The best Santoku knives have sharp edges, high grade forged steel and a multipurpose ability to chop, slice, mince and dice effortlessly. If you want something rather special it is worth considering true Asian brands that know exactly how these knives should be made.
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A Little About the Santoku Knife:
The Santoku Knife is a recent addition to many western kitchens. Rather different to European style Chef’s knives, the Santoku has a much flatter blade, making it more of a simple cutting tool rather than a rocking one. This means they can take a little getting used to. But, buy a good quality version and the thinner, stronger blade will quickly become a favorite knife in your hands.
Whether chopping, slicing or mincing the Santoku blade is second to none. Perhaps most useful when dealing with vegetables, these sharp, strong implements will help your cookery shine.
Generally these knives are sharpened to a 16º angle making them far sharper than European Chef’s knives with their whopping 25º angle from center. This crucial difference, means that you get a much sharper kitchen tool, but also one that you really don’t want to be putting into any old electric knife sharpener. Similarly whilst in theory many are dishwasher safe, high quality steel should be looked after with a little more care and attention so get used to washing and drying these by hand!
The Best Santoku Knife
This is a tough call, there are many great Santoku knives available in the West. Even traditional European companies such as Victorinox (of Swiss army knife fame) are getting in on the act. But you do should do a little research. Some will be simply restyled versions of their own knives, with a similar (less high) quality of steel making them far less impressive in the kitchen than a true Santoku knife with its precision forged high carbon stainless steel. Probably one of the first things to consider is price. Ideally you probably need to spend $70 – $100 to get yourself something truly impressive and long lasting (and authentic). $50 will bag you a good European version if you are lucky, and anything cheaper is probably not going to be something you are too precious about (or impressed with). You can make do with less sharp and less beautiful knives, but a truly great Santoku knife will accompany you on the way to many meals for a life-time.
Shun Santoku Knives
Personally I prefer the Shun Classic range of Santoku knives. Partly this is because they are simply good enough to use in the professional as well as home kitchen, and in part because they don’t cost quite so much as the even more beautiful Shun Premier knives. Still these don’t come cheap. But you do get what you pay for sometimes. These knives are made in the traditional manner in Japan, and here is why we are such fans of the Shun Classic range:
- High carbon forged steel is clad in 16 layers of stainless steel to give it a beautiful stain resistant Damascus look. Along with the hard-wood veneer and resin “Pukkawood” handle these knives definitely look the part.
- The blade is really far sharper than you think is possible, or needed in the kitchen, until you return to your old Chef’s knife and realise how much longer everything takes!
- The D shaped handle is very comfortable. And, there is even a left handed version available, since this wouldn’t feel all that comfortable for left handed cooks.
- The Damascus design is also thought to make these a little more “non-stick” since the microscopic air pockets created by the patterning allow food to slide off more easily. In theory at least this makes chopping and slicing quicker and easier, but how to test this particular feature who knows?
- For those that like the use of a Hollow Ground knife (with scalloped edge to allow food such as thinly sliced tomatoes to slide off more easily), Shun offer that too.
Santoku Knife Reviews
I think (particularly if buying online) that reading customer reviews is a must before parting with $100. You can read all the Santoku knife reviews by clicking the button at the top of this page. Suffice to say that on the whole, logic prevails. The Asian knives with their harder steel tend to win out for those wanting a true Santoku knife, and having very high standards for their kitchen tools. But for those looking for a better than average kitchen knife that performs well, and comes relatively cheap, a good European brand such as Victorinox might well suffice. On the whole you will get what you pay for, but be warned there are some over-priced immitations around too, since the Santoku knife is now so popular and fashionable in the well heeled American kitchen. Stick with brands you can trust, and that come with a history of great quality products and life-time guarantees for all their Santoku knives.