Last updated 03.31.23 — Here are six recommendations that cover some of the best chef knives around—each produced by a different world-class knifemaker. This short list is designed not only to highlight quality chef knives, but to give you a sense of what’s out there (a lot!) and help you find the knife that’s right for you.
Best Chef Knives Overview
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S Chef Knife
- Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku
- Messermeister Meridian Elite Stealth Chef Knife
- Global Santoku (G-48)
- MAC MTH-80 – Professional Series Chef Knife with Dimples
- Shun Classic Chef Knife
Manufacturing quality kitchen knives, especially hundreds at a time, is no simple task. It takes high-grade steel, skilled tradesmen, rigorous quality-control systems, and, ideally, your own heat-treating facilities (a very expensive proposition). Not all knifemakers are up to the task, especially a lot of newbie companies springing up like wildflowers. The kitchen knife brands in the list above—Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Wusthof, Messermeister, Global, MAC, and Shun—all have proven track records and lifetime warranties. Some have been making knives for hundreds of years.
The first three brands are centered in Germany, the last three in Japan. I have purposely contrasted German chef knives to Japanese in order to expose you to the two major approaches to kitchen knifemaking in the world today. Most chef knives you come across today are either from one tradition or the other, or are a blend. If you’re curious and want more on this, click on down the page.
The chef knives I’m sweet on for this article range from $100 to $200—though if you monitor the ever-fluctuating prices you may grab a deal. They are by no means the top of the heap—for price tags in kitchen knifedom can get pretty steep, quickly getting into hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. (Please read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife to get more backstory on how to choose the knife that’s right for you.)
If you’re concerned about moola, please remember that your best chef knives, depending on how hard you use them and how well you take care of them, can easily last 25 years or more. I’m not exaggerating. Plus, they’re the single most important tool in your entire kitchen. (What would compete, your large sauté pan?) If you dollar-cost average the price of one of the most expensive knives on this list (say, the Shun Classic for $185), over 25 years it would cost you a whopping $8 per year! So try to see the BIG picture.
If you’re in a hurry—do not pass Go, do not collect $200—go straight to the end of this article to Quick Takes or Pros and Cons.
Best Chef Knives Testing — Malarky
Although I own all six chef knives on this best chef knives list and have used them to chop onions, quarter cantaloupes, slice tomatoes, and more—I have not officially “tested” them. Huh?
Yep. I have declined to put these knives through a series of, supposedly, quantifiable kitchenistic tasks and use their perceived performance as a basis of rating each knife. Why? Because I don’t think it’s accurate or, in the long-run, truly useful to the consumer. Because, in the end, the main thing you’re testing is just how sharp the factory edge is. And, while it is more than nice to buy a chef knife with a razor-sharp factory edge—on average, the factory sharpitude of your new knife, even if you hone it religiously, will probably only last a year or two max. Not 25 years. Not even five.
So why make the sharpness of the factory edge the end-all criteria for whether or not a chef knife works for you? Especially if there’s another blade you love in every other way except that it doesn’t happen to be quite as out-of-the-box sharp.
No matter where you live, you can ship your favorite chef knife off to a top-notch professional sharpener and they will give you an edge sharper than most factories. There, problem solved. But other, more permanent, characteristics can’t be so easily tweaked. Like the feel of the handle. The weight. The size of the blade. The look and style of the knife. These you can’t change. . .so why not be happy with them?
Don’t get me wrong, some kind of testing, including sharpness, can be useful. A quick perusal of Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services will demonstrate I can be a manic tester. And don’t get me wrong again—you definitely want a chef knife that can take a fine edge and hold it. But in a review designed to help you choose a life-long kitchen partner (i.e. chef knife), absolute sharpitude from the factory shouldn’t be the only event, the prime criteria, for choosing one knife over another. Especially since razor sharpness can so easily be gained later on if necessary.
(Nevertheless, I do address the odds of maximum factory sharpitude near the bottom of this article under the heading Best Chef Knives Mostly Likely to Emerge from the Box Scary Sharp.)
Stainless Steel vs. High-Carbon Stainless Steel vs. Carbon Steel
All of the knives I recommend are stainless steel or as current marketers love to declare, “high-carbon stainless steel.” Is there a difference? Not much. All steel has carbon and all stainless steels have very similar amounts of carbon that might vary only by .5 percent. There’s not a dramatic difference (as far as the carbon’s concerned) between stainless steel and high-carbon stainless steel. . .it’s more in the name.
On the other hand. . .there is a huge difference between “high-carbon stainless steel” and just plain “carbon steel.” Carbon steel lacks a healthy dose of chromium (10.5 to 30%)—which is the element that allows stainless steel to resist corrosion. Thus, carbon steel can rust pretty darn easy while stainless cannot. On the other, other hand. . .high-caliber carbon steel can take a finer/sharper edge and hold it for a longer time than most stainless steels.
Soooo, as in most things in life (except chocolate), there are always trade offs. . .
OK. . .off we go!
• • •
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S Chef Knife, 8-Inch
BUY NOW $100–160 @ Amazon
Zwilling J.A. Henckels is one of the largest knifemakers in the world and has been around since the 1700s. They produce over 24 different lines of knives (if you include Henckels Classic and others), so it’s especially important to be clear what model you’re buying.
Like most of Zwilling’s top-tier lines, the Professional S is manufactured in Solingen, Germany where their core factories are located. Zwilling/Henckels also has factories in Spain and, as a newer development, in Japan as well. It’s in Japan where they produce one of their latest creations, knives designed by Bob Kramer, the American bladesmith who has set the bar high for kitchen-knife quality.
The Professional S is forged from one hunk of steel—and with a bolster, a full-tang, and a three-rivet handle, it’s as classic as it gets. Although the handle’s been made to look and feel like wood, it’s not. Wood handles are no longer the norm (although they’re making a comeback!) and most manufacturers assume customers would rather have the longevity offered by a synthetic material. (Below: the Professional S handle close-up)
I inherited a Professional S chef knife from my Mom and it has been one of the mainstays of our kitchen. I’ve always loved the feel—nicely balanced with a little heft, but nothing that tires my hand out (for the record, I don’t spend hours prepping). I got it professionally sharpened many moons ago and with regular honing its kept it’s edge. Believe it not, it can still slice tomatoes. This is proof the steel (though by no means the hardest out there) has been properly heat-treated.
In order to be up-to-date for this review, I took a close look at a brand new Professional S to compare to my older one. No surprise, Zwilling has upgraded in the intervening years, converting the finish on the handle to matte (much hipper) and making and the blade thickness a touch thinner (to compete with the Japanese invasion). Otherwise, everything else seems unchanged—same blade shape, same handle, same great feel.
I confess, I was curious about mildly testing the factory-edge sharpitude of this new Professional S because, to the touch, it appeared quite decent. So I ran it through my newsprint magazine cutting test (see Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services) which it passed with flying colors, easily slicing full half moons. While this is only one, solitary knife, it’s definitely a good sign.
The Professional S comes in two sizes, an 8-inch and 10. (There’s also a 6-inch, but that’s too small for an all-purpose blade.)
Please be aware that Zwilling/Henckels makes a very, very similar model of chef knife, the Henckels Classic, which is manufactured in Spain and goes for less than half the price of the Professional S. (To add to the confusion, it used to be called the Henckels International.) Although it’s a respectable forged knife, it’s not hewn in Soligen, Germany, does not go through the same heat treatment, and isn’t as beautifully finished. (Below: Henckels Classic chef knife—in a photo it appears identical to the Professional S.)
The Henckels Classic has garnered some positive press because it’s an especially good bang for the buck. It deserves it. Nevertheless, for the long-term, and if you appreciate finer finishing, I think the Professional S is a better investment. And rest assured, if you were to compare them side by side, handle them both in your hands, you would be able to tell them apart.FEEL FACTOR | Handle girth: average / Weight: 8.75 oz / Total length: 13.25 inches
The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S is the heaviest and thickest of the roster of knives in this review (it pretty much ties with the Messermeister Meridian Elite Stealth in weight)—but it’s really not all that heavy or thick. Most home cooks are accustomed to this weight and enjoy the way its gentle, gravitational pull helps them when they slice downward. But some may opt for lighter and nimbler. The only time I’ve noticed the thickness of the blade slowing things down a tad is when doing horizontal slices into an onion (the first series of cuts out of three when dicing an onion like a pro). For the remaining, vertical, slices, it’s not much of an issue.
See my Best Chef Knives Specs chart at the end of the reviews to compare specs for all the knives. (Note: All specs listed for Zwilling/Henckels are for the latest model.)
• Zwilling/Henckels now makes the Pro line (no “S”) that sports a stripped down bolster which makes the blade easier to pinch grip as well as sharpen. The blade also has a slightly different shape—a steeper curve to the belly and a longer flat area. (See photo below.) Contrary to the Henckels Classic, the Pro is made in the same German factory as the Professional S, touts the same level of quality, and it’s price reflects it: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro Chef Knife, $120–160 @ Amazon / Sur la Table
• If you’d rather have a classic-shaped blade (as in the Professional S), but like everything else about the new Pro, you can get the Pro “Traditional.”
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro Traditional Chef Knife, $120–160 @ Sur la Table
• If you prefer to buy Wusthof—which I discuss below—they make a very similar model to the Professional S: Wusthof Classic Chef Knife, $150–200 @ Amazon / Sur la Table
Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku, 7-Inch
BUY NOW $130–200 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof is the other of the “Big Two” German knifemakers and some pros swear by it over Henckels because they feel the quality is higher. Not sure if this perception is justified, but it’s probably aided by the fact Wusthof has been family-owned and run for almost 200 years. Interesting enough, both Wusthof and Henckels are manufactured in Solingen (along with dozens of other blademakers) which is one of the knife-making capitals of the world.
I recommend looking at the Wusthof Classic Ikon santoku as a contrast to a traditional chef knife because:
1) it’s a santoku, Japanese-style blade, which many home cooks prefer. It gives you the width of a longer knife without the more cumbersome length. And it’s noticeably thinner and lighter than your standard, German 8-inch chef knife. This thinness gives you less resistance when slicing through dense materials like carrots and squash. A big plus!
2) the Classic Ikon curved handle might feel better in your hands
3) it looks cool.
Whether or not you like a bolster is up to you, it is no measure of quality. . .
Like the Henckels chef knife above, this santoku is fully forged and has a full tang. But, unlike the Henckels, it does not host a full bolster. Whether or not you like a bolster is up to you, it’s no measure of quality—but not having one will make the knife easier to sharpen.
The Classic Ikon santoku also features a scalloped edge that is all the rage—to, theoretically, keep food from sticking. (This is most effective for only certain kinds of slicing, but it sure looks cool.) Because this model is in the Japanese-style, but made by a German knifemaker, I would call it a hybrid. (Henckels makes santokus as well.)
If you like the santoku style, but don’t care about the Ikon’s curvy handle and would like to save some cash, check out the santoku Wusthof makes in the Classic line. The feel will vary slightly (because of the different handle), but the blade itself will be exactly the same. You’re paying extra for the handle.FEEL FACTOR | Handle girth: slim / Weight: 7 oz / Total length: 12 inches
I love using this Wusthof santoku to slice up melons, mince onion for guacamole, and to perform pretty much any other kitchen-knifeian task. The only time I feel it’s compact size gets slightly overwhelmed is when fine-chopping large quantities of zucchini, carrots, and other veggies.
Though the curved handle is a touch slimmer than your average chef knife (aka the Henckels above), it’s ergonomically satisfying. It’s also lighter—but definitely doesn’t feel like a toy. Plus, I must admit, I don’t mind the oohs and aahs I get when wielding it in front of guests. (So shallow, I know.)
Although I have had this knife professionally sharpened, I distinctly remember it being very sharp straight from the factory. I acquired three Wusthof blades around the same time—a santoku, a nakiri, and a chef knife—and the two Japanese hybrids were noticeably sharper than the chef knife. All three had been sharpened using Wusthof’s patented PEtec sharpening system (using laser guides for accuracy and consistency). But I think because the santoku and nakiri are thinner blades, the PEtec system gave them finer/sharper edges. No complaints here!
Don’t forget to peruse my Best Chef Knives Specs chart at the end of the reviews to compare specs.
If you want to learn more about all things Wusthofian,
make sure to visit Wusthof Knives—a Buyer’s Guide.
Two of my Best Chef Knives entries are, technically speaking, not chef knives at all. They’re Japanese-styled santoku blades (santoku means “three virtues” in Japanese). But I have included them as alternatives to the standard 8-inch chef knife for those of you who feel intimidated by a larger knife, or simply prefer using a smaller-sized blade. For the majority of kitchen tasks, you might not miss the extra inch and appreciate the smaller footprint.
I easily slice up large onions, yams, and honeydews with my santokus (although if you feast on large watermelons all summer long, you might prefer a larger knife). It’s amazing how many tasks I can get done with a “three virtues” blade—but I am cooking for a family of three. If you’re prepping meals from scratch five-nights-a-week for a family of four or more, then I would point you towards a standard 8-inch chef knife (or maybe even longer). It’s better suited for the pure volume of food. (By the way, even though santokus lack a pointy chef-knife tip, I rarely miss it.)
If you go the santoku route, please be aware to buy a 7-inch and nothing smaller. Most models come in two sizes, and the smaller (around 5-inches) is definitely not long enough to serve as your mainstay kitchen knife.
Messermeister Meridian Elite Stealth Chef Knife, 8-Inch
BUY NOW $125–150 @ Amazon / 9-inch, $130–170 @ Amazon
Messermeister knives, like the name sounds, are rooted in Germany—manufactured in the very same German town (Solingen) as the preceding knives from the Big Two. While Messermeister is not as familiar a name as Henckels and Wusthof, they’re no less revered for their quality. As a matter of fact, their forging process (Meridian Elite is hot-drop hammer forged) is closer to the older style of doing things than either Henckels or Wusthof.
The Meridian Elite Stealth makes my Best Chef Knives list for a couple of reasons:
1) it’s highly recommended by Chad Ward in his book An Edge in the Kitchen as being super-sharp. It comes from the factory with a highly polished edge that Ward claims is superior to any of the “big-name knife brands” and will hold it for a substantial amount of time
2) it has a partial bolster which makes it easier to sharpen (and is a nod to Japanese knives).
Messermeister has been a trailblazer in German kitchenknifedom. They were the first to produce a forged chef knife without a full bolster (yes, before Wusthof and Henckels), and. . .the first to sharpen their blades to a sassy 15-degree angle. (The old German standard being 20-22 degrees.)
The blade on a Stealth chef knife is about 25 percent thinner and (thus)
10 percent lighter…
They’re also the first to manufacture an alternate version of their premium forged lines which they name “stealth.” The blade on a Stealth chef knife is about 25 percent thinner and (thus) 10 percent lighter than the traditional model. Less resistance while slicing and less weight to fatigue your arm. A home cook might not notice much difference. But a pro, wielding the blade eight hours a day, surely should. Cool idea, to offer the customer a choice!
I definitely prefer the Stealth version of the Meridian Elite and that is what I recommend. I found the thickness and weight of the original a bit unwieldy. Nonetheless, some cooks love the feel of a weighty blade and may not mind the thickness. More power to them—they can acquire the original. (For the record, the original Meridian Elite 8-inch is a little over an ounce heavier and almost a millimeter thicker than the Stealth.)FEEL FACTOR | Handle girth: average to slim / Weight: 8.38 oz / Total length: 13.5 inches
As you would assume, this puppy feels very similar to my beloved Zwilling/Henckels Professional S except that the Messermeister’s handle happens to be slimmer. (This is true for both the Original and the Stealth.) So if you enjoy the feel of a traditional German chef knife, but wouldn’t mind a more svelte handle, you might prefer Messermeister over Henckels. I’m on the fence myself—it depends on the day. (Below: Zwilling/Henckels, Wusthof, and Messermeister—the Messermeister sports the widest blade and, along with the Wusthof, has a half-bolster for easier sharpening.)
Along with the slender handle, the Meridian Elite Stealth’s blade is ever-so-slightly thinner (than the Professional S) and ever-so-slightly wider at the heel. Plus, the overall weight is lighter by almost half an ounce. So what do these subtle differences mean? 1) You’re getting slightly less resistance. I’ve already discussed this, so, by now, you should know what that means. 2) More chopping dominion—the spine stays above the food. 3) More mobility, less clunkiness. These are all positives in my book and warrant giving the Messermeister serious consideration.
Performance-wise, the Messermeister has put me in a pickle and is one of the most glaring reasons I refuse to judge these six recommended knives strictly by their factory edges. Let me explain. . .
I’ve acquired three different Messermeister forged chef knives: two 8-inch chefs—the original Meridian Elite and the Stealth; plus, a 9-inch Oliva Stealth (see the box below). All three blades are of the same caliber—the Oliva distinguishing itself with an olivewood handle.
Knife Nerds!! See my Best Chef Knives Specs at the end of the reviews to compare and contrast.
Out-the-box, the Oliva sliced a tomato effortlessly while with other two had problems. Because the cutting edges (on all of the Messermeisters) were thin and finely ground, and the blades beautifully polished, and, good old Chad Ward was so enamored of them, I figured the Meridian Elites might still have possibilities. So I tried steeling them with a ceramic hone (only half-a-dozen swipes per side) which probably put what’s called a miro-bevel on end of the edge and allowed them to slice through ‘maters just like the Oliva. Problem solved.
Is this what a consumer should be prepared to do? No, of course not. But if a knife or two slips by a high-grade knifemaker’s quality control, it doesn’t necessarily mean that manufacturer’s knife line is categorically inferior to that of another manufacturer. It all depends. The most important thing for the consumer to do is get as educated as possible and not judge solely by a single knife’s sharpitude. Especially if there are other aspects of a knife’s design that make them sweaty (yeah, I know, time to visit a therapist).
Messermeister Oliva Elite Stealth, 9-inch
BUY NOW $180–220 @ Amazon / 8-inch, $150–190 @ Amazon
Wow, am I a sucker for the olivewood handle. I was so taken by its beauty, the earthy feel of the unfinished wood, and the comfort of its curviness, that I almost swapped out the Meridian Elite in this list for the Oliva. Actually. . .I would have—if I hadn’t already taken all the group photos.
As for the rest of the knife—forged stainless-steel blade, high-grade finishing—Messermeister quality is all present and accounted for.FEEL FACTOR: Handle girth: average to chunky / Weight: 7.75 oz / Total length: 14.75 inches / Width at heel: 2 inches / Spine thickness: 2.7 mm
As you might guess, the handle on the Oliva not only looks different, but feels quite different from the Meridian. It’s bigger, it’s chunkier, it’s more to hang onto. As a matter of fact, it sort of ties with the Shun as chunkiest handle in this list of knives. I absolutely love it. . .but I probably lean towards heftier handles. Although, in general, I’m not very fussy and I find my hand easily adapts to the shape of whatever it’s holding (as long as it’s sharp!).
Another unexpected benefit of the Oliva Elite Stealth, 9-inch (the only size Oliva I’ve sampled so far) is that, even though it’s long, it’s light. At 7.75 ounces, it weighs even less than the 8-inch Meridian Elite Stealth and Henckels Pro S. This is mainly due to the fact that the Oliva is constructed with a partial-tang—i.e. the steel from the blade does not run all the way through the handle to the end.
Full-tang used to be one of the must-haves in a quality chef knife, but those days are long gone. We’re not butchering buffalo haunches here. So if you’re in the market for a longer chef knife, but are concerned about arm fatigue, or simply have an aversion to weighty cutlery, the Oliva 9-inch is an excellent option.
I’ve only got two quibbles:
1) Balance: The balance on the 9-inch is tipsy toward the blade. I rarely, if ever, notice. But if you’re finicky about balance, then it might bug you. For what it’s worth, the 8-inch Oliva should be more evenly balanced because there’s an inch less steel in the blade to tip it forward.
2) Finishing: The olivewood handle, from the factory, is virtually unsealed. So you must make a habit of rubbing it with mineral oil to protect it. You can use the same exact oil you should be using on your wooden cutting boards.
The Oliva Elite only comes in Stealth.
German versus Japanese Chef Knives
OK, I’ve touched on this already, but let me spell it out more clearly: The main differences between a German-made and Japanese-made chef knife are: 1) the thinness of the blade, and 2) the steel they’re made of. As a general rule, German knives are thicker than Japanese and hewn from steel that is not quite as hard. This is a design choice, not a manufacturing defect.
Let’s talk about thin. A thin Japanese blade feels a) lighter in your palm and b) glides more easily through food—especially denser stuff like potatoes, pork loin, etc. While you may grow to appreciate the smoother slicing, it’s not the sort of lightening-bolt event that’s going to make you jump up and down crying, “Eureka, eureka!” It’s subtle. On the other hand. . .the lack of weightiness will immediately make an impression on you. And it will take you a while to totally acclimate to it. That’s OK, it’s worth getting used to.
In addition—a thinner blade makes the knife a bit more delicate, easier to permanently bend or (believe it or not) break through prying or torquing.
Let’s talk about steel. Steel is a monster topic, but the Cliff Notes version is that the make-up of steel and the way it’s heat-treated can affect the way that steel behaves considerably. The steel in a German knife will tend to be tough and able to withstand abuse, but won’t be as hard as Japanese steel. Thus, the cutting edge will wear down more quickly and need to be sharpened more often. Japanese steel will tend to take a finer edge and hold it longer. But because its hardness also makes it brittle, it’s more likely to chip or crack under stress (i.e. mistreatment). It’s simply not as pliant or forgiving. You must take greater care.
Neither steel is perfect. So it’s up to the cook to understand what kind of knives they need in their kitchen and be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. For what it’s worth, I use both German and Japanese chef knives and rarely am I conscious of specifically choosing one over the other. But when I am conscious of it, there’s a very good reason.
What does all this mean in the real world?
- If you happen to knock a Shun chef knife (Japanese-made) off the counter on to a ceramic tile floor, you’ll be lucky if you don’t break a tip. Seriously.
- If you can’t be bothered to regularly steel/hone your knives, a Japanese chef knife will probably stay sharper for a longer time. (But if you hone regularly, you won’t notice as much a difference.)
- If you power through a chicken joint with a German knife, you will temporarily dull the edge, but probably not hurt it. But if you try the same trick with a Japanese blade (especially the last two in this list), you will seriously risk cracking or chipping an edge.
Moral of the story? German and Japanese chef knives both have their day. But don’t buy a Japanese knife unless you’re ready to care for it. Otherwise, you risk being sorely disappointed.
If you’re in a hurry. . .scroll down to Quick Takes and Pros and Cons.
Global Classic Santoku, 7-Inch (G-80 or G-48)
BUY NOW $90–130 @ Amazon / Sur La Table
Global revolutionized the kitchen-knife world in the 1980s by creating a series of high-performance knives that were on the cutting edge of fashion (forgive the pun), yet still affordable. Like traditional Japanese knives, they’re extremely light with a thin, razor-sharp edge. Yet in overall shape and design, they often owe as much to Western tradition as Japanese. That’s why I call them Japanese hybrids in that they graft one tradition of knifemaking onto another.
Most of Global’s knives are not forged, but made of a high-quality stainless steel that has been tempered and heat treated to new levels of sophistication. Global uses their own proprietary steel which they dub Chromova 18. Although its composition is very similar to the steel used in the German-made knives in this list (X50CrMoV15), that doesn’t mean it performs identically. There’s a lot more to steel than just a list of condiments.
If you review my Best Chef Knives Specs chart, you’ll see that the G-48 santoku is the thinnest and lightest of my recommended knives. This hints at why it’s so good at slicing (and doing everything else, for that matter) and why many professionals, like the late Anthony Bourdain, have a thing for the Global brand. It also doesn’t hurt that Global knives have long had a reputation of coming from the factory uber-sharp.
While the shape of the blade on the G-48 (G-80) is similar to the Wusthof santoku, the balance and feel is quite different. To say nothing of the styling. No major knife brand stands out as so stunningly modern. Also—although it appears the knife is made of a single piece of steel, it’s not. It’s actually three—the blade, and two sides of the handle which have all been welded together. (Interesting detail: Global injects the perfect amount of sand into the hollow handle to make it balance correctly.)
If you prefer a more traditional, chef-knife shape, but are still attracted to Global’s modern design, you should definitely audition the G-2 chef’s (shown above). The manufacturing process is identical to the G-48 santoku and it’s probably one of Global’s most popular knives. Or, if you’re curious about Global’s newest creations, I’d recommend checking out the SAI-01. The SAI’s sandwiched-steel construction departs, slightly, from that of the Classic collection, but the quality is just as high (or higher). And the textured, hammered-steel surface breaks new ground for Global.FEEL FACTOR | Handle girth: slim / Weight: 6 oz / Total length: 11.75 inches
Even though it looks like it might be slippery, the pebbled handle grips quite well. It’s been specifically designed to hug your fingers. I don’t like slippery knives and this is not one of them.
I’ve owned this santoku for over a decade and have had it sharpened only once by my favorite professional sharpener, Seattle Knife Sharpening. That would attest to the fact that Global’s steel holds its edge very well indeed. I’m embarrassed to admit I treasure it’s sharpitude so much I resist doing much chopping with it, but save it mainly for slicing. Which it does amazingly! (Crazy, I know.)
Again as with the Wusthof santoku (or any knife with less than an 8-inch blade), if you chop up large quantities of vegetables on a regular basis, you will feel a bit overwhelmed. It will cost you more time. That is the main liability of a slightly shorter blade. But. . .if you perform this kind of prep work, say, only once a month, I wouldn’t worry about it. The Global santoku can carry the day—maybe a touch easier than the Wusthof.
Watch my video, How to Chop an Onion Like a Sous Chef, to see the G-48 in action making quick work of the kitchen’s favorite root vegetable!
Kitchen Knife Basics
For all you eBook junkies who would rather snuggle up with with an iPad than click and scroll on a computer. Kitchen Knife Basics ($7.95) has got all the core material from the KitchenKnifeGuru website, but in an easy-to-read format that only an eBook can offer. You’ll learn about the most common edge styles for kitchen knives, what a hone (or steel) is and exactly how to use it, how to find and choose a quality sharpening service that’s not expensive—and much much more. You can even download a sample if you just want to get a taste!
MAC MTH-80 – Professional Series Chef Knife with Dimples, 8-Inch
BUY NOW $120–145 @ Amazon
MAC knives are one of the best kept secrets of the consumer kitchen knife market. Professionals rave about them with celeb chefs like Thomas Keller and the late Charlie Trotter unabashedly endorsing them as the ultimate cutting machine. But ask your average home gourmet, and odds are they’ve never heard of them. That has changed some in the past few years due to internet marketing, but MAC is still under the radar.
Japanese designed and manufactured, like Global, they’re a new breed of kitchen knife, a hybrid—that incorporates the harder and thinner Japanese steel with a Western-shaped blade. They’re not as stylish as Global, but probably even sharper. And (like Global) they’re also not forged, but highly machined.
The MTH-80 Professional is the workhorse of MAC’s various product lines and I’m guessing it’s the most popular because it offers the maximum sharpitude for your dollar. Plus, the welded-on bolster creates an unusual combination of super-thin blade with added weight that keeps it balanced in your hand more like a German-style knife. According to Gourmet Magazine, a MAC MTH-80 compared to your average chef knife is “the difference between a minivan and race car.” Care to take one out for a spin?
(Note: Please be careful not to confuse the MTH-80 Professional with the TH-80 – Chef Series 8-Inch Chef Knife with Dimples, a lower-level model that goes for $40 or more less.)FEEL FACTOR | Handle girth: slim / Weight: 7 oz / Total length: 12.75 inches
The MTH-80’s handle is on the slim side. For your average gal, and guys like me with smaller hands, this might be perfect. But if your chefing hand is large-ish and you want the handle on your chef knife to fill it, the MAC might, literally, leave you empty handed. (Below: MAC and Shun handles—Best Chef Knife with the smallest grip area next to the largest.)
