The past few months, my wife has been wanting to get more into cooking, since I’m the primary cook in our house. She doesn’t like my bigass kitchen knives, and had been using some crappy (but smaller) knives instead. So I got her some nicer small knives for xmas. Here’s the full assortment.
They are, in order of overall length:
Victorinox Fibrox 9” offset handle bread knife
Victorinox Fibrox 10” chef knife
MCUSTA Zanmai 210mm gyuto
Victorinox Fibrox 8” chef knife
Carter Muteki 7” santoku
Mercer Genesis 6” full bolster chef knife
Tojiro DP 5” petty knife
MAC Original 4” paring knife
The three smallest knives are ones I’ve bought for my wife. I had gotten her the Tojiro petty a while back, and she used it, but gravitated to this crappy 6” utility knife I had bought at a grocery store when I was in college that for some reason I managed to keep around all these years.
The Victorinox knives I bought a few years ago when I took some time out of working full time to go back to school and worked in a restaurant. They were the cheap/good knives that many professional cooks used, so I got them. They’re not particularly heavy and certainly don’t feel premium but they’re sharp from the factory, hold a good edge, and sharpen up nicely. Good workhorse knives.
Mercer is another brand kinda in the Victorinox price bracket but for the same price, their Genesis series feels fancier because they have rubberized handles, nicer fit & finish, and they’re heavier.
Tojiro is a step up in price, but one of the more affordable “nice” Japanese brands. MAC’s entry level stuff is a little nicer than Tojiro and they have some fancier lines above it. I’ve always dug other people’s MAC knives when I used them, so I wanted to get one.
My brother works in a fancy knife shop in DC, and I bought the MCUSTA from him, at a discount, thanks fam. He also gave me the Muteki as a wedding present. They are by far the two fanciest knives in the bunch. Each of them normally goes for well over $200. They are, admittedly, a totally unnecessary splurge.
Generally speaking, I tend to like the thinner Japanese-style knives rather than the thicker, heavier western-style knives with thicker blades and full bolsters. The western style knives are still handy for just general workhorse duty though and getting good with the thinner Japanese style knives requires a little more precision. I’m not a huge fan of full bolsters but my wife doesn’t always do the chef pinch and I thought the bolster would be less intimidating for her. After using that Mercer, I’m not quite on the bolster bandwagon, but it’s a damn nice knife for the price.
I’m not a knife nerd per se, I don’t get into sharpening them, or obsessing over different grades of steel, or any of that crap, but I do a ton of cooking so I enjoy having a good selection of knives. All of my knives with the exception of the Muteki are stainless. The Muteki is hand-forged carbon steel. I hand wash all of them, of course, but carbon steel needs to be dried immediately or it’ll rust. People who are bigger knife nerds than me prefer carbon steel because of its ability to be sharpened and then hold that edge, but it’s a little more knife-nerdy than I’d pick for myself.
I take my knives to my local fancy knife shop here in Madison for periodic sharpening. Sharp knives are safe knives, because if you inevitably nick a finger, a sharp blade makes a clean cut that heals faster. Not that you should be careless with knives, but whenever I’ve cut myself with one of these, I’ve gone from “FUCK GODDAMMIT SHIT DUMBASS” to quickly holding a paper towel on the cut with a bunch of pressure, to wearing a band-aid for a couple days, to basically all better again.
If you’re looking for a starting point for a nice knife, don’t buy expensive stuff! You don’t need it. Having messed with my wife’s Mercer, I’m pretty sure Mercer is now the affordable knife brand I’m going to point people to. They have 3 different relatively cheap lines:
Millenia - plastic handles, short bolsters with the little grip guard, very similar overall to the Victorinox stuff but cheaper
Genesis - rubberized handle, heavier weight, choice of short or full bolsters
Renaissance - fancier looking Delrin handles, heavier weight, short bolsters
My choice out of these is probably the short bolster Genesis line, but like I said, I figured my wife would be more comfortable with the full bolster. The Victorinox ones aren’t bad by any means, but if you want a knife like that the Mercer Millenia stuff is cheaper.
Anyway, I’m sure someone here is more of a knife nerd than me, but this is my stuff.