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Which Santoku to pick

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I have decided to purchase a Santoku knife, but am having a tough decision on picking which one. The price range I have to spend is somewhere around $100.

I'll probably buy from Chef's Knives to go http://www.**************.com/santokuknives.html unless someone has another good store to recommend that ships internationally.

My question though, is there much of a quality difference between the various brands of $90-$130 knives?
Is a Sakai or Shun better than a Watanabe or Tanaka?

I think I have decided on a Japanese style handle. Mostly because of looks and if I am going to be buying a Japanese style knife the handle may as well be Japanese as well. I have read a fair bit on forums and it seems people prefer either type, which perhaps brings it mostly down to preference.

Any help on picking a knife??
hmm.. my 'helpful' links are apparently being edited.. I guess you can still understand my question...
 

Eamon Burke

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You will overpay for a Shun.

In that price range, I suggest the Sakai Takayuki for western handle(vg-10 steel, good F&F) from CKTG, and Yoshihiro SKD for wa handle(D2 steel, classic design) from Japanese Knife Imports.

Welcome, StackofPancakes!
 

TB_London

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Whereabouts are you if you need international shipping?
Have you looked at JCK, the carbonext gets good write ups and their international shipping is a bargain (to the UK at least)
 

wsfarrell

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The best cutter I own is a Gihei santoku from hidatool.com. It's stainless-clad SLD steel, wa handle, extremely thin behind the edge. It cuts as well as or (in most cases) better than knives from Shigefusa, Devin Thomas, Watanabe, Takeda, Konosuke, and others. It's my current reference point for how a stock factory edge should work. Price is around $120.
 

Peco

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It cuts as well as or (in most cases) better than knives from Shigefusa, Devin Thomas, Watanabe, Takeda, Konosuke, and others. It's my current reference point for how a stock factory edge should work. Price is around $120.
Quite a statement :D
 

ThEoRy

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Am I the guy who gets to say "don't buy a santoku!!" :D Though seriously, can you give us a little insight as to why you chose a santoku?
 

zenit

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I have a Global G-48 Santoku which is awesome. Great general purpose knife that I let all visitors use when they want to cook. Everybody who uses it loves it. Takes a ton of abuse, was dropped multiple times on the stone tile floor, but just keeps cutting great.

The Global my primary knife for a while, now I have a very santoku-like Takeda gyuto (flat profile with low nose) that I use alot. Now I use the Global for quick jobs when I am rushed and dont feel like taking care of the carbon steel.
 

Andrew H

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The best cutter I own is a Gihei santoku from hidatool.com. It's stainless-clad SLD steel, wa handle, extremely thin behind the edge. It cuts as well as or (in most cases) better than knives from Shigefusa, Devin Thomas, Watanabe, Takeda, Konosuke, and others. It's my current reference point for how a stock factory edge should work. Price is around $120.
Interesting. Mind posting a review of it in the review section?
 

wsfarrell

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Interesting. Mind posting a review of it in the review section?
Sorry, (a) I didn't see a review section, and (b) I'm a home cook who's ill-equipped to do a serious review. Here's what I can say:

I bought it a couple months ago when I was visiting Hida Tool in Berkeley (link to website here; you'll have to navigate a little to find the Gihei santoku). As with most of my knives, I just power-stropped it on leather/CrO to get an idea of what the untouched factory edge was like. The only dimensions I can give you are: weight = 118g; edge length = 162mm; edge height at base = 48mm; edge width 1" in front of ferrule = ~2mm (sorry, no calipers). One thing I have noticed is that the transition from cladding to core is almost perfectly smooth, as opposed to my Takeda funayukibocho (for example), which has a noticeable "step" or "shoulder."

I was slicing an apple with it and was impressed with how effortlessly it went through, so over the next few weeks I've compared it to several other knives on potatoes, carrots, apples, onions and such. Comparison knives have included 240 gyutos by Devin Thomas, Hiromoto, Watanabe, Konosuke HD, Shigefusa, Takeda; the aforementioned Takeda funayukibocho; and a ~5.5 sun Carter stainless fukugozai funayuki. I actually kind of wanted something to beat the Gihei, given how much some of these other knives cost, but nothing did. The one that came closest was the Konosuke HD. DT's knives also fared well.

Edge retention was perfect, but again I'm a low-volume home cook, so I can't really speak to that.

Gihei makes a couple of gyutos (stock removal and forged), but Hida doesn't carry them and apparently doesn't plan to. I've contacted another dealer, and he is enthusiastically looking into bringing the line on board. I'll update the thread if/when that happens.