Also: the shape of the blade on a MAC MTH-80 differs from your typical Western chef knife—it’s narrower at the tip, then gradually widens out to the heel. It’s not as consistently wide as its German cousins, closer to what the Japanese call a gyoto. The narrowness makes it nimble for slicing, while the width is still there where you need it most, close to the handle. But if you are accustomed to a more evenly broad blade, you’re going to need to make adjustments.
I don’t want to harp on this, but it’s worth noting: Of all the knives in this list, the MAC is the most guaranteed to come from the factory with a blistering sharp edge and keep it. Yes, MAC’s manufacturing formula helps—but it’s also their rigorous quality control. The head of marketing for the U.S. told me that in recent holiday seasons, they can barely keep up with orders. Why? Because they will not allow customer demand to put undo pressure on quality. They’d rather maintain the brand’s integrity, than sell more knives. Music to my ears. . .and not a strain you hear much in this age of instantaneous factory to market.
Final note: From the MAC warranty materials: “Do not cut on hard items (bones, frozen foods, shells, squashes, cheeses, chocolate).” Do you need any more proof that you must be mindful with a Japanese blade—this one in particular? Revel in the sharposity, but treat it like a lady.
(And if you’re ready to compare fine points between knives, don’t forget my Best Chef Knives Specs chart at the end of the reviews.)
Miyabi Kaizen II Paring Knife,
BUY NOW @ Sur La Table
Yeah, I know, this is supposed to be about chef knives. But this is one gorgeous paring knife that will skin a peach like there’s no tomorrow. Damascus-patterned steel wrapped around the latest hi-tech core that will take a fine edge and keep it. I bought one for myself a year ago and I still get a secret little thrill every time I slice up an apple. It’s light, but stays in your hand because the handle has some girth.
Miyabi, as the name suggests, is a true-blue Japanese knife manufacturer acquired by Henckels in 2004. The majority of Miyabi knives available in the U.S. are Japanese/German hybrids—thin Japanese blades designed in the shapes/functions Westerners are accustomed to (chef knife, paring, boning, etc).
Of course, if what you really need is a chef knife, then scope out the Miyabi Kaizen II which is often on sale. The Miyabi brand exudes so much quality and style that soon I’ll need to add it to the list as Recommendation #7.
Shun Classic Chef Knife, 8-Inch
BUY NOW $130–185 @ Amazon / Sur La Table
Shun, along with Global, is one of the most popular and well-known Japanese brands in the U.S. of “A.” It’s no wonder their flagship line, Shun Classic, is very attractive and very sharp. They’re manufactured in Seki City, Japan, which, along with Solingen, is another knife-making capital.
Don’t let the beautiful Damascus design on the blade fool you—it’s much more than a pretty face. Sandwiched between 32 layers of swirly-patterned softer steel (16 layers per side) lies a slim, hard core that creates the edge. At Rockwell 61, it’s harder than all the knives on this list. Which gives it the ability to hold a 16-degree edge for a very long time.
The sandwiched construction—derived from samurai swords—has a dual purpose. First, and foremost, it protects the hard but brittle core and allows the knife to flex without cracking or breaking. Second, the 16 layers on each side host the intricate Damascus pattern that embellishes the blade.
Traditionally, “Damascus steel” referred to a centuries-old technique (from the Middle East) of melding layers and layers of metal, not only to decorate, but to forge incredible strength, flexibility, and sharpitude into a sword. It could empower you with the ability to slice your enemy’s saber in two. . .that kind of thing. This Damascus technique was, supposedly, lost. As of late, the term Damascus has been more widely used to describe a patterned visual effect created with very thin layers of steel. More style than structure. But the legend of Damascus’s cutting power still lives on and there are master bladesmiths who feel they are rediscovering it.
I must admit when I first unpacked my new Shun 6-inch chef knife a few years back, I was stunned at how light it was. For someone accustomed to weightier German blades, the lightness felt almost chintzy. Silly me. Over time, I’ve now come to fully appreciate the way the lean, sleek blade can slice through denser foods with less resistance than my thicker German knives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to abandon ship—but it’s great to have Shun as an option.
Another reason the Shun Classic is on this Best Chef Knives list is its babelicious Pakkawood handle. Pakkawood is a man-made laminate, similar in construction to plywood, except that it’s many more layers sealed under super-high pressure with a resin. It’s easy to care for, highly water resistant, and just like natural wood, no two handles are identical.
Along with it’s beauty, the shape of the Shun handle, derived from traditional Japanese blades, reads distinctive to Westerners. The rounder, D-shaped contour fits certain cook’s hands better than those of other knives. So, if a typical Western-style knife handle has never felt comfy enough, here’s another way to go. (Below: Shun Classic chef knife handle close-up)
Of the three Japanese-made blades, the Shun is the largest blade in total square inches. If you look at the “Width at Heel” number on my Best Chef Knives Specs chart, it won’t be evident. But if you combine the Shun’s width with it’s actual blade length (longest of all the knives), you can begin to see just how sumptuous the blade is.
What does this mean in practical terms? For one thing: If you chop a lot of veggies in your kitchen, the Shun’s spine will ride hide and not get lost in the mound of choppings. This will hold true for the Henckels and Messermeister as well who take up similar amounts of real estate. And, if instead of the Wusthof santoku, you opted for one of Wusthof’s standard chef knives, it would hold true for it as well. These are broad, high-riding knives which allow for bountiful scooping (of those mounds of chopped vegetables) into soup pots. So if that’s your schtick—put these knives at the top of your list.
Shun has a number of other knife lines worth looking into (Premier, Dual Core, Kanso) which tend to go up in price from here. They also do, what I call, “spin-offs”—which keep the same basic blade and design, but simply swap out the handle. One of their latest is the Classic Blonde—the same exact knife (as the Shun Classic), but with a pale Pakkawood finish for the handle (see above).
Want to see to the Shun Classic chef knife in motion? Watch How to Cut a Pineapple Like a Pro where KitchenKnifeGuru wields a six-incher on an innocent pineapple!
For more recommendations on Japanese chef knives, make sure to visit: Best Japanese Chef Knives — Six Recommendations.
Best Chef Knives Specs
|Blade length—actual |
cutting edge (inches):
|Overall length (inches):||13.25||12||13.5||11.75||12.75||13.5|
|Width at heel (inches):||1.81||1.69||1.94||1.81||1.94||1.88|
|Thickness at spine (mm):||3.0||2.5||2.8||1.9||2.6||2.2|
|Handle length—grip area |
|Handle girth:||average||slim||avg to |
|slim||slim||avg to |
| *Rockwell Hardness (or HRC) is an internationally recognized system for evaluating the hardness of steel. Most kitchen knives run somewhere between HRC 56 to HRC 61. The higher the number, the harder the steel.|
Visual Comparison of Chef Knives Only
Notice how the MAC’s handle and blade shape stand out from the rest.
Left to right from longest to shortest in overall length.
Width at Heel
The knife with the narrowest width at heel (Wusthof) next to the widest (Messermeister).
Best Chef Knives Mostly Likely to Emerge from the Box Scary Sharp
OK, I still can’t resist giving you some kind of broad roadmap regarding the cutting performance of these recommended knives out-of-the-box. (You know you want it, don’t you?) So lets make a prioritized list.
The data for this list comes from informally testing the factory edges of brand-new knives, as well as professionally-sharpened edges of used knives, on 1) ripe greenhouse tomatoes, 2) news print, and 3) other veggies and fruits (including melons, onions, carrots, etc.). Plus, 4) using the knives in various everyday kitchen-knife tasks, 5) understanding their construction and the make-up of their steel, and 6) gathering opinions through the kitchen-knife grapevine. (Below: Best Chef Knives onion-cutting tests)
The knives grouped in twos are too close to call. The biggest noticeable difference in probability of factory-edge sharpitude should be between the three main groups.
1) MAC MTH-80 – Professional Series Chef Knife
2) Global Santoku (G-48)
3) Shun Classic Chef Knife
4) Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku
5) Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S Chef Knife
6) Messermeister Meridian Elite Stealth Chef Knife
Just remember: No matter what knife you buy—after it has been used for a year or two, and then sharpened by a quality professional sharpening service—it’s cutting performance will be very very close to every other knife on this list. What matters most in the long run is high-caliber sharpening followed by zero abuse and regular honing. These will guarantee kitchen-knife nirvana. Not the ultimate chef knife. . .
Haven’t had enough? Check out my favorite kitchen knife sets at Best Chef Knife Sets.
QUICK TAKES — Best Chef Knives
Forged German steel through and through, Henckels and Messermeister will feel the most solid. While there is nothing to be gained by beating up your kitchen knives, these will put up with the most abuse.
Light and Nimble
The MAC, Global, and Wusthof should be at the top of your list if your need a-gile, mo-bile. . .
The Shun and Global would be hard to beat. The Shun is designed in classic contemporary; the Global in high-tech modern. The Wusthof also, with it’s curved handle, has some extra swish. (And rest assured, there’s no sacrifice of performance for looks in any of these knives.)
Knowing you want a knife with a classic look and feel that will never go out of style, the Zwilling/Henckels is your man (or the Wusthof Classic). These are the closest to a vintage chef knife.
For Smaller-Size Hands
If you have smaller hands and want your knife to fit snuggly, the Wusthof, MAC, and Global should be your first picks. The handles on all three are more streamlined and less bulky.
For Larger Hands
If you have larger hands or simply enjoy a meaty knife handle, the Shun wins hands down—followed by Henckels and Messermeister. The handles are long and the width of the blades should keep your knuckles from banging the countertop. (Actually, the Global will work pretty well in this regard as well—it’s pretty roomy.)
Master of Sharpitude
Finally, if you crave sharposity, if you’re aching to get your paws on one of the meanest slicing-and-dicing machines on the planet—go with the MAC. You will not be disappointed. (Though Global should give it a run for the money.)
PROS AND CONS — Best Chef Knives
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S Chef Knife
– Classic design and feel
– Durable, tough steel; can withstand hard/tough foods; hard to chip, crack, or break
– Weighty (although this is both a pro and a con depending on your preference)
– Softer steel requires sharpening more often
BUY NOW. . .
Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku
– Stylish, unusual design
– Curvy ergonomic, handle; slimmer than traditional
– Compact, but broad blade
– Durable, tough steel
– Thinner blade; less resistance and sharper factory edge
– Not as easy cutting cumbersome veggies/fruits or chopping large quantities
– Softer steel requires sharpening more often
BUY NOW. . .
Messermeister Meridian Elite Stealth Chef Knife
– Classic design; but slightly thinner and lighter
– Slightly wider/longer blade than Henckels
– Slimmer handle
– Durable, tough steel; slightly harder HRC than Henckels, might not need to be sharpened as often
– Weighty (but slightly less than Henckels)
– Factory edge might need minor honing/touching up
– Softer steel requires sharpening more often
BUY NOW. . .
Global Santoku (G-80 or G-48)
– Modern, distinctive design
– Thin blade (less resistance), but pretty durable
– Light feel
– Slim handle
– Reputation of super-sharp factory edge
– Steel a blend of East meets West—hard, but not overly brittle
– Compact length, but full width
– Handle a touch less grippy
– Must be a touch more careful than with traditional German knife
BUY NOW. . .
MAC MTH-80 – Professional Series Chef Knife with Dimples
– Hybrid East-meets-West design
– Thin blade (less resistance)
– Nimble and light feel, but full length
– Slim handle
– Reputation of razor sharp factory edge
– Harder steel, thus finer cutting edge and better retention
– Must be extra careful because of thinness and harder steel (bones, etc.)
– Cannot use on hard, dense foods like autumn squash, block chocolate, etc.
BUY NOW. . .
Shun Classic Chef Knife
– Beautiful Damascus blade and Pakkawood handle
– Largest blade, ideal for chopping; lighter than comparably-sized Western knife
– Substantial, non-Western style handle
– Reputation of very sharp factory edge
– Hardest steel of all knives in this list, thus best retention
– Must be extra careful because of thinness and harder steel (bones, etc.)
– Cannot use on hard, dense foods like autumn squash, block chocolate, etc.
– Don’t drop on hard floor or porcelain/steel sink!
BUY NOW. . .
Six up, six down! As you can see, there are a lot of wonderful knives out there. Hopefully this short list of best chef knives has given you a taste of the possibilities. Remember, stay with quality brands—there’s no free lunch—and stay with what feels and works best for you. It’s your body. It’s your kitchen.
And don’t forget the KitchenKnifeGuru.com motto: “Have fun in the kitchen!”
• • •
Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity. Guess I will just bookmark this blog.
Thanks, Nasplastick! And don’t forget to sign up on my email list. It will guarantee you’ll get new blog entries. . .which I’m finally going to begin writing :)
Any list that includes Global knives is the equivalent to listing Mcdonald’s big mac as the best hamburger, silly.
Thanks for chiming in Glenn! From my experience, I don’t think there’s anything particularly lowbrow about Global’s quality or sharpitude. My G-48 has been resharpened by a fantastic pro sharpening service, so that might make a difference—but I remember the factory edge as being pretty darn sharp as well. Certainly just as sharp as my Shun Classic chef’s.
But it’s a big kitchen knife world out there and everybody’s welcome to their own opinion!
Hello I’m looking into buying a decent set of knives as a starter set – probably three on the usual cook/paring/other variety. Having read your reviews there seems to be a wide range of opinions out there! Any immediate recommendations? Global seem to get a good and not so good review in some places and I’m struggling to narrow it down! Budget is about £400 for the three.
I am working on a major revision of this article which will expand it to being four times it’s present length. Sorry it’s not ready yet.
But here are some more general tips. . .
– There are lots of great knives out there. You really can’t go wrong, as far as steel quality goes, if you stick to the major brands—which include some I couldn’t fit into this recommended list. But this list is an excellent place to start.
– I now own all of the knives in this recommended list and they all work fine in the kitchen. It just depends on what’s important to YOU.
– If you’re finicky, it’s really hard to choose a knife without having it in your hands.
– The biggest question is German versus Japanese. If you are rough on your knives, then you should go German. If you can be careful and mindful, then Japanese is an option. But there are some foods you should NOT cut with a Japanese knife. Global is really kind of in the middle, straddling both worlds. Their knives are thin and sharp, but the steel they use is not as hard or brittle as the other two makers on this list. So they can take more stress. . .like a German knife.
– What’s just as important, maybe even more, than the knives you buy is having a plan as to how you’re going to keep them SHARP.
– You should spend around half your budget on your chef knife. . .or at least around $140. Then divide up the rest. If you don’t care about how your bread knife looks, you can spend only $20-30 on it. It’s the least important, unless you eat a lot of bread :)
Here are some other pages on the KKG site which might be helpful. Some are not as up-to-date as they could be, but they should still shed some light. You should definitely peruse the entire KKG site. . .you’ll get an education:
P.S. Have you skimmed through the rest of the comments on this page? They cover a lot as well. . .
Anybody criticising a knife brand simply based on their own personal bias is silly and ridiculous! If a chef likes using Global, then who are you to criticize? Don’t be a tosser…!
I do not own Global knives but my friend has a whole big knife block full of them. And he has them for years. When we cook at his house there was never anybody complaining about the Global knives. I have big hands so they are not for me, but I do enjoy working with them at my friends place.
Very strange comment. GLOBAL makes excellent products that will cover the needs ANY serious home chef. I have been using a G2 chef knife in my kitchen for more than 20 years. I recently had it professionally sharpened which totally revitalized it and made it frighteningly sharp. My most resent purchase is a 01 knife from the SAI series.
Totally different animal. And, in fact, my dream knife in terms of look, and the best handle and weight I have ever experienced with any knife—having worked in professional kitchen and used knifes that are 4-5 times more expensive than a “humble” Global.
Are they a really commercial brand? – oh sure! That, however, does not make them bad by any means. Can you have better? – Of course you can. I also had a really good experience with a Chinese manufactured knife from V&B which came as a sticker collection deal in my local supermarket. In fact, quite a kick-ass knife at around half the price of Global.
However, choosing Global you will NEVER go wrong as an amateur home cook. That my two cents!
What profesional sharpener did you get for global knives?
Sorry to be so delayed. I used Seattle Knives on my santoku and that was many years ago, and with proper care and regular honing the edge has remained amazingly sharp. Unfortunately, Bob Tate (of Seattle Knives) has relocated and is still trying to reopen his shop. If you don’t want to wait, I would feel very comfortable using KySharp’s Premium sharpening or Art of Sharp (in Chicago).
Al Mar (thinner steel, but very affordable), Tojiro, Mac Pro (or Damascus), Shun, Masamoto or or Bu-Rei-Zen. These are real knives, but still not the best kitchen knives in the world.
Which ones are?
If you see below, I was curious, too. But Glenn has been too busy to ever get back to us.
I don’t think it’s any loss though, because the purpose of this article and thrust of this whole website is not, Who’s the Greatest? And it’s definitely not about super, high-end chef knives.
KitchenKnifeGuru is more about educating home cooks about kitchen knives so they can have more fun in the kitchen! :)
OK, I’ll bite. What, to you, are the “best kitchen knives” in the world? I’d love to hear :)
Personally, my favorite knife that I have owned is a 240mm Kohetsu HAP40 knive. It keeps its edge for a long time and when it gets dull I use a Global sharpening block to realign the bevels. :)
Thanks for sharing, Peter! I wasn’t familiar with Kohetsu, so I just looked it up. Sounds like the HAP40 steel that the Kohetsu is made of is an impressively hard steel that will hold its edge longer than most knives out there (HRC 65). It might be a little advanced for this crowd (and maybe for me, as well).
My biggest concern is, considering how hard the steel is, how susceptible is it to cracking and chipping? Any problems with this? I assume you treat it extra, extra-special. Also, I’m curious. . .is your Global sharpening block a whetstone or a waterstone? Oh, and can you hone it with a ceramic steel?
I don’t personally own one, though I’ve been looking to buy one. But from what I’ve researched, it doesn’t chip too easily—though it obviously can chip like all knives. It’s a fairly well-rounded, tough alloy whose chemical composition is a bit more unique—hence, it’s high HRC doesn’t act as predictably as compared to other knives. With moderate care within the line of the Shun recommended in this article, I’d imagine most home cooks would appreciate it, even with minimal knowledge of care—like don’t shove it in the super-hot, clangy dishwasher; think about maybe sharpening it when it feels under the weather; possibly hone it when you wanna feel good about yourself before dinner; maybe don’t try chopping through bone; dry it if you care more than usual. I believe it can stand all the usual neglect and semi-care of an everyday home cook fairly well.
Ha! Thanks for sharing research, Squidbae :)
Best kitchen knives from our side of the pond? Bob Kramer, Bill Burke, Devin Thomas, Michael Rader, Marco Tsoukan, Murray Carter, Butch Harner and a few others spring to mind. When you talk about Japan, you are talking about “shops” as opposed to brands that carry the maker’s name. Shigefusa would be one that many would mention.
Thanks for joining in! It’s interesting to know that both Kramer and Carter have a reputation “across the pond.”
As far as “best kitchen knives” are concerned, yes, I realize it’s a big world out there. But your list includes mainly custom, handmade knives that are in a category of their own. Not fair!@#$! :)
I have a gorgeous Shigefusa 7”; unfortunately it reacts with almost every vegetable I’ve cut with it, no matter how much I keep it oiled. And I haven’t the skill to keep it sharp myself, so it’s a drag getting it sharpened professionally as often as I need to.
Sounds like a lovely knife! But carbon steel knives always take more maintenance—that’s why I never recommend them to the average consumer.
1) You can’t keep carbon steel from reacting to acid in vegetables. This is natural and as long as you wash, dry, and oil after very use, the blade should not rust, but gradually develop a patina (a dark gray color without much shine). The patina will act as a natural protective and prevent it from rusting as easily.
Please make sure you’re using the right kind of oil—Tsubaki oil is the standard—not vegetable oil or mineral oil.
2) If you simply hone it regularly, either on a leather strop or a medium-grit waterstone, you will not need to sharpen it as often. But with a high-end knife like this, you probably should only use a leather strop or waterstone—not quite as simple as a ceramic steel.
food should be on the chopping board ;)
Very helpful review. Lots of people out there looking to buy professional knives now that TV chefs have made cooking “cool” again. I work professionally with a full set of Globals, and—to anyone who wants comparative value with quality—I’m a happy customer (who hates Big Macs).
;) I just wanted to say how much I appreciate seeing a nice reply plus a great joke (I’m not a Big Mac fan myself). I’ve never understood why so many people like to leave rather rude comments when someone is just trying to offer a little advice.
I’m searching for a great knife for my dad who spends much time cooking for me. We are on the move a lot because we are yet to find a group of doctors who are able to fix me. But I really want him to quit being frustrated by the crappy knives found in most furnished rentals. Can’t tell you how many times I awaken to the swish, swish, swish of knife sharpener upon a knife, which refuses to be sharpened, along with his grumbles of irritation.
And of course, much thanks to you KitchenKnifeGuru for the awesome info!!!
I’m so glad KKG has been able to help you and your dad :) Please make sure to get him a ceramic hone as well and have him check out my Top Ten Tips on the KKG home page. This will help him keep his new knife sharp as long as possible. (BTW. . .what knife did you decide to buy him?)
Get well and prosper. . .
Neal, thanks for chiming in! What makes you such a fan of Global knives? I’d be curious to hear more specifics–especially from a pro. Have you shopped around a lot and compared?
CUTCO IS THE BEST KITCHEN CUTLERY IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-LOOK IT UP PEOPLE
I’m sorry but Cutco is an absolute joke compared to many of the better lines of chef’s knives.
A Cutco French Chefs knife is a $20 knife at best made from 440A steel stamped out of a sheet with a $175 MSRP price tag. For that price you can get a 210mm Misono UX-10.
Actually, the Cutco 9.25-inch French chef knife retails for ONLY $144 in the States. It’s a deal. . .ha-ha!
BTW, although the Misono is wonderfully made and beautifully sharp, I’m sure you must be aware it comes from the factory with asymmetrical bevels (70/30) which make it a real pain to sharpen. For this reason alone, I don’t think I’d ever buy one. And judging from the comments on the knife forums I’m not alone. . .
I was really surprised that CUTCO was not on the list. They don’t have a lifetime guarantee, they have a FOREVER guarantee. Needs sharpening? Send it to them and they sharpen it FREE forever. I’ve had mine for ten years and they’ve never needed to be sharpened. AND they are made in the U.S.A., Olean, New York. Henckels doesn’t stand up to that.
To each their own, BJ, to each their own. . . :)
Thanks for your passionate comment, Jack!
There is a dedicated core of Cutco devotees out there, but many of them are Cutco sales reps, so they are not exactly impartial customers. (For those who aren’t aware, Cutco does not sell through stores, but relies on individuals to sell their products one-on-one.)
I have a Cutco hand-me-down butcher’s knife from my Mom which I love to use for slicing up unwieldy slabs of meat like sides of salmon or flank steak. But for regular, day-to-day use, I don’t think a Cutco chef’s knife would hold up as well as the brands and models I’ve recommended in this article.
You ever used a Cutco Petite Chef or French Chef before?
Can’t say that I have, Nick. Why do you ask?
Thanks for your time effort and advise. I learnt a lot from your site. I have been looking to buy myself a nice knive or two and appreciate your experiences
You’re most welcome. . .and thanks for letting me know, Brendon :)
Hey, thought I would let you know I bought a couple of global sai knives and am enjoying them.
I also bought the water wheel knife sharpener, should I be using this or a ceramic steel?
Congratulations, Brendon! And thanks for turning me on to a whole new line of knives from Global. Global Sai looks like a serious addition to the kitchen knife world — I will have to investigate further :)
RE sharpening and honing: I don’t trust or recommend the water wheel sharpener (I think you’re talking about the Minosharp). Why not? 1) Who knows what the grits of the ceramic rollers are? Chances are you will over-sharpen your knives instead of simply honing them. 2) What’s the angle of the wheels? It may match the 12.5 degrees of your new Sai Global knives and it may not. Even if it does, it’s fixed and can’t adjust much. As the edge wears, it helps to be able to slightly adjust the honing angle. 3) This kind of sharpener will tempt you to use it as a replacement for quality sharpening. But it can never compete with a quality professional sharpening service.
I recommend using a ceramic steel, and then, depending on the wear and tear and your taste for sharpitude, sending them to a sharpening service every year or so.
Thanks and thanks for the link to the steel
I’m a culinary student and I have Shun chef knife, 6-inch. I wonder which type of steel to keep the sharpness of my Shun? Is sandstone OK, or not? Magnetic steel or ceramic steel? Advice and tips are highly appreciated. Thanks!
I’ve never heard of a sandstone hone. Perhaps you’re referring to a Japanese waterstone—which can be used for sharpening as well as touching up (similar to honing).
At any rate, if you’re going to use a honing rod, it should definitely be ceramic. Your average steel hone will not be hard enough, plus it might have ridges that will mess up your knife. See these articled on the KKG site for more info:
How to Hone a Knife (and Keep it Sashimi Sharp)
My Favorite Honing Steels
Also, I’m planning to add this hone to the list: Idahone Fine Ceramic Sharpening Rod
P.S. BTW, 6-inches is a rather small knife for a professional? How are you managing with that size?
I think in the hands of a home cook the water wheel sharpener is well suited—because it is one style of sharpener that you don’t need to have skills to use and it will always give a reliable result. Probably not the very best of results, but for that market it’s aimed at, definitely good enough. Give a home cook a steel and chances are they’ll destroy the blade in three passes!
As for the angle, you’d assume that a Global sharpener would have the same angle as a Global knife. However, after time, no doubt the wheels will wear and put the angle out alignment.
As mentioned regarding cooking shows becoming so popular, there is a new market these days—passionate home cooks who may not have formal training, but buy good gear and need to maintain it. I think it’s one of the best things to happen to the food industry, and I bet it’s a growing market too!
So for this, Global kitchen knives, Victorinox steak knives (so underwhelming to look at, but seriously sharp—make eating a great steak even more enjoyable!), and a sharpening system that can easily be used in your average suburban kitchen, suit this market well. Because I don’t know one single home cook who takes their kitchen knives to a sharpening service. It’s horses for courses :)
Thanks for joining in! I’ve got just a couple more comments to drag out this discussion even further. . .
– I’m afraid I’ll have to heartily disagree with your opinion that home cooks can’t handle steels/hones properly. It’s not brain surgery. With correct instruction, and using a ceramic hone, even I—who am not a particularly crafty person—have maintained the edges of my kitchen knives, making them last for years :)
– I’m sorry you don’t know of any cooks that use professional sharpening services, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea. I’ve got another post that covers this more in depth in case your curious: Kitchen Knife Sharpening: Five Good Reasons Not to Sharpen Your Own.
Of course, it’s a big big world out there—and there’s plenty of room for everybody to find their own solutions to keeping their kitchen knives sharp! KitchenKnifeGuru is just one man’s journey. . . :)
Since I teach cooking history as a hobby I love vintage knives — F. Dick, Dexter, Sabatier, Henckels, Cutco’s — but for my everyday needs I do keep evolving. My new favorite toys are Shun Edo, love the feather weight feel. But for a hunk of meat, I still go back to either Wusthof or Dexter, for bread, it’s vintage Cutco.
