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straight talk about santoku knives?

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm "missing something" about the santoku style knives. Obviously they are the cooking-media's darlings but IMHO that isn't any reason to buy anything. I have used French and German style chef's knives and I also have a Shun (SLT's Bob Kramer) chef's knife as well. But I accidentally, thanks to a thread here, stumbled upon the Hattori HD 6" santoku at JCK.com and that looks like one beautiful knife for sure. So I am tempted, especially since I really dislike those santokus with the granton blades. But I still have that nagging question in my head: What exactly would or could that knife do "better" than my current chefs and utility knives already do? If anything?

Norman Weinstein's knife skills book pretty much dismisses the santoku as nothing more than a media-created flavor-of-the-decade, so to speak. Is there any particular style of cutting that is more suited to a santoku than either a German or westernized-Japanese style knife?

I'd love some straight talk/honest opinions about the real value, or lack thereof, of having a santoku in one's knife "wardrobe".

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  1. "stumbled upon the Hattori HD 6" santoku at JCK.com"

    Do you mean KD? I think HD is not too different from other Damascus pattern knives:

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HAT...

    "But I still have that nagging question in my head: What exactly would or could that knife do "better" than my current chefs and utility knives already do? If anything?"

    A typical Santoku has a straighter edge profile than a German Chef knife, so it gives you equal or more contact surfaces while being a shorter knife. As such, it is very useful for push cutting as it can cut a lot of foods in one single stroke. Being shorter means a Santoku feels nimble for many people. It still has a small curved tip, so that you can do some detail works and minor rock chopping. Historically, the Santoku knife is probably a merge between the Western Chef knife and the traditional Japanese Nakiri. Actually, a Santoku is not a traditional Japanese knife in the pure sense. It only comes about in modern history.

    It comes down to these two points. You lose some rock chopping ability, but you gain some push cutting performance. If you are a rock-chopping person, then you may not like a Santoku. On the other hand, if you are a push cutter, then you may like a Santoku. I think you should just borrow a Santoku from your friends for 2-3 days and if it grows on you.

    "Norman Weinstein's knife skills book pretty much dismisses the santoku as nothing more than a media-created flavor-of-the-decade, so to speak. Is there any particular style of cutting that is more suited to a santoku than either a German or westernized-Japanese style knife?"

    Norman also think the Japanese knives (in general), not just Santoku, are nothing but media hype and will pass.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I agree with Chem(surprise,surprise) for the most part.I find the length (180mm vs 240mm of my gyuto) perfect for a lot of the finer detailed jobs,like chiffonade or brunoise.Also I have no problem rock chopping,push cutting with the santoku.
      Does it do a better job than a gyuto(chefs knife) or a petty(utility)? Not really,but it's the length and belly that makes a difference for me.

      1. re: petek

        Pete,

        You probably have told me before, but I forgot. What brand of Santoku do you have? A Moritaka?

        http://www.moritakahamono.com/en/ks17...

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I have 2 actually.The Moritaka AS and a Kasumi VG-10 SS.

        2. re: petek

          I have to agree with chem too, I got a santoku first and really liked it but , needed extra length at times, but do I reach for it now, uhm not very often

        3. re: Chemicalkinetics

          No actually the more understated pattern of the HD appeals to me more than the KD. Crazy, I know. :-) I also am turned off by knives with the "hammered" finish --- they remind me of the hammered aluminum ice buckets that my parents and grandparents always had and for some reason I never did like those things. Funny how we all have certain memory-associations either positive or negative, isn't it?

          Oh, as for borrowing: Unfortunately, none of our friends or relatives have any knives that aren't the Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond variety. I think if I ever said the word 'santoku' to any of them, the reply I'd get would be 'gesundheit!". LOL

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            "Norman also think the Japanese knives (in general), not just Santoku, are nothing but media hype and will pass."
            _____
            I haven't read Weinstein (and I'm probably not going to) - what's his argument against Japanese knives?

