Santoku Knives VS Chef's Knives- Okingjoy Kitchen Knife

Santoku Knives VS Chef's Knives

Santoku knives and chef's knives are popular among professional chefs due to their versatility in the kitchen. While Santoku knives are a type of chef's knife, they differ in shape and style from traditional French and German knives.

The main distinction between a Santoku knife and a chef's knife lies in their suitability for precision cutting. Santoku knives excel in creating thin cuts, which can be more challenging to achieve with a chef's knife. Additionally, Santoku knives require a different slicing technique, moving forward and backward, while a standard chef's knife relies on a rocking motion. It's worth noting that there are various styles of chef's knives available. 

In this article, we will explore the differences between these two knife types, including performance, blade length, material, style, and handles.

Santoku knives

Santoku knives, or Santoku bocho knives in full, meaning "three uses" in Japanese, are perfect for mincing, dicing, and slicing. They feature a straight edge with a narrow sheep's foot blade, evolving from the traditional Japanese vegetable knife with a rectangular blade.

On the other hand, French or German style chef's knives have a curved edge that allows for a rocking motion when chopping on a cutting board. The long blade of chef's knives is also suitable for slicing through meat. Chef's knives are considered a versatile kitchen tool, used for various tasks. It's important to note that there are subtle differences between French and German style knives, such as the flatter shape at the heel of the blade in French knives, gradually reaching towards the point, while German style knives have a more curved blade profile. 

For most chefs, the style and performance of a knife are crucial factors. Style refers to the shape and design of the knife, while performance relates to its sharpness and effectiveness in use.

Some Santoku knives are sharpened on one side of the blade only, following the traditional Eastern approach. This allows chefs to have better control over the cutting direction. Most Santoku knives combine elements of both Eastern and Western styles, featuring a curved blade shape with a flat cutting edge and a 50/50 sharpening on both surfaces. This makes sharpening and maintenance easier using a traditional steel or pull-through sharpener.

The light and narrow blade of a Santoku knife make it ideal for precision work, enabling thinner cuts as less food needs to be displaced during each slice. Japanese knives require a different technique compared to Western knives, slicing through food in a forward and backward motion instead of the rocking motion used with Western knives. As a result, Santoku knives offer quicker cutting with thinner slices compared to their Western counterparts.


Chef's knives

Chef's knives, whether they are of French or German style, are known for having a straight edge with a slight curve from the heel to the tip of the blade. This curved design allows for optimal slicing and chopping motions. The main advantage of chef's knives over Santoku knives is their robustness, making them perfect for carving through tough meat, as well as delicate fish, fruits, and vegetables.

On the other hand, Santoku knives have a thin and flexible blade with a sheep's foot tip. While this design provides excellent precision and control for tasks like slicing and dicing, it doesn't fare well with tougher jobs such as deboning meat. The harder steel used in Santoku blades also makes them more susceptible to chipping, especially when cutting through dense vegetables like butternut squash and turnips. Therefore, for professionals and home cooks alike, the chef's knife is often regarded as the best all-around knife for a wide range of food preparation tasks.

In terms of blade length, Santoku knives typically have a shorter blade, around 6 inches long, providing more control, which can be particularly advantageous for less experienced chefs. Chef's knives, on the other hand, have an average blade length of 8 inches, though they can be as long as 14 inches, offering more versatility for various cutting techniques and tasks.

The materials used for the blades also differ between the two styles. Santoku knives, such as our 7-inch-santoku-knife, are crafted from highly refined corrosion-resistant V-Gold-10-series steel, known for its strength and high carbon content. This steel offers the corrosion resistance of stainless steel while maintaining its sharpness and durability.

In contrast, Western-style knives are typically made of softer, yet tougher, steel, resulting in thicker blades. The softness of the steel renders chef's knives less prone to chipping but also requires more frequent sharpening. This softness can also make the blades feel heavier, which may be a positive or negative attribute depending on personal preference.

Another aspect to consider is the handle. Traditional Santoku knives usually do not feature a bolster, a protective extension between the blade and handle found in German or French handles. Bolsters can provide added grip and prevent your hand from slipping down the blade, making them beneficial for those new to professional knife usage. Both Santoku and chef's knives are typically made with a full tang, which adds to their balanced feel while in use.

Ultimately, the best style of knife depends on your grip and cookery style. If you primarily prepare fish, fruits, and vegetables, a Santoku knife would be the better choice. However, if you require a versatile knife that can handle tasks such as carving meat and cutting small bones, a chef's knife is the ideal option. For those who spend significant time in the kitchen preparing a variety of dishes, it may be worthwhile to invest in both types of knives.


Frequently Asked Questions


  • Should you buy a Santoku knife or a chef’s knife?

- This is a matter of personal preference – many people like to have both. The choice ultimately depends on blade width, length, and chopping style. Do you prefer vertical chopping? Then a Santoku might be a better choice for you. A gyuto is better when you cut with a rocking motion.


  •  How do I sharpen a Santoku knife?

- Sharpen your santoku using whetstones.


  • How long are Santoku knives?

- Santoku knives are usually 6-7 inches.


  • What is the benefit of a Santoku knife?

- A santoku is a versatile all-purpose knife, neither too short nor too long. Anyone can use a santoku, making it a great first Japanese knife.


  • What foods do you cut with a Santoku knife?

- A santoku is great for cutting most vegetables and boneless raw and cooked meat.


  • What is the benefit of a Santoku knife?

- The santoku has slightly more blade height than a gyuto, making it comfortable for people whose knuckles come in contact with the cutting board when chopping.

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