In the not so distant past, it used to be that if you wanted a santoku, it took a bit of effort to find one, and when you found one, it would be made by a Japanese knife maker. Nowadays, courtesy of a certain perky thirty-minute TV chef, the “three virtues” knife is the must-have knife for every home cook and can even be found in a few pro kitchens. They can be found literally everywhere, and 99% of them aren’t made in Japan.
My thought is that if you want a Japanese-style knife, then buy an actual Japanese knife. However, if the higher performance which comes only from Japanese steel isn’t at the top of your list of requirements, then give this set a look.
Grand Prix II is amongst the top tier of offerings from Wusthof. The quality of construction is excellent, and the steel used is top-of-the-line German steel. The blade isn’t as hard as entry-level Japanese blades, let alone higher grade Japanese knives, but for a cook willing to properly maintain his or her knives, this set will offer excellent performance (albeit at the expense of more frequent maintenance). I’ve always been fond of the handles on the Grand Prix series. They are robust and very comfortable in the hand.
The “hollow ground” blade should properly be described as featuring “kullens” instead of hollow ground, which is a style of grinding the cutting edge into a knife. Semantics aside, the kullens are intended to reduce the incidence of food sticking to the blade. In my experience, kullens of this style offer negligible funtional benefit, but are undeniably aesthetically pleasing to the eye. As for the “Asian” parer, it should be fine for simple board work, but for use in the hand, the drop nose “santoku” blade shape isn’t particularly well suited for much of the fine work of which a parer should be capable.
My suggestion is that if you like the Grand Prix santoku and you don’t expect to do a lot of in-hand work with a paring knife, give this set a try. It does offer a reasonably good value, but if you want a paring knife which peforms well for in-hand work, then buy the Grand Prix santoku and a traditonally shaped parer individually, and skip the set.
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[phpbay]Wusthof Grand Prix 2, 2[/phpbay]