I wanted to also praise Messermeister as a good cheaper alternative to the more expensive brands.
Since I gave away my Henckel chef's knife, I've been using my Santoku Henckel quite a bit and recently one of the cooks in the back offered a spare Messermeister Santoku to me for a very cheap price. I bought it because it had a different thickness than the Henckel. It has a fairly thin profile and it's more flexible than the thicker Henckel. I find that I like using it for softer raw materials and for more intricate cuts. For instance, the Henckel works better for hard things like carrots, while the Messermeister is far better for onions.
I think that the cook told me that the knife cost him about $30 (whereas the Henckel cost me about $50 IIRC). If I were only going to have one, I'd get the Henckel though. The MM is too thin to do a really good job with carrots and the Henckel does a pretty good job with softer things as well. The MM is cheap enough to buy as an adjunct though.
I probably don't even need a 'Western style" chef's knife at this point, but I'm still going ahead with my Shun purchase eventually. What a beautiful knife!
One other thing, I have a Henckel cleaver and I love it. It was pretty cheap on sale as well (think I paid $40 for it).