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Jan 18, 2008 04:50 AM

French Cooks versus Santoko knives

My “go to” knife for most kitchen chores has been a 6 in. Wüsthof – Trident Classic French Cooks knife that I’ve had for years. Lately however, I noticed that a lot of TV chefs seem to be using a Santoko style knife for their vegetable prep jobs. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting the 6 ½ in. Wüsthof Santoko from their Classic Ikon line.

What can I expect the difference to be in their performance? I’d appreciate hearing from anyone who has experience in using both styles.

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  1. While there may be some difference in the thickness of the blade (the Japanese style tends to be thinner), I think the main difference that you would notice is in the curvature of the blade. The Santoko edge is straighter (though not completely straight).

    If much of your cutting involves a rocking motion, then the chefs version is better. But for cutting straight down, or even slicing, but with the blade parallel to the board, you might prefer the Santoko. I also use the Santoko to slice with the blade at angle, with the tip in contact with the board.

    There is another Japanese style blade that used for vegetables that looks like a narrow, lightweight version of the Chinese clever. The blade is rectangular, with a nearly straight edge. The Santoko is a multipurpose design, borrowing some features from this. The name Santoko in fact means something like '3 purpose'.

    If you have a chance, look at how the TV chefs use the two styles of blades.


    3 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      That narrow cleaver is called a Nakiri.

      For chopping, I prefer my santoku. However the lack of a narrow point means things like coring tomatoes don't work as well as they would with a chef's knife.

        1. re: ThreeGigs

          Though for things that require a narrow point, I usually switch to a paring knife. Not only is the point narrow, it is closer to my hand, and easier to control.

      1. Thanks all! Life is short. I think I'll order the Classic Ikon Asian set (6 ½ in. Santoko and a paring knife).

        2 Replies
        1. re: TomDel

          I was going to suggest you not limit yourself to two knives. I have maybe 9 knives collected over the years. I never use a paring knife. My most-used knife has always been a so-called utility knife. My current favorite is a 14-buck, 4-3/4-inch model from Forschner.

          1. re: mpalmer6c

            I didn’t mean to give the impression that these were to be the only two knives I have or use. Quite the contrary, I probably don’t need them as I have a variety of other knives including the cooks knife I mentioned in opening this topic. I also have and use a 10 in. slicer, a boning knife, a filet knife, a serrated bread knife, et al. I’m buying these because I like to own and use high quality tools and I’m anxious to see how the Santoko performs versus the cooks knife in everyday chores such a prepping a mire poix or chopping up parsley.

        2. i think if you really want to try out a santoku, you're doing yourself a disservice by buying a german (wusthof) rendition of japanese style knife. The great thing about japanese blades is the hardness of their steel and thin blade construction, which makes them feel quite different from german and french knives. I'd say if you're interested in trying out a santoku, you should go with a japanese manufacturer, like global, shun, or one of the more esoteric makers available at,, or

          1. get one and try it out. pretty much every knife manufacturer makes a version of a santoku. I noticed that out of the box, the shun and mac were very sharp, while the wusthof not so much. I had it sharpened though, and it's fine. simply a matter of personal preference, really in the feel. I actually like the up and down chopping motion for mincing and dicing, and i find the thinner blades allow you to make finer slices. it's a good tool to have in your arsenal.

            1. I've never had much use for a Santoku, because my Wusthof Classic 8" Cook's Knife doesn't have any issues.... It dices, it slices, it even out-santokus the santoku! I guess.

              Santoku blades are generally thinner than Cooks Knives, and that may lead to less vegetable stickage...but with proper technique, that shouldn't be a problem with a Cook's Knife either. I'll never have a need to purchase another Santoku, as I gave my first one away out of lack of need for it.

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