            1. re: cowboyardee

              I haven't read the book either, but I will take a stab at it anyway. I too feel like it is just a lot of marketing ploy to make sales. A lot of things are sold on hype, just look at all of the items with titanium, or laser, in the name, or used to sell it. To us Westerners, things with exotic names, or features , become cool, or must haves through marketing. Olive oil was around for decades before it caught on with the TV food crowd. Now everyone is touting EVOO-a term that I hate. Ninjas were the big thing in the 80's, as were Vaurnet sunglasses. So called "Damascus" pattern welded blades are also coming in strong now, as are Zombies. A knife to me is nothing more than a tool, and I feel naked without my pocketknife. My main kitchen knife is one my Dad made for my Mom out of a power hacksaw blade back in the 50'-60's. It works for me, and that is all I care about. The things in my kitchen are there because they work, not because they have some exotic name, or feature that some celebrity says I have to have. I love knives, and have made some, but I don't get all wound up about angles, micro bevels, and the latest buzz on honing with tanned zombie skin. My interest extends to the point of does it feel right in my hand, does it do the job I want it too, and does it hold an edge long enough to do that job.

              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                The hacksaw blade knife you use sure sounds pretty cool - and a really nice family heirloom with a story behind it.

                That said, I'd bet that if you got a chance to use my main (Japanese) knife fresh from a careful sharpening you'd see what the appeal is, even if it's not for you, per se. I've used plenty of German knives, including the big names - they don't cut like mine does.

              2. re: cowboyardee

                "I haven't read Weinstein (and I'm probably not going to) - what's his argument against Japanese knives?"

                This is very weird. I thought I answered your question, but it seems it has been removed. Wow. That is strange.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I didn't read his book, but gather information from people who read it. He simply belong to the camp which goes by "Let the weight of the knives do the work for you". I repeatedly watched this from his videos, so I won't be surprised that it is his main problem with these light weight Japanese knives.

                  This is, of course, completely opposite from my experience. Originally, I dismissed Japanese knives as simple fashion/hype and started to collect German (Wusthof) knives, but then the Shun bread knife went on sale, and I tried it. Then, I was convinced.

              3. Chem's advice is good - though I'll point out that there are plenty of gyutos (Japanese version of the chef's knife) that have straight edges.

                The main reason to buy a santoku - you want a straight edge profile with just enough of a curve and point to also be useful for meat, but don't want a knife as long as a gyuto (8+ inches).

                There are some santokus that are as curved (or even more curved) as your Shun Kramer, so it's not an absolute thing. Also, if you want to accentuate the differences between what you already have, consider getting a nakiri instead. In a lot of ways, it's similar to a santoku, but it's more of a specialized veggie knife, and better for scooping up food that you already cut - a really fun knife to have.

                41 Replies
                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I have most of the style of Japanese and Japanese/Western style knives ie (santoku,gyuto,sashimi,deba,nakiri) - I prefer the nakiri to the santoku and gyuto for slicing. Of course the deba and sashimi have other purposes. Still my favorite, for slicing is the Chinese CCK 1301. I've just had a friend visit and he tried my knives and subsequently purchased a santoku. I think he found the nakiri to be too large vertically. Makes me laugh when I compare it to my CCKs. Large slicers are far too daunting to many Westerners.

                  1. re: rosetown

                    I love the CCK cleavers and really think they are some of the best values in knives on the market today. But the profile and size and height and the carbon steel blade are all getting a little further from what the OP was originally looking for, so I hesitate in recommending them here.

                    But by all means - to anyone who likes the looks/idea of a Chinese cleaver, I give the CCK cleavers a big thumbs up.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      As always, CCK is huge bang for the money... I love mine, but I have a White #2 from Konosuke on order from JKI, the wait is killing me...

                      1. re: mateo21

                        I gave that knife (the konosuke) serious consideration before settling on my Sakai Yusuke, which I love and which by most accounts is nearly identical. Hope you like the Konosuke - it's good reason to be excited.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Question..What's the difference between the Kono White #2 and the HD?

                          1. re: petek

                            AFAIK, just the steel. The White #2 is hitachi shirogami white #2 steel - a fairly pure carbon steel that sharpens gloriously well, but is fairly reactive and doesn't quite have the edge retention of some other high end steels.

                            The HD is some sort of secretive tool steel, which is stainless (mostly anyway) and said to have excellent edge retention for such a fine, thin edge.

