Kai Santoku Knife
Last updated date: November 7, 2019
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We looked at the top Santoku Knives and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Santoku Knife you should buy.
Update as December 29, 2020:
Checkout The Best Santoku Knife for a detailed review of all the top santoku knives.
In our analysis of 29 expert reviews, the Kai Santoku Knife placed 5th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
From The Manufacturer
Santoku, or three virtues is a blade style perfect for chopping, mincing and dicing vegetables. Our 6-1/2-inch Wasabi Black is the handly knife you'll turn to again and again in your kitchen. Our Wasabi line of knives are made in the traditional Japanese blade styling. Each knife features unsurpassed cutting performance due to the Daido 1K6 high-carbon, stainless which maintains superior edge retention. To reduce food sticking, the blades are sharpened on a single side. Although it has a traditional blade-style, it is paired with a uniquely modern handle material, polypropylene blended with bamboo powder, and impregnated with an antibacterial agent for super clean food preparation. From the Manufacturer Santoku, or three virtues is a blade style perfect for chopping, mincing and dicing vegetables. The 6-1/2-inch Wasabi Black is the handly knife you'll turn to again and again in your kitchen. The Wasabi line of knives are made in the traditional Japanese blade styling. Each knife features unsurpassed cutting performance due to the Daido 1K6 high-carbon, stainless which maintains superior edge retention. Although it has a traditional blade-style, it is paired with a uniquely modern handle material, polypropylene blended with bamboo powder, and impregnated with an antibacterial agent for super clean food preparation.
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Our Expert Consultant
Julie Chernoff is a long-time member of Les Dames d’Escoffier (past president of the Chicago Chapter, and current co-chair of the LDEI Legacy Awards Committee), the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Chernoff is the dining editor of Better, a lifestyle website and print magazine. Her journalism started in the test kitchens of Weight Watchers Magazine. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. She has spent the last few decades styling, photographing, teaching, developing recipes, editing, thinking and writing about food.
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An Overview On Santoku Knives
“Don’t play with knives” is common advice for young children, but the rules get a little looser once you’re an adult, especially when you’re cooking. You can’t chop your onions or julienne your carrots with any old knife — you’ve got to try out a few different designs and brands to discover the best knife for the job.
Knives come in many different styles to match different purposes. Chef’s knives are the workhorses of the kitchen: they run up to 14” long and are used for everything from chopping nuts to slicing herbs. Paring knives are much smaller and used peel and cut small fruits and veggies. You can use heavy meat cleavers to split chicken or beef from a bone, and create perfect single servings of fish with delicate fillet knives. Then there are Santoku knives.
“The Japanese Santoku knife is highly versatile,” says Julie Chernoff, dining editor of Better, a lifestyle website and print magazine. “It is similar to the Western chef’s knife in many ways, including the general shape of the blade, which is tapered toward the point from a broad blade, meant for rocking the blade while cutting or chopping so that the knife blade never fully leaves the cutting board.”
For many home cooks, Santoku knives are less intimidating than chef’s knives. They’re shorter and have a curved “sheep’s foot” tip that forms a gentle point. They usually have a more balanced weight distribution, so they’re a bit easier to grip.
Many Santoku knives also have a “Granton edge,” which refer to the dimples on the surface of the blade’s edge that help prevent ingredients from sticking to the blade. “Because of the Granton edge, these are best sharpened by a professional,” Chernoff says.
Overall, Santoku knives are very user-friendly and an asset to any kitchen. “Even its name tells you what it is meant to do,” says Chernoff. “Santoku means ‘three uses:’ mince, slice and dice.”
So how do you choose a great Santoku knife? First, figure out if the knives you’re looking at are forged or stamped. Forged knives are crafted from a single piece of hot steel that’s been cut into shape. They’ve got bolsters, which are thick sections of steel that provide a seamless transition from the blade to the handle. They’ve also got heels, which are the thickest piece of the blade right above the handle. A knife heel is designed to chop hard foods like carrots or nuts.
Forged knives are more expensive than stamped knives, which are machine-made. They have equal thickness throughout the blade, and they don’t have heels or bolsters. Forged knives can still perform well in the kitchen, and they’re great for beginner cooks who need some practice before investing in a pricier forged knife.
Ceramic knives are a newer option. They have impressive, razor-sharp blades that stay sharp longer than steel knives. They’re also lightweight and agile. However, they don’t have bolsters or heels and they’re not heavy enough to tackle tough vegetables. They work better as a complement to steel knives, not a replacement.
The best knife in the world won’t perform well if it has a bad handle. Handles are made from natural materials, like wood, or different kinds of tough plastics. Wood handles look lovely, but they might not stand up to wet conditions as well as plastic knives. You’ll want a handle that’s ergonomic and well-balanced for controlled, even chops.
Now that you know the basics about general-purpose Santoku knives, check out our Tips & Advice for sharp ideas on picking the right one.
The Santoku Knife Buying Guide
- The right knife will be an appropriate length for your daily cooking needs. A knife’s length is measured from the tip of the blade down to the top of the heel (or the beginning of the handle for stamped knives). Six-inch Santoku knives are agile, but they might not be right for chopping larger foods. A ten-inch Santoku knife can chop plenty of large fruits, veggies and meats, but they’re tougher to manage. A Santoku knife in the eight-inch range is ideal for most daily tasks.
- Keep your Santoku knife very clean to avoid rust and stains. You’ll want to hand wash it after every use with warm or cool water and dish soap. Use a non-scratch sponge to remove any stuck food.
- NEVER place your Santoku knife in the dishwasher, even if the manufacturer says it’s okay. The hot water can damage the blade, and your knife’s blade will get dull or chip if it knocks into other cutlery.
- Sharp knives are much safer than dull knives. Dull knives slide around on the surface of the food you’re cutting instead of slicing straight through, and that sliding can cause you to miss your mark and nick your finger. To maintain a sharp edge, buy a knife sharpener online or take your Santoku knife to a hardware store a few times a year for a professional sharpening.
- The round metal pole that comes with many knife sets isn’t a knife sharpener: it’s actually a honing rod, which is used to keep the blade straight. Stainless steel Santoku knives should be honed every 2-4 uses. Carbon steel knives need to be honed after every use. Your Santoku knife will only need to be sharpened about once or twice a year if you keep it honed.
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