Santoku knives : what's your opinion on them?

I am always curious about Santoku knives, I have a good chef’s knife and a cheap Chinese cleaver, I wonder if I need one. What is the difference between a chef knife and Santoku? Does Santoku knife have certain advantages over other knives with its special shape? Would like to hear from you who have them.

I’ve got a couple of these cheapo affairs:

Never use them. It’s just that the balance feels a little off putting, caused no doubt by the extra metal at the pointy end. Maybe a correct import from Japan would be better, but it would have to be a truly different beast to lure me from my choice of Victorinox 15cm and Kiwi 171 knives.

For 35 years I’ve been buying “better” knives and then wondering why I bothered. My very first Sabatier 8" carbon chef’s from 1982 will do 90% of what I need, so I’m trying to kick the habit these days.

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I have both a santoku and chef knife, and I much prefer the santoku. It has less of a rocking motion and feels more stable to me.


Boils down to personal preference. Go to a knife shop and hold a few in your hand.

When slicing with a Santoku you bring it straight down. Can’t really rock it.

At a different angle there’s a faint texture on the blade (of both knives).



Santoku knife has a flatter knife profile and usually shorter. This makes a santoku has a more contact surface with the cutting board, and yet shorter. Usually, home cooks use a 8 inch Chef knife vs a 7 inch Santoku. A lot of female chefs like Santoku (like Rachel Ray) because they feel more nimble. On the other hand, you cannot rock chop very well with a Santoku, and it doesn’t have a sharp pointy tip.

Historically speaking, a Santoku is a merge between the European Chef knife and a Japanese Nakiri knife.


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Hi naf,

I’ve got a European and a Japanese Chef’s knife, a Japanese Nakiri, and a Japanese Santoku. They clearly overlap, but I use them all. The Santoku could replace your Chef’s knife and cleaver-if you were a minimalist. My Shun Kaji Santoku is very solid and comfortable to use:


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I have this dirt cheap carbon steel “kiritsuki” that I just love to use for prepping vegetables. Great for slicing mushrooms. No rocking as its really has no belly. Easy to sharpen and holds its edge well. This is the smaller of the two I have


Look nice.

I have a Shun Santoku and find it excellent for prepping vegetables. If you chop a lot of veggies it’s great.



@Presunto @paprikaboy @drrayeye

Looks like Kai Shun is the brand to look at. Why have you chosen it?

Very beautiful knife!

I read many talk about Santoku is especially good for slicing vegetables but not much on slicing meats. What do you think of it cutting non vegetable food?

Thanks for your explanation. Is Deba and Santoku the same knife?

I have 2 Japanese alloy steel knives from Aritsugu, they get rusty in 10 minutes if forget to wash and dry them. In the end, I don’t use them that often as I am lazy in cleaning.

I was fairly sure I wanted a Japanese knife and a Santoku after I tried my friend’s Global knife. I liked the blade but didn’t like the handle. It felt too light and the balance wasn’t right for me. In the knife shop I tried a few Henckels but again they didn’t feel right. I picked up the Shun and it seemed to sit well in my hand.

It’s not as good for meat as for vegetables it is not as easy. Though for me it’s not an issue. The amount of meat I prep is minimal compared to veg prep.

It’s absolutely about the feel of the knife in -your- hand. Personally the santoku with Granton edge is my go-to knife way over my chef knife. I’m in the market for a new Santoku and vastly prefer the heft of a German knife over the Japanese makes I tried. Shop around for what feels best for your use.

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Short answer: No.

A Deba is a traditional Japanese knife (one of the main 3). It is a specialized knife which its main function is to butcher fishes. A Santoku is actually a newly invented knife by combining the features of a Western Chef knife to a Japanese Nakiri. Its purpose is to act as a general knife.

If you look at a deba closely, you will notice that it is a very thick knife and it is a single bevel knife. Just look at the Deba’s thickness at the spine (in the first photo), and also its single bevel grind (in the second photo):

A Santoku is a little better at slicing vegetable – particularly if you use a push cutting motion, not a rock chopping motion. As explained, a Santoku has a straighter knife profile, so it has wider contact area with a cutting board. Think of your Chinese knife having a straight profile. Pay attention. Not all Santoku knives have the same profile. Some have very straight profiles, while others can have as much a curved belly profile as a Western Chef knife, so not all Santoku work quite the same. As for your non vegetable food, I would flip the question back to you. How do you feel cutting meat using your Chinese cleaver vs your Chef’s knife? That will give you a sense of the difference.

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Hi naf,

The Kaji version is sg2 powder steel-very hard-stays sharp for a log time-resistant to chipping. I’m left handed, appreciate the handle, has a very good feel.


Hi Gourmanda,

My Shun Kaji Santoku and my Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef’s knife have a very similar very solid feel to me.


Agreed – knives are like fountain pens; it has to feel right in your hand before you consider its functional qualities.


Hi Ray,

I tried Shun and didn’t care for it–too light; pretty but not a good feel for me. Knife feel is completely subjective.

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