Why buy a gyuto over a santoku?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by _HH_, Mar 3, 2019.

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  1. Mar 3, 2019 #1

    _HH_

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    After reading the forum for the past few weeks I haven’t found a really good reason as to why gyuto are more useful than a santoku given my criteria:

    1. I like short knives
    2. I don’t rock chop
    3. I don’t care if my knife doesn’t look pointy

    The main arguments against a santoku seem to be that they can’t rock chop, are too small, or ‘they don’t look badass like a bunka’ (which I find amusing given they seem to be almost the exact same shape but one has a K-tip).

    Given that I don’t rock chop, and already have a western chef’s knife, is there any reason - other than personal preference - as to why I should buy a gyuto over a santoku as my next knife?

    I like the idea of having one knife which can do most things, and seeing as I’m not going to get a Nakiri and am going to hang onto my chef’s knife, it seems to me that a santoku with its flatter heel section may be more helpful for veg prep without losing the ability to cut protein.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts if you can give me any advice one way or the other.

    Thanks!
    Henry
     
  2. Mar 3, 2019 #2

    lemeneid

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    Santoku is the bastard child of a gyuto and nakiri and does neither function well. If I wanted a short knife I rather a long petty/short suji or a nakiri as my everything knife. My 150mm Shiro Kamo petty currently fills this position when I need stuff done quick and don’t need my gyuto.
     
  3. Mar 3, 2019 #3

    Cyrilix

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    I would disagree with this. Santokus have varying profiles. The ones that are sufficiently flat are basically a nakiri with a tip, which is a perfectly acceptable design for doing what a nakiri does. If the tip is half decent (has enough taper), you'll be able to do more with it. A more pronounced tip may not be something you get with more santokus but should definitely exist with a k-tip santoku, like a bunka.

    My ideal santoku is: a minimum of 50mm in height, about 180mm long with a more pronounced tip, has many flat spots that are of considerable size and only just curves upward noticeably at the very end of the knife.
     
  4. Mar 3, 2019 #4

    Midsummer

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    Welcome Henry!

    There are some ingredients that are much easier to work with a longer knife. You can address this in many ways such as forging on with the little knife, getting a longer carver, or avoiding cooking that involves bigger stuff.
     
  5. Mar 3, 2019 #5

    Ochazuke

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    I think part of the reason that gyuto reign supreme for most on this forum has a lot to do with what they’re cooking. I would never argue that any knife type or shape is objectively better than another, but I 100% agree that some knives are better for some tasks and for some people’s technique. I’m general I believe that technique matters way more than any aspect of your knife anyways (I once did katsuramuki with a deba just to prove to a coworker that it was him and not the knife that was the problem).

    If a santoku fits your cuisine and your personal technique, then naysayers be damned. Buy what you like.
     
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  6. Mar 3, 2019 #6

    Xenif

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    ^that 100%

    I grew up using cleavers/chuka; I cook pan-asian-ish food. My primary motions are push and chop, so that makes me love using the Nakiri, although some here argue they are useless rectangles.
    The line between Santoku and Gyuto is a real blur at the 180mm, what's a flat profile tall Gyuto look like? A Santoku.
    Buy what you think you like, but always keep an open mind on what you think you may like. Happy hunting!
     
  7. Mar 3, 2019 #7

    Marcelo Amaral

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    Hi there Henry,

    one thing the gyuto does better than the santoku is offering less area near the tip (specially for pointy tipped gyutos), which helps with food release while dicing if you are using mostly the area near the tip to do that. Anyway, it's not a deal breaker for me and i have enjoyed santokus too, but what happened to me is that nakiris took the santokus' place in my kit.
     
  8. Mar 3, 2019 #8

    Michi

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    When I'm by myself and put a quick meal together, I enjoy using a santoku. It's the perfect knife to cut anything in smallish quantities. The one I have is 165 mm. It works fine for chopping veggies, dicing up a few bits of chicken or beef, and rocks just well enough to chop a few herbs or mince a bit of garlic or ginger.

