12 August 2009

A Kitchen Knife Recommendation

Posts about kitchen knives are generally reserved for the die-hard, pocket protector wearing, forum troll geek, but I'm going there anyway.

Years ago, when I worked in restaurants in Portland, I was always saddled with some ugly plastic handled thing from a kitchen supply store and, let's face it, that's really good enough for just about anyone. Later in life, when I could afford one, I bought a German made santoku and I thought I would never look back. The least you will pay for knife like that is over a hundred clams, which is already just plain self-indulgent even if it's the most important thing in the kitchen. But from there people will go on to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for hand forged samurai swords blessed by tengu in enchanted, ancestral forests and hammered in precise, cosmic musical rhythms by dancing wu li masters. Here's an acceptable lower middle ground for people like me:

Tojiro-DP Gyutou ($56.50 at Korin).

I love this knife more than any fancy German made knife I've ever owned that cost twice as much if not more. It's a pleasure to handle and sharp enough to cut things (including me, unfortunately) just by brandishing it in their mere vicinity. The one flaw is that it scratches easily and needs to be handled with somewhat more care than its distant bomb proof, drive-a-Panzer-tank-over-it German cousins. Using a Japanese water stone, I've been able to keep this knife as sharp or sharper than the day I pulled out of the box.

And while I'm being needlessly geeky and judgmental, I'll add that the answer to the question of where to take your knives for sharpening if you in live in the greater Portland area is to not take them anywhere, but to buy a proper stone and learn to do it yourself. Freeport Knife Company has yielded very poor results for me. LeRoux doesn't even sharpen knives. If you really just can't bring yourself to do the deed, Now You're Cooking is a good choice, but otherwiswe tune in to youtube for some "classes."


Mary said...

This is a very pointy post. I'm treat my knives terribly, so I don't get to have good ones. The other day my paring knife fell down the garbage disposal (while it was on)--thankfully nobody lost a body part.

Brad said...

Glad you still have all your fingers and eyes and so on, Mary!

Ken Walden said...

Classic post. That last picture is great.

I caught you checking out our cutting knife. You're never coming over again are you?

Brad said...

Ken, I thought that was a fine knife! And I'll be back for more chicken and quinoa stew; that stuff was awesome.