Warning: Just about all of my knife "knowledge" is opinion and experience. Feel free to disagree or correct as required.
A critical quality in a blade is temper. A fine blade is what I call a 'live blade,' it has what I call a 'watch-spring temper.' So in considering any knife I perform the infamous Marsano Tap Test:
Hold the knife lightly between thumb and index finger, just above the rivet nearest the bolster (or thereabouts) blade flat to the cutting board, and bounce the tip on the board. It should bounce right back, eagerly, gthe way a drum stick does during a drum roll (which works mainly by bouncing the stick off the drumskin). That will be, all else being equal, a fine knife.
If the blade clanks or clunks or resists bouncing, just lies there, you haven't got a knife. You've got a paint-stirrer.
The watch-spring blade will also give a cleaner, clearer skating sound on a steel than the low-quality blade will.
A 12-inch steel from a restaurant supply is a must, I think; the 10-inchers from consumer stores are lame. If like me you've got some old carbon-steel jobs (I have a swell old Deerfield and a fartoo-big Sabatier) modern steels may be too harsh. Not sure. Anyway, I lonmg ago got an old steel from the '40s at a flean market, and always use that.
As it happens I get to a lot of restaurants (and boy am I getting sick of them), but I'll try to remember in future to seek access to the kitchens and see about collecting more edgy opinion therein.