    For a small meal, I find that my 240 mm (250 mm, really) KS gyuto is overkill and awkward. I have to be more careful handling it, need to watch for the tip to not stab into anything with a little careless movement, etc. The santoku is compact and nimble, and just right of a quick meal. The one I have is stainless clad with a VG10 core, so I don't have to baby it continuously; it's OK to leave it sitting on the cutting board for a few minutes without wiping it down, which I wouldn't do with a carbon knife.

    I like the santoku. It's a pragmatic knife for a pragmatic job. I agree that it is a jack of all trades and master of none. But that's the whole point of that knife.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  9. Mar 3, 2019 #9

    Eloh

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    My mom makes great meals with a 120mm utility knife.
    Bigger chef knives are just more efficient for volume prep in an professional environment. For home use just use what you are comfortable with.
     
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  10. Mar 3, 2019 #10

    HRC_64

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    For 'asian cuisine' from an actual workflow point of view...you are (often) cutting things smaller, so there are more cuts...
    to do more cuts, with fewer motions, you may do more 'stacking' of ingredients, but cutting stacks of ingredients is done with the back of the knife (taller = more stability) and not the tip ( narrower =less stability) because stacks are inherently unstable...

    So if you are doing lots of this work, then a santoku is actually pretty useful (as is a cleaver, etc).

    But in a western kitchen, its very often you are cooking meats, coring fruit, removing eye from potato,
    deboning a cooked pork chop, etc...lots of small tasks that benefit from more agility...
    more agility means a usable tip is very valuable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
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  11. Mar 3, 2019 #11

    Benuser

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    The low santoku tip tends to catch the board when forward slicing as in 'guillotine and glide'. Rarely got a santoku for sharpening where the tip wasn't damaged.
    Better have a 180mm gyuto that isn't too narrow.
     
  12. Mar 3, 2019 #12

    Cyrilix

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    Is that not essentially rock chopping?
     
  13. Mar 3, 2019 #13

    HRC_64

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    minced parsley or chopped nuts or chocolate = rock chopping
    chiffonade of basil = glide cutting
     
  14. Mar 3, 2019 #14

    Benuser

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  15. Mar 3, 2019 #15

    gman

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    if the ingredient needs tip work, then i'm using either a gyuto or a petty, and if it doesn't then a nakiri, and if i'm cutting a variety of ingredients that need both tip and flatness ahead of the heel, then definitely a gyuto.

    i've owned santokus and always found them to be the worst of all worlds. the tips aren't thin enough, and depending on the ingredient they seem to always be either too long or too short, and have either too much belly or not enough.
     
  16. Mar 3, 2019 #16

    podzap

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    We should not condone criminal activity such as this!
     
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  17. Mar 3, 2019 #17

    nonoyes

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    I find plenty of uses for the tapered, pointy, slightly curved tip many gyutos offer

    I use the front 2-3 inches of my gyuto to trim inside bell peppers, remove pith from orange quarters. The very tip I use to dig out imperfections or even cut a bit of twine in a tight location. It's also nice to start the trimming of a bit of skin or silverskin. And there is less drag or stiction when using the front of the blade to slice a veggie or some cheese.

    When I use my santoku I find the nose a bit thick and awkward for some of my most common tasks like vertical cuts into halves of onion, garlic or shallot, or working in tight spaces.

    Otoh, I'm sure santoku users have ways of doing all these things just fine.
     
  18. Mar 3, 2019 #18

    McMan

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  19. Mar 3, 2019 #19

    podzap

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    Yep, can't trim sinew off large pieces of meat with a santoku :)
     
  20. Mar 3, 2019 #20

    Nemo

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    A thin tipped gyuto is pretty handy for onion.
     
  21. Mar 3, 2019 #21

    KenHash

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    I have to disagree with this generalization. The Santoku does not do the task "AS WELL" as other specialized types and profiles. But that does not mean it does not do the tasks well. The fact that it does is why t it is so successful.
    A long petty or short suji does not have the height to carry chopped material from board to bowl. I find myself using a 180 Gyuto for this reason, and a Santoku would do the same.

