What is a Santoku knife?
Santoku means ‘three virtues’ in Japanese, and the Santoku knife has a triple effect: it is expert at slicing, dicing, and mincing. The traditional Santoku knife is handcrafted in Japan, where they are devoted to making the blade perfect and introducing special design elements to improve its sharpness, overall function, and beauty. It is also very versatile and can be used to slice or chop effortlessly.
Typically, the blade of a Santoku knife is about seven inches long. The blade is slightly curved to aid in the chopping action. It is usually has a traditional tsuchime (hammered) finish and is very striking to look at. The blade typically has grooves or dimples which stop bits of food from sticking to the blade.
Santoku knives are lighter than Western ones and the blades are thinner and shorter. Unlike Western knives which tend to be sharpened on both sides, Santoku knives are only sharpened on one side.
Let’s find out about some of the most popular Santoku knives on the market today:
This is a light and agile Santoku knife. It may be expensive, but it’s worth it. This work of art offers unparalleled strength and expert maneuverability. It is a premium quality knife, both powerful and elegant. It is light and agile, and has perfect balance, which results in swift and precise cutting movement. It is very effective with the movement of cutting down and forward.
The word ‘shun’ is Japanese and describes local, seasonal food at the peak of perfection. This Shun knife embodies this description of perfection, bringing to life both beauty and performance. It is carefully handcrafted in Japan and takes over 100 steps to complete. It combines ancient handcrafted quality with modern state of the art technology.
The seven inch blade is made of VG-MAX super steel which makes it very strong. To add to its strength, this knife has a double bevel blade and there are 34 layers of Damascus cladding on each side. It has a 60-61 Rockwell hardness rating.
Through a process known as heat treatment, an exacting process where the metal is heated and cooled, the blade takes on a finer grain. This makes the blade finer, sharper, and longer lasting.
Overall, the knife measures 12.2 inches long and it has a traditional Santoku silhouette. It offers top of the line craftsmanship that you would be proud to show off in your kitchen. The beautiful Japanese design features a stunning, hammered tsuchime finish and an incredibly well made, polished pakkawood handle that fits your hand like a glove.
Some versions of this knife come with a sharpener included, and others can be custom engraved.
The main drawback of this knife is of course its high price. Also, some users have complained about the blade chipping or scratching.
- Premium quality knife offers unparalleled strength and expert maneuverability
- Swift and precise cutting movement
- Seven inch blade made of VG-MAX super steel which is very strong
- 60-61 Rockwell hardness rating
- Traditional Santoku design with hammered tsuchime finish
- Incredible pakkawood handle that fits your hand like a glove
- Blade may chip or scratch
This model has perfected the Santoku knife style using its laser guided precision design. The edge produced by this technology is thin and exceptionally sharp, with high cutting performance, and the blade will last a long time.
The gently curved seven inch blade has a 14 degree beveled edge on each side of the blade which makes it slice with precision. The blade is tempered to a hardness of 58 Rockwell. There are a series of oval cut outs along the blade which prevent food from catching.
This high quality, versatile knife is handy for chopping, mincing, and dicing, and for slicing bread. It is so sharp that it cuts through soft foods like tomatoes with ease. And it cuts through bone like it is butter. It is great if you need to do heavy cutting work in the kitchen.
The slim and lightweight handle is made of pebbled thermoplastic. It is ergonomic for your comfort, and the shape helps to reduce fatigue while cutting.
One drawback is the thinness of the blade may make it less able to handle tough cutting jobs. Also, the plastic handle feels odd in your hand at first until you get used to it.
- Exceptionally sharp blade edge perfected with laser guided precision technology
- High cutting performance
- Slices with precision due to 14 degree beveled edge on each side of blade
- Blade tempered to 58 Rockwell hardness
- Versatile, great for slicing bread, cutting soft foods, and heavy cutting work
- Ergonomic plastic handle reduces fatigue
- Thin blade makes it a challenge to handle tough cutting jobs
- Plastic handle make take getting used to
Do you have small hands and if so, do you find it difficult to use a chef’s knife or Santoku knife? Most of these types of knives are seven inches long, and thus are made for medium to large hands. This one, however, is only 5.25 inches long, making it perfect if your hands are on the smaller side.
Now, even if you have tiny hands, you can whip up meals with your Santoku swiftly and with precision. It’s great for chopping, slicing, dicing, etc. It glides through tomatoes, cleanly chops basil, and does a nice job at thinly slicing salami.
It has a traditional Santoku shape, which is a wide blade with an edge that is curved and pointy.
It has a strong, Cromova 18 stainless steel blade, which is a mix of three different metals that make the blade characteristically hard and resistant to rusting and staining. This type of stainless steel has been designed specifically for Global brand knives. The blade is hollow ground, which means it has a characteristic concave, beveled cutting edge. The edges are steeply ground to a sharp point, which results in a much sharper knife that stays sharp for a long time. The blade has a non-stick surface that prevents food from getting stuck.
