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Old 08-10-2010, 06:22 PM   #1
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Chef and paring knives: Shun Elite vs. Global

My budget for my apartment's kitchen opened up a little (Happy Birthday Me), and I have since looked at some nicer knives. I definitely only need two: an 8" chef and a standard paring knife.

The two brands that really stuck out when I handled them were the Shun Elite Chef/Shun classic paring, and the Global chef and paring knife set.

The Shun I thought had the perfect weight to it, while the Globals were a bit light compared to the knives I'm used to using (I think my parents have Henckels). I'm not experienced enough to be able to tell if that will be a bad thing.

I can get the two Globals for $100 or the Shuns (the Elite chef and Classic paring) for $175 (pretty sweet deal).

I can also get a Henckels 4 star 7 piece set for $160. Those knives felt great too. But I'm not sure if I'd use all the knives in the set. a few seemed redundant.

Suggestions?

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Old 08-11-2010, 04:15 PM   #2
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You only want to have to buy this stuff once in a lifetime, so I'd suggest going with the Shuns.
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:47 PM   #3
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Lighter knives are not a good or bad thing. The important differentiator among knives of equal quality is your comfort level when using them.

A lighter knife may be a better deal if you are doing a large amount of prep work at one time as your arm and hand won't tire as easily.
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:20 PM   #4
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For cutting through cartilage and thin bone you might also like to own a heavier German or French knife. To achieve optimum performance from any of the knives you may buy, you'll need to acquire some knife sharpening implements (think $ 100 - $200) and develop some knife sharpening skills
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. Small update. Parents have Wusthof, which is what I have been using.

I mentioned my knife search to a co-worker and he offered me his old Henckels roll for dirt cheap. They're in great shape. The chefs knife seemed weighty in the tip though. He let me dice an onion and it was alright. I could live with it.

But I'd still like to get a Japanese knife for the bulk of my work. Maybe since the Henckels is so heavy, I should go for the Global? How does the quality of the blade compare to the Shun Elite? Is it ~$100 better? What about the Shun Classic?

What if I got one of these in a Santoku for some added diversity?
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Old 08-12-2010, 05:44 AM   #6
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A lot of people seem to like to use Globals, but I've never met anyone who liked to sharpen them. They hold onto a burr tenaciously. I don't care for their ergonomics nor the metal grip, but that's just me. IMOHO Shun is better, but both are entry level where Japanese knives are concerned. There are many brands I'd recommend that cost the same or less.
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:24 AM   #7
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If you want a Japanese knife at a reasonable entry level price then check out Hattori. They sharpen up great and hold onto an edge very well.
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:34 PM   #8
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Can you guys recommend a good Japanese knife in that same price range?

I'm really attracted to Shun's sharpening service. Just pay postage one way. I simply cannot get the hang of sharpening knives.
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:20 PM   #9
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I'm not a huge fan of the Shun Elite (or any of the Shun Chef's knives, for that matter- their other patterns are okay). The shape of a Shun chef's knife is very "German", meaning it has a large sweeping belly and a very high tip. That means that while chopping, dicing etc you have to raise the heel a lot more than you do with a gyuto (the Japanese interpretation of the Chef's knife). This translates to more work and more fatigue. That's a personal opinion but most of my fellow pro cooks that I know come to the came conclusion as they work with both. Something to keep in mind.

At any rate, in the $200 price range of the Shun Elite 8", and assuming you want to stay with that size, here are a few I'd rather have:

Ichimonji TKC (by Kikuichi):
This is an amazing knife. The fit & finish is superb and the blade has nearly perfect geometry. It's very thin and very sharp, and the tool steel used will hold an edge for a long time. The TKC is one of the best knives I've ever used. Whether you're a home cook or a culinary professional, few knives are the equal of this magnificent blade. Price: $200.

Hattori FH 210mm: This one is actually about $27 more than the Shun Elite but blows it out of the water. This is a Rolls Royce-type knife, with immaculate fit and finish. Every detail has been very well thought out and the ergonomics are as closed to perfect as I've ever experienced in a knife. In fact, it was my favorite stainless gyuto until I got the Ichimonji TKC. It's probably the most beautiful knife I've ever personally owned or used. The steel is VG-10, and while it's technically not supposed to be as good as SG-2, Hattori San is recognized as one of the most skilled masters at heat treating that steel. All in all this is an awe-inspiring knife. Price: $227.