    From the OPs, post, I think he has no reason to use a Gyuto if he is comfortable with a Santoku.
     
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  22. Mar 3, 2019 #22

    OldJoeClarke

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    I just got a new Anryu damascus shirogami #2 santoku on Friday and it flies through my food prep. A brunoise of garlic to killing an oversized Dutch onion, all is pure fun. Of course it has limitations as do most of our knives, that is why we "reluctantly" have to buy more knives, eh folks...
    Go ahead Henry, enjoy you new knife...

    PS, what knife are you thinking of getting?
     
  23. Mar 3, 2019 #23

    HRC_64

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    I think this is true if the end user is flexible in technique and adopts to the shape.

    For me, a usable santoku must be able to draw cut...
    I'm not looking to glide or rock chop but if it cannot draw cut, its no good.

    For whatever reason, very few Santoku are excell at this...Shig is one that works pretty good.
     
  24. Mar 4, 2019 #24

    jaybett

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    A gyuto is a general purpose knife just like a santoku. Dedicated knifes will also out perform a gyuto. In the end who cares? Most of us want a knife that is best suited to our kitchen and tasks.

    If you want a knife that can handle most jobs in the kitchen, then a gyuto would be the choice. Even a small gyuto would be more versatile than a santoku. If you chop a lot of vegetables and cut up protein, than a santoku might be a better choice.

    Jay
     
  25. Mar 4, 2019 #25
    I'm not a santoku fan - I've tried more than a few and they don't work for me.

    But if they work for you then by all means find the one you like best and go for it.
     
  26. Mar 4, 2019 #26

    _HH_

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    Hey everyone!
    Thanks so much for all of the very helpful replies. I have found a site which can ship me the Kanehiro AS santoku for $200. Given that I live in NZ this is a pretty good deal!

    My reasons to get a santoku are mainly wanting a change from my Wusthof chef’s knife. I feel the gyuto is likely to be very similar.

    A lot of responses seem to say that a gyuto is ‘better’ or a santoku ‘worse’, without explaining why.

    I still can’t see why a gyuto is going to be more versatile than a santoku. The gyuto is going to be longer and has a more gentle curve, with less of a flat spot from what I have seen.

    One of the things that annoys me about my chef’s knife is that on push chopping, I tend to have things like spring onions scored but not completely separated. I am hoping the larger flat section of the santoku will help me to fix this.

    Being a novice it may just be something I have to use and compare side by side to really ‘get’ why one is better than the other, as from reading and looking at blade profiles I can’t seem to get it clear in my head!

    Thanks again for all the help!
     
  27. Mar 4, 2019 #27

    Benuser

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    Those spring onions not getting completely cut can have to do with the lack of sharpness, or with the edge not touching the board along the entire edge — a reverse belly, after poor sharpening or steeling abuse, quite common with a fingerguard.
    When moved forward the blade doesn't have to be deadly flat — it rarely is, in fact. A good gyuto forms a continuous arc from tip to heel.
     
  28. Mar 4, 2019 #28

    Midsummer

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    You can also have incomplete cuts from a warped or dished cutting board.
     
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  29. Mar 4, 2019 #29

    HRC_64

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    as other have said its either a sharpening issue or a slightly imprecise technique
    or maybe cutting board but I don't think wustoff is that flawed in profile
     
  30. Mar 4, 2019 #30

    Cyrilix

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    Or it could just be that the the OP is using a push cut technique and a knife with more curve than makes sense. I prefer flat spots, certainly not the entire blade flat, but flat spots of reasonable size and light curves in between. It allows me to cut veggies more easily with a flat push cut motion without moving the knife very far along the board. Just small precise quick motions. It seems like OP prefers this as well, so saying that a continuously curved gyuto is the way a good gyuto is made is imposing one's own preferences on others.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019

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