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