For those of you who own, use frequently, and really like Santoku knives, can you tell me what you like about them, and why? Thanks so much. ;o)
I have an old-style Santoku that I brought back from Japan, and a Henckels that I got here as a gift. I always reach for these when I'm cutting veggies, but I should say that they aren't very good all-purpose knives. Still, they are great--they have a really nice weight to them. They are a shorter and heavier than my chef's knife, which seems to make them more balanced for chopping and dicing. The cutting edge is flat rather than curved, so you chop a bit differently. You don't rock the knife the way you do with a chef's knife, and the chopping motion seems more natural to me. Both of my Santokus seem to keep their edges for longer than my chef's knife, maybe because of the different cutting motion (?). I also find that the Japanese one is easier to sharpen at home--I've never had good luck sharpening any of my other knives. If you do decide to get one, I would go for a run-of-the-mill Japanese one (if you have a good Asian cookware shop nearby) rather than a more expensive one made by a western knife company. They take more care--just a tiny drop of water will rust the steel, but I think they are preferable. The blade of my Japanese one is thinner and it just slices better than my Henckels. BTW, there's another Japanese knife that basically looks like a miniature cleaver--really great knife--I like these even better than the Santoku shape, but they can be harder to find.
My knife skills are really at the novice level, and I find that I have (or I should say that I feel that I have) more control over the Santoku knife--I think because it's shorter--than the regular chef's knife, which I sometimes find to be unwieldy. It als is, as stephskitchen says, easier to keep sharp for some reason.
I have a few wusthof santuku and I use them more now than any other knife I own. sharp, thin blades with scalloped sides make them great for prepping most veg. Light, good balance. As mentioned above, you use a different motion with them: straight up and down, rather than rocking.
Still reach for a good chef's knife when it comes to meat. the santuku just isn't right for that somehow...
I like my Santoku for slicing and dicing veggies. Or preparing boneless meats for stirfries.
From Wikipedia: "[Santoku]Blade thickness is usually less (thin in comparison) and steel is slightly more hardened (To compensate for the thin cutting edge). Most classic kitchen knives maintain a blade angle between 40 and 45 degrees (A bi-lateral 20 to 22.5 degree shoulder, from cutting edge); Japanese knives typically incorporate a chisel-tip (sharpened on one-side), and maintain a more extreme angle (10 to 15 degree shoulder). A classic santoku will incorporate the Western-style, bilateral cutting edge, but maintain a more extreme 12 to 15 degree shoulder, akin to Japanese cutlery. It is critical to increase the hardness of Santoku steel so edge retention is maintained and "rolling" of the thin cutting edge is mitigated. A disadvantage of extremely hard, thin steel is a higher risk of chipping (Pushing through a bone or dry herb stock for example). German knives use slightly "softer" steel, but have more material behind their cutting edge. For the average user, a German-style knife is easier to sharpen, but a santoku knife (if used as designed) will hold cutting performance longer between maintenance."
I like it for chopping vegetables because it's straight blade forces you to cut straight down on the vegetable so it cuts it cleaner than the rocking motion used with a chef's knife. I feel more in control of the size of the chop as well.
I have a santoku made by wusthof that my wife bought as a gift but I have a knife bag and knife block full of knives I already love and know which to use for what, so I never use it and for some reason when I try using it it just doesn't feel right in my hands. But, instead of breaking my sushi knife out one night while making sushi I tried using for slicing my rolls and it worked well for that. But honestly don't really care for it. If it wasn't a gift from my wife I would gift it to someone.
It seems to hold its edge very well. It definately has a different feel than a regular chef's knife. I don't use one at work, but I do use one at home or when we're on vacation and cooking. Aside from keeping its edge better, I like to use it when cutting items finer. It also seems to chop chocolate better than a regular chef's knife. If you like to rock the knife when chopping, it may not be the knife for you.