If you ever get chatting to a chef about knives, the discussion will almost always veer towards Japanese chef knives. They’re well known for offering quality and design that has been developed over centuries. The Japanese know their knives and two of the best all-rounders are the Gyuto and Santoku. Although they do have similar features, they also have features which make them suitable for different tasks in the kitchen.
This article will look at the difference between gyuto and santoku knives as well as their features, strengths and weaknesses.
You may also be interested in our comparison of the usuba and nakiri knife. An in-depth look at two Japanese knives designed for chopping vegetables. Fast.
If you’ve come to this page, you are probably trying to work out whether you should invest in a gyuto or santoku knife, or should you own both of them?
I own both of these blades and have my personal opinion on what they’re both good for. I also have to admit that I favor one of these over the other. However, to make this review more reliable, I reached out to my Facebook and Reddit cooking groups for their opinion as well as collating online product reviews to get the full picture.
Shortly, we’ll dive into how each knife measures up as well as which is best. Before we compare these knives, we’ll take a quick look at the parts of a knife.
Although it’s not essential to know all these different parts of the knife, it does help when you’re looking to buy a new kitchen knife. You’ll frequently hear knife experts referring to these terms so I recommend taking a minute to digest them.
Gyuto and Santoku Compared
|Best use||Chopping, dicing, mincing. A Good all-rounder.||Chopping, dicing, mincing. A Good all-rounder.|
|Blade sharpening skill||Intermediate||Intermediate|
|Blade shape||Up to 14" long, slightly curved blade with pointed tip.||Usually 5-7", sheep's foot blade with rounded tip.|
|Bevel||Double bevel, thin but sturdy.||Double or single bevel.|
|Price||Mid to high Range||Mid Range|
Both the santoku and gyuto knives are an excellent all round utensil to have in the kitchen – whether its for commercial or at-home use. You will find that a gyuto is capable of performing any task that the santoku can. However, it also has a pointed tip which is really useful for getting into tight spaces and also allows the user to rock slice thanks to its slightly curved blade.
- Allrounders: useful for 90% of jobs in the kitchen.
- Sharpness: slice through meat, fish and vegetables with ease.
- Clean cuts: no more pieces of vegetable stuck together by threads (think celery!).
- Precision: make accurate thin slices that bring a dish to life.
Both knives a good multi purpose knives so does it even matter which one you choose? Absolutely. Let’s look at each knife in more detail.
Loosely translated, Gyuto means “cow sword” – it was given this name as the original use for this knife was cutting large cuts of beef. A gyuto will take care of most of the chopping, slicing and dicing you’ll perform in the kitchen. Although they can be very long, the common size is around 10-12″.
Benefits a gyuto offers over a santoku
- Its length makes chopping larger items like cabbage easier
- a thinner, harder blade
- A curved blade allows for rock chopping
- A pointy tip assists with getting into hard to reach places
The gyuto in action
The Santoku is another multi purpose knife that will take care of most jobs in the kitchen. So how did this knife begin? In the 1940’s the Japanese took their nakiri (a type of meat cleaver) knife and gave it similar features to the Western chef’s knife. The reason was to make it a more suitable tool for the home kitchen.
Translated, it means “knife of three virtues”, which refers to its suitability for slicing, mincing and dicing. Others believe the three virtues are processing meat, fish and vegetables. Either way, you get the picture – this knife has multiple uses.
A key feature of the santoku is its flat blade profile. For those that prefer chopping straight through vegetables in one cut rather than rock cutting, this is a good choice.
Benefits a santoku offers over a gyuto
- A shorter length knife will appeal to some cooks
- Safer, more practical option in very confined, busy cooking spaces
- Flat blade makes it easier to make clean cuts with vegetables
- Tend to be more affordable than a similar gyuto
- Scrape ingredients off the chopping board easily using the flat blade
Watch the santoku in action
The santoku offers a small, lightweight tool that has excellent balance and feels great in the hand. This is a popular option with smaller cooks who don’t like the thought of wielding a large blade in the kitchen.
Which is the best option?
Does size matter?
If you’re happy using a long blade then the gyuto is an excellent option, making easy work of even large vegetables with one simple chop. But not everyone likes a large blade – if that’s you then a more compact, balances santoku would be a wise choice. This is a knife you’ll use very frequently so it needs to be super comfortable in your hand.
What is your budget?
Knife enthusiasts will be likely to have both knives in their set. If budget isn’t a big issue then this may be an option for you too as they’ll both come in handy for different jobs. Over time, you’ll find that each knife will have its own use, although I’d guess that for most, the gyuto will be the preferred option for most tasks.
If your budget only allows for the most affordable option, you’ll probably find a santoku will save you a few dollars up front. Both knives vary wildly in price, but if you were to compare these two knives, both of a similar size and quality, the gyuto will usually cost more.
What’s your chopping style?
If you’re a keen rock-chopper then the gyuto, or chef’s knife, is the better option thanks to its slightly curved blade. Although it’s a bigger knife, you’ll be surprised at how intricate the cuts can be: batonnet, allumette and jardiniere cutting styles are all possible.
Of course, the santoku is capable of the above cuts as well. However, it’s flat blade makes easy work of chopping leeks, celery, onions and herbs cleanly.
Are you a scraper?
There are times when you’ll be in a rush while cooking. Guests are over, you need to get the kids to a friends house, or you’re in a commercial kitchen which means you’re always in a hurry! The santoku has a flat blade which means that, with one motion, you can scrape your chopped vegetables into a pan or container. This may not sound important, but it’s little things like this that can save a lot of time over a whole year of cooking. The curved gyuto blade makes it a little messy and usually requires a second or third attempt to get everything into the pan.
When comparing the gyuto and santoku, you’ll find they are both very capable knives that’ll take care of 90% of your cutting needs. Choosing the best option for your needs will ultimately come down to personal preference. At a push, I’d choose the Gyuto thanks to its curved blade and pointed tip. Also, it’s length makes easier work of larger cutting jobs.
It’s important to remember these knives aren’t designed for heavy duty chopping. Don’t buy one of these to chop through bones.
Whichever knife you choose, keep in mind that maintenance will be required. I’d recommend investing in a whetstone or, alternatively, be prepared to get an expert to sharpen your knife frequently. A blunt knife is frustrating to use and can be dangerous in the kitchen.
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