Here’s a link to the Shun Edo — if anyone’s interested in checking it out! It does look like a well-designed knife with great ergonomics. And judging from the specs, I’m pretty sure it will more than match the sharpitude of the Shun Classic recommended above :)
Shun Edo BB1504 5-Inch Santoku Knife
My Henckels 6-in handle broke and I am looking to replace it. I’m happy to have found this review. I found it helpful in making my decision.
Thanks, Cindy, for the feedback! If there’s anything else I can help you with, please feel free to contact me. (I’ve also got a FB page that’s a perfect place to discuss.) BTW – what will your replacement knife be?
Thanks for the extensive review. Nice animation for the images as well.
It’s a good starting point to get your bearings when buying kitchen knives.
I have a 10-inch Henckels chef’s knife, an 8-inch Wusthof chef’s knife, and an 8-inch Wusthof vegetable knife, which I REALLY LOVE and which was a gift. I never would have bought a knife just for vegetables for myself, but man does it make chopping onions and potatoes fast. Now looking for a great boning knife and a cleaver, since my dad (a retired cook) is going to start teaching me butchering skills! Can’t wait! I also would love a santoku of some sort.
Sounds like you’re pretty well equipped, GoodFav!
All of the manufacturers and lines covered in this article make high quality boning knives, so that shouldn’t be too hard to find. A cleaver is another matter though. That’s something I’ve been wanting to research for quite a while–for a follow-up on this article. Happy shopping:)
I’ve been looking to buy myself a decent chef’s knife for a while, but I had no idea where to start! I’m so glad I found your site. I think I’ll either go for a Wusthof or Henckels. I’ve used a Henckels serrated knife before, and I find the shape and feel perfect.
Thanks for making things so easy!! Definitely will be coming back to this website to read up on more things!
You’re welcome, Ange, and it sounds like you’re on the right track! The main thing is to buy from a reputable manufacturer and avoid their lower-tier knives. For an 8-inch chef, that will run you $100 and up. Secondly, remember — it’s much more important how well you maintain your knife than how blisteringly sharp it is out of the box. See my post: Best Chef Knife — Don’t Overrate the Factory Edge.
So, I got a beautiful Shun chef’s knife for my wedding two and a half years ago, and now the blade is full of notches. I’m pretty religious about taking care of the knife (hand wash only, dry immediately, always stored in the block), but it seems that every time I cut up a chicken I get another notch in the blade.
So, should I not be cutting up chickens with my knife? Is there something else I’m doing wrong?
Thanks for the rundown on your top picks, btw.
Kitchen Shears and Cleavers:
The short answer is — you shouldn’t be cutting up chickens with a Shun chef knife:) If you are cutting through, or near bone, you are asking the knife to do something it is NOT designed to do. And the thin, hard steel at the core of a Shun chef knife will chip on bone. A knife made of German-style steel, which is softer and tougher, can usually take that kind of abuse without chipping—and if you’re highly skilled, you can make it work. (For more about this kind of stuff, check out Knife Edges 101 and How to Buy a Chef Knife.)
1) If you’re cutting straight through bone, you should be using either a pair of kitchen shears or a cleaver.
2) And if you’re filleting and cutting around bone, you should be using a boning knife—which has a shape perfectly designed for the job.
Thank you Ben D for expressing your troubles!! :) I have been trying so hard to decide on a knife. I’ve been tied between Mac and Messermiester. Knowing that even gentle care of a Japanese knife will still cause notches in the blade is something that I’ve really been wondering. Like how much “bone” contact does it take to damage one of these kinds of knives. It seems like I’ll not be going that route.
While I appreciate ultimate sharpness, maybe a Japanese chef knife is not for me and my fiancee. Maybe I could get one for vegetables? Nakiri anybody?
I guess one thing I was kind of missing in this otherwise awesome review is the durability parameter. It’s sort of present in the Shun section, where the hardness of the edge is addressed, but in the final recommendations section, that dimension is missing. I do appreciate the sharposity bit, as that’s important to me, but so is knowing what will be a more involved edge to maintain at a certain relative sharpness over other, possibly more durable yet relatively “duller” edges.
Knife maintenance is a complex subject with a clear line in the sand: those who will do it (me), and those who will not/won’t do it properly (despite all instruction, like my family). This can be a deciding factor in home knife purchases. Can we get a follow up on that area?
Thanks for your interest, Kitchen_Dingus!
I believe what you’re asking is — Which of the above six recommended knives would be easier, or harder, to maintain? Or, Which could put up with more abuse, which would be more finicky and delicate? Good question.
My understanding is that, of the six recommended knives, the first three — which are all made of German steel — would be tougher, able to take more abuse, less likely to chip, and require less TLC. (That would be the Henckels, Wusthof, and Messermeister.)
Explanation: The main factor determining the resilience of a knife, or its ability to withstand abuse, is the type of steel it is made of. Typically, German steel is tougher, not as hard and brittle as Japanese steel, and, thus, can handle a lot more stress. It is also usually heated-treated to a hardness in the range of 55 to 58 HRC — which does NOT allow it to hold an edge as long as Japanese steel, but DOES allow it to take more abuse. (Japanese steel is usually in the range of 60-63 HRC and up.)
A secondary factor in determining a knife’s toughness would be the thinness of the blade and/or the fineness of the sharpened edge. Again, Japanese knives tend to be thinner than German knives, and thus not able to handle as much stress. And they tend to be sharpened to a sharper, and more delicate, edge. So, you need to be more careful with them. For example, you might not want to hack into a butternut squash with a Japanese blade or drop it on a hard, tile floor. On the other hand, the harder Japanese steel can be easier to sharpen than softer German steel.
All six of the recommended knives could be honed with a ceramic hone which would bring back the edge again and again.
For more discussion on this topic, please read my other articles: Knife Edges 101 and How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.
Hope this helps,
That was some good information. Since I cannot afford the retail prices of
your recommendations, I have used Craig’s List to find them cheaper.
Three examples: F.Dick 1457-26 ($11), Henckels 30721-162 ($15), and
Henckels 30723-162 ($10).
I can totally appreciate your desire to find a bargain, but I’m sorry to say that the two Henckels knives you mention are from the Twin Signature series which is one of Henckels’ less expensive, lesser-quality lines. They list new for $50 (30721-162) and $35 (30723-162) — not $100 or more like the knives on my list.
Though these knives bear the Henckels name, they come from a very different knife universe than the Henckels Pro S that I recommend above. The most significant difference is that they are not forged, but “precision-stamped.” Thus, the steel they are made of will not hold as sharp an edge, or hold it as long, as the steel in Henckels’ Pro S and other higher-level knives which are all forged. And to make things even more complicated, Henckels makes another line of knives called the “International” that are manufactured in Spain. And, although they are forged, they don’t match the quality of Henckels’ other high-level knives either. Confusing, huh?
Henckels manufacturers over a dozen different lines of knives (not including Miyabi which is separate entity under the Henckels umbrella). And they are only ONE knife-manufacturing company (though a major one). This is one of the main reasons I wrote the Best Knives article—to help consumers sort through the kitchen knife jungle out there and offer them some high-quality tips :)
(As for the F. Dick knife you mention, I could not find that exact model anywhere. Are you sure you input it correctly?)
I find Global brand a good knife because it is lightweight and better in ergonomics and absolutely freaking sharpest knife amongst. Other brand are hard to sharpen though they have good steel. For example Wusthof is a great knife, but poor at ergonomic and is heavy.
It all depends on what your needs are, what you like, and what you are used to, doesn’t it? For example, it took me a while to adjust to how light my Shun chef knife was. When I first took it out of the box and handled it, it felt flimsy from what I was used to. But now I’ve adapted and very much appreciate it.
That said, I still enjoy the weight of a classic chef knife like the Wusthof Classic or the Henckels Pro S. But I am not a professional chopping veggies all day long. If I were, the weight might begin annoy me and tire me out more as compared to a Japanese knife. That’s why it’s so important to find the best knife for you—as I cover in my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
I have to say that I slightly disagree about your choice of the Wusthof Santoku knife. Typically, santokus aren’t nearly as versatile as conventional chef’s knives. While they are handy for some tasks, their limitations would preclude them from being on my best list.
You’re welcome to disagree, Matt! The thing is, it depends on who you are and what you cook, doesn’t it? For example: Many home cooks are intimidated by the length of a classic chef knife and feel more comfortable with the compact size of a santoku. Yes, the santoku will not dice up a large onion as fast or quarter a fat honeydew as easily as a 8- or 9-inch chef knife. Buuuut, the blade is just about as broad and it will handle smaller jobs with ease.
I wanted to give my readers a variety of options—thus, the santoku.
This is one of the most helpful summaries on cooking knives I have seen. I now feel well equipped to go and purchase! Thank you.
You’re most welcome, Vanessa! And if you have any more questions you might want to check out my article: How to Buy a Great Chef Knife. You are also always welcome to leave a question/message on the KKG Facebook page :)
Great article! Kitchen knives come in so many different styles and quality levels it can be super confusing to figure out what is the best one to buy. I like that Wusthof you mentioned above, I’d never seen that knife before. I may have to snag one!
What about the spanish Arcos?
Thanks for your question, Warfrix! (Interesting name — what’s the origin?)
My online research tells me that Acros knives are an inexpensive knockoff trying to pass themselves off as a high-quality. Why?
– Price: Their most expensive 8-inch chef knife runs $72.24 Euros or $75.92. That’s close to half the price a high-quality knife that size would run if it were made by one of the name-brand manufacturers listed in the above article. My experience has shown time and time again — there is NO FREE LUNCH in the kitchen knife world. If a kitchen knife is priced much lower than other well-known quality brands. . .there’s a reason.
– Nitrum steel: Arcos says the knives are forged from Nitrum steel which doesn’t really mean much — it’s just a cool sounding name Arcos has made up for the steel they use. And without a proper identification of the steel, you are taking a big risk. Plus, Arcos does not describe the tempering and hardening process for their steel. They spend more time describing their handles than the blade itself. Pretty silly. . .
– Where are the knives made? They don’t say and I’m betting it’s China. China is not famous for it’s high-quality steel or knife making.
For all these reasons and more, I would shy away Arcos knives. While the knives may come out of the box shiny and sharp, I’m betting the blades will not stay sharp, nor wear as well, as a high-quality Wusthof, Henckels, Global, etc. And I think your money would be better spent saving up for one of the brands/models mentioned in my article above :)
[IMPORTANT NOTE: I’ve revised and upgraded my opinion of Arcos knives twice. Please read the replies below for my latest recommendation.]
First of all, thank you very much for your blog. I am looking for new knives for my kitchen and it is helping me a lot. In the process of gathering information, I’ve found some interesting info about Arcos. Let me share it with you :)
– Price: The prices of Arcos knives are lower than others, but also realize the labour cost in Spain is almost half of German costs.
– Nitrum steel: I agree with you that this is a marketing-made name.
– These knives are made in Albacete (Spain). Arcos was created in 1745. In fact, it is one of the oldest companies in Spain.
– Zwilling International knives (Zwilling’s lower cost brand, the one with only one guy in the logo) are forged by Arcos.
As an interesting fact, you can watch a documentary from a Spanish TV channel about how Arcos builds their knives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u63EqZwbb4. (You can activate subtitles in English.)
I hope this information might be helpful and you can give a chance to this brand. (BTW, I don’t work at Arcos, but I am a Spaniard :P )
To begin with, let me tell you. . .I love Spain! My parents lived in Madrid in the late 70s and I still remember dining on chimpirones en su tinta (a Basque dish, I know), walking in El Retiro, and viewing Goya paintings at el Museo del Prado. But lets not let our nationalism, or cultural bias, get in the way of choosing a great kitchen knife :)
I’m from the U.S. and notice there are NO American manufacturers on the above, Best Chef Knives, list either. For example, Cutco, probably the most famous U.S. brand, did not make it on. (There are a number of high-quality custom-made kitchen knives made in the U.S., but this article was more about accessible brands you can easily get a hold of.) So please don’t feel like I’m picking on Spain. Plus, realize, at the beginning of the article, I state very clearly the list does not claim to be exclusive or have the final say on quality kitchen knives.
That said, thanks much for clarifying a few things. Good to know that Arcos are made in Spain (not China), and that they are manufactured by an old, established company. As far as Nitrum steel and Acros’ quantitative testing is concerned, I’m on the fence. I’d have to see the results of doing the very same tests on other high-quality name-brand knives before changing my opinion.
Soooo, let me revise my official KKG opinion and say that SOME of the Arcos knife lines, like the Kyoto for example, may be high-quality. They may hold up well in the kitchen against a Wusthof Classic or a Shun Classic. It’s a possibility. That’s the best I can do at the moment. . . :)
Hello, first of all thank you for your work. It’s always good to find professional people like you.
I’m from Barcelona, Spain, and I live in the U.S. I’ve been working in a kitchen supply store for more than 40 years and my family company is selling knives for 95 years, so I think, in my humble opinion, I know what a knife is.
A knife is like a bottle of wine, you don’t need to be an expert to know that a $300 or more bottle is gonna be an amazing wine. A good sommelier will suggest to you a wine that’s the same quality for half the price or less—this is when a professional makes the difference.
Yes, I agree with you, those Germans brands are very very good, but Americans are very attached to those Germans brands because they were the first to come to this country. They have (and always have had) good marketing, the most important element being imparting the sense that their products are “the best”.
Between you and me, you don’t need a $300 or more knife to do a professional job, whether you are at home or in a restaurant, this is just marketing. And yes, a $300 knife will be awesome in your kitchen (if you can afford it), but you don’t really need it in your kitchen.
I’m an avid cook, thus, I have knives in my hand all the time. And I would say you are fooling yourself to think that only expensive knives are good. Reputation has a price, and you need to pay for it, but it’s not necessarily worth paying for. If you are OK with paying more, good, but this is not a smart purchase.
It’s true that maybe 70 years ago it was true that those Germans brands had their own German steel formula, but nowadays this is not true at all. Here in U.S., you can manufacture knives with that exact same German steel, this is not a secret. For this reason, we need to be smarter and collect the right info to make the best decision, and buy what we need for the right price.
About Arcos knives I can tell you that these guys have been making knives only in Spain since 1745 (pretty close to J.A. Henckels 1731), so I think this is not a huge difference. If you visit any Solingen or Arcos factories, when you are inside you can’t see the difference between them, the process is the same, with the same technology and same strict European standards. For this reason, you can’t say that Germans are better than Arcos. Of course, you need to compare the same category of product, then, you are going to see that Arcos can be totally comparable to those German brands.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve tried many times to cut with closed eyes using a forged Arcos knife and a forged German knife, and I have never been able to tell a difference between them. Of course, we all know, every hand has his own knife, and the knife that works for me won’t necessarily work for you.
Arcos is a new brand here in the States, it’s just question of time before they will have a good reputation here, too. Have you seen Arcos reviews on the internet? You should. Arcos is a fantastic knife brand, they produce 24 million knives each year only in Spain and they sell all over the world. We’re not talking about an small knife shop, Arcos is a “big” European knife company.
Thank you, Pere
Thanks for sharing your opinions! You cover a lot of ground in your comment (which I have already edited), so considering the confines of this website page, I’m only going to be able to respond to a few of your topics. But I believe the most important point you’re trying to make is that, from your experience, Arcos knives are the same (or similar) quality as the major German brands. Before I respond to your main point, let me touch on a couple of side-topics:
– “You don’t need a $300 or more knife to do a professional job.” You’re right, you don’t. And you don’t need an expensive car to get from here to there. But a better-made car may make the ride more comfortable, more enjoyable, safer, and less tiring. The same with knives, don’t you think? Consider Cameron’s comments on Takeda knives (in this comment chain—April 20th, 2016) for more on this.
– “Here in U.S., you can manufacture knives with that exact same German steel. . .” Absolutely true. Buuuut. . . .it’s not only the steel you use for a knife, but how expertly you heat treat it that makes it high-quality, makes the blade able to take, and hold, a fine edge. Two knife makers using the very same steel, but different heat treatment, could produce knives of distinctly different quality. There can also be differences in how perfectly the knife edge has been sharpened/ground, polished/finished.
Now, back to our main topic: the quality of Arcos knives compared to German brands like Wusthof or Henckels. . .
I do not own an Arcos knife, so my opinion must rely on research (as with a number of knives I discuss on KKG). But after spending quite a bit more time exploring the world of Arcos online, my revised opinion is that their manufacturing quality is probably similar to the German brands.
It’s not easy to verify this (without talking with someone knowledgeable at their company) because Arcos does not provide as much information as I would like to have. Things like, 1) what kind of steel they use, and 2) the HRC hardness of their blades—knowing these things would help confirm. But they do tout their Nitrum stainless steel which, from what I can gather, improves the wear resistance while keeping the grain structure fine (by adding nitrogen to the steel formula). The Swedes do this with their steel and it’s good stuff—and it makes me wonder if Arcos is simply using a Swedish steel. Which would be great!
Arcos also seems highly tuned-in to quality standards. They have specific metrics in place for measuring the initial cutting power (CIC) and cutting edge durability (RFC) of their various knives. The problem is that these metrics are not used by the Germans, so we can’t compare. Ideally, Arcos would run comparable German knives through the same testing they do on theirs and share the numbers :)
I do have one very important caveat: Because (like the German knife makers) Arcos manufacturers quite a few lines of varying styles and quality, it’s really important to know what you’re paying for. You can’t buy a knife from their Universal line and expect it to have the same finish and performance as one from their Kyoto line. (The same is true with the Germans.)
Arcos Knives Top Picks
Soooo. . .in sync with my other recommendations on this website, there are only three Arcos models/lines I feel comfortable recommending: the Kyoto, the Riviera, and the Clasica. These are all three forged knives (versus stamped). And to be honest—without having an opportunity to become more familiar with them, either hands-on or through additional research—the only line I would (at this moment) buy for myself would be the Kyoto, their top-tier model. I’m pretty sure the Kyoto will perform similarly to Wusthof’s forged lines (Classic, Classic Ikon, etc., see Wusthof Knives—a Buyer’s Guide) and the forged lines from Henckels (Professional S, Pro).
Thanks much, Pere, for encouraging me to revisit my opinion of Arcos knives.
Here in Israel, unfortunately, Arcos has succeeded in passing themselves off as a high quality among the amateurs. It is not much more quality than the Kenwood’s knives. Though, it is made in Spain.
Arcos manufactures an army of product that varies in style and quality. (So do Henckels and Wusthof for that matter.) Thus, you must be specific about what models/lines your talking about before coming to any conclusions. In general, Arcos seems comparable to the major German knife makers. See my full response on Arcos knives above. . .
Kenwood knives? Hmmm. . .I’ve never heard of them. In a quick search, I noticed that Kenwood does make a high-end food processor, an electric carving knife, and knives for the dining table. Were you joking around? :)
I’ll chime in here. American who lived in Spain for a long time.
I was given a basic Arcos chef knife when I was 23 years old. I am now 38 years old and despite my growing knife collection, it’s still the one I use most.
Arcos makes great knives. The tangs and balance are awesome, and the steel is GREAT. They are comfortable knives. And the magic of steel knives is… You can sharpen them!
I agree with another here. I get the whole art of steel and why you might want a 300 dollar Damascus steel knife or whatever. It’s like having art in your kitchen.
But Arcos makes great knives for actually cooking, and cooking alot. They don’t mess around. If you want a great knife that will last a long, long time, then pick up an Arcos knife. So far as your chef skills go, it’s not your Arcos knife that’s going to hold you back.
And an aside: Enough of the “German engineering” marketing talk. There are great engineers all over the world, and great manufacturers everywhere.
I’ve cut plenty of times with those German knives and was never really impressed.
I’m not a chef or even an accomplished cook. I just wandered into the kitchen out of necessity. Now I’m learning a lot about ingredients and methods, and of course, about kitchen tools (knives especially) since I started cooking only about 2 years ago (I’m 58 BTW)…
I’m in India, so getting hold of a really good knife is quite difficult. Will try Amazon, nevertheless. Your blog is awesome (sorry to use that silly cliche) and really well written! I truly enjoyed reading it.
Rajan: India — cool!
Thanks so much for chiming in — I really appreciate your stamp of approval! Writing informative-but-fun copy takes serious work, so it’s gratifying to hear it’s being appreciated.
Enjoy your journey into the world of food and cooking — it’s a wonderful world and it’s never too late. If there’s anything more I can do to help you in your acquisition of a quality chef knife, please let me know. (My Facebook page would probably be the best avenue for further discussion.) And please please please purchase a ceramic hone along with your knife. It’s the only way you will avoid oversharpening it and make it’s sharpitude last and last.
Thanks for the review. When I was a younger chef, I would use the German steel, as it was cheaper and more available at the time—also a lot easier to sharpen. I moved up to Globals 8 years ago and a few Shun knives. I liked these for they were thinner, sharper, and less tiring in your hand for the whole day. But recently one of my buddies bought me a Mac knife as a present and I am sold on them. Yes, they are incredibly sharp—especially from a whetstone and ceramic steel. . .amazing knives. But why can’t they look more sexy?. . .LOL
Scott, your story strikes a familiar chord for many kitchen pros. And I can empathize! Thanks for sharing :) —KKG
I’ve owned three off this list. The Wustof 10″ Grand Prix was my friend and confidante for over 15 years. Good and solid piece, I shed a tear to retire this tool. However, it’s looking more like a French knife at this point. The 8″ Henckels was a good buy—I guess that’s why it was stolen from me. Light and balanced with a certain aura of familiarity. Finally, the Shun 10″ Premier—so light and very very sharp. Respect this edge, my friends, it will teach you a lesson if you’re not mindful of your phalanges.
All good knives, but the Shun is a cut above…BA DUM PUM TISH.
Thanks much for your report from the trenches, Joshua! You must be a professional. Where did you do your chefing? —KKG
Love the site, but looking for a good place to get a good deal. I don’t like going to Wiliams-S, they always over price in my mind. Any good options to get a good deal on knives?
You get what you pay for—and there is no free lunch for a quality knife! You should read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife for more details.
In general, you are going to need to pony up from $80 to $120 for a quality 8-inch chef knife (which is your core kitchen knife). It may seem steep, but if you treat it right (i.e. hone it regularly and not abuse it) it could last over 20 years.
1) There is a lot of merchandise out there and many similar-sounding products are not equal in quality. That’s why I wrote the above article.
2) If you regularly track the knives on the above list, you will find that a couple of times of year there are specials deals to be found.
Below is a short list of links to some current deals on quality knives not covered in my Best Chef Knives article. . .
Henckels Twin Four Star 8-Inch Chef Knife
Global G-2 – 8-Inch, 20cm Chef Knife
Miyabi Evolution 8-Inch Chef Knife
Shun Classic Hollow-Edge Santoku, 7″
Henckels Pro Traditional Chef Knife, 8″
P.S. And then there is the Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef knife which is an incredible value. It is utilitarian in design, lacks the fit and finish of the other knives I recommend, and will not last as long, but the blade is excellent and can be maintained for quite a while. It’s very popular with professional chefs that need a well-performing knife, but do not want to have to worry about it too much.
I’m looking to buy a chef’s knife or 2 for my son who has just started his professional cooking career. He has said he likes Victorinox knives, but I am not sure if he has tried others and also not sure about which to get (it’s a birthday present). Can you give me a recommendation?
Here are my thoughts about shopping for your son:
RE Best Chef Knives list and the professional kitchen
Every one of the knifemakers in the above list produces knives that could work well in a pro kitchen. And if you read the comments, you will find plenty of professional chefs swearing by their favorite(s). But two things to take note of:
1) You probably would not want to buy him a shorter, santoku-style knife for pro use. In the case of both Wusthof and Global, you would want to buy their longer chef-style knives which I mention in the article.
2) The Japanese-made knives, because they are made of Japanese steel which is brittler and because they are thinner, will be not be as rugged as the three German-made knives. This especially holds true for the Shun and the Global.
Victorinox makes terrific knives that perform like blades that cost four or five times as much. They come from the factory sharp, they retain their edges incredibly well, and can be sharpened and honed to bring back the sharpness.
Chefs love them because they perform so well, but are relatively cheap. Thus, they don’t have to worry about their knives getting lost, stolen, or damaged by someone else. (Most professional kitchens are wild and wooly places.) If something happens to a knife, they can replace it at a nominal cost.
This said, you must realize that Victorinox are, by design, stripped down and extremely utilitarian. They are light, the blade is rather bendable, and the handle looks and feels like plastic. They feel more like a toys than other, more expensive and finely wrought, knives.
If this is the route you think best to take, here’s a link to a 4-piece set that would serve him well:
Victorinox 4-Piece Knife Set with Fibrox Handles
Which brings me to my next comment. . .
RE the core three
Every serious cook basically needs three knives: a chef knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. (Next in line would probably be a skinny boning knife, but you get the idea.) I have a few articles on this that might be helpful for you to peruse — one that explains the concept in more detail and a couple that recommend different knife sets. (The prices and links might be out-of-date — sorry.) So, this is another thing to consider as you shop.
RE How about both?
You might want to consider getting him one knife for work and one knife for home. For work, you could do the Victorinox, and for home. . .for home I would hands down recommend the Mac MTH-80. It’s a powerhouse designed for the professional and he will thank you for the rest of his life.
As a matter of fact, if it were me, and he were my son beginning his career as a chef, the Mac MTH-80 is the knife I would give him! End of story.
Hope this helps. The very best to you and your boy :)
How are cutco knives when it comes to cutting, in comparison to these other high end brands.
Please scroll up and read my answer to Jack in the comments above. But, to quickly reiterate, my research suggests that a Cutco chef knife would not take as sharp an edge, would not keep it’s edge as long, and would not survive the wear and tear of sustained use and sharpening as well as the knives recommended in this article.
BTW, why do you have “Cutco” in your email address?
Actually, believe it or not, when you are paying that much for a chef knife, Cutco is probably your go to. They are actually very high quality and I’ve ran across a multitude of chefs that prefer them over any other knife. And they have a FOREVER guarantee. If it ever breaks, get it replaced for free. It’s very sharp and takes forever to dull. I have a friend who sells them and I absolutely love mine.
Thanks, Austin, for sharing your experience and your opinion.
I think it’s wonderful that Cutco knives have a forever guarantee and that they also sharpen them for you for free. But, for what it’s worth, most of all the other major knife brands around the world, like Wusthof or Henckels, also have lifetime guarantees.
I still heartily disagree with your assessment of Cutco as compared to the knives on the above list. But I guess someday we’ll have to have a slicing-chopping-dicing-carving contest to settle the question. Until then, I suppose the short answer is. . .to each their own :)
Thank you so much for your reply. I am checking out the Mac MTH-80. I’m sure he will love it!
Thanks again for your advice and time!
You’re very welcome! :)
It might be nice to say you can find these wonder knifes in your local kitchen store.
Four out of six of these brands you should be able to find in a large kitchen store like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table. But I doubt you’ll find even that many in your average “local kitchen store.” It’s just too expensive to stock them all. At least that’s been my experience. And I live in the NYC area which is a pretty large and sophisticated market :)
I have a full set of Shun Classics. Love them. Now I’m moving more to the Shun blue steel line. They are awesome and very sharp. Only thing with them is they need more TLC as the cutting edge is blue carbon. But both Shun lines rock and, yes, I use them every day at work. Thanks.
Thanks for chiming in, Ronny! It’s nice to hear confirmation from a pro. I’ll have to take a look at the Shun Blue series. But sandwiching a super-hard, fine-grained carbon steel (the “blue” steel) between layers of stainless seems like a winning combo!
First of all, I got to agree with näsplastik (has commented above) that your writing style is really very unique and interesting.
I know that the above given list is not a final top 6 list, but just wanted to know your thoughts on the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife. Do you think its a good one?
Thanks for the compliment! Believe it or not, I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Funny, huh?
