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Old 12-01-2005, 02:26 AM   #1
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Santoku Knife, X-Mas Present

I have been looking for a Christmas present for my father, and I thought I would buy him a really nice kitchen knife. He does all the cooking in his house, and has never really had a decent knife or set of knifes. All the knifes he has owned before have been cheapo department store knifes. The weird thing is he knows all about knives, and if I asked, he would show me a whole bunch of knives he would be interested in, but then again, that would ruin the present.

Anyways, I have been looking at the Santoku knives, and to me they look like a good all purpose knife. Plus its the only knife you ever see being used on the Food Network..... Anyways, I bought him a Henkel Four-Star Santoku, but im really not pleased, and I think im going to return it and go for something better.

I have been reading all over the net on knives and people keep saying that Henkel and Wustof Knives are the common or cheap mans knives unless your willing to shell out the cash for some of their professional series knives. Is that true?

Can someone recommend a good Santoku knife, that is sharp and will stay sharp for a good while? I have never owned one myself, in fact I really don't know much about knifes to begin with, and their are so many brands I have no idea whats out there and whats good. I just grabbed that Henkel knife while I was hitting the after thanksgiving sale without thinking.

Also can someone recommend a good set of sharpening stones?

Thanks in advance for any help

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Old 12-01-2005, 07:36 AM   #2
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Henckel's is a perfectly good knife, as are the Wursthoff knives. What is it you are unhappy about with the one you bought? How much are you willing to spend? Any good knife is going to cost some $$, but well worth the investment. As far as 'staying sharp', care and maintenance have much more to do keeping an edge on a knife.

Here's a great site for knives and all sorts of other neat kitchen 'chatchkies' -

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Old 12-01-2005, 08:09 AM   #3
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You might do better getting dad a gift certificate to go buy his own knife or taking him shopping and letting him pick it. A knife is a very personal thing. A Santoku knife is a great style, but does not work for everyone. Some people do not like then and greatly prefer a chefs knife instead. It all depends on how dad uses it. Does he like to slice or does he like to rock and chop. That will help determine of he would like a Santoku or if he should stick with a chefs.

Buying a knife for someone is kind of like buying shoes for someone. They need to be tried on to make sure they fit. I know you want to get this for your dad as a gift so you don't want to give him a gift certificate or something like that, but if you don't get him a knife that fits his hand then it will be worthless. You could spend $5000 on a knife, but if it doesn't feel right to dad then it will sit in the drawer unused. Just like buying shoes, you need to try them on. Some will feel right and others will not. If you are dead set against buying a gift cert or bringing dad shopping then at least make sure you can return the knife if it is not a good fit.

Henkles and Wustoff are great knives. Also keep in mind that price does not alway dictate quality when it comes to knives. There are some great ones out there that are very inexpensive. Some other brands that you might want to look at and have dad look at are Global and Shun, just to name a couple others.

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Old 12-01-2005, 09:42 AM   #4
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Henckels and Wusthof both make several lines of knives. Henckels has high-end knives and more affordable stuff as well. Their symbol is two men holding a spear. They use this symbol on their best lines of knives. Their lower grade stuff has a single guy as a logo.

That being said, I like GB's recommendations.
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Old 12-01-2005, 10:46 AM   #5
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I'm with GB -- take him out for lunch and a knife-shopping trip and let him pick his own.

I ame quite happy with my Wusthof Grand Prix and classic knives. They are good quality. Their "Gourmet" series is cheaper and less well made.
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Old 12-01-2005, 10:53 AM   #6
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another one on the gb bandwagon. let him pick out his own knife.

i tried using a santoku, but it didn't feel right when i was chopping veggies for my birds. it didn't have the same rock to the blade. i guess i'm just used to the curve of a chef's knife.

i have been using a set of oxo-good grips knives, the mv-55 pro series, that i really like. they're by far not the top of the line, but i like the grip and feel of them.
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Old 12-04-2005, 12:02 PM   #7
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I had the opportunity to test-drive some Henckels knives. They were lighter than I expected, and were very sharp. As I don't own them, I can't comment on their ability to stay that way. But I was impressed by the quality and feel. I still prefer my Croma 10-inch Chef's knife. But I now feel that it may be becasue someone cared enough for me to purchase a very good quality knife. I do love it.

The Croma steel stays sharp forever and is very easy to use and care for. I rarely have to do anything but steel it to keep it razor sharp. And becasue the handle is blended into the blade, it is the easiest knife to clean that I have ever owned.

I purchased a Croma Santoku for my son, the profesional cook in our family (head cook of a local Itallian Restaurant). He won't take it to work as he doesn't trust his co-workers to not abuse the knife (use it to pry frozen meats apat, drop in on concrete floors, steal it, etc.). He loves the knife and takes it with him wherever he goes.

Here is a website address where you can look at this knife. www.cutleryandmore.com/chroma

You have to just try out various knifes and find which one fits. I like my Croma, and have my and my wife's name lazer etched into the blade. She bought it for me a couple Christmas's back.

I wish you luck in finding the perfect knife.

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Old 12-09-2005, 05:19 AM   #8
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Henkel and Wustof both make lines that are more affordable for the more "less affluent" common man - but they also make some very fine knives that are not so affordable to the everyday cook. My personal favorite, when I can afford them, is the Wusthof "Le Cordon Bleu" series - not because of who makes them but because of the design - I like the fact that the handle is triple rivited, the bolster doesn't extend all the way to the edge of the knife (makes for easier sharpening and I can use the entire blade when cutting), and it's thinner and lighter - but it's still forged and stronger than stamped. I also like they way they feel in my hand. But, as Goodweed noted, Chroma is also a good brand - so is Global.

