Choosing a chef knife sometimes feels like buying a car. All cars get you from A to B, yet there are still so many different models and price ranges that it becomes very difficult to pick the right one for you.
Buying a chef knife is a very similar experience. They all practically do the same and look very similar. Unlike cars, there isn’t a long list of technical features, performance numbers or luxury extras that can help with finding the right model for you. So how do you pick the best knife for you?
How to Choose a Chef Knife
Obviously, you have already decided on a chef knife. Great choice! A chef knife is an essential and versatile tool in any cook’s arsenal. But there are many other things you need to consider before you can make your choice.
Damascus or Plain Blade Chef Knife?
When it comes to the knife material, one of the most important components obviously is the knife blade. The type of metal will impact the look and performance heavily.
If you have read any of my other posts (and I suggest you start here), you will know that I am a huge fan of Damascus steel knives. Damascus steel actually refers to the forging process of layering steel which results in a pattern well visible to the naked eye.
There is just something about the unique wavy patterns that make you feel like you are holding a work of art in your hand. But, apart from the aesthetics, there are also practical implications. Some argue that Damascus steel provides greater strength and cutting power without the risk of chipping or breaking the blade.
However, nowadays high-quality metals achieve very similar mechanical and structural characteristics. Therefore, the primary reason why there are so many Damascus steel chef knives on the markets is mostly for looks.
Carbon or Stainless Steel Chef Knife?
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that tends to require less maintenance than carbon steel. It is highly resistant to corrosion but cannot take as sharp an edge as steel with a higher amount of carbon.
Carbon steel, on the other hand, is considered a “designer” steel and is used by some of the top knife brands. High-carbon stainless steel offers better edge retention, sharpness, and resharpening ability than “normal” stainless steel. But, you have to make sure you take proper care of the knife and dry it thoroughly to prevent any discoloring or rust.
Size and Weight
Obviously, there isn’t just one size or the perfect weight to a knife that will fit everyone’s needs. But, most home chefs seem to hit the sweet spot with an 8″ knife, providing a good balance between weight, cutting edge length and practicality. Anything bigger and you may struggle to cut efficiently in your home kitchen.
In terms of weight, finding the right knife for you is more of a personal preference and how extensively you will use your knife. For shorter cooking preparations, a light knife may be more suitable to get the job done. If you are working at your cutting board for an extended period of time, a heavier knife will be the better tool for you.
Finally, the question is: How much money do you want to spend. There are great knives for all budgets. So, there isn’t really a right answer. Of course, as with everything in life, quality does not come cheap and a knife will last you a long time. So, it makes sense to spend the cash for a quality knife that will bring you joy for years to come.
Review of the Cangshan Z Series Damascus Carbon Steel Chef Knife
So, with all these factors in mind, what does a chef knife look like that ticks all the boxes? I recommend you check out the Cangshan Z Series chef knife, specifically the Damascus steel version.
As recommended earlier, the length of the knife is 8 inches, providing plenty of cutting edge length without becoming too difficult to handle. The handle measures 5.5 inches, ensuring a firm grip when slicing or chopping.
And, of course, the blade features a beautiful Damascus Steel pattern and is made of 67 layers of high-carbon steel.
All of this results in a premium Damascus steel chef knife that makes cooking even more enjoyable!
The Look & Feel
When you pay for a premium knife, I believe that both the look as well as the feel of the knife are important. After all, when buying a chef knife in this price range, you are treating yourself.
First thing first, this knife is gorgeous. The Damascus steel pattern runs nicely along the knife blade, cleanly aligned to the edge, and truly gives the knife a premium look. The Japanese characters on the side of the blade only add to this impression.
The handle is nicely contoured and feels comfortable and secure when holding. Thanks to the full steel tang, the knife is very stable and balanced. As you would expect, the knife has quite a bit of weight to it, giving you plenty of cutting power and control for longer food prepping sessions.
One thing needs to be said: The Cangshan Z Series chef knife ships with a blade as sharp as a razor. This knife is ready to use when it reaches your doorstep.
The blade is hand-sharpened and comes with a double-bevel edge with a 15 degree angle.
The Damascus steel used by Cangshan is very hard with a Rockwell Hardness rating of 60. Due to the high carbon content, you are advised to take good care of your knife and make sure it is dried off after use and washing.
As you would expect from a premium knife, the Z series feels great in your hand. The weight is well balanced, allowing you to cut with ease and without tiring you out.
The handle is quite ergonomic, nicely distributing any pressure in your palm.
As mentioned before, the blade is seriously sharp. It’s excellent for fine cuts and paper-thin slices of vegetables and meat.
So far, I have not noticed any indication of the blade edge showing any wear and tear, so I hope I won’t have to sharpen the knife anytime soon. As always, the better care you take of your knife, the longer it will last.
So there you have it, an easy to follow guide on how to pick the perfect chef knife. Of course, everyone has their own taste and preferences. But, you really can’t go wrong with an 8-inch chef knife that not only feels great but also looks great.