RE Victorinox Fibrox
Check out my response to Judith in the comment thread above (on May 27th) where I offer my two-cents worth on the Victorinox.
Hi there — I launched my own brand of high-end Japanese chef knives in November 2013 and thought you guys might like to see them. They’re still not that well known and only made in small quantities.
Personally, I think they’re the best knives in the world — but I would say that, wouldn’t I? Fortunately, some of the UK’s best chefs agree with me. Please have a look at the TOG Knives website and especially our “chef testimonials” section which is new.
Obviously, I’m a supplier, so I hope you don’t mind me chipping in. Thank you very much!
Thanks for exposing myself and the KKG clan to your new line of knives. They look promising and your list of testimonials definitely perk my interest!
I would take issue with some info on your “Tech Specs” page though—where you say the Rockwell Hardness of 58-60 is “harder than most knives and typical of knives from Seki.” I think you mean to say that HRC 58-60 is harder than most German knives. I’m sure you’re aware the majority of Japanese knives, including knives from Seki, are hardened to HRC 60 and harder. For example, Shun hardens their knives from HRC 60 to 62. For that matter, Wusthof hardens their knives to HRC 58 which is on the bottom end of your hardening range and they make a lot of knives! I think it would be more accurate, and less problematic, to simply tell us the HRC and leave it at that :)
I’m also not nuts about the claim on your “Products” page that says the ACUTO steel core gives “unbeaten edge retention.” Have you really tested this? Because I’m sure there are quite a few Japanese knives out there with HRCs of 60-62 that could beat it out. Perhaps it’s time to tone down the copywriter some :)
At any rate, it looks like you’ve created a high-quality and beautifully-designed product. It would be fun to try them out sometime!
I have been a professional chef for almost 20 years from every place to small restaurants to the Ritz Carlton to Norwegian Cruise Lines, and I tend to lean towards the Japanese makers over the European. Being the owner of at least 50 different knives, I can provide at least a small amount of insight on the subject. While I do own several from Shun (Classic, Edo, and Blue Steel), and they are excellent, I would recommend to those of you who might be in the market to splurge ($150 – $400) to look at the Misono UX10, Blazen Ryusen, Akifusa, Kasumi, Honesuke, and Moritaka lines.
But the knives I would recommend to anyone looking to spend less than $100 for a workhorse line of knives that perform far above their price point is the Tojiro DP series made from VG10 steel. I absolutely love these knives and have seen them sharpened enough as to be able to split a human hair with no downward force applied. Obvious this involves aftermarket sharpening by an expert, but the factory edge is quite outstanding for the price.
Hey PJ, thanks for your comments! We much appreciate hearing what you have garnered from experience regarding kitchen knives. It’s a big beautiful Japanese-knife world isn’t it? The main reason I tend not to recommend higher-end Japanese knives on KKG is that it’s my sense the average home cook will not be able to maintain and care for them properly and end up chipping them, etc. The prices can also be a barrier.
Not so for the Tojiro DP series though! Thanks much for the recommendation which is at the right price point and sounds like a wickedly sharp kitchen tool. Note to readers: the VG10 steel is the same steel that Shun uses for their Classic series.
For those interested in shopping, here’s an Amazon link:
Tojiro DP Gyutou – 8.2″ (21cm)
I’d only mention one caveat regarding Tojiro: one Amazon buyer found their knife had a noticeable and annoying flaw in the blade which should have been caught in the factory by quality control. So, shoppers, please be prepared to check your knife over thoroughly before making it your own.
Cook on, cook on. . .KKG.
First off, thank you for the highly informative instructional pieces/buyer’s guides. I have to say that the depth of your interest and the level of background information/theory you provide fills me with far more confidence in your views than those of any other online resource I have accessed.
I am buying my first, serious, chef knife and will likely make some mistakes caring for and using it. Therefore, I’ve decided to go with the Tojiro DP knife as a happy medium between the effective-but-utilitarian Victorinox and one of the six, more expensive, knives you recommend.
Two questions: First, do you think this choice makes sense and, second, would this count as one of the hybrid-style Japanese knives I could hone as usual with a ceramic rod?
Thanks again for the hard work!
Great strategy, Nik, I approve! The Tojiro DP Gyuto (210mm) is an excellent entry-level Japanese blade. I assume you’ve read my observations and only caveat in the comment above yours. I’d much rather work with a Tojiro than a Victorinox (I have a hard time with the plastic handle). And the Tojiro should come from the factory super sharp and feel more like a “real” knife.
RE honing: Yes, Tojiro is a hybrid and you can definitely use a ceramic hone on it. Because the HRC is 60, a standard steel hone might cause it damage.
Have fun cooking!
Hi KKG, thank you for the interesting and informative article. I’ve just started to work in a professional kitchen in Oxford, England, and was looking to invest in a few good, quality knives. Many of the chefs I work with recommend Victorinox as a brand of good quality, but very affordable (although Shun, Wusthof and F. Dick are popular among the flashier chefs). Any opinion on Victorinox?
RE Victorinox Fibrox
Check out my response to Judith in the comment thread above (on May 27th, 2015) where I offer my two-cents worth on knives for professionals and the Victorinox.
It would be really nice to read an authentic review, or recommendation, that isn’t sponsored by Amazon.
While you certainly have the right to your own opinion, for the record:
I don’t, and wouldn’t, recommend a single knife I wouldn’t want to own myself. As a matter of fact, I personally own four out of the six knives reviewed on this page and am looking forward to the time when I can afford to buy the other two. If that isn’t “authentic” enough, then I’m sorry I’ve failed you :)
I have been through a lot of knives in my career, but the day I bought my Kai Shun Classic I instantly fell in love. It got dropped just after Christmas by another chef admiring her taking the tip off! It’s still as sharp as ever and I got the tip fixed.
Since first reading this blog, I bought a set of Wushtof to back up the Shun. But being addicted to knives, I just bought some Hiromoto from Japan. My Kai Shun hasn’t been out of my case since—though she will be soon for a good sharpening!!
For home use, stay cheap. I recommend Victorinox until your skills become better—then shop around and feel the knives.
Thanks much for your tales from the trenches! It’s good to warn less experienced cooks that they cannot treat a Japanese knife with the same casualness as a German blade. That harder, but brittler, Japanese steel demands more TLC.
So many great knives out there, no time to try them all. . . :)
I am a novice cook in pursuit of a set of quality knives. What is your general opinion about F.Dick kitchen knives (Premier Plus line)? I’ve read all your replies and you have mentioned F.Dick couple of times, but without further explanation.
Thanks in advance. Best regards, Žarko!
F. Dick is, no doubt, one of the premier German knife makers. The original company was founded in 1778 and, like Wusthof, it is still family owned and operated. F. Dick knives are known and used by professionals, but in the U.S. their marketing is limited and most American home cooks are not aware of them.
The Premier Plus line, their most well-known and longest running high-quality line for chefs, uses the same steel as Wusthof and prides itself on the same rigorous manufacturing and quality control. My sense is that the Premier Plus is comparable in quality and design to Wusthof’s Classic line and sells for around the same price. (Note: F. Dick’s standard chef is 8 1/2 inches—you get an extra 1/2 inch!)
I have not held a Premier Plus chef knife in my hands, so I cannot vouch for it personally. But my impression is that the feel and fit and finish are top-notch and if you treat it well, it will last you for decades.
Sorry I couldn’t include F. Dick knives on the above list. . .too many knives, not enough time. For those interested in shopping, here’s a link:
F. Dick Forged Premier Plus Chef Knife, 8.5-inch
There is no need to apologize for anything. Here, where I come from (Eastern Europe), F. Dick is much more available than any other brand of quality knife (if any other is available at all) and this is the main reason I asked for your opinion. Your site is probably the most informative among dozens of others I have found and I really appreciate your opinion.
P.S. I can not see link in your post.
P.P.S. Keep doing an excellent job!
You’re welcome, Zarko! Sorry you can’t see the link — it’s just to a F. Dick Premier Plus chef knife on the Amazon website :)
Thanks, KKG. This is not only a site. It is a resource, classic and informative. And so very helpful and more. Thanks, KKG.
These chef knives would be the best kitchen knives that I would like to be added to my modular kitchen accessories.
Hi! Great article.
I’m wondering if you can help me with choosing the right knife. I’m looking for a gift for my father who is quite picky. He wants something so that his hand doesn’t hit the cutting board, will allow him to slice things like veggies simply and could also work well as a general-purpose knife. What would you suggest? I’m looking at the Messermeister Meridian Elite 9-Inch Chef Knife but unsure if it’s the correct choice (and where to purchase in Canada!)
Also, should I go for the one with the divots in it the blade (Messermeister Meridian Elite 9-Inch Kullenschliff Chefs Knife) or the regular one?
Buying a chef knife for a finicky cook is a very risky endeavor. It’s hard enough if they’re standing at a counter and testing a number of them out themselves. But to do it for someone, when they have not even had the chance to get a feel for the knife themselves, could end up pretty hit and miss. Your choice might work for them, it might not.
That said, if what we’re talking about is pure knuckle clearance, the Messermeister should be decent and it’s a lovely knife. But so should the Henckels, MAC, and Global. Actually, the MAC and Global should give you the most knuckle clearance. And all of these could work well as an all-around kitchen knife. But please be aware that both the MAC and Global are Japanese steel and cannot withstand the rough handling that these other German knives can take.
Also. . .the 9-inch Messermeister is slightly longer than your average home chef knife. It’s great for slicing through melons, and chopping up a large onion, but some cooks might find it too cumbersome.
As far as the hollow edge (the divots) is concerned, it helps release food from the blade if you push or pull cut. Otherwise, it’s my understanding, it doesn’t have much impact on regular chopping and slicing. It’s no biggie, either way, and I wouldn’t pay extra for it. Also, depending how close to the edge the divots go, it might, eventually, limit the life of the knife. As the blade wears down through sharpening, the exposed divots will make the edge jagged and uneven. (This could take quite a while to happen, of course.)
Sorry I can’t offer you more definitive answers. But, oh, here’s another idea. . .you could buy an extra-wide blade, which would by nature keep his knuckles higher off the board. Wusthof makes them, which I cover in my article on Wusthof knives, but here’s a link to Amazon:
Wusthof Classic Wide Cook’s Knife, 8-Inch
Hope this helps a little :)
Hi again! Thanks so much for your response.
I researched the Wusthof Classic 8″ and read the article you linked, and I think that is the one I will be going with. They seem to be made to last! I found out this evening that my father had originally wanted a cleaver (?) knife, but upon reading up about them, realized he’d never use it! We don’t hunt and rarely cut large portions of bone-in meat, so it seems a waste.
On another note, what would be your recommendation for a cover for the Classic? I looked at the Wusthof ones (they look like a sleeve and appear to be made of material similar to a wet suit), but they do not get good reviews when it comes to travel, and this knife would be going back and fourth our country home with my father quite frequently. Would this one work? Would I be best going with the 6-8″ one, or the 8-10″?
Thank you again for your wisdom! :)
Glad I could help out, Angela! But to clarify, you mean you’re going with the Wusthof Classic Wide chef knife, right? If so, then I think the 6-8″ size should work, but I couldn’t guarantee it. We’re getting into subtleties here that are hard to guesstimate.
On another note, I’d like to mention that there two types of cleaver out there: 1) a meat cleaver and 2) a vegetable cleaver. A meat cleaver is the most standard, traditional type we think of and what your father researched. It’s very heavy and thick and is meant for hacking through animal parts. A vegetable cleaver is much lighter and thinner and not meant for bones, but for slicing and chopping vegetables. An example of this type would be Wusthof’s nakiri which I cover in that same Wusthof knives article I mentioned above under Japanese-Style Knives.
Thanks for all your recommendations and advice. Your blog is great!
I have a question about a different topic — electric knife sharpeners. We own an older Three Stage Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone sharpener, Model 100. And when we used it on our Henckels Four Star Twin knives it created a notch a few centimeters from the bolster. We use the sharpener according to the directions given and drag the knife towards us starting at the base and tip last. Do you think we are doing something wrong, or is there something defective with the sharpener? It is especially bad on shorter knives, like a 3″ paring knife.
We just acquired some new Henckels and do not want to put notches in them again! Would appreciate any advice you can give us. Thanks!
What you’ve come across is a common problem with Chef’s Choice power sharpeners and why I have never recommended them. It is not a defect, but a design flaw that will affect every knife with a bolster. Another major reason I don’t like Chef’s Choice is that they tend to grind off too much metal. A few years ago, when I was trying to find a suitable solution for keeping my kitchen knives sharp, I actually bought a Chef’s Choice, tried it out, and returned it because I was so unsatisfied. However, if you are absolutely sold on this type of solution to keeping your knives sharp, I would recommend buying a Master Grade sharpener, rather than a Chef’s Choice. The sharpening wheels they use have more give and will not rub off as much metal.
Buuuut, before you go any further, I would rather you read a slough of articles I’ve written about sharpening in general and about my favorite solution to sharpening — using a top-quality professional sharpening service combined with honing regularly (to maintain the edge). I have a Henckels Pro S chef knife I sent to one of my favorite sharpening services over three years ago and I bet it is still sharper than 90 percent of knives in home kitchens across the USA. Check out the video: The Power of Honing a Knife.
Please do yourself a favor check out the articles I’ve written on the KKG website under the “Sharpeners” and “Hones/Steels” tabs. Here’s a sample: Why Use a Professional Knife Service? And here’s a blog on the subject: Kitchen Knife Sharpening: Five Reasons NOT to Sharpen Your Own.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!
Thanks so much for your advice! We will not be using the Chef’s Choice and will consider a professional sharpening service as suggested on your website. At least now we know we were not the problem and can avoid future mishaps.
I will follow your advice on using the honing steel as well. We have a metal one that came with the Henckels set over 25 years ago. We did not think it made much difference in keeping the knives sharp, but will try a ceramic one like yours instead. Thanks again for your prompt response!
Holy moly, this comment section has been going on forever in internet years.
Anyway, years ago when my wife and I got married, one of our guests worked at a kitchen store and apparently got a hell of a discount on a set of five Shun classics, topped off with a Shun Ken Onion. I would have never bought knives that nice. I love those knives. They almost sound like plastic when they whack against something.
It’s also nice that we live ten miles from the Kershaw factory and have them all sharpened for free…
Yep, this web page has seen a lot of action!
You’re one lucky boy to have started off your family life with a set of Shun knives. Sounds like you enjoy cooking and know how to treat fine tools with care. . .so, you deserve them! My Shun 6-inch chef knife has now officially become my wife’s go-to blade :)
After reading this post, you seem like the right guy to ask. I am looking into moving towards the professional chef world and want to buy myself some top quality knives. I started out using the Robert Welch range and they did well for the first 4 years but now their maintenance/sharpitude and grip is starting to get a little annoying. I take pride in caring for and honing my knives and after reading this wondered if you had any advice on what to go for?
Thanks a lot.
P.S. I’m on the fence when it comes to German vs. Japanese knives, not sure which to go for…
I have never heard of Robert Welch knives. But from a quick perusal of their website, I’m pretty sure that most, if not all, the knives in the article above would offer a noticeable improvement in performance (i.e. taking and holding an edge).
As you must be aware, there are a lot of quality knives out there and a lot of different tastes, and needs, in kitchen knives. For every brand of knife I’ve covered in the article above, there is a professional chef that swears by it. So, there is no single, right answer.
1) That said, if pure sharpness is your god, your best bet would probably be the MAC:
MAC Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch (MTH-80)
MAC also makes a santoku and paring knife (and a whole lot of styles/models as well), but be careful to buy the Professional Series:
MAC Professional Santoku Knife, 6 1/2-Inch (MSK65)
MAC Professional Paring Knife, 3 1/4-Inch
– As a general rule, Japanese knives are thinner and sharper than German knives. But they are more delicate — so you can’t be as rough with them.
– Please don’t feel you have to commit to only brand/model of knife in your kitchen. I have many different brands and types (Japanese and German) and find it fun to mix it up.
– To delve deeper into the Wusthof brand, be sure to check out my new page dedicated to them alone: Wusthof Knives — a Buyer’s Guide.
2) Whatever knife you ending up buying, it may, or may not, come from the factory at it’s full sharpness potential. Have no fear. Whenever it reaches the time it definitely needs to be sharpened, send it out to Seattle Knife Sharpening. They are the finest sharpening service I know. And 99.9 percent of the time, they will easily improve on the factory edge.
3) Also, please check out my articles on honing to make sure your doing it the right, or best, way. And make sure to use a ceramic hone. This will help with keeping those edges extra sharp.
If you follow these steps, I guarantee you will have kitchen knives that are really sharp!
For more help on this process of finding the best knife for you, you also should check out How to Buy a Great Chef Knife. And if you poke around the KKG site more, you will find other articles that will increase your knowledge and help you with keeping your knives sharp.
Thanks for this awesome post. I’m looking to buy my wife a small set (2-5) of very good knives. She cuts all kinds of stuff in the kitchen, but I guess it comes down to vegetables (lots), chicken on and off the bone (also quite a bit), and red meat (generally off the bone).
I was just going to get a “good chefs knife” until I saw that not all knives are meant to cut through everything. I generally like the German heavy knives, but I’m happy with a sleek Japanese one if that’s the way to go.
Any recommendations? Would you go for mixing and matching?
Thanks so much for the insight, much appreciated. Great blog and really informative, was just the place I was looking for! I’m all the way in South Africa, so not sure where I could find my nearest sharpening service. But nothing a quick google can’t fix.
There’s just one more thing I would like to clarify with regards to German vs. Japanese. Would you say, from what I understand, Japanese is more for dicing and delicate cutting tasks and German knives more for the rough chopping, filleting, and carving? (With the appropriate style of knife, of course.)
You’re welcome, Rich. Wow, South Africa. . .how cool is that?
1) Please be sure to check out Finding a Professional Sharpening Service before giving anybody your knives.
2) Both German and Japanese knives can pretty much do all the tasks you’ve described. (Although if you’re slicing up raw fish for sushi, you’d do best to use Japanese.) As a general rule, because of the steel and how it’s heat treated, Japanese knives can take a sharper edge and hold it longer. But you pay a price for this. The steel is also more brittle (and thinner) and can get seriously damaged more easily. With a German knife, if you hit a bone while filleting, it will simply flatten out the edge or, worse case, dent it slightly. With a Japanese knife, you could chip or crack it. Yes, really.
So, deciding between German or Japanese has basically to do with two questions:
1) How fricking sharp do you need, or want, your knives to be?
2) How careful do you want to have to be with them?
And, remember, if you like the idea of exploring, then there’s no good reason not to try one Japanese knife and see if you like it. You can mix it up :)
What fun, knife-shopping for your wife! She will be so grateful.
First, the types of knives you should buy. I would recommend definitely buying four knives:
– 8-inch chef’s knife: for slicing and chopping and most everything else; you could even buy her a 9-incher, if you thought she would appreciate it and not be intimidated
– 3 1/2 inch paring knife: for finer slicing and peeling
– 5- to 6-inch boning knife (not fillet knife, which will be too thin and is more for fish): for slicing any meat on the bone and off; this could include turkey legs
– 8- or 9-inch bread knife (serrated)
If you already own a serrated bread knife you’re happy with, then it could only three knives. And if you wanted to splurge, you could add on a 6- to 7-inch santoku — which may, in the end, be her go-to blade. Home cooks often gravitate toward santokus because they’re not quite as long and cumbersome as a chef knives, but still have a wide blade.
BUUUUUUUT. . .it’s tricky buying knives for others without their feedback. Please read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife. And please read my recent reply above (to Rich from South Africa) about German vs. Japanese. If your wife has smaller, more delicate hands, she might really appreciate Shun or Global. They’re sharp and light. But she must be more CAREFUL with them than with a German knife.
Here’s a KKG article about buying knife sets that might be helpful:
Three Kitchen Knife Sets I Recommend
And here’s link to Wusthof knife sets I recommend:
Wusthof Knives — a Buyer’s Guide
You should also buy a ceramic hone and encourage her to use it. Or learn to use one yourself!
Good luck! And let me know what you come up with. If you want to bounce any more specific questions off me, feel free to return :)
Hi, Ok great, this is a great start.
1. Is a boning knife for just cutting the meat or can it be used to cut through bones as well?
2. Does a Santoku do the same job as a chefs knife, so it’s just preference, or are they different?
3. We already have a great bread slicer. It’s a Cutco, and I know people on these websites are very against Cutco, for the bread it’s a really great knife.
1) No, a boning knife is NOT for cutting through bone, but around bone. Powering through bone will destroy the edge. If you want to cut through bone, you should use a cleaver (pretty cumbersome and only for serious cooks) or a pair of kitchen shears (a simpler, more elegant, solution). If you look further up on this comment thread, you can find my recommendations for these items :)
2) Yes, a santoku and a chef knife are both designed for the same thing—as all-around kitchen knives ideal for chopping and slicing up most vegetables and meats. Buuuut, they are different, and many cooks have a preference. Much of the time I use both pretty interchangeably. If you compare them visually though, you’ll notice that a chef knife has a pointy tip while most santokus do not. You’ll also notice that most santokus have a wider/broader blade. If your wife cooks regularly, she would probably appreciate having both. (Yes, I know more moula.) But, remember, a quality knife, if you treat it right (and this is crucial), can last 20 years or more.
3) Cutco’s fine for a serrated bread knife. It’s the least important of the “core three” and the serrated edge will rarely, if ever, be sharpened.
Glad I could be of service!
Best of luck, KKG
1. Thank you for your advice about shopping for my wife! We went to a store to try some out and while I much preferred the handles on the Shuns and the Wusthof Ikons (nice and big), she really liked the smaller handle on the Wusthof Classic and the size and feel of the 7″ Santoku – you were right (“home chefs like santokus”). So we’ll start our “professional” knife collection with that one for now!
2. Cutting Boards: While I love the look and feel of end-grain boards, a big one is quite pricey, and we wanted a pretty large one. So I ended up with a Boos 24×18 maple edge grain board. Will that still last long and be good to the knife, or do I really need an end-grain board? Do you have recommended care instructions (oil, oil and wax, just wax, frequency, washing, soap)?
3. Honing: I know you recommend ceramic honing, but doesn’t that sharpen the knife not just re-align the blade? Is it bad to use a BAD hone (like the one from my Cuisinart knife block—not fancy) on a good blade?
Sounds like quite a successful excursion!
– No, you absolutely don’t need an end-grain board. I don’t use one; I use an edge-grain board. But it’s good to know that end-grain definitely is the BEST option.
– For more on cutting board maintenance, read these posts.
Cutting Board Cleanliness
Cutting Board Oil. . .
BTW, there’s a handy-dandy search field you can use to find topics on the KKG site at the bottom of every page, in the page footer. I use it all the time—for example I just used it to find the posts I’m referring to above.
– Yes, a ceramic hone will not only realign, but clean/sharpen slightly. But if the ceramic is fine-grained, which is imperative, the sharpening is minimal and the cleaning a plus. You might be able to get away with your Cuisinart hone, it depends on how crude or smooth it is. But a ceramic hone will be worth the extra money because it will keep your edges sharper for a longer time (see My Favorite Honing Steels). There are plenty of ceramic hones to choose from and some that will hold up better than my recommended hones. But, whatever you buy, please make sure it’s got a fine grain designed primarily for honing, not sharpening.
Cutco knives are the best knives in the world, hands down. They last forever and if they need to be fixed or replaced its free. I have had my set for 50+ yrs. Best investment I have ever made. Just got 4 new knives for free from them when I sent them in to get sharpened!
That’s a mighty big claim, George. Have you tried any of the knives in the article above? Because you might be surprised. . . :)
I am trying to help my Dad decide what gift to get my Mom for Christmas. While I would love to have him get her a complete knife set, there is no way that is in the budget. What do you recommend that would be good for someone who is not quite as careful with knives as she should be, has arthritis, won’t spend the time for as much maintenance honing, and won’t break my Dad’s bank?
I have a Wusthof Classic Ikon 6″ hollow-edge chef’s knife and 3 1/2″ paring knife that I use for house sitting and keep in my “mobile kitchen.” When I picked them out, I chose according to how the handle felt because I have MS. Dad will not want to spend as much as I did for each knife.
Thank you for your assistance!
This is a tough assignment, but I’ll do my best. One thing’s for sure. . .you’ll definitely want to buy her German knives made of softer, but tougher, German steel.
I have two good suggestions for you:
1) Go to Kitchen Cutlery Sets for Tight Budgets and look at Packages #1 and #4 – 6.
2) Go to Wusthof Knives. . ., at the end of the article where I discuss knife sets. I begin with 2-piece sets and one of the best for her might be the Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Asian Santoku and Paring Knife Set. She might prefer a smaller, nimbler santoku knife over a standard 8-inch chef knife.
Ooooor. . .in a totally different direction, buy her a ceramic knife set like the one I mention in my article on Knife Edges 101. A set by Kyocera appears near the end of the article. Ceramic knives are very sharp and don’t need much upkeep. But you can’t drop them or be too rough with them because they are brittle and will crack and break.
Remember, her new knives will NOT stay sharp for long if she chops on hard materials, etc. So try to educate her with the Top Ten Tips :)
Best of luck and please feel free to check back if you need more info or tips!
I have heard all of these things but better with Gunter Wilhelm Lightning ProCut and Premier ProCut lines. How would you rate these knives?
Sorry, but I’m not a fan of Gunter Wilhelm knives. Here’s some feedback about Gunter Wilhelm I gave to another reader a while back (I have cut and pasted it from one of the comments in my About Us page):
I investigated Gunter Wilhelm myself a few years back and in revisiting their website noticed they’ve ramped up quite a bit and have further enriched their story. While the handle and ergonomics appear well thought out and GW might make very comfortable-feeling knives, my reservations still regard the quality of their blades and their ability to take, and hold, a fine edge. This is the core of a high-quality knife — not just how it looks or feels.
Gunter Wilhelm (just a cool German name a Jersey guy decided to name his knife company after) has always been excellent at marketing and hype—but I’m not convinced they’ve put that same excellence to work in the actual manufacturing of their knives. Over the years, their manufacturing story keeps changing and I must admit I don’t totally trust them. For example, I had a heck of time on their website trying to find out two basic facts about their knife blades: 1) what hardness was the steel tempered to (known as HRC), or 2) at what angle were they sharpened. Never found either. And there’s something weird in the positive spin their marketing copy tries put on the fact their knives are “finished” in China? When did China become one of the knife making capitals of the world?
I have not personally used a GW knife and I have read some positive reports. So, who knows, they may be quite respectable. Nonetheless, when it comes to sharpitude and edge retention, I think there are more dependable choices out there with better track records. I would recommend starting with something from the above Best Chef Knives list.
I asked because there is a new made-in-Germany line at Costco. I have to admit, I liked it. They say a Metropolitan report has beat Henckels and Wusthof knives for years. Something about a certification and another thing about hardness and. . .a bunch of things. I bought them, but then again it was Costco and the price was about right. I can’t complain. Do you know about the new line?
What I know about Gunter Wilhelm is that they are quite talented at marketing. They have some serious money and expertise driving their marketing machine. Out of curiosity, I watched two of their videos and was charmed and impressed. The quality, professionalism, and pure fun of the videos was quite compelling. BUUUUUUUUUUT. . .do NOT be fooled.
Here’s a quote from Costco’s website regarding the GW Executive Chef series:
“Made in China from high-carbon X50CrMoV German Steel.”
You might ask: Well if it’s German steel why does it matter where it’s made?
