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Thread: Japanese Santoku

  1. #1

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    Post Japanese Santoku

    Hi all,

    I'm looking at getting a Santoku japenese knife for everyday cooking. I'm vegan so a lot of vegetable cutting, some root vegetables but hardly any, so may get a second larger knife or a cleaver for pumpkin, perhaps a bread knife, but my daily knife I feel a santoku is the perfect size for me. I prefer smaller blades.

    Ideally I would like a hand made tamahagane santoku but there doesn't appear to be any

    I have a contact in Japan who could get one for me but I'm just at beginning the search and starting to learn about them all so thought I would post here first

    I'm leading towards the Shigeki Tanaka of the three listed below. Suminagashi is double sided, so is that something I should consider in my selection?

    Shigeki Tanaka Blue 2 steel Suminagashi Damascus Hand forged Santoku knife 165mm
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Shigeki-Tan...cAAOSwC11ZwHPT

    Tamahagane SAN 3 Layer Stainless Santoku Knife 160mm from JAPAN
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Tamahagane-...kAAOSw0vBUdQQZ

    Kataoka Factory TAMAHAGANE 63-layer Damascus steel universal kitchen knife 160mm
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/15214575468....N36.S1.R1.TR1

    So these are the three different knives that seem to fit the bill.

    Wanting some expert advise and whethere I should try and get a hand made Tamahagane Santoku

    Appreciate the feedback


  2. #2
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    daveb's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Curious as to why Ebay is the retailer of choice. There's 3 very average looking knives there. If you'll fill out the "which knife" questionnaire you'll get some recommendations tailored to your requirements. Typically if there is a problem with an Ebay knife it's on you to return it and the trip back to Japan is discouraging.

    The first knife, Tanaka is the only one I know by name (not that model) and Tanaka products are generally well regarded. Note that: "Handle: Magnolia wood D shape handle
    *Bolster: water buffalo / colors varie
    means that the ferrule (the dark part) is made of animal horn. Another vegan once informed me that vegans "don't use animal products". Don't know how you feel about such.. There are knives out there with plastic ferrules.

    The other two, meh. Very doubtful the knives are tamahagane. Very leery of a seller that uses that in the name. Look like Shun wantabes.

    Good luck. And if you'll tell us where you're from and what you're looking for we'll try and match you up.

    Edit: I may have been doing this too much or too long. Spell check autocorrected "wantabes" to "Watanabe" I had to change it back.

    Older and wider..

  3. #3
    Senior Member milkbaby's Avatar
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    +1 they're using "Tamahagane" as a brand name, read the descriptions and you'll see neither knife is made from tamahagane steel at all. One is VG5 core steel with soft stainless cladding, the other is unnamed stainless core steel with soft damascus cladding.

    Tamahagane steel is made from iron containing sand and is very limited. Knives made of this type of steel will be much more expensive. If you can find a santoku made from it, I bet it will be in the range of US$500-$1000.

  4. #4
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    Consider the Gesshin Uraku santoku from JKI. SKD tool steel core for excellent edge retention, stainless cladding for ease of maintenance, and an included saya for transportation, all for a very good price:

    https://www.japaneseknifeimports.com...mm-skd-santoku

    The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

  5. #5
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    Vegan knife?

    Consider a Watanabe Pro nakiri. The nakiri shape is designed for cutting vegetables. Watanabe's standard handle is burnt chestnut with plastic ferrule. The 180mm size is in stock at Watanabe's website for 22,000 yen. I recall shipping being around 3000 yen. Watanabe also offers nakiris shorter lengths, but I find the 180mm size very comfortable to use.

  6. #6
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    Please fill out the which knife to buy questionnaire, that helps with recommendations, especially with type of steel, handle, knife care, budget, etc.

    I think the recommendation of a Nakiri is definitely a good one considering you will only be cutting mainly vegetables. Will you be cutting other vegan food too? The Nakiri knife is regarded as a vegetable knife, not saying you can't cut tofu with it...

    Alos, bear in mind that Santoku knives are not highly regarded in this forums. Here are mainly gyuto/suji/yanagiba/etc. people. Personally I like Santoku knives, I have quite a few and love to use them especially for their increased height (compared to Gyuto knives of the same size).

    You can also consider a Bunka knife. While I find that many of these look a bit strange, the Syousin Chiku KU Bunka (Aogami Super with Stainless Cladding) speak to me. They are available in 165 and 180mm.

    As for the retailer of your choice, there are some forum vendors such as Japanese Knife Imports, Japanese Natural Stones, Korin, Epicurean Edge, Tosho, and Knives And Stones. You find quite a nice selection of Santokus, Nakiris, and Bunkas there. Also, with knives from Watanabe you can never be wrong, these are just fantastic, and you can ask for handle upgrades if desired.

    So, please fill in the questionnaire and then we will help you narrow down your choices.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by laxdad View Post
    Vegan knife?

    Consider a Watanabe Pro nakiri. The nakiri shape is designed for cutting vegetables. Watanabe's standard handle is burnt chestnut with plastic ferrule. The 180mm size is in stock at Watanabe's website for 22,000 yen. I recall shipping being around 3000 yen. Watanabe also offers nakiris shorter lengths, but I find the 180mm size very comfortable to use.
    I second the Watanabe and I've cut my share of tofu with mine for sure.

  8. #8
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    +1 about filling out the questionnaire also let us know where you're located as that will help narrowing down vendors. I know santokus are not well regarded around these parts, but I disagree that a nakiri is a better or more useful knife than a santoku as a general purpose kitchen knife (personally it's gyuto or bust for an all-rounder but that's me)

  9. #9
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    I second/third going watanabe but it does not have to be a nakiri. His santoku is very nice. The 180mm gyuto would be the most versatile, though, and it has a bit of a santoku(ish) shape to it in that it has a lower tip. It also has a fair amount of height, more than above average for a 180.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by daddy yo yo View Post
    ... recommendation of a Nakiri is definitely a good one....

    ... Santoku knives are not highly regarded in this forums. ...
    I agree about the low regard for Santokus, but I can't completely understand it. I suppose they got trendy so they're rejected by the "cool kids" and they get mass produced in crummy implementations (erh, Rachael Ray, we're looking at you) so there are lots of examples that are deserving of hate. However, as a general form I don't see why they wouldn't be as functional as a Nakiri, while providing a small tip. (I'm thinking e.g. of the difference of the Usuba & Kamagata Usuba nose shapes. If a Nakiri is a double-bevel Usuba, why isn't a Santoku a double-bevel Kamagata Usuba?)

    Sorry, I guess I'm getting a little off topic.


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