Probably the sharpest knife I have in my kitchen is a cheap "Old Hickory" high-carbon steel butcher's knife - no stainless anything so you have to keep it oiled like a cast-iron pot. It cost about $10 (at today's prices - they still make them) ... and is about 40-years old.

Remember - Santoku is just a "style" of knife - there is nothing any more magical about it than a carving, boning, or paring knife - used for it's intended purpose. It is nothing more than the Asian equivalent of the French chef's knife. And as for if the chef's/cooking demonstrators on FoodTV use them or not - remember this, THEY have sponsors that pay them to use their stuff to promote and make it popular.

Some people love them - some people buy them and go back to their old "French" chef's knife after using them for a while. After the "new" has worn off - the knife you reach for is the one that feels most comfortable in your hand - regardless of the brand.

You can buy your Dad a knife for Christmas - or you can give him a "gift certifiate" to take him "knife shopping" so that he can get one that feels right in his hand. It's a Catch-22 either way.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:51 PM   #9
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What the moderator above said in spades!

I've been looking at some knives myself and done a lot of looking around. You might want to check this out, it's a cooking site for the more engineering-minded and this link is to a page they did of chef's knives with comments on various types of knives. The Wusthoff and Henckels knives are very good but not the best in the world, the best in the world are usually a lot more expensive than them though. And sometimes it's just a matter of preference for feel or look. er.. nevermind, I can't post the URL. Just google cookingforengineers and look under the equipment and gear section.

Hope this helps you.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:58 PM   #10
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I'm with the others saying take him to a knife shop and let him pick something on his own. Knife comfort is a very personal and subjective thing.

Personally? I love Henckel's Twin Cuisine because it's the only line they make that has the heft I like, but hate every other kind of knife they have. I love the Grand Prix series from Wusthof, but hate their other kinds because I dislike the other handles. I dislike all Messermeisters (too thin), Calphalons (too slippery), and Globals (too...something). I love all Shuns and MAC. And I absolutely adore ceramic knives. As you can tell, if someone were to try to buy me a knife as a gift, they'd be walking a veritable minefield trying to find one I'd appreciate. It's all a matter of feel and opinion, really.
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:03 AM   #11
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I say... if he hasn't had a good quality knife he will like whatever you get him. He is not going to be too picky if he doesn't have anything similar to compare it against.
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Old 12-22-2007, 09:55 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Hawkeye16 View Post
I say... if he hasn't had a good quality knife he will like whatever you get him. He is not going to be too picky if he doesn't have anything similar to compare it against.
I agree in principle to what you're saying, but grip and balance are such subjective things.

I say buy him a cheap, horrible knife as a gag and include a homemade coupon for one real knife.
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Old 12-24-2007, 12:36 AM   #13
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It depends on your budget, but no matter what you spend there's a little bit of risk. Buying someone a knife is almost like buying them a pair of shoes without having him try them on first. You could buy him a $1,500 Hattori KD but if he doesn't like the feel in his hand it will spend all it's time in the block.

That said, the starting point is selecting a good quality knife. A knife that feels & handles great still won't be useful if it doesn't cut well or hold an edge. I really love my Henckels 7" granton-edged santuko. It fits my hand well and is extremely sharp. It's made of good steel that keeps an edge for a long time, even though I use it daily in a professional kitchen. It's light and has no bolster which improves balance a lot.

My favorite santuko, though, is my Shun Classic 7" granton-edge. It's scary sharp and very light & well balanced. I'm a big Shun fan in general, and for the money I've never used anything I like as much. Shuns hold an edge very well if you don't abuse them, but since they're ground to a very low angle you don't want to chop thru bones with them. And never use them on a glass cutting board! Beyond that just basic care will keep them sharp for a long time. The only caveat is that their D-shaped handles may not feel right for all users, and they make them specific right-handed and left-handed versions.

For under $35 I can't think of anything half as good as the Kershaw Kai Wasabi line. The Wasabi santuku is only $30 or so and sharp enough to shave with right out of the box. The blade is extraordinary for the price, but the handle feels a bit cheap (though I find it comfortable). You're gonna have to cut corners to keep the price that low. The only downsides I can think of is that the blade stains pretty easily if you're mincing herbs and they're not NSF approved. No big deal at home but I rarely take them to work for just that reason. It easily outcuts my Henckels one, at well under 1/2 the price.

Messermeister makes very good blades, too. Their santoku selection isn't vast, but the blades are keen and bolsterless. I have half a dozen Messermeisters of various designs and like them all.
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Old 12-24-2007, 09:25 AM   #14
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The only problem I see with the Wasabi Santoku is that the blade is only 6 1/2", too short for a lot of purposes. If you want a short vegetable knife get the Wasabi Nakiri. An odd thing, the Shun site advertises both of these knives as being single beveled like the Wasabi Debas and Yanagibas, but I believe they are both double beveled. The Nakiri is only $18.99 @ Amazon.

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Old 12-24-2007, 08:44 PM   #15
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Yeah, it must be a misprint. A single beveled nakiri would be an usuba. And a single bevel santoku would, um, be something else. They are fine knives, though. Personally, I think 6.5" is too large for many things I use a santoku for. I use a 5.5" and 7", each for different purposes. For most of the cooking I do a nakiri really isn't all that useful. I like it for dicing onions, but that's about it. Of course, I work in a steakhouse now- when I was working as a chef for a hotel I used a wider variety of blades.
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