I would answer: Well, starting off with German steel is good. But it takes more than good steel to make a quality kitchen knife. It takes sophisticated heat-treating AND serious quality control as well. The knife manufacturers in Solingen, Germany and Seiki, Japan have been making knives for centuries. This is where Wusthof and the majority of Henckels knives are made. But Gunter Wilhelm’s knives are made in some nameless city in China. This matters to me and it should matter to the consumer. Hey, maybe China has quickly developed some expertise in knife-making. If so, good for them. But the odds are slim. And if this is true, why isn’t GW talking about it. GW doesn’t even do the most basic thing and tell you the hardness of their knives. Why? Probably because they can’t guarantee a hardness number because there’s not that much rigorous control in the factory.
Listen. . .I’m not trying to be a spoil-sport, but I don’t appreciate companies that pretend to be one thing when they’re something else. That’s cheating. I have a Calphalon santoku that’s made in China that I love. I think it feels better than any knife in my kitchen. I got it sharpened by one of the best knife sharpeners I know of (Seattle Knife Sharpening), I hone it regularly, and it is pure pleasure to slice with. But I knew exactly what I was buying when I bought it.
Enjoy your Gunter Wilhelm! But be clear about what you’ve got. And let us know how the edges hold up — I’d be really curious.
Ok. I think you have the ones online. Mine look different. I don’t know how to post a pic. I am here talking to the sales guy. 16 degree and 59.6 hardness. I don’t have a clue what that means but regardless he says that these are fully made in Solingen, in the Tyson Krupp (spelling?) factory (again, meaningless to me). It seems to do ok, I have only had them one day, but I enjoyed using them last night.
Sorry, but I still don’t trust the quality. (That’s nice that he had some facts and figures though.)
Please be careful splitting cloves of garlic. . . :)
Just trying to figure it out. Mine say Premier ProCut made in Germany. The ones in Amazon say Executives. Did I just get scammed?
I poked around the GW website and finally found some more info. There are two lines, the ProCut and the Executive Chef. The ProCut claims to be made in Germany and the Executive Chef does not. Supposedly, the Executive series is hardened to 57-58 HRC which is standard for Germany steel/knives, but they don’t say the HRC of the ProCut. Odd. And it looks like all knives are sharpened at a 20-22 degree angle which is not that sharp for nowadays. (Wusthof sharpens their blades at 14 degrees.) GW’s approach to marketing still seems rather fuzzy to me :)
Bottom line. . .use them, but don’t push them too hard. You don’t want the blades to crack or break on you. See how the sharpitude holds up and check in with KKG at a later date and let us know.
BTW. . .do you know how to hone? If not, buy a ceramic hone/steel and use it!
Just wanted to say that the ProCut is 100% made in Germany. X50CrMov15 steel. 15 degrees. Cryo ice hardened 5 cycles.
You are correct about the executive line. They are made in Germany and finished in China for packaging.
They’re pretty prominent in the BBQ society these days. Maybe reach out and see if they will let you try something out and review it before making assumptions.
Looks like GW may have upped their game a bit since I last checked in over three years ago ;) Good for them!
I still couldn’t find a thing about what angle their knives are sharpened at, but if you could, more power to you.
There are a lot of kitchen knife brands out there, Tom, a lot of knives. And more popping up every day. Sorry I don’t have the time to test out every brand in depth—but we do what we can :)
Hi there. Very informative article as I am looking to buy my boyfriend a chef’s knife for Christmas. I recall him mentioning Japanese blades and see that you mention the MAC is a good choice. I just want to make sure I’m getting him something that will last him a while with minimal damage. He works at a gourmet pizza establishment that also offers other dishes so I want it to be multi-purpose. Do you recommend going for the MAC or do I go another route? Or should I get him that one and another that can take more of a beating? LOL hard decision for me to make since I don’t know much about the kitchen. Thanks in advance for the help.
Here are some comments that I hope will help:
1) If your boyfriend is a pro, then a Japanese blade is good way to go. And the MAC model mentioned in my article above, would be hard to beat and a terrific value. Yes, there are plenty of other flashier brands around, but MAC is still a high-performance bench mark.
2) Getting a second, more rough-and-tumble blade, might be a good way to go and it’s something I’ve recommended before to other gift getters. Although it wouldn’t be unusual for him to use a MAC in the workplace. It would depend on what the kitchen he works in is like, his attitude about knives, etc, etc. Hard to guess from a distance.
3) If he’s serious about food and preparing it—which it sounds like your boyfriend is—he really can’t have too many chef knives. If they are quality knives, they can be fun to use in rotation and it’s always great to have back-up.
4) A good rough-and-tumble knife might be the Messermeister recommended in the above article. The German steel is tougher than Japanese, a 9-inch blade will give him more heft, and Messermeisters tend to come from the factory pretty darn sharp.
5) If you wanted to go up a notch and maybe only get him one, gorgeous Japanese knife, please check out my recent post Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale. Either the Kramer Meiji or the Miyabi Birchwood would knock his socks off. Buuuut, either one of these knives, he would probably want to keep at home :)
Happy shopping! If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!
This has been a great resource. Any thoughts on the Bob Kramer Zwilling JA line of knives?
Short answer. . .love ‘em! I featured Meiji and the Essential in a blog I just published on quality knives currently on sale: Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale. And I’m big fan of the original carbon steel version as well: Bob Kramer Knives — Why Spend $300 on a Chef Knife?
P.S. But be aware that these are knives with broad/wide blades and substantial handles. They are lighter than they look, but, nonetheless, some cooks may be averse to this style/design.
I hone religiously. I will check in in about a month to talk about my everyday knife (Santoku)
Have you tried out the Cangshan in the link I’ve included? 40+ reviews and they’re all 5 stars. The price is currently $30, so I’m wary.
Cangshan X Series 59137 German Steel Forged Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch
No, I’ve never heard of the Cangshan chef knife and you have good reason to be wary. I don’t believe their claim that it’s made in Japan. And I don’t believe the authenticity of their “reviews.” Most of the reviews are short and very general — like friends just doing their duty. And they are ALL 5 stars!!
As I say at the end of my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife:
“First, the Warning: There is NO FREE LUNCH. If you find a brand of knife that’s trumpeting it’s specialness, but is significantly cheaper than name-brand models of similar size and design, let the buyer beware. It’s not humanly possible. . . . You get what you pay for. And high-quality, high-performance steel never comes cheap.”
If you want a very sharp, but authentic, Japanese knife for a great price, buy the Tojiro DP — which I discuss in these very comments on July 9th, 2015 (further up the page). The Tojiro is only $50 and it is a known quantity :)
I’d have to say that your opinion on these knives is just what I needed. I’ve been studying in a culinary school for about 6 months now and I’d have to say that cutting veg all day with a Wushthof is tiring. I’ve been searching for a lighter knife and it seems the Shun Premier might be the right one for me. Although, I have to say, I’m kind of afraid of breaking it as it seems to need a bit more care than my current knife. I’ve also seen good comments about Miyabi, but I haven’t really seen a shop that has them here in Sydney. And I was wondering if you knew if Miyabi knives were as light as Shun? Or are there any other knives that are as good and light as Shun, but keep their sharpness longer and are more durable?
Glad to hear KKG has been helpful!
1) Sounds like you definitely need a Japanese knife—thinner, lighter, with harder steel.
2) Both the Shun Premier and the Miyabi could work for you, but they are a little dressy for a kitchen.
3) If it were me, I would buy the MAC MTH-80—featured in the article above. Period. It’s wicked sharp, designed for chefs, and won’t break the bank. Or. . .if you needed to save money, you could do the Tojiro DP. The Tojiro would not be as nicely finished, but still do the job.
4) There are lots and lots of other excellent Japanese knives out there, but trying out these two would get you started and give you a noticeable relief from the Wusthof.
5) BTW. . .I assume that, along with sharpening, you’re honing regularly (ideally with a ceramic steel/hone).
6) If you buy a Japanese knife, your best bet for sharpening (and touch-up) would be a waterstone. And if you still wanted to hone for maintenance (versus using your waterstone), please make sure to only use a ceramic hone. Otherwise, you risk damaging the edge of the blade which is much harder steel than your Wusthof.
If money was out of the equation, what four knives would you have in your kitchen?
Sorry to be killjoy, but I’m not really up on super high-end knives. We’re talking knives costing $1,000 and up. I don’t have much time or inclination for fantasy—in my life or on my reading list. I’d probably have to spend a couple of days researching just to narrow it down :)
But, for fun, off the top of my head, my first impulse would be to sign up for the lottery for a Bob Kramer custom or ready-made knife. It would be a thrill to own, and chop onions with, an original Kramer. Of course, it probably would be difficult to make myself use it knowing how much it was worth :)
Oh, and then there’s Murray Carter. . .it would be cool to own a high-end Carter as well. And then there are all those Japanese high-end, handmade knives, and American custom makers as well and, and. . .
How about you? Something tells me you have thought about this more than I have :)
I should have asked the question differently, a little background. . .
Been married 25 years and do all the cooking—breakfast, lunch, and dinner!!! She does all the cleaning. I have been using Cutco for the past 5 years, before that I’m ashamed to say, lol. I’m 61 and my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I was at a friend’s house and his chef was using a MAC MTH 80. After a long discussion about kitchen knives, I went home and started researching best chef knives and came to your blog. Very very informative, may I say. I was about to purchase the Shun Blue Kiritsuke and I see a brand name pop up, Bob Kramer stainless Damascus!
With that said, which of these two knives would you prefer. Also, have been reading your blogs and see your comments on sharpening and honing. I grew up using a whetstone to sharpen my pocket knives, so know enough to get myself in trouble with one. What would be your thought on the care of each of the mentioned sets? Again, your blog has been a wonderful read for information !!!
Congratulations on being the cook of the house! You definitely deserve some decent knives. OK, down to business—the Shun Blue Kiritsuke versus the Bob Kramer Stainless Damascus (and at Sur La Table).
(BTW, are you sure you mean the Kramer Stainless Damascus which costs over twice as much as the Shun Kiritsuke. Kramer makes another stainless knife called the Kramer Essential which is almost half the price of the Damascus.)
1) If you haven’t already, please read my article, How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.
2) I don’t think there ever is one, ultimate knife. Either of the two knives you mention would be a fantastic knife to work with in the kitchen. They will both come with a very sharp edge and be able to retain it.
That said, here are some comparisons :
– The Shun has a carbon steel core while the Kramer has a micro carbide steel core. Because of the amount of carbon in the Shun core, the steel on the cutting edge will 1) be more prone to rust and 2) develop a patina. Rust is no biggie, as long as you wipe the blade clean of water after you use it. The Kramer you won’t have to be as careful with regarding rust because the steel it’s made of is more resistant, very close to stainless.
– They are both tempered to Japanese steel standards—the Shun to 61HRC and the Kramer to 63HRC. The Kramer is harder, so it should hold it’s edge longer. But they’re both pretty hard. I’m guessing that the Kramer might be tougher and less prone to chip. (That’s a problem with harder steels, but the micro carbide structure might help protect against this more.)
– With the Kramer, you are paying extra for the gorgeous Damascus pattern. The Damascus pattern is mainly for looks and protection of the core steel. But it shouldn’t make it cut any better. As a matter of fact, one customer who bought the Kramer Damascus complained on the Sur La Table site that the pattern dragged the blade down and made it harder to slice through some things. That seems odd to me, so I’m not sure how much weight to put in that.
– I haven’t held either of these knives, so I’m doing some educated guessing—but these knives will have different feels. I’m betting the Kramer is a bit heavier than the Shun and I’m pretty sure the base of the blade is broader. The broader blade will give you more knuckle clearance with the Kramer. So, if you have large hands, you might appreciate that. Kramer is famous for having hefty, comfortable handles, but the Shun looks like a pretty substantial handle as well.
– You can’t go too wrong with either of these knives, but you’re paying a premium for the Damascus pattern with the Kramer. And spending $375 on a knife, opens up the playing field quite a bit.
– Three other suggestions:
1) the Kramer Meiji which has been on sale at Sur La Table. It’s the same blade construction as the regular Damascus (but they’re currently out of stock of the 8-inch chef). Perhaps this was the knife you were referring to in the first place.
2) the Miyabi Birchwood: One of the most beautiful knives I know of and deadly sharp (currently on sale at Sur La Table).
3) If looks aren’t that important to you, you might want to take another look at the MAC MTH 80. I’m not sure why you crossed it off in the first place.
RE maintenance: Any of the above knives, you can, and should, hone regularly with a ceramic hone. When it comes time for sharpening, please read my article(s) on sharpening services under the “Sharpeners” tab on KKG.
I really appreciate this article, writing style, transparency etc. Thanks.
I’m an enthusiastic home cook (not necessarily skilful!) and have been using Sabatier knives for about 20 years. They dull with relative ease and I use brute force and ignorance to will them back to performance. I want a set of quality knives for the kitchen which will replace the Sabatiers.
I’m going to further explore the resources on your site to deal with the brute force and ignorance problem, but the question I have is about knife blocks as storage. Are there any sharpitude issues to consider when looking at the knife block? Is wood OK? Is magnetic the best? Is there any reason to restrict myself to the manufacturer’s block? The Sabatiers just go in a drawer and get bashed about pretty badly.
Welcome to KKG and I’m glad you plan to take advantage of the whole enchilada! You will love having sharp knives all the time.
RE Sabatier: First off, in case you’re curious, Sabatier is an odd brand—because no single company owns the brand name. Can you believe it? There are at least a couple of authentic, high-quality French knife makers that sell under that brand, but you must make sure which Sabatier you are buying from or you may not be getting high quality. I own a Sabatier 9-inch slicer I use for turkey, etc. that I bought years ago before at this KKG stuff. I got it sharpened a couple of years ago by my favorite professional sharpener, Seattle Knives, and the edge has held up very well so far. But it gets light usage, nothing like a chef knife. So who knows what kind of Sabatier I have. . .
RE knife storage: I do NOT recommend the standard magnetic knife blocks where the metal of the magnet clicks up against the blade. The problem is two-fold: 1) It’s very hard to gently load, or unload, the knife without pressing the fine, sharpened cutting edge of your knife against the metal magnet, and thus slightly denting the cutting edge. Over and over, all day long. And, 2) storing the knife edge against the metal magnet can also cause denting. On the other hand, magnetic racks that cover the the magnet with wood, or some other softer, more forgiving surface, are fine and probably one of the best solutions to knife storage.
The other two storage solutions I recommend would be the standard knife block and a wooden rack inside of a drawer (I use knife blocks). Yes, with a block you should take care not to jam the cutting edge against the side of the slot every time you store it or take it out. But, if you do what I do, and always use the spine of the knife as your guide, not the edge, then there should be no problem. And, no, you don’t need to restrict yourself to the knife manufacturer’s brand. But you should take care that the slots match your knives (in width and length)!
Please DO NOT let your knives bang around in a drawer! You’re allowing the edges to get all dinged up and dulled. And please study up using the resources of this site BEFORE you buy—that way you’ll be ready to properly care for your new knives. You can start with the Top Ten Tips :)
I appreciate the reply. Thanks. I am aware of the somewhat unreliable provenance of the Sabatier brand. Mine’ve been ok though, despite my rough handling. But I know I can do a lot better.
Thanks for the advice which I will certainly consider while making my decision re knife block.
I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
Repeat another 94 times
I have Chicago Cutlery knives. My Dad always said to use his sharpening
stone with water. It’s very old and sort of dark gray. Am I doing the right
thing? Or should I try out a new knife?
Thank you for such detailed information.
I think you’re basically asking three questions which I will restate and then give you some feedback on:
1) What’s the correct fluid to use when sharpening with a whetstone?
– My understanding is that any kind of oil—either plant-based, or petroleum based—is a no-no. That includes mineral oil which I used to use when I tried sharpening my own knives way back when. It was a disaster and gummed up the stone and made unusable.
– Water is OK.
– But, my understanding is that Honing Oil is best. I found a product called Smith’s (Advanced Formula) Honing Oil which is specifically designed for sharpening stones and works perfectly. My plastic bottle of Smith’s, which I still own, doesn’t say what the product is composed of other than it’s “non-petroleum.” Here it is on Amazon (there are others as well):
Smith’s HON1-4OZ Honing Solution, 4-Ounce
2) What’s the best solution for sharpening your kitchen knives?
Unless you really love the process of sharpening and have the time to do it well, I highly recommend sending your knives out to a high-quality professional service and then following up with regular honing on a ceramic hone. Here is a blog entry and three articles that should help explain why and give you some tips:
– Kitchen Knife Sharpening: Five Good Reasons NOT to Sharpen Your Own
– Why Use a Professional Knife Sharpening Service?
– Finding a Professional Sharpening Service
– Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services
3) Are Chicago Cutlery knives adequate for the kitchen?
Although Chicago Cutlery is a big name, I do not recommend them. (Although I do happen to own a CC hand-me-down boning knife that I use on ribs so I won’t bang up my good one.) Why? The main reason is that Chicago Cutlery knives are not made of a high-quality tempered steel and thus, will not stay sharp nearly as long as any of the knives in the above article. If you like to cook, please do yourself a favor and 1) buy yourself a knife of the caliber of the ones above, 2) treat it correctly (Top Ten Tips) and 3) hone it regularly with a ceramic hone. You will never regret it :)
Forgive me in advance for being long-winded, but you have a penchant to be thorough, so I am taking the liberty of being thorough with the background of my question to take advantage of your willingness to give thoughtful, thorough responses.
I use my knives strictly as an amateur cook sharing kitchen duties with my wife, but enjoy good tools for whatever I undertake. We have a minimal, well worn (dare I say abused) set of Wusthof Classic knives with beautiful white handles. The set consists of a 6″ chef’s, 8″ bread knife and 8″ slicing knife (with matching fork). I find the knives to be extremely comfortable and well balanced. In addition, we have a revolving collection of cheapo utility knives. Although the cheapos are relegated to the drawer (heaven help them), the Wusthtofs are always parked in the wooden knife block acquired with the knives. Notwithstanding that caution, the knives have suffered grave indignities at the hands of housekeepers and, worst of all, a butcher of a knife sharpener my wife took them to. I have been longing for, but resisted purchasing new knives, not wanting to subject new, expensive knives to the same fate. That restraint has not kept me from looking, looking led me to this discussion and, near the very end, your exchange with Bruce and the mention of beautiful knives compelled me to jump in and seek your advice (and, I might mention, based on images available on Sur La Table, I thought the Kramer Meifi chef’s knife to be the more beautiful of the trio you reference in your response to Bruce).
About 8 months ago, on vacation, my wife and I wandered into what was primarily a women’s accessory shop, and, while she looked around at very expensive clothing, jewelry and accessories, a case of kitchen knives caught my eye. The knives, designed by Sarah Wiener for Hugo Pott, were, to my taste, truly beautiful and, like my battered Wusthofs, very comfortable to hold. I hesitated buying any then because recoiling from the prospect of subjecting such beautiful and expensive tools to the abuse suffered by the Wusthofs – and because I knew nothing of their quality and value. I have since periodically resisted the prospect of purchasing new knives as evidenced by my having found myself reading through the entirely of this discussion.
With that background, I would appreciate your thoughts on the aesthetics, quality, and value of Pott Sarah Wiener knives. Thanks in advance for your advice.
Whew! Excellent job at giving me background :)
1) RE: Pott Sarah Wiener knives. I had never heard of them before so I did a little research. Here’s my take:
– They are beautifully designed and unusual. They would be fun to show off.
– Great balance and feel. This is a personal thing, but the fact that you have handled them and like them is a big plus. (In my opinion, there’s always something special about an actual wooden handle where you can subtly feel the grain.)
– They are made in Solingen, Germany one of the knife capitals of the world. C. Hugo Pott, the manufacturer, has been around for a century and has a name in cutlery. (Don’t know if you saw my recent post: Solingen, Germany—Wusthof Factory Tour.)
– They are hand-forged and hand-honed. So, they’re not only made in a city famous for its knife-making prowess, but there are humans involved in many of the important steps. This is high-quality manufacturing and they should come out of the box pretty darn sharp. Which is nice, but not an absolute necessity if you have access to an expert professional sharpening service. Which you do (see Reviews of Professional Sharpening Services).
– My one big reservation is the hardness rating of the steel—which I had to hunt around a bit to find out, but finally found it here Fitzsu. According to Fitzsu these knives have a Rockwell rating of 56 which is rather low and it’s mystifying why.
Softer steel can be tougher and will take more abuse, but needs to be sharpened more often. Harder steel will keep its edge longer, but because it’s more brittle, it can’t take as much abuse without cracking or chipping. Traditionally, German knives and steel have lower HRCs and Japanese have higher. For example: Wusthof and Henckels harden their steel to Rockwell 58 (and that is as low as I would like to go). Shun and Global harden their knives from 60 to 62 HRC. But these knives are 56 HRC. Odd and a rather big negative in my book. Somebody from Potts would have to explain to me why they chose this hardness for me to change my mind.
2) At a price point of $300 for an 8-inch Pott Sarah Weiner chef knife, I would not be in a huge hurry to buy. There are quite a few handsome and well-performing knives out there to choose from at that price. For example: I’m curious why you didn’t find the Kramer Meiji or the Miyabi Birchwood serious options. (Perhaps it’s because you know you need knives that can take some abuse.) At any rate, there are other knives I could suggest as well. Let me know. I would also continue to get more educated about kitchen knives in general, it will help you in your decision. Suggested reading if you haven’t read already:
How to Buy a Great Chef Knife
Knife Edges 101
3) Just as, or maybe even more, important than the exact knife you buy, is having a plan as to how you will keep it sharp. Please do yourself a big favor and come up with a plan. See my articles under the “Sharpeners” tab: Why Use a Professional Sharpening Service?, etc.
4) Read the Top Ten Tips.
5) Buy a ceramic hone and learn how to hone.
Hope this helps. Please feel free to check back for more feedback!
Well, I’m taking the plunge and getting the MAC MTH-80, along with their ceramic hone and their matched paring/utility knife. If I love them, I’ll take all the credit with my wife, and if I hate them, I’m blaming you. Fair deal? :-)
Actually, I’m looking forward to trying them. I’ve always been a German knife guy myself (just a passionate amateur chef, definitely not professional), but since my old Wusthofs (purchased 18 years ago) have finally reached the point that the knife sharpening service told me they wouldn’t do it again the last time, it’s time to get new ones. My parents gave me the Henckels 7″ Santoku for Christmas a year ago and it is nice, but right now it’s the only knife in the kitchen worth using.
Thanks for a well-written and very informational article; I’ve added your website to my Google+ Collection on food and to Evernote so I don’t forget it.
Thanks much, Charles!
If you love to cook (which it sounds like you do), you will never regret buying your MAC knives. Funny enough, I don’t even own them (on my ever-burgeoning buy list), but I’m utterly confident in their reputation.
Two things to be aware of:
– They will be lighter than what you’re used to. Don’t let it throw you—the quality’s still there.
– Please take extra care with how you treat them. Because the Japanese steel is harder and more brittle than the German steel you’re used to, they will not stand for as much abuse. If you need a reminder, read my Top Ten Tips.
– Be careful with where you get them sharpened. For the same reasons as above. If you want to try someone new, check out Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services.
And—as KKG declares—keep having fun in the kitchen!
Great site! I feel like I’m calling sports radio. Long-time follower first time commenting! With that out of the way, do you have any experience with Yaxell knives? I have been trying to get some of their Super Gou knives, but I wonder if there is a significant difference between some of their other knives. I currently have a Global SAI Santoku that I LOVE and a cleaver which I love, too. I’m just getting started, so your site has been very helpful! If this were sports radio, I’d say I’ll hang on and listen. But since it’s not, I’ll wait for a response.
I had never heard of Yaxell knives. . .which doesn’t particularly surprise me because there are sooooo many great knives in the world. But I did some research and they appear to be the real deal — Japanese-made from Seki City, the home of Japanese blades for centuries.
They are similar to Shun (and many other Japanese blades for that matter) with a hard steel core wrapped in layers of softer steel. But the handles are different and some might find them more comfortable. It also appears that there might be a higher degree of quality control than Shun. . .hard to be certain.
As far as Yaxell’s different lines go, here’s a quick map from what I’ve found on Amazon, from most expensive to least (all 8-inch chef knives):
– Super Gou ($316): Top-of-the line. Micro carbide, SG2 steel in core is excellent. 80 layers per side. HRC (Rockwell hardness) 63.
– Gou ($207): Same core steel as Super Gou. But only 50 layers per side. HRC 61
– Ran ($160): Different core steel, VG10. Not as high-performance as SG2, but very respectable. 34 layers per side. HRC 61
– Tsuchimon ($120): Same core steel as Ran, VG10. Only two outside layers that are hammered around the core VG10. HRC 61.
– Dragon ($120): No layers, more like a German knife. One single billet of nitrogen-enriched American steel (CTS-BD1N), HRC 63. Will be thicker and heavier than all the others, like a Wusthof or Henckels.
Conclusion: These are all high-quality knives that will take an excellent edge and keep it for a respectable amount of time. The Gou knives with their SG2 core (along with the Dragon) will probably keep their edges a touch longer than the Ran and Tsuchimon. But you need to be a little more careful with harder steel like HRC 63 — it can chip more easily and won’t take as much abuse. The Dragon, with it’s newly-engineered nitrogen steel, is interesting — I’d be very curious how it performs. Anyway. . .it all depends on what your specific needs and tastes are!
If I were you, I would not get stuck on just one knife brand or one model — especially in the price-range you are looking at. There are numerous to choose from and they all will be beautifully made and super-sharp. Here’s one of my favorites that has been on sale for a while (made of the same core steel as the Super Gou):
Miyabi Birchwood Chef Knife
Please browse back up through the comments on this page, you might find some more tips. Best of luck! And feel free to ask more questions :)
Thanks for the Miyabi recommendation! I have now managed to pick up two Yaxell Super Gou (Utility & Chef’s) knives and I must say, Wow! They look amazing, like they could be placed in a museum, and they cut just as good!
I’m just getting started with knives but I have developed a Japanese fetish! I have small hands and there’s something about these Japanese and my small hands. I do believe I’m going to pick up some of the Miyabi knives next.
How do you like the handles? I have been meaning to pick up some Victorinox (Rosewood handle) steak knives, but I’ve read many complaints about the wood smelling funny. Lastly, for these SG2 knives, what type of hone and grit would you recommend? Thanks again and keep up the fine work!
You’re welcome, Victor! And thanks for the report on your new Super Gou knives. Yaxell is now permanently on my radar :)
1) Just so you know, Miyabi makes a number of different lines (Evolution, Artisan, Kaisen, etc.). The line I recommended to you, the Birchwood line, is not only wicked sharp, but a work of art. I do not own them, but have handled them in the store and I think they feel fantastic. The Birchwood has not been overly finished, so you can still feel the texture of the grain. (And, for what it’s worth, my hands are on the smaller side as well.)
2) If you’re shopping for steak knives, you might want to check out my article on Wusthof knives. I cover a number of different sets at different price points. If you’re into natural wood, you would love the Ikon (Blackwood) with handles made from African Blackwood. But they are pricey!
3) I recommend using a ceramic hone on your Yaxell knives. Most ceramic hones will have a fine enough grit, but if you want to play it safe, use the hones I recommend. Or, if you have the time, you could take up the craft of sharpening/honing with a waterstone. (I don’t have time for a waterstone.) See these articles for more details:
What’s Honing Steel?
How to Hone a Knife
Being a executive chef for many years I have become a big fan of the Victorinox knives. This is probably due to the fact that they are the first knife they let you hold in culinary school. lol
I’d be interested to hear you thoughts on this brand of knives? Have you used them? What do you think?
I have found, for the price, nothing else can really beat them.
