i have both chef knives, a nakiri, a santoku and a cleaver.
my santoku is my 70% used knife. i like the profile, lets you push/pull cut, okish slice.
but why i prefer it is the shape. it's like a 270-300mm guyto shape grinded to be very nimble and manoeuvrable. i have also more clearance for my big fingers to pinch and hold the blade, not hitting the board when i push cut. i also like in a pro kitchen to have only one knife our of the roll most of the time. Ofc, for large volumes of same product i'll choose the specialized tool, but when you just have to mince a few veggies to flavor a sauté or a meat juice, its the perfect all purpoose tool, like a nakiri but with a tip and more rounded blade profile.
i love it. i look forward to have a custom 22mm one built from watanabe san.
I'm doing this backwards, but oh well. I want to read the rest of the posts, but I'll do it afterwards, so I don't get "swayed". Also, this might cause some repetition, and if so, I apologize.
To me, a santoku is a knife that can do it all, well enough. There's a tip, there's some belly, and there's flat. The heel height is good, the knife is fairly nimble, and they don't look intimidating. Because of the rounded "nose", santokus should also be more durable that a gyuto (in terms of snapping off the tip). Now, with that being said, they don't really excel at anything, other than making food items smaller than they were before. However, they do this without being intimidating, or too big, and to be honest, I don't hate them. I hate them, for me, but if a good home-cook needs a knife, and only wants one knife, there are much worse choices out there, and depending on the user, perhaps none better (other than a well designed 180-190 gyuto).
+1 on profile height and not taking up a lot of space.
One comment I frequently see made by people who hate santokus is "I bought a cheap santoku and it's a piece of junk". I'm sure there are a lot of cheap gyutos, pettys, nakiris, etc that are pieces of junk, too. If you get a nicely made santoku, it's a fun knife to use, especially if you've got limited space. No Rachel Ray required.
As far at tip thickness goes, L->R: Rader gyuto, Shigefusa gyuto, Ryusen Santoku:
Now is not the time to bother me. And it's always now. Wiley Miller
Whos to say what should and shouldn't be used. Some may think its odd for someone to use a 270 suji to do most of their kitchen work or a Chinese Cleaver to do 100% of it. I have two decent but not custom or baller santokus - a Moritaka for home use and a Mizuno white #2 that I keep in a small travel kit with a Misono Swedish 210, Kramer utility and Sab Carbon Slicer, that I pop in my bag to do some side catering jobs or private chef work and it comes in handy in certain situations. As for the girlie thing, I've seen some bruiser ass cooks who use a cruddy wusthof or a chinatown santoku time to time out of lack of interest in blades that would disagree.
I have this Kansui santoku and love it (full disclosure, purchased many years ago at probably half the price).
I only use it at home, and I reach for it all the time. I have a smaller board at home, so the shorter length works for me. Also the flat-ish profile works well for push cutting, which is generally my preferred method. It's also the first knife my boyfriend reaches for, and just about everyone else that comes over for dinner who gets put to work. The hand just likes to reach for it; it's a nice casual all-purpose blade that works for a wide audience.
FWIW I've seen a ton of Mac santokus in pro kitchens, a bunch of wusthofs too.
okay. as far as these statements go as to the effect of, ive seen a ton of santokus used by huge line cooks or ive seen crappy german knives used in kitchens. i mean, its common sense that there is going to be people uneducated about the best tools in their professions. i am looking for something more along the lines of why it is better to use a santoku over any other knife, where the santoku came from, and why do people prefer them.
i do get the fact that they are tall and generally flat profiled. i do like that about them. but just saying some beefy mario batali look alike used one in a pizza shop isnt going to sway my opinion of how girly the knife is. in fact i would probably be the first to tell the guy hes using a girls knife LOL! I know that my mom uses one and she loves it.
i do appreciate everyones feedback though! this has turned out to be a very revealing thread.
as of now my opinion has not changed on the santokus. i dont see any real concrete evidence as to why they are good. as stated in the original title of this thread... it remains a phenomenon!
"A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe." -Thomas Keller
Oh, and that car you drive, it's for pussies