                            The HD also costs more.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              Thanks CBAD.I have a local retailer the carries the Konosuke HD at a very reasonable price.Unfortunately the rosewood d handled model is out of stock right now,so I'm gonna have to wait. :(

                              www.toshoknifearts.com

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Sounds about right... although the reactivity seems rather subjective, and seems to differ by maker. I thought VERY hard about White #2 -- if I have one gripe about my CCk (1103) it's a little too reactive -- and most said White #2 is pretty good.

                                I guess I'll wait and see! My Takagi Nakiri (listed at Epicurean Edge as Blue #1) is very stable in terms of reactivity, but not the easiest to sharpen. I'm willing to give up a little stability for some extra forgiveness in sharpening!

                                1. re: mateo21

                                  "most said White #2 is pretty good."

                                  In my case, white steel seems to be just as reactive as the steel on my CCK if not more. That shouldn't be surprising because white steel is so pure. Not, blue steel is something different.

                    2. re: cowboyardee

                      Hm, that nakiri does look really interesting. We are vegetarians and so really 99.9% of the time it is veggies and fruit that my knives are used on. I do have a serrated (non granton!) knife for bread, and an offset serrated that is the best ever for chopping chocolate, and the slicer does get used on the rare occasion that we make a turkey or chicken for guests, but other than that, it's veggies.

                      I also see that the nakiri is "suited to a more straight-down cutting motion than a push or pull", which sounds like it is a particularly good knife to use on root veggies - yes?

                      I see the Hattori HD is also made in a nakiri, looks like it just a skootch shorter than their santoku (maybe 6" rather then 6.3"?) which is fine by me.

                      Which brings me to the handle question. The only handles that have ever felt comfortable to me are the German/French type... and the Kramer which IMO is the most comfortable of all... which eliminates anything with the traditional Japanese handle a la Shun Classic, etc. The Hattori HD handles do look as if there is enough of it to be comfortable so that's a plus.

                      Here's a question: Are all nakiri blades flat-bladed? Because the Hattori looks flat but then again when I first googled 'nakiri' one of the results was this one which looks almost as if there is a slight bevel about halfway down. And I don't see in the photo anything to suggest a Damascus finish but maybe it's just a bad pic?
                      http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojiro4...

                      1. re: skyline

                        When you see a 'nakiri' with what looks like a bevel halfway down the blade face, that is usually actually a usuba - a single beveled knife that is also quite cool and vegetable oriented, but significantly more specialized, and requiring more practice and adjustment to use properly. I don't recommend a usuba to the uninitiated since they also require specialized sharpening techniques. A nakiri is a reasonable adjustment for people used to Western knives, OTOH, there are some double beveled nakiris that have a grind that looks like a usuba, and I'm actually not positive whether the Tojiro in question is actually a nakiri or a usuba.

                        As for the handle - the only way to know is to try out a Japanese knife. I've come to like round or octagonal handles - called 'wa' handles. Many others also find it to be an easy adjustment. But ideally, borrow one or go try out a cheap wa handled blade or go to a store that sells such knives and ask for a demo.

                        Yes, a nakiri is especially well suited to chopping vegetables, root vegetables very much included.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          I'm glad to know I have not gone completely crazy, i.e., seeing bevels where there aren't any, LOL. :-)

                          The blade bevel is a good point too... since I have always used Western style knives, that means I have always used a knife with a double bevel edge (including the Shun Kramer). It didn't occur to me at first that if I were to get a Japanese santoku it would have a single bevel edge which is something I am definitely not used to and as they say, old habits are hard to break. Old dogs/new tricks and all that. ;-) I'm definitely thinking that a nakiri would be a much better fit for me overall than a santoku.

                          The price is the same for both the Hattori santoku and the nakiri, so no issues there, and I do see on their website that they do take unused returns, so if I hate the handle there is always that option.

                          Actually I have tried out the "wa" handle knives at Williams Sonoma which is the only store around that offers a demo -- did not like the feel at all. I found it both awkward and very distracting, not a good thing to have going on when holding a sharp instrument. ;-)

                          1. re: skyline

                            Santokus are double beveled. As are nakiris. The common knives that are single beveled are the yanagiba, the usuba, and the deba.