I’ve sampled Victorinox, but do not own them. I think they can be great for professional kitchens because they cut well and don’t cost much (you don’t have to worry about misplacing or someone making off with it).
But they’re also made of inexpensive materials with a utilitarian design — and they look and feel like it. Thus, they’re not something I would want to see, feel, and use in my home kitchen day-to-day if I could avoid it. And I think the majority of my readers would have this point of view. That’s why I, generally, don’t recommend :)
Yes you’re right they are great for commercial kitchens but for home use I also like to pull out my Shun’s ;-)
You’re right Nate, since my original comment I have fallen in love with the Shun range. These knives are simply the best, but they’re not cheap!
I’m interested in buying a Japanese santoku/gyuto knife (165-180mm). I got REALLY confused looking for a good craftsman that uses good steel and sells for a reasonable price.
The things I know:
1) I am looking for a forged Japanese knife santoku/gyuto
2) Blade length: 165-180mm
3) Materials: Core – Aogami (#2, #1, or Super); Clad – soft iron (no stainless; no Damascus)
4) Good and reliable craftsman
5) Price: around $100
Waiting for good news and great recommendations!
A man who knows what he wants! Japanese knives are not my specialty, but I’ve done some research for you and this is what I’d recommend (following your specs).
First choice: The specs for this knife exactly match yours and Karaku seems like a very reputable manufacturer: Karaku Aogami Super Santoku (below are two retailers who also sell the gyoto which is more expensive).
There’s also a nakiri I found on Amazon, that’s in your size range, and would work well. Some cooks swear by their nakiris! Karaku Aogami Nakiri 165mm
Second choice: I don’t feel as confident about this manufacturer, but the knives are substantially cheaper. (Please note that it sounds like one of them does not come from the factory with a final sharp edge. You must sharpen yourself.)
Santoku Kitchen Knife 165mm, Aogami No1 Steel, Kurouchi Double Bevel
Santoku knife, 180mm—Japanese handle, Aogami steel
Third choice: And finally, there’s the Tojiro brand, which makes some of the best inexpensive Japanese knives around — but they are not made of the steel you specified. You might want to check them out anyway. . .
Tojiro DP Gyutou – 8.2″ (21cm)
Tojiro DP Santoku 6.7″ (17cm)
P.S. If you buy the Karaku, you better be very very dutiful about always drying it or you will have one rusty knife :)
My mam’s a chef and she uses Global knives. I’m looking to get a set of knives myself and am considering the Global Sai—as the shaft on the normal Global knives are a bit big and uncomfortable for me.
So my question is: Does anyone have any experience or opinions on the Global Sai shafts?
I’m sorry to say, I don’t have hands-on experience with Global SAI knives. (I do own a regular Global santoku though which gets a lot of use.)
Global SAI 7.5 Chef Knife / Global SAI 3-Piece Set
From photos of the SAI (see link above), the handle (Is that what you mean by “shaft”?) looks distinctly different than the regular Global. It’s more contoured and designed to fit into your hand in a more natural way. Thus, it should be easier to hold on to and more comfortable to grip. But, the overall size of the handle might not be any different than the regular Global. It’s hard to sure about the feel of a knife long distance :)
If you don’t have a store nearby that carries the SAI, I would recommend buying it from Amazon and then returning if it doesn’t suit you. As long as you’re careful with the packaging, and try to discuss with the merchant ahead of time their return policy, you should be able to do this without a problem.
Hope this helps a little. Can anyone else help Emily out?
Hi there, I’m ditching my old cheap knives and want to treat myself to some great ones. What knife styles should I buy for the most common of kitchen tasks? I’m happy to purchase a few, but want to buy the right knives for the right jobs.
Hi Ash, great question!
You should start with the core three:
– chef (8-inch)/santoku (7-inch or so)
– paring knife (3 – 4-inch)
– bread knife (8 or 9-inch).
Believe it not, you can do the majority of kitchen prep work with these three knives. But, by far, the most important is the chef/santoku which you will use 75 percent of the time.
Then, depending on your needs, you might want to add on a smaller (6-inch) chef knife, a different-sized paring knife (larger or smaller, depending on the one you’ve already bought), a slicing knife, and a fillet knife.
The slicing knife you would use for larger cuts of meat like roasts and slabs of fish, and the fillet knife you would use to nimbly cut around bones—both either with raw meat or cooked.
And, if you want your knives to stay sharp, you must buy a ceramic hone and use it regularly!
Please see these other articles for more guidance:
How Many Kitchen Knives Do You Really Need?
How to Buy a Great Chef Knife
Three Kitchen Knife Sets I Recommend
Kitchen Cutlery Sets for Tight Budgets
Knife Edges 101
P.S. I have plenty more recommended knives in other posts/articles. If you use the Search Box in the footer section of any page, and punch in “chef knife,” you will bring up other posts with more suggestions.
Most of these knives have very different prices listed on the links provided (not sure if this is just my region though). So you might want to consider updating them.
Thanks much, Dawson! I try to keep up on them when I can. . .they’re always going up and down. . .you know, like airfare prices, the stock market. But they were really out of whack this time :)
In your opinion, which knife is the best, Victorinox or Kyocera. Don’t give me your answer from a selling point of view, just give me your thoughts, even if you happen to think they are both junk.
First off, let me assure you I never have, and never will, give anybody on KitchenKnifeGuru my thoughts from a “selling point of view”— whatever that might mean. I’m great believer in the Golden Rule and that’s what this site is based on. Every product I write about and recommend is from the POV of what I would use in my own kitchen. Naturally, I do have my own opinions and biases, but I’m usually pretty up-front about them.
Victorinox versus Kyocera
Both of these companies make a variety of knives that vary in quality and features. But lets assume you’re referring to the basic Victorinox Fibrox chef knife and the Kyocera Ceramic Revolution Series chef knife, the 8-inch models.
– very sharp
– thin, flexible blade
– rather utilitarian and not that attractive (i.e. inexpensive plastic handles, minimum craftsmanship—although the Kyocera may have nicer finishing than the Victorinox)
– not overly expensive
– Victorinox made of stainless steel
– Kyocera made of ceramic
– Victorinox is tough
– Kyocera is much more fragile
The difference between steel and ceramic is a BIG DEAL when it comes to durability and toughness. The Victorinox will put up with a medium amount of abuse—things like cutting around bones, or cutting through bones, or cutting through frozen cookie dough—while the Kyocera will NOT. Because ceramic is such a hard substance, it can chip or crack if pushed to far, while the steel the Victorinox is made of can take it. And. . .if you drop the Kyocera on a tile floor, it could easily break! (This would never happen with the Victorinox.)
On the other hand, the Kyocera should be sharper than the Victorionox and should stay sharp for a much longer time. There are other subtle differences, but these are the main things.
For what it’s worth, neither of these knives would I have in my home kitchen mainly because of the utilitarian design and the lightness (and flimsiness) of the blades. Nonetheless, the Victorinox can be an excellent choice for a professional kitchen because it will perform well, but, because of it inexpensiveness, will not have to be worried about.
Hope this helps,
I’ve been a fan of the Mac brand for years. I have “upgraded” my knives over the last year to some very nice Japanese Takeda knives, but still keep a Mac chef knife at my house and cottage. At my house, the Mac sits on a magnetic rack near my sink, away from my work table. So I use it often, but not for extensive or much fine work anymore. I think anybody would be happy with the Mac knife. It’s well balanced, light and sharp, and it holds an edge well. It also sharpens easily. From some other brands mentioned and commonly liked, the Mac is a step up on performance.
The Takeda knives are a quantum leap again from the Mac. They have an edge that makes a light sabre look dull, so light that you’ll never fatigue using them. They hold an edge for a ridiculously long time. Now, sharpening them is not easy. I haven’t tried sharpening myself and have only one shop I trust with them. They’re carbon steel so they require more care than a stainless knife, be sure you’re okay with that. I find the extra care needed very minor, simply wash and dry the knives after each use, oil if you’re putting them away for a long period (i.e. months).
Last year I bought a Takeda nakiri which I thought would be a nice addition. It’s become my go-to knife. I use it for just about everything, switching to a gyotu only when I need a larger knife. I love chef knives, but the nakiri is just so useful to me, I can’t help recommending it.
One other tip that has helped me is honing on a strop instead of steel. It takes a bit of getting used to, but not much, and it does a much better job than a steel. I have always found getting the angle on a steel a bit uncertain. Phoenix Knife House makes a fantastic strop for kitchen knives and straight razors and it’s cheap. I paid way more for my razor strops and they are much smaller. I do about 10 passes on each side most days and it takes about 30 seconds. This practice is highly recommended with harder steels like the Takeda. Softer steels can go either way I believe, but I still prefer the strop.
On the Shun note, I’m not a fan. I find them overpriced. They’re a good performing knife and they are really attractive, but I don’t like their feel and I find the handles a bit slippery and awkward. It’s a personal preference and knives are very personal so everybody should see for themselves what works. I’m in Canada and shops that sell Shun really markup the prices. My hand-forged Takedas were in the same ballpark as some Shun prices, but I’m afraid there is no comparison in the quality between the two. I’m not putting Shun down for what it is — a Big Mac is nice, but not if it costs $50!
Last personal note: I hate knife blocks or putting them in drawers. I really like magnetic wall racks.
Thanks for sharing your tips and opinions! You have excellent taste. Takeda knives are hand-forged beauties that deserve their very high regard in professional chef circles. But, for my readers, lets clarify a couple of things: 1) they are made of carbon steel (NOT high-carbon stainless), and they will rust. Leave one out in puddle of tomato juice and it will discolor, or wet on the counter for an hour and it will begin to seriously oxidize (rust). 2) They are significantly thinner, and brittler, than your average German blade and they will chip and crack if abused. 3) Shun knives are not really a fair comparison to Takeda. I’m not sure what Shun knives you were comparing Takeda to, but if you go to Amazon you’ll see that your average Takeka chef-sized knife (8-inches or 200mm+) begins at $330 while a Shun Classic chef begins at $149. So we’re talking about a knife that costs twice as much as another knife—not such a useful comparison. If you step up to a Shun Blue steel, you’ll start at $230 which is still $100 less than Takeda.
The only other thing I’d mention that you may, or may not, be aware of is that magnetic wall racks—depending on their construction and the way you use them—can damage the sharpitude of your knives’ edges. If the rack is designed to allow the knife edge to actually touch the metal of the magnet, you can slightly ding the edge every time you remove or mount a knife on it. And if you are casual and let the knife slap up against the magnet metal, the dinging will be worse. So please be aware.
Thanks again for chiming in. . .
You guys have to pay a lot for the Henckels Professional 8’s. Here in Belgium I found a 7-set series for less than 161.70 to be exact. I’m going for that one.
Are you saying that in Belgium you found one these Henckels Professional S knife sets—that list on Amazon for $330 and $295 respectively—on sale for $161.70 (U.S. dollars)?
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro S 7-Piece Knife Set
Henckels Twin Pro S 7pc Block Knife Set
I must admit that’s pretty hard to believe. I don’t want to jinx your good fortune, but I would be concerned as to whether you’re buying genuine Henckels product and not a knock off. Do you entirely trust the vender?
Are there any other brands of knives similar to Global where the blade and handle seamlessly blend into one, smooth piece? Although I am aware that this is technically not true, I like this style due to the fact that the hilt blends in. I don’t hold a knife by the handle, I hold it more on the hilt, and the Global design gives me less callouses.
Good question, Ray! I’m pretty sure there are others. . .let me look into for you. But, if you don’t mind me asking, why are you dissatisfied with Global?
Not dissatisfied, just curious what’s available.
Hi Ray—sorry to keep you waiting. Unfortunately, I found very few quality chef knives (other than Global) to suit your needs of a seamless blend of handle to blade. But here’s what I’ve got:
The Henckels Pro, which I just recently researched for my Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale post, has a totally redesigned bolster that might work well for you. The Pro line is comparable in quality to the Professional S, but has a more modern look and feel. It would be a dramatically different knife than most anything Global makes—which, I believe, is what you’re looking for, no?
I would assume the feel of the Pro would be heavier than most of Global’s chefs/santokus, but lighter than the Professional S (which is classic German design). Performance-wise, from the factory, the Pro might not match Global. But, if you got it sharpened by somebody like Seattle Knife Sharpening, any difference would be reduced to negligible, to nonexistent. Worth checking out!
Henckels Zwilling Pro Chef Knife, 8-inch
New West KnifeWorks, G-Fusion chef/santoku
New West is a high-quality boutique knife maker located in Wyoming. Though I have not test-driven their knives yet (they are on my review list), they have made a name for themselves and look extremely promising. Their knives are stunningly styled and, supposedly, perform well. But, the most important thing for you, is that they have designed their G-Fusion blade to specifically address your issue: “a blister free pinch grip” (quoted from their website). They’re pricey, but their 8-inch G-Fusion chef is currently on sale for $209 (down from $299). Worth investigating.
G-Fusion 8″ Chef Knife
Global Knives Revisited
The last thing I’ll mention (which might be obvious) is—have you explored ALL of the models/lines Global makes? Because. . .
1) They have the GF series which is forged and should be a bit heavier (and more German feeling) than their standard machined (stamped) knives. If you’re looking for a heftier feel, these might do the trick.
Global GF Chef (G-33), 21cm (8.25inch) : Sur La Table / Amazon
Global GF santoku (G-32)16cm (6.25inch): Amazon
2) They also have a new SAI series that has a different look and probably a different feel as well. The only negative about the SAI series is that the handles look rather smooth, with not much to grip on to. They could get quite slippery when cutting up an avocado.
Global SAI-01 Chef’s Knife, 7-1/2″, Silver
Hope this helps a little :)
On Amazon Germany they are selling them very cheap. First, I was afraid as well, that they were knock-offs. But according to the many positive reviews, they look legit.
Hi, this is my first post on your comment line RE: best kitchen knives (without breaking the bank). I absolutely love fine knives!
I am not a professional chef, however knives, to me, are works of art that are meant to be used, each for a dedicated task. My overall comment/opinion is that the best knife is the one that you will use again and again!
Thank you KKG in advance for all of your information and your intelligent approach to acknowledging different poster’s opinions on the various knives available and people’s experiences using them.
I have smaller hands and have a decent “collection” of reasonable quality knives that range from Wusthof to Shun (including Classic, Elite, and Bob Kramer specialty), and Global (several of both the regular, lightweight versions and the heavier, forged offerings).
I find that the Shun Classic and Bob Kramer editions maintain the best edges of all. The Wusthof has nice heft, but I constantly have to to hone it.
I strictly use either bamboo, tamarind wood, or nylon cutting boards, and store all my knives carefully.
Here is a short list of the ones I use most frequently:
My number one go-to for small items is the now discontinued Shun Elite, Bob Kramer 3.5-inch paring knife. With its unique wider grip and curved handle, it is perfect for mushrooms, ginger etc. It is a work of art that fits perfectly in my hand.
My fave chef knife is a tie between the Shun Elite, Bob Kramer chef knife and the Shun Classic, 10-inch chef. The 6-inch Classic chef frequently goes with me when I travel. (The Global non-forged chef is lighter, but does not hold an edge as long as the other two.) The Shun Classic also has the wonderful “D grip” that prevents it from spinning in your hand if it gets wet.
My fave other knives are the Global forged utility knives such as the GSF-22. These are amazingly sharp and specialized for different cutting tasks. Note that the forged ones have an “F” in the name.
One more thing to second KKG’s descriptions is that the proper edge angle and shape on each knife is crucial. I played oboe as a teenager and had to learn to sharpen and hone the reed knife with utmost precision to keep my reeds workable. Guess that ruined me for regular knives later in life… :)
Thanks again for all of the wonderful comments and suggestions. I look forward to continued knife-finding and cooking adventures.
Hi Emmy Lu,
Thanks for sharing your faves and the knowledge you’ve garnered as a serious home chef! There are so many quality knives out there that it’s always fun to get more tips. That Shun Elite/Kramer paring knife sounds like a dream—such a pity it’s been discontinued. Probably has to do with Kramer’s move to Henckels.
But we need to have a talk about cutting boards. . . .I’m concerned you’re chewing up your beautiful blades. Here’s the scoop. . .
Nylon (which I assume is soft enough that it scores) is fine. But tamarind and bamboo are problematic.
Tamarind, although it looks beautiful, is just too hard. It’s practically like cutting on stone. To give you a frame of reference: Hard North American Maple, which I would call the standard, is rated with a hardness of 1450. Tamarind is rated at 2318 to 3000 (depending on which chart you’re looking at)! If it were me, I wouldn’t slice a thing on a board that hard. (Here’s a link to a wood hardness chart if you’re curious to take a look for yourself.)
Bamboo has a problem with the nodes that gives it an uneven hardness and softness. (For more on this, see my article Cutting Boards — Bamboo and Others.) It’s fine to do some light slicing on bamboo or use it for cheese and fruit, etc.. But I would not recommend it for chopping.
In the spirit of exploration, you might want to take a look at Hinoki. It’s a type of Japanese cypress very common in Japan and becoming more and more popular in the states. Like maple, it will yield to a knife blade, but still remain resilient. Here’s a link: Shun Hinoki Cutting Board, Large
And, as a follow-up, you might enjoy my post: Best Cutting Boards . . . for Your Kitchen Knives.
All the best,
P.S. My daughter plays clarinet and we have heard all about the hassles those poor double reed players must go through. . . :(
Any experience with Rhineland knives?
Nope. I’ve had no experience with Rhineland knives and, honestly, I’d never heard of them before. But I just researched their website and I’m sorry to say, I’m not impressed.
They’re expensive, yet the website tells you very little about their design/manufacturing process and why they might be worth paying a premium for. They’re made of the same “German steel” that Wusthof knives are made of, but they don’t tell you where they’re made. Is it Germany? Or China? Big diff and they should tell you. Because starting with a quality German steel is one thing. But how you heat treat and finish the blade is just about as important.
Rhineland knives are more expensive than any of the established name-brand knives in my article above, but they’re more of an unknown quantity. Yes, they have glowing testimonials, so who knows, maybe they’re a great knife. But that’s not enough to convince me. There are so many great knives out their with great track records. . .why take a risk?
Is it possible to send you an email? I have a few questions about some knives I’m about to buy—I mean I don’t know which of the I knives should buy. I would like to send you the links to the knives and get some professional advice from you.
I’d love to help you, but I’d prefer we start here, in the comments section. This way everybody who visits the KKG site can be included in our conversation—which is sort of the modus operandi of the site. If for some reason it becomes too cumbersome, then we can always switch to email :)
Ah, yes, of course. So I’m a second-year chef student from Finland and it’s time for me to buy my own chef knife. My hands are quite big, but slim and bony. I prefer lighter knives over heavier ones, but I can handle also heavier knives. I’m searching for an all-around knife for my everyday cooking at school. I actually don’t yet know much about knives, but I searched online and these are the few that came up.
Zwilling Four Star 40th Anniversary 6″ Santoku Knife
(I’m not so sure about this brand. It seems fishy that they are selling a good knife for 40 euros. Is this a legitimate brand and a good knife?)
Zwilling Four Star Hollow-Ground Rocking 7″ Santoku
Global G-4, 7-inch
MAC SK-65 – Superior Series 6 ½” Santoku
Messermeister Asian Precision 7-Inch Gyoto
Messermeister Asian Precision 7.25-Inch Kullenschliff Santoku
Messermeister Park Plaza 6-Inch Chef Knife
I also searched for a few cutting boards. But my budget is not so big and I came up with this plastic one. Is this a good one or should I buy a different one (maybe wooden perhaps)?
Oneida Cutting Board, 16-Inch, Blue
Here’s the first, most important thing I have to tell you: You must buy a longer chef knife!
As a future professional chef looking for an all-around knife, you’re going to need a chef knife that is at least a 8-inches long. As a matter of fact, many pros swear by 9- and 10-inchers. Unless you end up working in some super-small kitchen creating minuscule portions of food, a 6-inch knife will immediately drive you (and your bosses) crazy with it’s inability to process large amounts of food efficiently. (The smaller size is fine as an additional knife though.)
Secondly, I would recommend starting off with a fairly traditional chef knife and then exploring other options as you gather experience. Although I’m a big fan of santoku knives, I’m not sure that’s the best way for you to start off as a pro or the best knife to have as your main squeeze.
Zwilling Four Star 40th Anniversary 6-inch Santoku (and Rocking Santoku)
The Anniversary is not fishy, just a great deal. The Zwilling Four Star line are forged knives with acceptable quality. Too short though.
Global G-4, 7-inch
You can’t go wrong with Global. Their blade standard, across the board, is high. And they are light. But I’m concerned about your knuckle clearance with the regular chef knives like the G-2. That’s one good thing about the G-4, it probably has more clearance.
MAC SK-65 – Superior Series 6 ½-inch Santoku
Too short. You could step up to the MAC Superior, but it doesn’t have a pointed tip which you might need. (See my final comments.)
Messermeister Asian Precision 7-inch Gyoto; Messermeister Asian Precision 7.25-inch Kullenschliff Santoku; Messermeister Park Plaza 6-inch Chef Knife
These are all stamped knives (versus forged) which, in German knives, I tend to stay clear of. I don’t think the edges will hold up well. That’s why I recommend the Messermeister Meridian Elite in my article above. It’s a beaut. I also think that the knuckle clearance in the 9-inch Meridian Elite would probably be enough for larger hands.
If I were a professional like you, I would do whatever I could to save up and buy a quality all-around knife. And my first choice would be the MAC MTH-80 (from my list above). It’s super-sharp and has a long, wide blade which can handle large amounts of food and also give you knuckle clearance. And it’s thin and light. Yes, it’s expensive, but when you think that this is the main tool of your profession, something you will be using for hours day-in/day-out, it is more than worth it.
Buuuut, if you really really really need to save money, you should probably consider the tried-and-true Victorinox chef knife. Although it’s constructed of inexpensive materials (plastic handle, etc.), it’s known for having a sharp, resilient blade and working well in a professional kitchen. And it has a wide blade which will give your larger hands clearance. You also might look into the Wusthof Pro Chef’s knife.
Whatever knife you buy, please make sure you hone it regularly with a ceramic hone to keep it sharp. If you do not know about honing, please see my article What’s a Honing Steel?
Either wood or plastic are fine as cutting boards. (See my article Cutting Boards—What’s Better, Wood or Plastic?) I own the Oneida board and it’s a great board. It’s made of the right kind of plastic (not too hard) and it’s a convenient size—but I think it’s probably too small for a pro. You need something larger like the OXO Good Grips.
If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask :)
1. If I find a good deal for a Japanese knife online, should I be concerned about potential knock-offs like you often see with golf clubs?
2. A hybrid Japanese/German knife is still stainless, right? I mean, take care of it, obviously, but it’s not going to have the rust issues of a total carbon steel blade, right?
3. Local cookware store bought a knife-sharpening machine like what he says the Wusthof rep uses (showed it to me; it’s an industrial looking machine). Trust it? Or should I still send stuff to Seattle?
1. First: I’d stick to name-brand Japanese, like the knives in this article (Shun, Global, MAC, Miyabi, etc.), until you get more familiar with the kitchen knife world.
Second: I would definitely be suspicious of any vendor selling way below everybody else. I have bought knives online without any problem. Nonetheless, you probably should be a little careful. I have been told by Wusthof that they have had problems with knockoffs. I’m guessing that a Wusthof knife is probably easier and cheaper to copy than a Shun or Global—so there’s probably less odds of that happening with those brands.
Third: If you want guaranteed protection, simply buy from a big-name retailer or one that has a proven track record. That’s one nice thing about Sur La Table (who, full disclosure, I am an affiliate for).
2. We must be very specific here about “hybrid Japanese/German knife.” Are you talking about the knives and brands covered in the article above? If so, then the answer is YES, they are all stainless. But it’s a big world of hybrid Japanese/German knives out there and I can’t promise you they are all stainless. I can say that most hybrids are probably stainless. How’s that?
3. Send your knives to Seattle Knife Sharpening. For one humongous reason: It’s not about the machine—it’s about the operator. Knife sharpening is a sophisticated skill that takes time, love, and training to truly master. Although there are some machines that I would definitely stay clear of, in the end, it’s not about the machinery. Read my interview with Bob Tate (of Seattle knives) for more on this :)
Funny thing: After I posted the above question, I found the same knife for the same price at Sur la Table and it was one of the brands you mentioned, so … must be a legit price. Gonna try to catch Sur la Table this weekend and see if they still have one in stock. Would like to get the feel. I’d like to try out at least one, decent Japanese knife and I figure this Miyabi probably fits the bill (at over 50% off suggested retail).
OK, now I need your insight/advice/suggestions.
I’m not a chef but I’d say I’m a decent home cook and I cook a fair bit. We cook at home a fairly decent amount and once or twice a month, I’ll do something more elaborate involving significant prep. In the winter, we’ll do lots of soups that require dicing tons of onions. Just throwing that out there to give you a sense of my needs and level of experience.
So, today I visited your friends at the store you’re affiliated with and they let me chop some onions and carrots with various knives. I went with the intention of buying the Miyabi Kaizen II which was on sale, big time. But they made my decision more difficult by having me testdrive some even higher-end knives.
Money isn’t necessarily an object in the sense that I could plunk down more cash than $100 for the Kaizen if I wanted to, but the I wonder if I’m really going to get more out of the more expensive knives.
So, my question for you relates to bang for the buck. I’m going to list the knives I played with today, the sale price/regular price, and my thoughts and I’d like you to tell me which one you think would be the best buy considering price and quality and what I’ll mostly be doing with it.
Here goes (all are 8″ Chefs):
Bob Kramer Meiji, $250/380, Euro profile, Japanese blade, fit my hand well even though I’m a lefty, cut very nicely.
Miyabi Kaizen II, $100/215, handle a bit smallish, cut well esp for a demo knife.
Miyabi Artisan SG2, $150/250, larger handle than the Kaizen, which was nice, demo’d well but not sure I’m sold on the hammered dimples on the blade.
Miyabi Birchwood, $230/350, beautiful knife and turned an onion into confetti in no time flat. Not a lot of knuckle clearance. And it was a new knife that was returned rather than a traditional demo, so might have been a bit sharper.
My first thought was $50 more bucks to get the Artisan? That’s not a huge jump for a knife with a better grip. But then it’s only $80 more than that to get the Birchwood, which really shredded that onions and looks really sweet besides. But, by then I’m only another $20 away from the Kramer.
What to do? Decisions, decisions. They’re going to honor the prices for a week. Can you give me your thoughts? I’m interested in what you have to say about durability and level of required maintenance as well.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
First off, let me say this: There is no one perfect chef knife. There are battalions of well-designed, high-performance knives out there, all of which you could be happy to own. So don’t put too much weight into one knife. Plus, who knows, you might buy another in a couple years and mix and match.
Secondly, all of the knives in your list are high-quality, beautifully designed knives that could serve you well. Judging from the amount of cooking you do, I don’t think any of them is over your head or over-indulgent. So I would lean more into what feels the best, what makes your heart thump when you look at it, and what’s the most fun to use—those types of things.
Thirdly, don’t get too caught up in comparing sharpitude. Yes, some blades might have it slightly over others coming from the factory. But once you take them to a professional sharpener, which you are going to have to do after a year or two no matter how sharp they are out of the box, they will all become very similar in sharpitude.
Conclusion: My best guess is that you should go with the Meiji. From what I can tell, you love the knuckle clearance and all the other knives can’t quite match that. That’s what Kramer knives are famous for. Some love it, some hate it. Add to that, it’s gorgeousness and attention to detail, and what the heck? It’s at a bargain price and a chef knife is a long-term investment. When you dollar-cost average over the years (even decades) you use it, the difference in price evaporates.
