There are thousands of threads on the subject spanning myriad forums, and here's another one
Firstly, I'm experienced most with Western style chef's knives; particularly German; Henckels, Wusthof, etc. My favorite is an 8" Zwilling Henckels stainless that's basically Santoku-ish in blade style. I'm looking to expand my horizons, though, and have looked towards Japanese, if not Western Style Japanese-made knives.
Santokus are OK, but I lean more towards the Gyuto-ish style. I like the longer cutting edge and less "hop and chop" of the rounder bellies of Western knives.
So, here's what I want:
Price: Prefer not much more than ~$150-200 or so.
Uses: All. Also, I'm a blade beater. That is, my chef's knife is my everything. I don't want to risk chipping an edge or breaking off a tip because I decided to get a little overzealous with a chicken. It needs to chop, slice, mince, fillet and, in some cases, debone.
Steel: I do a lot of Thai and Indian cooking, so I think stainless is the way to go. Not huge on lots of blade maintenance, either. I'd rather just run the knife under the tap, wipe it off, and set it in the drying rack. Done.
Size: Over 8".
Balance: I'm a pinch gripper and prefer my balance to be at that point. Not really too picky about it, though. If it feels good, it's good.
Really have my eyes set on the Hattori HD 240mm Gyuto: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HDSeries.html Looking for experience and comparisons.