                            I think you'll like the Hattori nakiri. Good thinking, looking at the return policy. Shopping for knives online opens up a lot of options for some truly great knives, but you have to be a little extra careful to check on things like that before purchasing.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              Ah, thanks for clearing that up. I got the impression that perhaps the santokus were single beveled because the Hattori nakiri description specifically says "50/50 double beveled edge" whereas the santoku description does not -- so I mistakenly ASSumed that all those Hattori were single beveled unless otherwise indicated.

                              Then again, on further reflection, the multitude of santoku knives on the market must indeed be double bevel edges because the vast majority of home cooks are, like myself, unused to working with a single bevel edge knife.

                              Btw, just curiosity: what is the plural of "santoku" anyway? Is it "one santoku" and "two santoku" (like moose? LOL) or " two santokus"? Somehow I doubt it would be "two santoki" ;-)

                              1. re: skyline

                                "what is the plural of "santoku" anyway? Is it "one santoku" and "two santoku" (like moose? LOL) or " two santokus"? Somehow I doubt it would be "two santoki" ;-)"

                                That is such a good question which I don't have an answer for, but I would also like to know. Meanwhile, there is a knife called gyuto, and I also wonder if it is "gyutos" or "gyuto" for the plural form.

                                1. re: skyline

                                  Basically, you're safe ASSuming that any knife is double beveled if it doesn't specifically say that it is single beveled AND it isn't one of the traditionally single beveled knives (like those I mentioned above). If for some reason a santoku or a nakiri is single beveled - it'll usually say so.

                                  Hattori specifies the double beveled 50/50 edge to avoid confusion and also because a lot of Japanese knives have asymmetrical edges. Asymmetrical edges are still double beveled but have a slight bias that helps keep the knife thin behind its edge and helps release food from the blade easily. All but the most extreme asymmetrical edges (80/20, 90/10, etc) usually go unnoticed by people using the knife.

                                  If you're right handed, you don't really need to worry much about whether a nakiri has an asymmetrical edge, though they seem to cause no end of confusion for people hand sharpening their knives.

                                  1. re: skyline

                                    Hi, skyline. Just FYI, there is no plural inflection of nouns (or verbs, for that matter) in Japanese. However, I think that we should feel free to add an "s" to Japanese nouns as though they were English words. After all, it would sound strange to say, "I saw three Honda on the road today."

                                    1. re: tanuki soup

                                      Oops. Sorry, I didn't notice that la2tokyo already answered your question further down the page.

                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                If one adopts the pinch style of knife handling, balance aside, doesn't the handle style become moot??

                                1. re: rosetown

                                  You're preaching to a choir of one. I'm not very picky about handles as long as they aren't badly designed and the knife is balanced somewhere in the first inch past the heel. But I've had enough knife conversations on this site to realize that most people are far pickier about their handles.

                                  1. re: rosetown

                                    Japanese style cutting utilizes the handle, the pinch grip isn't the be all end all to cutting,

                                      1. re: rosetown

                                        I just reread it this morning, I'm sorry I didn't mean to come off so bitchy, It's just that there are many different grips depending on what you are cutting.

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          Dave,

                                          What you spoke of is true, but rosetown is also correct in his premise. What he said is that if one is to adpot the pinch grip, then the handle style becomes less important -- which is not wrong.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            True enough, and I used the pinch grip for years after reading the cutting book, but saying I'm only ever using the pinch grip to use a knife , is like saying I'm never eating any protein unless it's chicken. It somewhat limits your expeirience

                                            1. re: Dave5440

                                              I think I see where you are coming from. It may all has to do with the word "adopt" and its meaning. You probably think that rosetown is arguing that people should adopt the pinch grip because it is more correct and because it avoids the handle problem. I just read it like "If someone is already using pinch grip, then shouldn't the handle be less of an issue" So I took pinch grip as a given situation. From that, I think rosetown brought up a good point. On one hand, many people use pinch grip. On the other hand, many people also focus heavily on knife handles, which seems slightly at odds.

                                              To use your chicken experience, I originally read rosetown statement more like:

                                              If you eat chicken, doesn't mad cow diease become moot.

                                              The person may indeed try to encourge people eat more chicken, or the person just simply don't understand why a chicken eater worries about mad cow diease.

