personal opinion

Santoku knives

Santoku knives, just like chef knives, have a general utilitarian purpose. They are used to cut soft foods, ideally without seeds or other hard particles that can damage the brittle cutting edge. Santoku knives, despite the purpose, have shape properties that distinguish them from chef knives. No doubt, a chef knife is replaceable by a Santoku knife, but this will lead to certain aspects we need to consider when making that choice.
Santoku knives look somewhat like chef knives but hold a few attributes that will help you use your Santoku knife in the right way. In this article, we will oppose a Santoku knife to a chef knife, find out the difference and clarify in which cases you should prefer using one over the other.
A ceramic Santoku knife
Shape and sharpening angle

The most pronounced difference between a chef knife and a Santoku knife is the shape and thickness of the blade. The reduced thickness of a Santoku spine of the blade makes the primary grind have a more acute angle, therefore, a sharper cutting edge. This property increases cutting pressure and the penetration speed.

The Santoku tip profile is less pointy and has an angle of up to 90 degrees to the cutting edge. The tip makes it impossible to skin fish or meat and explains why we need a chef, filleting, or boning knife.
Santoku knives have another feature that I like -- flutes. Almost any Santoku knife on its side has a set of dimples that prevent food from sticking to the blade. When you cut cheese, for example, and cutting a thin slice, it would not stick to the knife as much as it would to a chef knife.


To compensate for the thinner spine of the blade, some high-end knife manufacturers make Santoku knives with a higher hardness level of steel. Temperature treatment increases the amount of martensite in the steel, making it more brittle and easier to chip. I recommend not using honing steel on your Santoku knives because you have a higher chance of chipping the blade instead of removing the burr.
The thinner cutting edge of a Santoku knife is prone to chip more easily when cutting. For example, salt on salt-dried food can put a nasty chip on the cutting edge that will require re-sharpening the whole cutting edge to remove. Reduced secondary edge thickness increases pressure on the cutting edge, which can be dangerous in some applications. If you are cutting a raw chicken with a Santoku knife, be careful not to cut through bones and joints because the cutting edge can get stuck. Putting too much pressure to cut through a bone can chip the knife because the steel, as we know, is more brittle. Consider using Santoku knives to cut vegetables, herbs, and bakeries but avoid working through grains of sugar/salt; bones; other hard foods.
Santoku knife sharpening is like the chef knife sharpening process but different. It is common to think that Santoku knives have a 10 to a 15-degree angle, but I have a different opinion. Each manufacturer makes Santoku knives the way they like, and it varies knife properties, therefore, the cutting edge. For example, American and European knifemakers like having thicker blades opposing manufacturers from Asia. You can see it by comparing an American Santoku knife and a Santoku knife from Asia. When I sharpen a Santoku knife, regardless of the manufacturer, I give it approximately a 20-degree cutting edge angle, which reduces its height and makes it less prone to chip. It is important to note that the sharpening angle of a knife is half the angle of the cutting edge.
Categorizing Santoku knives as a general purpose, we can say they are as practical as chef knives. Given blade properties, you need to put less effort into cutting through food but remember not to chip the blade by cutting through hard foods. You wouldn't use a Santoku knife for certain operations, but it is great for others!