This knife is handcrafted in Japan and made of full steel construction. As with all Global knives, it is a top quality utensil that is well-accepted in the cutlery industry. The one-piece design makes it ultra-durable, and it does not break or chip easily.
It has an attractive anti-slip handle that is also made of steel.
Although the blade measures only 5.25 inches, the knife as a whole is 9 inches long. It weighs only 3.8 ounces. It is extremely sharp and is well balanced. Together, these attributes give you more agility and this knife is less tiring to use than other brands. It works very well, with ultra-smooth operation.
It is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
The obvious drawback with this knife is it is not suitable for people with larger hands. Also, some users think the handle has an odd shape.
- Great for small hands, blade is only 5.25 inches long
- Characteristically hard due to its strong Cromova 18 stainless steel blade
- Rust- and stain-resistant
- Super sharp due to hollow ground blade
- Non-stick surface on blade
- Attractive anti-slip handle
- Not suitable for people with larger hands
- Some feel the handle has an odd shape
This model is a less expensive brand that is slightly lower quality than the others but works precisely and easily. It offers a lot of value if you are on a limited budget. The 6.7 inch blade is made with high carbon stainless steel, and it is ice tempered to maintain its sharpness over the long term. The blade provides accuracy, stability, and precision. It is easy to sharpen as time goes by.
This knife is balanced and weighted so it is easy to handle. Use it to dice, mince, and to do everything else you would use a Santoku knife for.
You have a choice of a plastic or wood handle. The plastic handle is lighter weight and both types of handle are non-slip and easy to grip, even when wet.
This knife is easy to clean and does not require the delicate care that the other types of Santoku knives may need. Unlike many other Santoku knives, this one is dishwasher safe.
- Works precisely and easily
- 7 inch blade made with high carbon stainless steel
- Ice tempered to maintain sharpness
- Balanced and weighted, making it easy to handle
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
- Slightly lower quality than other Santoku knives on the market
This inexpensive model is a bit different from the traditional Santoku knives in that the blade is not made of steel. Rather, it is made of ceramic, which is a nice, affordable alternative.
The ceramic blend created exclusively in Japan for this knife is made from Zirconia Z206, which is known for its exceptional beauty and quality. This type of material is strong and dense, which enables it to maintain its sharp edge longer. It is a good choice if you are just getting into buying Santoku knives and do not want to spend much money.
The blade is only 4.5 inches long, so it is the shortest of the knives profiled in this article, making it very handy for small hands. It smoothly and thinly slices soft vegetables, fruits, and boneless meats. Its beveled edge allows very precise, straight cuts. The ceramic blade is rust-proof and acid-resistant, and it will not brown your food.
It is very lightweight at only 0.64 ounces, making it easy to control and less taxing on your hands. It is very well balanced. Overall, the knife measures seven inches long. It is also very cute to have in the kitchen, with many color options such as red, yellow, and bright blue, in addition to traditional black.
It is also easy to clean and dishwasher safe on the top rack, when placed away from utensils that are made of metal.
This knife is not the best at slicing hard or frozen vegetables or meats. The blade can be brittle, with the tendency to chip, crack, or break. It can also become stained over time.
- Strong, dense ceramic blade maintains sharpness longer than steel knives
- Well suited to smaller hands
- Makes smooth and precise cuts
- Rust-proof, acid-resistant, and will not brown your food
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
- Not suited to slicing hard or frozen food
- Tends to chip, crack, or break over time
- Can become stained over time
What to look for in a Santoku knife
You have evaluated a few different types and styles of Santoku knives, from traditional handcrafted varieties to those utilizing modern technology, and less expensive imitation brands. Obviously, price is important, but let’s take a look at some other features to consider when choosing this type of kitchen utensil.
The weight of the knife is actually quite important. A lighter knife is easier to hold in your hand and control. You can slide the knife back and forth more easily and handle slicing, dicing, and mincing effortlessly.
Check the responsiveness of the knife. The more responsive a knife is, the greater control you will have while cutting. You can check for responsiveness by holding the knife in your hand and tapping the blade against your cutting board or counter. If the knife is responsive, it will vibrate in your hand.
How nice does the steel (or ceramic) look to you? Research what type of steel (or ceramic) the blade is made of. If it is made of high quality steel, the online descriptions and reviews will go into this in detail. Also check the transition between the blade and handle. How smooth is the transition? Is it well made? Finally, look at the overall beauty of the knife.
Test the sharpness of the blade if you can. Alternately, you can check reviews to see what others think of its sharpness. You want smooth, easy slicing on a variety of food options.
How long or short is the handle, and how comfortable is it? For extra comfort, try to find a knife that does not have an excessively long or heavy handle. Choose a knife with an ergonomic handle that feels good in your hand.
A Santoku knife is a real treasure to have in your kitchen, and can make your slicing, dicing, and mincing requirements effortless and enjoyable. Through checking all the features and varieties of Santoku knives available on the market today, and testing them out if you can, you are sure to find the brand that works best for you and your family.