Sorry, but that's about all the review I've got. I'd love to hear from others who have one of these----maybe I'm just crazy......
 

bcrano

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You should buy from ebay rather than Chef Knife. You'll find a cooler, better deal.
 

RRLOVER

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The best cutter I own is a Gihei santoku from hidatool.com. It's stainless-clad SLD steel, wa handle, extremely thin behind the edge. It cuts as well as or (in most cases) better than knives from Shigefusa, Devin Thomas, Watanabe, Takeda, Konosuke, and others. It's my current reference point for how a stock factory edge should work. Price is around $120.


That blade looks like it has a huge hollow grind,it should be very thin behind the edge.
 

wsfarrell

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I work in Berkeley, but have never been to Hida Tool (though I have heard it mentioned). Guess I had better get over there one of these days.
Recommended. They're small and low-key, but have some nice stuff. Good selection of synthetic and natural stones, and their "house" brand of knives (Fujitake, VG10/Western handles) is a great way to nudge a novice into the wonderful world of Japanese knives.
 
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Thanks everyone for the responses.

You will overpay for a Shun.
In that price range, I suggest the Sakai Takayuki for western handle(vg-10 steel, good F&F) from CKTG, and Yoshihiro SKD for wa handle(D2 steel, classic design) from Japanese Knife Imports.
Welcome, StackofPancakes!
Thanks, I'll check them out. I really like the looks of the Sakai Takayuki but then decided on a wa handle
Any thoughts on a Tanaka Damascus Santoku?

Whereabouts are you if you need international shipping?
Have you looked at JCK, the carbonext gets good write ups and their international shipping is a bargain (to the UK at least)
Norway

Am I the guy who gets to say "don't buy a santoku!!" :D Though seriously, can you give us a little insight as to why you chose a santoku?
:) well, I like the looks, the history and the story behind Japanese knives... so I'd like something 'Japanese' for lack of better argument. I chose a Santaku in particular because I have a Chef's knife, carving knife, pearing knife and puntilla knife (of medium quality) already and wanted something else. I use the Chef's knife almost exclusively when cooking - I like the wide blade of the Santaku for picking up veggies, I like the looks and it seems to be something that I don't have already (or something similar). If you think another knife would suit me better then I'd open for suggestions. I have also considered a Nakiri but thought I'd like a little more rocker on the blade that the Santoku has
 
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... and after a little more reading, it looks like I should also add to the cart a honing rod for Japanese knives and a couple sharpening stones (my budget may have just been unwillingly increased). But as it is, my current knives (European make) are in need of a good sharpening so some stones would do me good - and give me a place to practice.
 

echerub

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Mmm... you may not need to get the honing rod. Many Japanese knives have hard enough steel that you don't need or want to use them on honing rods. The edges aren't going to bend over in use, which means you won't need the rod to straighten them back out.
 
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Mmm... you may not need to get the honing rod. Many Japanese knives have hard enough steel that you don't need or want to use them on honing rods. The edges aren't going to bend over in use, which means you won't need the rod to straighten them back out.
Thanks - perhaps not.. I was just going by the advice in one of the CKTG videos on how to keep your knife sharp. There was honing rods for western knives (soft steel) and rods for hard Japanese steel. Perhaps a touch up on a 5000 grit stone would do the same job?
 

Cadillac J

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Perhaps a touch up on a 5000 grit stone would do the same job?
Yep, and the stone will do a better job IMO. If you are just a home cook, I don't see any real reason to need a rod when you can touch up just as quickly on a stone.

When you are new, santoku is probably the only Japanese knife term you are familiar with, but you'll learn that there are many names for traditional Japanese knives, as well as the Japanese equivalent to their western counterparts (chefs/gyuto, slicer/sujihiki, veggie/nakiri, utility/petty, fabricating/honesuki, etc etc).

If you really want a santoku, go ahead and get one...but most here including myself would try to nudge you towards a gyuto (Japanese-styled chef) instead for your first j-knife (240 or 210), as they are more versatile all-around---that is, unless you are 100% satisfied with the performance of all your current knives. Personally, I haven't used a santoku in many years, and don't miss it at all since using a gyuto and other j-knives.
 

JasonD

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For your question about the Tanaka Damascus Blue#2 knives, I liked it. I had one of the gyutos. The thing got absurdly sharp and looked great. The only issue was the handle felt pretty cheap and sometimes there can be fit issues (though mine was very snug).
 