Aritsugu A-Type 210mm: This is an incredible knife as well. The manufacturer is very secretive about the steel used in this knife but the concencus is it's a high speed tool steel. And it's very, very tough! This is a beast of a knife that will hold an edge til the cows come home. But a word of advice/caution: If you want one, I suggest you buy it from the vendor I linked (CKtG). The A-type comes semi-sharpened from the factory and is maddeningly difficult to "open". But Mark from CKtG has each one sharpened by legendary knife maker Murray Carter before it's sent out to the customer. I can't overstate what an incredible deal that is for the buyer! Carter has sharpened over 35,000 knives and is one of the premier knifemakers in North America. Price: about $200.

Hiromote AS 210mm Gyuto: To see this one, scroll down the page a bit. The AS has a hagane (inner cutting core) of Aogami Super high carbon steel with stainless steel cladding. It's a workhorse that will take a lot of abuse, and the Aogami Super steel will take a stunning edge, better than you're going to see with VG-10 or SG-2 as a rule. The edge will patina and could even rust if not cared for; if you don't want to deal with that, get the Hiromoto in the Gingami #3 version (they're stainless). Price: $125.

Okay, the first four on my list are there because I feel they're superior to the Shun Elite. The next two are on the list because they're simply much better values than the Elite. Here they are:

Tojiro DP 210mm: This one is about 60% cheaper than the Shun and is in some ways superior. The Shun is made of better steel and will hold an edge longer, but the difference is likely to be minimal to the home user. The true advantage of the Tojiro is the geometry- the shape is better, at least to me. The DP actually is made of a very good Swedish stainless and will take a nice edge. And I've used a few of them at work for years and found they hold up to professional use pretty darned well. The handles are a little large and boxy and not as "sexy" as the Shun Elite but if you have large hands you'll probably like them very much.
Price: $80.

Kanetsune 210mm: This is a very good deal on a very nice knife! Although his are a slightly different model, BigJim68 has several Kanetsunes and has been pretty happy with them, I think. My experience with them has also been good. They're made of VG-10 and take a good edge. They're very beautiful although the fit and finish isn't quite as polished as the much more expensive Shun Elite. And the geometry of the Kanetsune is superior. Price: $80.

Anyway, this gives you a few to consider. There are tons of great knives out there, far more than I could list here. The trick is to find something that fits the way you cook and not to spend more than you need to.

Lastly, sharpening...it's hard to deny the appeal of being able to return the knife to Kershaw when it gets dull. And to be honest, I've seen the work they do and it's alright. However, it does take some time, and you may well be without your knife for three or four weeks. If sharpening isn't something you want to mess with, you can accept buying a knife who's maker will service it or you can find a reputable sharpener to do it for you. I like to sharpen, but if I didn't want to mess with doing my own there are several really great guys who's work I can highly recommend. I do advise you be careful when choosing a sharpening service, though. Most of the time you should steer clear of someone who uses powered sharpening gear. If the guy uses a Tru-Hone, turn and run like h#ll! An excellent job can be done on a belt grinder but only if the sharpener really knows what he's doing. When it doubt, ask some questions, and if possible get some references. And then it might be wise to have him or her sharpen a less expensive knife and see what kind of job they do.

I hope this helps, and best of luck on your search!
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Old 08-13-2010, 12:37 AM   #10
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I have used Kanetsune VG 10 for a year or so. I have been pleased with them. I sent them to Rob for sharpening after a few months and while the out of the box sharpening was OK, they came back much better. I touch them up with waterstones myself. Balance point on the 210 is around an inch into the blade, and this encourages a pinch grip. I bought mine at around half street price. It pays to shop around and watch the sales.
I have used the Global and personally they are not to my taste. The steel in the Shun is similar to the Kanetsune, as is the Hatttori. Any of Rob's suggestions would serve you well.
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