My second choice would be the Birchwood. It is so incredibly crafted and so incredibly sharp. I’m making these choices because of comfort, beauty, craftsmanship, and because price is not paramount for you. (If you wanted maximum sharpitude for the best value, I would advise the MAC from my Best Chef Knives. . . list above.)
One other last-minute tip: When you hold a chef knife, do you use the pinch grip? If you do not, then your knuckles stick down lower. If you use the pinch grip, which is what the pros use and gives you more control, your knuckles will come up a bit.
That’s all for now!
P.S. Please promise me you will buy a ceramic hone to go along with your knife and learn how to use it.
P.P.S. I’m not a big fan of the hammered dimples look either. . . :)
Sorry to be a pest, but another question.
The sales clerk was fairly clueless about cutting boards and wanted to sell me a composite (but I read your blog, so I knew better!) What’s the deal with end grain vs. edge grain vs. plain old maple?
I know you’re not KitchenCuttingBoardGuru, but thought you’d still have an opinion since the two things kinda go together.
End grain is the best, but edge grain is good enough and it’s what I use if that helps. They are both, most commonly, made of maple—just different constructions. And there’s nothing wrong with the right kind of plastic either (not too hard).
Please read Cutting Boards—What’s Better, Wood or Plastic? for more details, it should answer your questions more fully. If it doesn’t, let me know and we can discuss some more :)
Hi, great suggestions and great knives!
Did you ever try Italian kitchen knives like Sanelli or Sanelli Ambrogio? I’m wondering how do you rank these brands.
I’d never heard of Sanelli so I did a little research. (Domenico, it looks like the store you represent sells Sanelli knives, so I’m doing this mainly for sake of my readers.) The only Sanelli line I could find in the U.S. was the Premana Professional which strikes me as comparable to Victorinox.
It has a stamped blade (versus forged) along with a fun, but rather utilitarian looking, green plastic handle. I have no idea how its cutting ability compares to Victorinox, but the hardness of the steel is rather low (HRC 54-56) even for German steel. This is not the kind of knife I would choose for my personal use or for the Best Chef Knives list above. Nonetheless, from reading a customer/user feedback, it appears they come from the factory sharp and hold a respectable edge. A viable alternative to Victorinox perhaps.
Sanelli also makes three other higher end and more handsome-looking lines that I’m not sure you can get in the states. It looks like they’re a step up. They are forged, made of the same steel that Wusthof uses for their knives, and come in a variety of styles and handles. Of the three lines (Hasani, Chef, Master) my personal fave would be the Hasaki line of Japanese-style knives. While I would always be curious to take a Sanelli knife out for a test drive, my garage is rather full at the moment :)
KKG, thanks for the recommendation. I bought the Kramer Meiji. I have to say it’s a handsome knife. It looks like a dude’s knife. I’ve been conscripted to make jambalaya and gumbo to feed my daughter and about 20 of her high school friends/dates before homecoming this weekend. I’m going to be up to my eyeballs in diced onions, etc., and having a sharp knife for this project is going to be a like a dream come true. I’ll give a review of how the thing performs.
Meanwhile — I’d put this under sharpening, but since I’m already here — I found a set of youtube videos for a sharpening service in Maryland called Burrbenders. If you have a chance to review, I’d be curious as to your thoughts. Here’s his website: http://www.burrbenders.com/Mail-In.html
1) Thanks sooo much for checking back in! Usually only one-out-of-four of my readers reports back in :( So I really appreciate it and find it satisfying to hear how people end up. I’m betting you won’t every regret your decision, but be more and more grateful for it as the days go by.
2) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE buy a ceramic hone post haste. Sorry to keep harping on this, but the sooner you buy and use it, the longer your factory sharpened edge will last.
3) I would love to hear how the Meiji performs for you. And it will be an aid to my readers. So, yes, please check back in after you’ve used it a bit.
4) I briefly checked out Burrbenders and have mixed feelings. I like their hand sharpening program, but find it hard to believe they can do it so cheaply. Their standard machine sharpening program needs to be described in more detail—because even if the process varies, I would like to know what the usual options are. (Slow-speed sanding belts, etc.) They need to be researched further. (For what it’s worth, I’m in the process of revamping my review of sharpening services, so there will be more options in the future.)
P.S. What a lucky daughter you have to have a hands-on Dad who cooks for her! I hope she fully appreciates it :)
This is the first time on your website, great site.
My story is I was a fan of Wusthof from way back when. About two years ago our Wusthof chef knife broke—my wife used it on ice, to try to pry it apart. I then heard a snap. There it goes, the knife snapped. I had these knives since 1991 with a set of Wusthof Silverpoint steak knives.
I was since then in Japan. So, I decided to look for other knives and found Shun knives. The demo the salesman was selling was Shun knives. I couldn’t remember what knife he was using, only it was a Shun. He placed the blade edge on top of a cucumber, letting the weight of the blade do the work. It was actually cutting the cucumber by itself, amazing. After a while he sold me, but I only purchased the Classic blades.
I do remember the Wusthof, after every use I had to sharpen it—but using the Shun is the difference between night and day. You can’t go wrong owning a Shun.
Thanks for sharing your experience comparing Wusthof and Shun knives! The way you tell your story though, I’m not sure you’re being quite fair to Wusthof. Nonetheless, both brands definitely do have their strong and weak points.
Wusthof: Softer German steel, but tougher, more resilient—can put up with more abuse. Heavier, thicker blade.
Shun: Harder Japanese steel, but more brittle. More likely to chip or crack if not properly cared for. Can take a finer edge though and hold it longer. Thinner blade, lighter feel.
– You must understand that if you used a Shun knife to do what you did with your Wusthof that the Shun would actually snap sooner and more dramatically.
– There is no doubt a Shun will generally come from the factory sharper than a Wusthof and will keep it’s edge longer. The one exception in factory sharpitude and overall performance would be the Asian blades Wusthof makes—the santoku and chai dao. Both of these are thinner and come sharpened at a sharper angle (though they are still made of German steel—see Wusthof Knives—a Buyer’s Guide for more details).
For the record, I have Shun, Henckels, Global, Wusthof (and more) knives in my kitchen and enjoy them all!
P.S. I hope you have learned your lesson to never use a kitchen knife as a crowbar, a chisel, a screwdriver, or anything else it’s not designed for. (Please refer to my Top Ten Tips for more guidance.)
P.P.S. When you said, “the Wusthof, after every use I had to sharpen it”, I think you meant “hone” not sharpen. If you had actually sharpened it after every use, you would have had no knife left after a year or two ;)
It’s true, I’ve had to hone the Wusthof chef knife after every use. Sure, blades are used for cutting and slicing, not prying in anyway. That much I know. But thanks, for the info. I just wanted to put my two bits in, that’s all. No worries. God Bless.
I’m looking for a good, sharp and durable knife that will cut through thick heavy items such as: pumpkin and Hubbard squash. Which chef knife would you recommend?
Ready for the fall harvest!
I would shy away from the Japanese knives (because they are thinner and more delicate) and go German. So you should consider Henckels (or the comparable Wusthof chef’s, but NOT the santoku) and the Messermeister. And you should definitely take a look at Wusthof Knives—a Buyer’s Guide which will give you more stylistic choices including my fave Wusthof line, the Classic Ikon.
I would also consider buying a longer blade—like a 9-inch. It will allow you to really show those pumpkins and squashes who’s boss! Here are some direct links to products:
Henckels Twin Pro S 8-inch Chef’s Knife
Henckels Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife
Messermeister Meridian Elite Chef’s Knife, 9-inch
Wusthof Classic Ikon 9-inch Cook’s Knife, Black
Wusthof Classic 9-Inch Cook’s Knife
Please let me know if you have any other questions. . .and report back on what you buy :)
Interesting and helpful. I am hoping to save for a new chef knife and paring knife. Probably going to go with a German brand as it appears it fits my needs and preferences more than the Japanese ones. I currently own a cheap 7-inch chef knife. Too short for my liking, but the best I could afford when I purchased it.
Glad KKG could be of service! You should check out my Wusthof Knives—a Buyer’s Guide article as well. Near the end (near the bottom of the page), I cover knife sets. . .and Wusthof has a number chef/paring combos that would work well for you.
I own a Messermeister Meridian Elite Chef knife. It is very good for chopping. I recommend this knife to those who are chefs.
Cool. Thanks for the feedback!
I have Global. The small paring knife blade has just snapped clean off the handle—and the two carving knife blades are both badly pitted along the blade edges.
Sorry to hear. Are you saying you think Global is an inferior product? Because that doesn’t ring true to me. . .
I’m wondering if you’re being extra hard on your kitchen knives and using them for tasks they were not designed to do. For example:
– What were you doing with the small paring knife when the handle broke off it? Were you using it to pry more than cut?
– And with your carvers—have you been careful to avoid bones with them, or worse yet, have you attempted to power through bones? Have you used them to cut through frozen foods?
These are the kinds of things that can damage any knife, but especially Japanese knives that are made of harder, and more brittle, steel than German.
Let me know. . .I’d be happy to advise you more about the dos and don’ts of kitchen knives.
What about Karmin knife sets?
I’ve never heard of Karmin knives. So I googled them and couldn’t find anything that made sense. Are you sure you’re spelling the name correctly?
Very good knives! But you forgot the very best knife, and more expensive as well, the trademark Evercut from France! The blade part is forged with titanium and doesn’t need sharpening for very long time! I loved the one that I won from my traveler friend!
Thanks for sharing your encounter with Evercut! So many knives, so little time. As I mention at the top my article, my short list of recommendations is by no means comprehensive :)
Anyway. . .I must admit I’ve never heard of Evercut and after doing a little research I’m both intrigued and wary. I’m intrigued because they seem like a reputable manufacturer with an established history of knifemaking that is coming up with innovative, high-performing kitchen knives. I’m wary because I’m not nuts about “coatings” on blades (they can wear off). I also don’t like the fact that 1) Evercut doesn’t recommend honing for upkeep (although they don’t specifically mention a ceramic hone), and 2) they ask you return their blades to them for sharpening. My objection to #1 is that, without honing (which I’ve found can greatly extend the life of a sharp edge), you have no way of touching up a blade in between sharpenings. And my objection to #2 is that, What if their factory edge is not as sharp as I would like? Then I’m stuck with their sharpitude which could be a compromise—because it has been my experience that a high-quality professional sharpening service can usually beat the sharpitude of a factory edge.
Anyway that’s my take. Which line do you own—the Origine, the Furtif, or the Maestro?
For those readers who’d like more info, here’s a link to the manufacturer’s site:
And for those in the States who’d like to shop, here’s an Amazon link. (Please realize that, although these knives are manufactured in France, the seller is in Japan):
Evercut Furtif Chef Knife, 7.5″
I didn’t expect a reply so fast from you! Thanks for your time.
Yes, I understood your points and just wanted add some indications as well! I had the same preoccupations as you, but I have owned my Evercut knife for a decade and it´s still pretty good! Mine is from the Origine series):
And the price was much lower than it is now!
When my friend bought it for me, I don´t think you could buy them from any other country than France. Very good to know about Japan!
Thank you so much again,
The mid and upper level line of Arcos knives are second to none. Ours have been performing flawlessly for 30 years, and my parents’ for over 65. The design is European classic and even though they have introduced Japanese-looking models, I, personally, do not care for them. If you prefer to pay two or three times more for a German knife (quite probably made in Spain), or a Japanese one, fine, but you’re getting the same, or less, quality.
Thanks for your endorsement of Arcos kitchen knives! I’m glad they’ve worked so well for you. Do you know what line you own?
Yes, there are many quality kitchen knives out there and in my article above I could only single out a handful. But the Arcos brand has a rich history in this comment thread. And if you ever have time to do some more perusing, you will find a number of entries about Arcos. I think my most thorough and up-to-date comment on them occurs in a reply to Pere Cellers on 2016/04/26.
BTW. . . the only Henckels line that I know of that’s manufactured in Spain is the International line. It looks almost identical to the Pro S, but in my experience, the finishing is not quite as fine (I don’t know about the blade steel).
I have fairly large hands and I am currently using a santoku knife most of the time when I’m preparing meals. But after reading your post, I see you stated that the Messermeister has a bigger handle which might be suitable for me. Will definitely be checking it out. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Jonas!
I believe a few of the knives on my Quality Kitchen Knives On Sale page also have larger handles. Like the Miyabi Kaizan II chef and the Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef. They are no longer on sale, but they’re still great knives at reasonable prices. And if you love quality and can afford to pay more, all of the Bob Kramer knives have hefty handles. That’s sort of his trademark!
Happy shopping :)
Thank you so much!
Catching up. Bought the Meiji last year. Made that big homecoming dinner I described above. Turned out to be 35 kids, not 20, so lots of jambalaya and gumbo. Can’t believe HS kids were digging my cajun food, but, hey. . .
So, the Meiji. It’s a Kramer knife made in partnership with Zwilling.
Compared to the really old and not-well-maintained Zwilling 4-stars I had from back when my wife and I were newlyweds, it was crazy sharp. I meant to come back sooner to report on this, but waiting until now gives me a chance to say that, in spite of the fact I cook quite a bit, the edge has held up very well. It’s not maybe quite as crazy sharp as it was out of the box, but it still zips through onions and does a fine job with dicing ripe tomatoes as well.
One thing I thought I would mention is the handle. It’s one of those asymmetrical handles that supposedly favors right-handed people. It’s not exactly D-shaped like a Shun. There’s more of an edge rather than a tight curve on one side of the handle.
I’m a left-handed guy and I haven’t found it to be an issue whatsoever. Maybe as a lefty, I’ve learned to accommodate the right-handed world. But it didn’t bother me at all. I use a pinch grip and the edge on the right side of the grip actually is a nice place for the meaty pad at the base of my thumb to rest while I’m chopping. Or slicing, or whatever.
I also test-drove the Miyabi Birchwood which was also a splendid blade. It, too, had what would be considered a right-handed handle. And, again, as with the Kramer Meiji, I didn’t find the handle shape troublesome at all.
So, Guru, if you ever have left-handed people ask about the shape of the handle on these Japanese knives, you can offer them my endorsement: It’s probably not going to be an issue. In fact, it might even fit better for left-handed people than you can imagine.
Also, I bought a couple of Kramer hones, figuring he’d know what to use on his own knives. Based on the research I did, I believe the Kramer ceramic hone is a finer grit than the MAC or the . . . whatever the other one was. I think it was like 1600 compared to 1200. I also bought the steel hone with grooves on two sides and smooth on two sides and I use that for maintaining the edge before each use.
But, bottom line . . . I love the knife. Thanks for the advice. It’s still far and away the sharpest knife I own even though I haven’t sent if off to Portland for sharpening.
Thanks for reporting back, Rookie! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Meiji so much. Hey, isn’t it time to cook another meal like the one you cooked last year?
With all this Meiji talk, I’m thinking this comment really belongs on my Bob Kramer Knives — Why Spend $300 on a Chef Knife? page. But we’ll let it stand :) But if you haven’t read it, you should.
As far as the grits on my recommended ceramic hones go, the DMT is 2200 and the Messermeister is 1200. (Readers, see My Favorite Honing Steels.)
Keep on cooking up a storm, Rookie!
P.S. I think for sharpening you mean Seattle Knife Sharpening in Seattle, WA, no?
Seattle, Portland. Comme ci, comme ca.
Yes, I do mean Seattle Knife Sharpening. Oooops.
Sorry, hadn’t seen the other thread. I’ll go take a look. I commented back here because this was where the original discussion was taking place, but I’ll add my 2 cents over there if I have a couple cents to add.
Hello, I am Jorge from Uruguay.
I loved this article and I learned a lot, mainly on many comments. In my country most of these brands aren’t available . . . and I have some good knives I purchased abroad. What about Arcos from Spain?
Thank you for your support!
Acros knives have been discussed quite a few times in this very comment thread. My most in-depth comments appear on this date:
2016/04/26 at 5:09 pm and 2016/04/26 at 9:09 pm
In a nutshell? Although I have never held an Arcos blade in my hand, much less tested one out, my research reveals that they are comparable to the German brands. But, like the German brands, quality will vary across the various lines that Arcos manufactures :)
I’ve been using a hand-me-down 6-inch Wusthof Classic chef knife for a while and am looking for my first new knife. I want a larger knife and am leaning towards a 9-inch size, and I think, after much research, I’ve narrowed it down to the Wusthof Classic Ikon or the Messermeister Meridian Elite. I’ve thought about a Shun, which I also liked, but didn’t like that I shouldn’t use it on things like winter squash and hard melons.
I’ve heard great things about the Messermeister and on paper had pretty much chosen that, but haven’t been able to actually hold it since it seems nobody carries it around me! I did have a chance to hold the Wusthof Ikon and I kinda liked the handle and how it felt. I know you recommend both and that Wusthof is also known for quality knives, but was wondering if you had further thoughts comparing the two… how they feel and how you think the blades hold up. I like that they both are available in the 9-inch size and both have partial bolsters. Thanks.
To begin with—you can’t go wrong with either of your final choices and are going to be thrilled when you get a longer knife. Congrats for moving up the ladder! Here are some thoughts:
– No, definitely do NOT get the Shun if you need to use it for winter squash. I think it could easily handle hard melons, but you would need to be more careful than with the other two. In general, you’d need to take a bit more care with the Shun. But the blade is thinner, and if maintained correctly, would perform a bit better than the others.
– Yes, it’s a drag you can’t get a Messermeister chef’s into your hands while deciding. But the handle and weight should be very similar to both the Wusthof Classic (which comes in 9-inch also) or the Henckels Pro S, or any other traditional, forged, German-style knife for that matter. So test out any of those and you will be in the ball park.
– BTW. . .I own the Wusthof Classic Ikon 9-inch and I love the handle. But I’m not sure I would let the handle be the deciding factor in choosing my main chef knife. Unless the handle was especially uncomfortable, then I would be wary. But the handle on the Messermeister is a tried and true style and there’s a reason why—it works. Although the handle of the Messermeister might not be as comfy as the Wusthof Classic Ikon, it shouldn’t pose any serious ergonomic problems.
– I think, personally, I lean towards the Messermeister for two reasons: 1) I have a sense their manufacturing and forging process is a touch higher-end than Wusthof, and may allow it to hold an edge longer, 2) the Messermeister factory edge should be noticiably sharper, and finer, than the Wusthof. That said, please remember, that a year or so down the line, after it’s first sharpening, the factory edge won’t matter at all. Then, the sharpitude of either knife will be determined by the quality of the person sharpening it, and any factory differences will disappear.
– Also remember: if you order the Messermeister from Amazon, and if it’s a disaster, you can always return it :)
– The Messermeister Meridian Elite also comes in a “Stealth” version which is worth considering. The Stealth is fundamentally the same knife—just 25% thinner and 10% lighter. The thinness of the blade will allow it to cut slightly better and the lightness will make using it slightly less fatiguing. These are issues that do not impact on a home cook as much as on a professional chef using the knife many hours a day.
– Finally, there’s one more knife I recommend looking into. . .the Miyabi Evolution. It’s a fantastic blend of German and Japanese, using the best of both worlds and it comes in an 8-inch and 9.5 inch. If you have a Sur La Table store anywhere around you, you can try it out there.
Best of luck. Please let me know if I can be of further service. . .
Just wanted to leave a comment here because this thread is well written and the way you answer these comments is just very refreshing. I google stuff into the abyss to compare things, but you made it very easy for me to give me the best tools for that. I usually don’t comment on anything, so…
Regards. . .
Thanks much for the compliment, it made my day! I spend hours thinking about, researching, and writing answers to comments left on this page, and all the pages of the KKG website. It’s great to hear they’ve been helpful and are being appreciated :)
Is Cutco a good knife brand? I bought in Costco, but not sure if it’s good or not. As they said its surgical stainless steel and people say surgical stainless steel is basically a mix of different stainless steels and doesn’t mean it’s good quality or anything like that.
I have a Cutco butcher’s knife I inherited from my Mom and have used it only for slicing salmon fillets and whatnot and it has held up OK. But that’s what I would call very light usage.
I’m not crazy about Cutco. I don’t think the steel they use or their heat treating is equal in quality to any of the brands in the article above. I would feel much more comfortable recommending any one of the brands above.
I have Henckels chef knives in classic and modern styles as well as a 3″ classic paring knife. I prefer the classic style as I had used and liked Wusthof classics in the past. I got the Henckels 20 years ago as a twin set for $105 which I thought was a bargain. Unfortunately, I dropped the 10-inch and busted the tip off, so that’s going to be ground back to a blunt nose. My boning knife is a carbon steel Green River. I also have a vintage 14″ carbon steel ham knife, but that is really difficult to put a consistent edge on. Too long and floppy a blade. I think your review is very fair and balanced. Thank you.
You’re most welcome, Peter! —KKG
Thanks for your informative website!
I have had a set of Felix Solingen Platinum knives for some 15 years now and confess to not caring for them as I should. I don’t find many references to them, but can say they have weathered my neglect over the years. I am tossing up whether to buy afresh or just get them professionally sharpened on a regular basis. I did this once recently, but found they lost their sharpness after about 2-3 months.
The stamp on each knife includes this ref and I assume it is to do with the type of metal manufacture: 4116X50CrMoV15.
I’d appreciate your thoughts. . .
Cheers from Izzy, Downunder
OK, here’s what I can dig up on Felix Solingen Knives. Looks like they are a classic, longtime German knifemaker (since 1790 boasts their website) similar to Henckels and Wusthof. They are located in the same knife-making capital of the world, Solingen, and they use the same X50 CrMoV15 steel to fashion the majority of their knives. So, odds are, there’s some quality going on there.
The Platinum line looks like a mid-level knife that is forged and probably taken through the usual heat treatment any serious knifemaker performs on their product. But it may not get as rigorous a quality control or processing as, say, their First Class line which runs for 30 euros more. Nonetheless, I would assume the edge on a mid-level forged knife (like the Platinum) from a knifemaker of this ilk would hold up much longer than 2-3 months. I have a Henckels’ Pro S chef knife that has gone for many years without sharpening. But I do hone regularly and I do treat my knife edges with care. (Have you read my Top Ten Tips?)
Soooo. . .we are left with the question, why are you having to sharpen your knives so often? My best educated guess is that it’s probably a couple of things:
1. The professional sharpening services you are using might not be that good. (See Finding a Professional Sharpening Service.) Perhaps they are creating edge bevels that are not very acute. Or perhaps the knife edges need some thinning in order to achieve fine edges again and they are not up to doing this. The knives themselves might be rather thick to begin with and this, along with having been worn down a bit from use, might make blade thinning even more of a must. The worst case scenario might be that some time in the past, some poor-quality knife sharpening service might have ruined the steel by getting the edges too darn hot.
2. Perhaps you are being too rough on your edges and either cutting on surfaces that or too hard (like granite or steel or glass) and/or cutting through foods (like chicken breast bones) that your blades were not designed to cut through. This kind of treatment will easily dull a fine-edged, super-sharp knife in no time flat.
3. Also, you are probably not honing your knives or, if you are, maybe honing them incorrectly. Honing, alone, can’t make a sharp knife. But, starting from a sharp edge, and combined with no abuse, honing can preserve sharpitude amazingly. (See What’s a Honing Steel?)
So these are my thoughts. . .hope they help! If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. And have fun in the sun you lucky Downunder-er!
Nate (aka KKG)
Thanks – I’ll follow-up with another professional knife sharpener. Will also learn the art of honing—I think neglect is a huge culprit in my case.
Cheers (from a warm down under)
I cannot help but notice your appreciation for beauty is very bad. I will pass most on the list purely on looks.
I am a big fan of Japanese knives for their looks and sharpness. German knives feel like a bricks in comparison and I use German knives only when I am cutting meat like a caveman. For all others, it’s Japanese knives all the way. Hexagonal handles only.
Weeelll, it’s a big wide world of kitchen knives out there and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion!
For what it’s worth, I would agree that, there are many beautiful and wonderfully-designed Japanese knives. But I would also add that these Japanese knives tend to be 1) pretty expensive and 2) a pain to maintain. Plus, their edges tend to be more delicate than your average German knife and must be treated with more care.
This Best Chef Knives list is more written for your average home chef who is not ready to pay a premium for a chef knife and does not have the time or inclination to worry about if the steel might rust or an edge get chipped.
But thanks for offering your two-cents worth :)
Your blog is just THE coolest thing to read. Kudos and continued success.
Is Cutco a quality knife? I stumbled upon this thread because it is littered with references to Cutco. Read on for details. . .
I am not a Cutco devotee—more like a bystander. My wife’s grandparents loved Cutco, so they offered every single grandchild either money or a Cutco knife set as a wedding gift. My wife really wanted Cutco knives. Here it is 19 years later and I am thinking about sending them back for a sharpening and repair for the first time.
I have used and abused these knives. I broke the tip off the paring knife and also one of the trimming knives. I melted part of the handle on the chef knife. But all-in-all these things have really held up over the past 19 years. In my mind, I keep thinking that buying a 100 dollar set at Ross every few years would probably be just as good, but I cannot complain about the quality of Cutco knives. Knowing myself, I would never have bought these on my own and I would not go around recommending them to everyone because they are really expensive.
Now, as far as comparing them to world-class knives reviewed here, I can’t; I am not a world class chef who owns multiple world-class knives. I trust the KitchenKnifeGuru to make that judgement. In any case, if you try to say that Cutco is not a quality knife and does not stand the test of time, you are wrong, because it is and it does. If you try to say that Cutco is not worth the price, I think you have some room for argument.
As I’ve said many times before on these web pages, Jay, it’s a wide wide world of kitchen knives out there. But I must admit, I sure wouldn’t want to be a knife in your kitchen :)
In my opinion—and it is only an opinion—a quality kitchen knife is a knife that can take a reasonably sharp edge and then hold it for quite a while. And the cutting edge should be able to be revived, again and again, through regular honing. In my experience, Cutco succeeds somewhat in the first case, but fails in the second and third. The main reason for this is that the steel they are made of is not as high-quality as any of the knives recommended above.
But it is wonderful that Cutco will sharpen and repair their blades for free. Hope they come back to you good as new!
I have a Mercer I am in love with—11-inch blade for 45 dollars. I have had it 10 years or so, still nearly as good as it ever was.
Nothing like kitchen-knife love, Bill :) And good to know about Mercer!
What is the best knife for hard, dense food?
Your question is a bit too general—I need more specifics to give you a proper answer.
1) Exactly what kinds of foods are you talking about? Are you talking about 1/2-inch-thick bars of chocolate or chicken bones or butternut squash?
2) Are you referring to German versus Japanese? In most cases, German would be best for hard, dense foods.
Please let me know. I’d love to help you out more :)
So in all of this where would you have rated the Oliva?
In my opinion, every knife in this list is of a good quality and worth owning. But, depending on your needs in the kitchen, each knife has its strong points and weak points. Although I try to cover all of these in the article (for each blade), I also sum things up in the “Pros and Cons” section near the end.
So if I were to refer to the Messermeister Oliva, specifically, in the “Pros and Cons,” I would need to tweak the copy a little. (I’ve italized the new or changed copy.):
Messermeister Oliva Elite Stealth Chef Knife
– Classic German designed blade, but with a gorgeous Olivewood handle
– Slightly wider/longer blade than Henckels
– Chunkier handle
– Durable, tough steel; slightly harder HRC than Henckels, might not need to be sharpened as often
– Not quite as weighty as a typical German knife
– Slightly tipsy towards the blade
– Factory edge might need minor honing/touching up
– Softer steel requires sharpening more often
Hope this helps. If you need more specifics, please feel free to get back to me :)
P.S. Thanks for your question—it led me to discover I had misspelled Oliva with Olivia. Ha!