Eamon Burke

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I have a Tanaka Yanagiba, and I really like it, but the grind isn't perfect on it. It was a bugger to learn to sharpen on, both because I was a noob and because the grind was not great. After a few years experience, I went back and fixed the grind problems--took me a few hours. It doesn't really affect how it works, just how it looks, and eventually, how it has to be sharpened. Plus the F&F isn't fabulous on them, but if you are ok with that, then no problem. You can get a damascus blade with a blue steel core for not a lot of money!
 
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Yep, and the stone will do a better job IMO. If you are just a home cook, I don't see any real reason to need a rod when you can touch up just as quickly on a stone.

When you are new, santoku is probably the only Japanese knife term you are familiar with, but you'll learn that there are many names for traditional Japanese knives, as well as the Japanese equivalent to their western counterparts (chefs/gyuto, slicer/sujihiki, veggie/nakiri, utility/petty, fabricating/honesuki, etc etc).

If you really want a santoku, go ahead and get one...but most here including myself would try to nudge you towards a gyuto (Japanese-styled chef) instead for your first j-knife (240 or 210), as they are more versatile all-around---that is, unless you are 100% satisfied with the performance of all your current knives. Personally, I haven't used a santoku in many years, and don't miss it at all since using a gyuto and other j-knives.
I actually came to the decision about a santoku by looking in a knife store and looking at the styles and picking one I liked. I later found out that it is a rather 'popular' .. but disliked amongst knife geeks style :)

So perhaps my question back... why would a gyuto knife be better?
 

James

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Gyutos have a decent tip, whereas santokus are a bit snubnosed? The tip allows people to do a lot of delicate work that would otherwise better suit a shorter knife. The extra length also helps when doing a relatively large volume of prepwork.
 

Benuser

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Santokus may differ a lot: some are very flat, with low tip; others are small gyutos.
 

olpappy

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the Japanese gyuto shape is not much different from a typical French chef knife, you already have a chef knife so why not try a santoku since you haven't tried it before. I find santoku handy for quick prep of smaller quantities and especially useful for working in smaller kitchens. Sometimes I just don't need a chef knife for some tasks.
 

bikehunter

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the Japanese gyuto shape is not much different from a typical French chef knife, you already have a chef knife so why not try a santoku since you haven't tried it before. I find santoku handy for quick prep of smaller quantities and especially useful for working in smaller kitchens. Sometimes I just don't need a chef knife for some tasks.
+1
 

ThEoRy

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Santoku is too short to be good at slicing. Because of it's shortness it is also poor at rocking and walking the board since you have to lift the handle so high to achieve the same effect as a gyuto. For being a smaller knife you would think it is more agile and accurate for delicate work but the snub nose sucks for delicate work and because of this any much larger gyuto, petty or sujihiki will be more nimble.

A little history here on the santoku shape as well. Originally it was designed as an alternative to the quote unquote larger, scary, pointy more specialized singular purpose Japanese knives. Around the time western food, beef mainly, became integrated into Japanese culture, this knife was marketed towards Japanese housewives as a replacement for the gyuto, usuba and petty as something they could use for fish, beef and veggies. Hence the name santoku or three virtues. Some say it means slice, chop and dice or any other combination of any three things you can think of that may be virtuous in the kitchen I suppose.

So now you have this marketing wave directed towards housewives of a "jack of all trades knife" and, "you don't need to be a professional to use this knife". Or, "Don't buy all those different specialized professional blades when this one does it all!!" So I guess it took off. Now here we are today where it's basically the same thing. History repeating itself. It's marketed as an all round knife that's good at everything only now it's super special because it's Japanese oooohh. When the average consumer sees this blade they immediately think, "Oooh that's one of those Japanese knives it must be great!!" Regardless if it's made with crappy stainless steel by forschner, dexter russel, Rachael Ray or Guy Fieri. And therein lies another reason so many of us who are in the know about the knife world have such strong feelings against this blade shape as well.

Hope some of this can shed some light on a few things. And for the record I do own a few santokus and neither one of them is better than any of my gyutos at doing anything. I can't think of a single task where I'd say, "oooh let me grab my santoku for this because it works better than ______."
 

SpikeC

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Several years ago my foodie sister gave me a Wustof santoku. I tried it out then put it in a drawer. I keep it for when she comes over and we cook something.
I can't see any reason to use it.
 

Phip

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The Tsogadas at Japanese Woodworker will only run you $50 and are great knives. That and a 1000grit stone and youre set.
 

Seb

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My take on it is that a santoku is just a sawed-off 240mm gyuto with a 210-sized handle.
 

jmforge

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Would it be accurate to say that the santoku is the knife of three virtues, none of which are really all that virtuous?:D
 
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