I've about decided to replace my kitchen workhorse, a Henckels 8" chef's knife, with a 210mm gyutou. Unfortunately, I haven't found any Japanese cutlery in Sacramento other than Shun, Global, and MAC. I'd travel to the Bay Area if there were someplace there with a good selection, but a trip to San Diego, NYC, or Tokyo just isn't in the cards. So it's looking like I'm going to be mail-ordering blind. (One possibility would just be to have a dozen or so knives shipped to me, pick one, and return the rest. But it appears that many of the online retailers only accept returns for credit, so that's problematic.)
Price isn't really an object (within reason - the initial expense of the Hattori KD-32 would pale by comparison to the alimony payments), but value is. So at $50, the Tojiro DP looks like a serious contender. On the other hand, the Masanobu VG-10 looks very cool, and I've heard all kinds of good things about the Hattori and Nenox blades. And there are a dozen or more other brands that are available on the net at various prices.
The main thing I'm looking for is hard steel; I'm tired of having to hone the Henckels several times while preparing a single meal. The blade needs to be stain-resistant, because it will occasionally be left on a damp cutting board for an hour or more at a time (I know I should cultivate better habits, but probably won't). Function is more important than form, but an attractive knife will get the edge, and a butt-ugly logo (yes, MAC, I'm looking at you) is a drawback.
I know that at least a handful of hounds have experience and expertise in this area. If you could please share some of it with me I would be deeply appreciative.
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