Who’da thunk learning what new chef knife to buy would be such a task. You certainly narrowed down the choices and you offered wonderfully complete guidance.
In the end, I chose a Wusthof 8″ Classic Ikon, Hollow Edge, and I am delighted with that choice. One can have regrets over spending $180 on a single knife. . .but armed with the knowledge I gained from your extensive reviews, any possible regrets quickly morphed into pride and joy.
Thanks again. . .
You’re most welcome, Jigger. So glad KKG was able to guide you to kitchen knife happiness!
BTW. . .I’m curious what your reasons were for choosing the Wusthof Classic Ikon. Care to share?
First of all, thank you for all this great information!
I’m in the market for my first decent knife and I have a small hand so I appreciate the “small hand” recommendations. Here’s the twist—I have cerebral palsy affecting my left side. I have minimal feeling and low mobility in my left hand. I have to keep my fingers tucked and I must make modifications when using a knife for safety reasons and I, obviously, rely very heavily on my right hand.
I had kind of decided upon the Henckels knife because of the large bolster which makes me feel much safer—until I saw your recommendations for small hands. So my question is this: Is the Henckels handle overly large to the point that it will likely feel uncomfortable in my hand? If so, do you have any other recommendations for small hands but with large bolsters? I’m not really familiar with the Japanese Stryker brand, but I am open to using them as long as they have a large bolster.
Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.
I would love nothing more than to be able to say, “The Wusthof Blah Blah knife is the perfect chef knife for you. Buy it.” But your situation is so unique that I don’t think there’s a simple, guaranteed solution.
I have no doubt that you can find a knife that will work for you—and the Henckels Pro S may very well be that knife. And then, again, it may not. What I can tell you is that the size of the handle on the Henckels Pro S is average. It’s a standard, traditional size.
Here are some chef-knife-searching tips. You need to be:
– patient, not in a rush
– willing to make mistakes—which might mean buying a knife, using it, and then deciding it’s not for you
– ready to visit as many bricks-and-mortar stores you can to physically audition knives. Also, ask friends if you can audition their knives. In your case, especially, trying to guesstimate, long-distance, what chef knives will feel right and offer safety is not going to be very effective.
– I’m not absolutely convinced that you must have a knife with a bolster for protection. Have you actually tried chopping with chef knives without bolsters or with only half bolsters? Because the heels of these types of knives are never sharp and many have a thickness to them that feels very safe. You might find that the size of the handle, and the weight of the knife, might offer a larger margin of safety than having a bolster.
– Santoku knives, in general, might be a good bet. They’re not as long and unwieldly as 8-inch chef knives, yet they’re wide enough to handle chopping onions and larger jobs with ease.
– Consider a six-inch chef knife—like the santoku, it will be more compact. All the brands/models in the review above offer versions of six-inch chef knives.
That’s the best I can do at the moment. But please feel free to ask more questions. . .and good luck!
Thanks for sharing informative Blog.
Actually, I learn more from Comment.
Whatever works :) –KKG
You have shared a very informative blog with us. Hope it will help me. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for taking the time to put this beautiful website together. I have learned so much about knives and knife care that I did not know before. In particular this article assisted me in making a decision on what knife to buy.
I was strongly considering buying a Dalstrong knife…Do you know anything about them?
I ended up buying a Shun Classic, 8-inch, chef knife. The knife is for my wife. She cooks ALL of the time and we have never had a nice knife before.
Note: If you have never owned one of the brands of knives mentioned above and your only experience is with an inexpensive knife (as in our case), you will be in for a pleasant surprise. There is a reason quality knives cost a bit more and you can feel the difference immediately the first time you use them. In my case, it was the Shun, but I believe the average consumer would detect the quality difference using any of the knives mentioned in this article—as compared to less-expensive knife.
Why did I choose the Shun? Several factors, most being the weight of the knife, the edge retention potential, and thinness of the blade.
We recently changed our diet and no longer eat meat. So cutting up bones, or near bones, is not a concern. This actually impacted on my decision quite a bit. If we were still meateaters, I might have selected one of the German-made knives. But since my wife cuts up all plant-based material, no need to worry about chipping the blade on bones.
Taking care of this quality blade is important. We have made a deal to be very careful with this knife. It will not be tossed in the sink, allowed to lay in liquid, and, most important of all, NEVER go in the dishwasher.
I bought bamboo cutting boards (I WISH I WOULD HAVE READ YOUR ARTICLE ABOUT CUTTING BOARDS FIRST!!!) which will work for now, but I plan on buying a Boos Board made from maple soon.
Sharpeners/Hones: (AGAIN, I WISH I WOULD HAVE READ YOUR ARTICLE ON THIS FIRST!!) I bought a Chef’s Choice Trizor knife sharpener before I bought our Shun knife. My thought was to sharpen the value knives we had until we bought enough high-quality knives to replace them. This sharpener has a stropping wheel, which is much like a hone. This is the main wheel I have used to keep our knives sharp. The other wheels are for returning a tired edge back to life. I am terrified to bring my Shun anywhere near this sharpener, however it has worked wonders on my value knives.
Making a decision on what knife was hard for us. We were concerned about buying something online and having to send something back we might not like. In the end we went to Bed Bath & Beyond and held a couple of the knives before buying the Shun chef knife. I recommend getting your hands on the knife you are considering before you buy.
I am planning on buying at least two more knives from the Shun Classic series—the paring knife and the nakiri. Maybe a 6-inch utility knife as well. Any thoughts on this?
Thanks for your in-depth description your journey into the world of kitchen knives! And congrats on your new Shun chef knife.
One thing you should keep in mind about caring for your Shun is that you could still possibly chip it while cutting, or torquing it while cutting, through foods other than meat. A hard-skinned squash such as butternut, etc. is something to be wary of, if not totally avoid. Bars of hard chocolate as well. You could also damage the edge, or break a tip, by dropping in a hard tile floor. So be careful of that hard, Japanese steel.
RE your additional knives: A paring knife is a must, one of the core three. And a nakiri is terrific for chopping veggies. I have a Wusthof nakiri and thoroughly enjoy it’s broad, but compact, blade. A utility knife you might not use quite as much, but can be good for cutting cheese, and pies or cakes (although you must be careful of the edge on ceramics and steel). Two other blades I might recommend before a utility knife, would be 1) a bread knife, and 2) a long (8-inch), narrow slicer (for large melons).
RE Dalstrong knives: Yes, I’m very familiar with the name. They are a newbie Chinese knife company that imitates Japanese knives. Most Chinese companies do not have the history of quality knifemaking (such as German and Japanese) and they are very busy imitating other companies that have that history. So, although I have not personally tested any Dalstrong knives, I’m very very wary of their quality.
All the best,
Thanks for the great resource, it has started me on a quest to find my first investment kitchen knife.
I wondered if you had any thoughts on the Shun Kanso or the Miyabi Artisan (34073-203) chef knives. I believe the Kanso line is newer and, pricewise, comes in just under the Shun Classic.
Thank you for your time!
While I am familiar with both of these knives, I do not have much hands-on experience with them. I believe I have handled the Miyabi Artisan (34073-203) in the store, but never touched the Kansa. What I remember most about the Miyabi is that it has a chunky handle, and you can easily confirm this in photos. So if you have large hands, or simply enjoy the feel of a good-sized handle, then you might prefer the Miyabi over the Shun. Otherwise, your preference might be reversed :)
Both of these knives are high-quality and should last many many years if you treat them right. Both have very similar shaped blades, but as far as overall weight and balance, it’s pretty hard to know how they differ without having them in your hand. Both knives are made of Japanese heat-treated steel that is hard, but brittle—with a Rockwell hardness higher than any knife on the page above other than the Shun Classic. Because of that, please review what I say about “German versus Japanese Chef Knives”. You must be careful with either of these knives and, to be honest, I would not advise someone to buy a knife like this as their first knife. It is so easy to chip it, crack it, or break off a tip. You must treat it with great care. Are you ready to do this?
Pricewise, if you are prepared to spend $150 and up for a chef knife, then I would not quibble over $10-30. Over the lifespan of the knife, this cost difference will disappear. What won’t disappear is your appreciation of the sharpitude and comfort of the knife. . .although, personally, I have found that if a knife performs well (i.e. stays sharp), my hand adjusts to the shape of the handle and overall feel :)
Finally: You should definitely notice a difference between the quality of steel in the blade and the overall craftsmanship of these two knives—with the Miyabi being superior. The Miyabi Artisan line uses a higher-quality steel (SG2) which has a finer grain structure and can achieve a greater hardness. This translates into the blade being able to take, and hold, a finer edge. The Miyabi should come from the factory with a blisteringly, sharp 9-12 degree edge (versus 16 degrees for the Kanso). So if sharpitude is your holy grail, then you might prefer the Miyabi. But do NOT forget that that sharpness must be protected and properly maintained. Visit How to Hone a Knife for more details :)
All the best,
P.S. If you haven’t already, you might want to check out this page of mine for some other ideas: Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale. (Most are probably not currently on sale. . .it’s impossible to keep up.)
Thanks for the quick reply! I do have some more basic knives that I’m happy to keep around for the more utilitarian work, I’m interested in getting into the world of Japanese knives, but thank you for your advice I still have a lot to consider. I’ll let you know what I end up doing.
P.S. The Oliva is also exceedingly tempting, maybe the most gorgeous German knife!
I was able to find a local retailer so armed with all the above info and your advice i’ll have to get some of these fine tools in my hands. Thanks again!
P.S. I just discovered I’m 45 min away from the Kramer Knives, I may have to make a trip over there soon too.
Thank you very much for this comprehensive knowledge-experience based article.
Thanks for the great site!
I’m currently deciding between Global Santoku or Tojiro DP Santoku. What would you recommend? Thank you.
So sorry to be delayed in responding. Will get to it soon :) —KKG
By now, you’ve probably already decided and own one or the other of the above knives. But just in case, let me offer my two-cents worth. . .
I’ve never handled a Tojiro DP santoku, so my comments must to limited to online research and my general, accumulated knowledge on kitchen knives.
First off, it looks like the Global and Tojiro santokus might both have a similar feel. According to the Amazon website, the Tojira weighs in at 6.4 ounces while my own measurements of the Global brings it in at 6 ounces even. Your average human’s not going to notice much of a diff between a half an ounce. That said, you most probably will notice a distinct difference in the texture and shape of the handles. Global has its signature, pebbled handle texture. On top of that, Global makes the thinnest handles I know of—so the Global’s handle will, most certainly, be thinner than the Tojiro’s. So if slim, thin knife handles annoy you, you’d want to shy away from the Global.
Secondly, there’s the steel. With a HRC of 60, the Tojiro’s core steel is harder than the Global (HRC 56-58). What this means in practical terms, is that the Tojiro should hold it’s edge longer. . . and it should be able to take a finer edge. On the other hand, the Global’s less-hard steel will make it less brittle, less delicate, less prone to crack or chip. If you are accustomed to treating your kitchen knives with respect and care, this should make little difference to you. But if you are not, then the Global would be a less risky choice. In addition, I would say that my Global has taken a very fine edge and held it beautifully for quite a long time.
And that’s about it. Both knives should function quite well in general. Without actually testing out the Tojiro, I can’t come to any more definitive conclusions. And as I always say, there are a heck of a lot great kitchen knives out there ;)
I am having trouble deciding whether a chef’s knife or a butcher’s knife would be best for my purpose. I found your review of chef’s knives to be better and more thorough than just about any other review out there. So, I was hoping you could help me decide.
It seems that butcher’s knives are great if you’re planning on cutting up very large slabs of meat. What I do is buy 2-3 lb de-boned meats (chicken, steaks, etc.) and cut them up into small, stew-meat sized pieces (for stews, curries, soups). My current knife (a Cutco chef’s knife) just doesn’t hold it’s edge well. Of course, it’s about 30 years old! So, I wanted to replace it with something that will not require me to sharpen it every time I need to use it. However, I want to get the right tool for the job.
Could you please share any thoughts you may have?
If it were me, doing what you have described, I would want to use a long narrow blade—not a chef’s knife, and not, necessarily a butcher’s knife. (Although I don’t know exactly what you mean by “butcher’s knife.)
I would choose a 9-inch slicer (or even 10) that would allow me, in general, do one long, smooth slice at a time (versus having to break it up into more than one cutting action). Just as important, the narrowness of a slicer would reduce the resistance of a wider blade and make the cutting easier. A chef knife has too much width and height that’s not necessary for this task and just slows the slicing down.
Most of the brands in the above article make slicers that would work wonderfully. Some will come from the factory sharper and probably hold their sharpitude longer. All of them should hold their edges better than your Cutco. But if you want to sharpen, or hone, less—then I would lean towards the Japanese brands made of harder steel. Just make sure they never ever go near any bones.
Also, very very important—buy a ceramic hone and use it regularly. You will never regret it and forever thank me.
Here’s a link to a page on the Sur La Table website which should give you some ideas on slicers:
I also like the look of the Miyabi Hibana Slicer and the Global sashimi knife on this page:
Please feel free to ply me with more questions if need be :)
In my research, the butcher knives I was pointed to were ones like:
WÜSTHOF CLASSIC HOLLOW-EDGE ARTISAN BUTCHER KNIFE, 8″
DALSTRONG Bull Nose Butcher Knife – Shogun Series – 10″
Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro Butcher Knife, Granton Edge, 10-Inch
Global GF-27-7 inch, 16cm Heavyweight Butcher’s Knife
Wusthof Pro Cimeter Knife, 10-Inch
To my understanding, they fall somewhere between a slicer and a cleaver. My only hesitation with the slicers was that I heard they’re better suited to cooked meats versus raw meats.
But, boy oh boy, that Miyabi you suggested is a work of art!
I can only offer you a flash response at the moment (packing for a big move):
– Wusthof Classic Hollow-Edge. . .: This is a handsome knife and could work well, but it’s designed to be used for cutting around bones (among other things). So you’re paying for a design that you don’t really need.
– Dalstrong Bull Nose Butcher. . . : I’m not a fan of Dalstrong because it is Chinese company, using inexpensive Japanese steel, and masquerading as a Japanese company. Japan has a long illustrious history of knife making, China does not.
– Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox. . . : While Victorinox is has a good reputation of making high-quality inexpensive blades, I am not a fan. I do not like plastic-feeling handles and utilitarian craftsmanship and thin, light knives that feel too much like toys. If I’m going to spend some time with a knife, I want it to be a real knife. Victorinox is good for if you work in a pro kitchen and don’t have much control over who might use your knife or who might snitch it.
Sorry, but I don’t have time to look at your other suggestions, but you do NOT need a clearer or anything like it. You are slicing up meat. Cleavers are designed to hack through bones. They are practically the opposite of what you need :)
Great page. Very educational and interesting.
What are your thoughts on the Zwilling 1731 chef knife? It has a high price compared to others but it is made of Cronidur 30 steel heat treated to 60 HRC. Combine that with a well-regarded manufacturer, a shape very similar to others on your list, and an ebony handle, and it seems like a reasonable price to me. This steel is also known as LC200N and Z-FiNit.
I’m a bit unclear as to why this knife doesn’t get more praise. There are very few kitchen knives made of this high-end material.
I ran across these knives at Henckels’ yearly outlet sale in Hawthorne, NY, a couple years back and was seriously intrigued. But I didn’t have the extra cash to buy one.
From what I can tell, with this 60 HRC steel, Henckels is producing a German-Japanese hybrid knife which will perform noticeably better than a Pro S. It should take a fine edge, hold it well, and require minimal sharpening. Buuuut, you will need to be more careful with it than the typical German knife made of softer steel.
Don’t know why Henckel’s doesn’t market it more heavily. Perhaps because of it’s hybrid nature, it falls in between the cracks. . .and Zwilling-Henckels is a huge company with tons of product. And it’s expensive. And, currently, it also competes with the Kramer lines that Henckels produces.
Do I think it’s overpriced at $360? Maybe. You can (at the moment) get a Miyabi Birchwood, a beautiful and wickedly powerful knife, for $300. But you will have to be much more careful with the Miyabi (HRC 63), and you may not like the feel as much as the 1731. You can also buy the above mentioned Kramer-Henckels knives as well at that price point. Buyers tend to be much more picky when entering the $300 plus price range. . . :)
Hope this helps a bit!
I’ve been doing some research into a good kitchen knife to invest in and found your article to be very informative (I got through about half of the above comments, which also proved helpful). I’m currently most interested in the Global santoku from your list. I like it’s more compact size (I have very small hands) and they fact that it’s more of a hybrid (so not as fragile as the other Japanese knives).
My recent interest in expanding my knife collection (I currently have a block full of very average Henckels International knives—nothing compared to the quality of knives you discussed above) is my recent obsession with making sweet potato fries. Cutting through these hard vegetables makes the task quite frustrating and tiring! I know there are designated vegetable knives, but I was hoping to invest in something to could be useful for a variety of cutting tasks (i.e. a chef knife/santoku), not just sweet potatoes.
I guess I was wondering what you would recommend for my needs and if you think the Global could withstand/perform well when slicing sweet potatoes into fries.
I think you’ve done an excellent job at digesting my kitchen-knife info and applying to your needs! And I agree that the Global santoku would be a really great match for you. It’s sharp and thin, but not overly delicate. The thinness will help with lessening the resistance when cutting through dense vegetables/fruits like sweet potatoes. I think you’ll also enjoy the svelte-ness of the handle.
Ideally, you should try it in your hands to make sure you like it. But if that is not possible, then please be aware that like shopping for shoes, there are no guarantees when buying a chef/santoku long distance.
Best of luck,
Hi, my name is Pete Anderson:
I have been looking at different makers, both German and Japanese knives, for a month and have found it amazing how the price differs. Luckily, I came across your in-depth guide. I’ve got to congratulate you on the way you explain the different terms and how the knives differ in both production and size.
After reading your article, I purchased a Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku (17cm) and also a Utility knife (12cm), plus a wooden chopping board—also from Wusthof. I am quite new to cooking and realize the importance of having good, sharp knives.
My only fear is damaging the blade through using a honing steel. Should I use a whetstone instead?
Congrats on your new santoku knife!
Not to worry. . .you would have to work very hard, and very stupidly, to damage your new blade with a ceramic steel. As long as you follow my tips—the most important being not to press too hard—you have no chance of damaging your blade.
Also. . .please be clear that honing and sharpening are two different tasks with different purposes. Honing/steeling is designed to realign the edge of the blade, and sharpening is designed for redefining the edge after it has been much worn down from extended use. You use a steel for honing (every few days) and a whetstone for sharpening (every few years).
Please refer to these articles (and others) on the KKG website for more details: The Sharpening Cycle, What’s a Honing Steel . . .
Fantastic review! While some might find the review very thick in detail, this is exactly what I was looking for. I am a novice cook but hoping to expand my skill set, and have been told repeatedly to make sure the kitchen knives are solid. Appreciate the explanation of differences between German and Japanese-style knives and their respective advantages and disadvantages. Made my decision (going with two of them!) based on the helpful review.
Thanks much for the kudos, Jeff! A lot of time and effort has gone into sorting through the kitchen knife jungle. And it’s always gratifying to here that I’ve helped someone :)
What knives did you decide on? Maybe one German, one Japanese?
Now, please make sure to explore the kitchen knife maintenance areas of KKG (especially honing), so you can keep your beauties sharp. And memorize the Top Ten Tips on the KKG home page :)
Personally, I am a fan of German knives, although I find Japanese knives more visually appealing. I like the hardiness of German knives and the feeling of weight in my hand. However, my preference is probably based on my cooking style. If I made sashimi or sushi, then clearly Japanese knives would be the better option.
I do have a question about the Wusthof santokus scalloped edge… isn’t it a problem for long term sharpening? The last time I sharpened my knifes the guy took off so much steel that it would have for sure gone in to the “dents”… what is your take on that? I still haven’t found a decent sharpening service (live in Germany but just moved).
I was confused about choosing the best knife for my kitchen.
Your blog kept my all confusion away.
It is an amazing content to go through.
Thank you very much for your guide. Was considering spending around £100 to buy one of the knives on your list. Some cost quite a bit more, however I noticed for example the Wusthof Classic (and Classic Ikon) going for around £80 now, but this Henckels Professional S seemed like a steal.
Is there something wrong with this that I’ve missed? What’s your thoughts on the Santoku? I already have an okay chef’s knife, so i’ve gone for the Santoku.
Hi London Tim,
Sorry, but I had to delete your links because if they have graphics they tend to slow down the loading speed of this page.
It looks like you can buy Wusthof cheaper in England than in the U.S. Those knives look like genuine Wusthofs. But be careful–there has been some pirating on Amazon.
Hi. After reading your blog I’m considering buying the “Zwilling Pro Holme Oak 8” chef knife.
Is this one that you recommended? I’m not sure because of the nuances in the names. I like the wood handle of this one.
Handsome knife! Sorry, this is probably too late for you. It looks like the Zwilling Pro Holme Oak is simply a Henckels Pro, but with a beautiful Oak handle. It should perform as a high-quality steel knife, similar to the Henckels Pro “S.”
Thank you so much. I’ve just spent hours reading you and finding it so interesting I bought the book An Edge In The Kitchen.
I have a pretty good set of knives. I payed $500 for four Henckels. They are a bit different, where the tang runs horizontal rather than vertical through the handle. I’ve had them for probably nearly 20 years now and I don’t ever see that particular type. Are you familiar with these?
They now really need to be sharpened professionally. I’m not thinking about buying a new set of Vertoku VG10, blue resin handles. I’m sold on these because they are such a beautiful knives, but I would really like your opinion.
Thank you, Don.
I think I have come across the Henckels you’re describing and I think they’re a quite decent forged knife.
Please read my article, Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services, to find a professional sharpener. Although they all vary a bit in quality and approach, anyone I’ve recommended should do a respectable job and, I guarantee, will not damage your knives. Best of luck!
your blog is amazing. always love to read your blog.
I just received a Wusthof Classic Ikon 7″ Santoku. It is different than your photo or photo on Amazon—there’s no red stamp, no steel type. Is this a new Wusthof design? Even on the Wusthof pages this knife is without a red stamp.
1) Not all Wusthof knives have a red Wusthof logo—sometimes the logo is black and white. But they ALL should have some kind of logo. Does yours have a B/W logo?
2) Same goes with the steel type. Most have it, some don’t.
For example: I have a Classic Nakiri that does NOT have a red logo (but has a B/W one) and lacks the steel type. But I know it’s a genuine Wusthof because I bought it at their outlet store in Norwalk, CT.
When I was last in contact with Wusthof, a few years back, they were having some problems with pirating on Amazon. It wasn’t rampant, but there had been instances. I don’t know what the situation is today. But if you’re worried, you could try contacting Wusthof on their Facebook page.
Hope this helps some :)
Thank you. I got answer from Wusthof in CT: It’s a new B/W logo that was introduced this year. Red stamp logo will simply sell out from existing channels. The knife is great. I also get utility and bread knifes from them with red stamp.
Most excellent! –KKG
Thank you for the interest you shared here. I loved to see that I found related information that I was looking for.
I love to cook, but I am not a professional. I want to buy a Japanese knife for me to cook food for me or for my friends. So I was looking for a suggestion of which knife should I buy. So I have found Dalstrong Japanese Steel Shogun AUS and that is a Japanese Knife. Do you recommend that should I buy it or not?
No, I can’t say that I would recommend buying the knife you asked about, the Dalstrong Japanese Steel Shogun. Although it uses Japanese steel and might have a Japanese-like styling, I don’t believe it’s made in Japan. The last time I checked, Dalstrong knives were made in China. Japan has a long history of high-quality knife-making, China does not.
For now, I would stick to the Japanese knives I recommend in the article. They are actually made in Japan and are a good place to start :)
Really enjoy your site…so damn helpful. I’m in the process of choosing between the Wustof Classic and the Zwilling Pro S. Leaning towards the Wustof…any thoughts?
Sorry to be so late on this answer, Guv. You’ve probably already gone ahead with your purchase, but I will give you my quick take.
There really is not much substantial difference between the Zwilling-Henckels Pro S and the Wusthof Classic. The quality of the steel and manufacturing are comparable and the general feel of the knives–the handle shape, weight, etc.–are going to be very, very similar. If you add to this the fact that both manufacturers are constantly tweaking their designs, you’re shooting at a moving target.
If you are extremely finicky, the only way you could guarantee finding a preference of one over the other would be to have them both in your hands at a cutting board for a side by side comparison. Otherwise, I wouldn’t sweat it too much and just pick one. (I do feel there is a substantial difference in the feel of the Wusthof Classic Ikon and the Classic (or Henckels Pro S) though. I much prefer the smooth, curved shape of the Classic Ikon handle and the way it looks.)
Thank you for this information.
Ideally, I would go for Shun because of its fine price and design.
What do you think?
You can’t go wrong with Shun! Beautiful, sharp, and well-made. Just DON’T drop it on a tile floor or try to hack through bones with it ! :)
Thank you KKG.
Really solid list you’ve put together, but I feel it’s missing one of the best companies out there—Fuku Knives. Fuku, from the US, seems to outperform even the hardest of these heavy hitters. They simply use better materials. And I haven’t been able to find a knife that can compete with them. Just my experience.
Thanks much, Vince! I just checked Fuku out and they, indeed, look promising.
I do have two reservations recommending them to this audience though–1) their hardness ratings are high, demanding that you treat them with extra care to avoid chipping, etc. 2) many of them are carbon steel, which also demands extra time and trouble. Have you found you’ve had to treat them with extra TLC?
You are right that some of their knives do tend to need more care than stainless steel. I have their aogami super knives which have a stainless cladding so kind of a mix of both worlds. Keep up the great work with the content!
You lost me at,”the only thing that really matters is the factory edge.” If you truly believe that you have no business pushing knives on chefs.
I think you must have been speed-reading my “Best Chef Knives–Six Recommendations” article. Because I was saying the exact opposite of your missquote, “the only thing that really matters is the factory edge.”
Here’s the pertinent passage I believe. If you’d like to reread correctly what I am saying, please take a second, and slower, look :)
Best Chef Knives Testing — Malarky
Although I own all six chef knives on this best chef knives list and have used them to chop onions, quarter cantaloupes, slice tomatoes, and more—I have not officially “tested” them. Huh?
Yep. I have declined to put these knives through a series of, supposedly, quantifiable kitchenistic tasks and use their perceived performance as a basis of rating each knife. Why? Because I don’t think it’s accurate or, in the long-run, truly useful to the consumer. Because, in the end, the main thing you’re testing is just how sharp the factory edge is. And, while it is more than nice to buy a chef knife with a razor-sharp factory edge—on average, the factory sharpitude of your new knife, even if you hone it religiously, will probably only last a year or two max. Not 25 years. Not even five.
So why make the sharpness of the factory edge the end-all criteria for whether or not a chef knife works for you? Especially if there’s another blade you love in every other way except that it doesn’t happen to be quite as out-of-the-box sharp.
No matter where you live, you can ship your favorite chef knife off to a top-notch professional sharpener and they will give you an edge sharper than most factories. There, problem solved. But other, more permanent, characteristics can’t be so easily tweaked. Like the feel of the handle. The weight. The size of the blade. The look and style of the knife. These you can’t change. . .so why not be happy with them?
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Sorry, but I don’t allow anyone to promote or sell products on my site but myself.
I just read your latest blog post, “Best Chef Knives — Six Recommendations” and it was truly insightful. I appreciated how you presented the topic with well-researched information. The section about Best Chef Knives was particularly interesting and inspired me to learn more. Your engaging writing style and logical flow made it easy to follow. Thanks for the valuable resources. I’ll keep following your blog!