                                              But I totally see your point. I think depending how one interprets the meaning of "adopt".

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                I have a real hard time with someone saying the "correct" way to hold _ _ _ _ _ _ is, such as a knife, camera, axe, fork whatever it is , is up to the person using it, I've seen a lady use a knife with her foot, that is her correct way as being born without arms necessitated her to hold a knife that way, is the pinch grip usefull, most certainly, but if you are missing your index finger you find another way.

                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                  IMO Talking about the 'correct' way to hold a knife is a lot like talking about the 'correct' way to hold a painter's brush or a drum stick or a ping pong paddle. There are grips that I feel are most definitely more conducive to a beginner learning quickly and easily, ways that promote one thing or another. The pinch grip is one of those ideal grips to teach to someone just learning to use a knife.

                                                  But there are some very skilled users who rely on less common grips, or on bizarre grips, or who vary their grips wildly from task to task. Calling their grip incorrect would be ridiculous, since what really matters is how efficiently and precisely you can use a knife, not whether your technique is textbook approved.

                                                  In other words - do what works for you. But if you don't know what works for you, try the pinch grip.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    The pinch grip just isn't comfortable for me regardless of the knife being used. And I do use a slightly different grip depending on the actual knife/handle that I am using. Also, I injured my right wrist about 10 years ago, resulting in a mild level of carpal tunnel syndrome (I have to wear the brace at night in order to keep it relatively straight) that also responds to weather conditions; damp weather will make it get achy enough to notice though not bad enough to interfere with using it. Likewise if I've spent too much time at once on the computer, LOL. So my grip does vary depending on how my wrist and hand are feeling on any given day. That's probably why I am so fussy about the handles on my knives: If a handle feels even a little awkward to hold even on a "good wrist day" it is sure not going to be a pleasure to use on a bad one, LOL.

                                                    This is also why I prefer a the larger Western style handles to the slim straight Japanese style ones. I just find it easier to tweak my grip on a handle that has some definite contouring to it.

                                                    1. re: skyline

                                                      SkyLine-Also, I injured my right wrist about 10 years ago, resulting in a mild level of carpal tunnel syndrome
                                                      Are you eligeble for the surgery? I had both hands done this winter and I wish I had done it 10 yrs ago instead of suffering all these years, There is still some pain in the palms from the muscle being cut but oh it is so much better.

                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                        Oh it's not nearly the level that would make me consider surgery; but then again, I'm the kind of person who has to be in horribly agonizing pain, or have a life threatening illness, before considering surgery, LOL -- I am definitely knife-phobic in THAT regard! It is manageable by a combination of the night brace, prudence when it comes to overuse, and Advil on days when the weather and/or overuse makes it kick up. I'm all about the "ounce of prevention" philosophy for sure. Wish I had thought about that before I decided to hand-scrape an entire vintage oak floor in the living room, after the idiot spacklers had failed to put anything down to protect it. Stupid stupid stupid (them AND me).

                                                        My ex had full-blown carpal tunnel and after about 5 years of suffering with it, had the surgery... and bitterly regretted it. The carpal tunnel wasn't all that much better (or perhaps that was the excuse to keep using the Percodan and/or Vicodin, who the heck knows???) and to add insult to injury -- or should it be the other way around? -- ended up with "trigger finger" as well, because of the muscle cutting in the hand. Not a positive outcome to say the least. :-/ And the doctor was a reknowned hand surgeon in a major metro practice, go figure. So you never know.

                                                        1. re: skyline

                                                          That's too bad , I went to a plastic surgeon, 10 min each hand good as new and I had zero pain with the first hand , and one day that I would call an 8 out of 10 for pain.

                                    1. re: rosetown

                                      "If one adopts the pinch style ... doesn't the handle style become moot?"

                                      Not for me. But I'm funny that way...

                                      1. re: Eiron

                                        It was not a statement, but rather, a simple, perhaps simplistic question, with 2 question marks. I learned a lot from subsequent posts. Sorry for derailing the major thrust of the thread.

                                        1. re: rosetown

                                          Don't be sorry for derailing , it is evolving conversation and it was pertinent to said conversation

                                          1. re: rosetown

                                            Like Dave said, don't be sorry. I'm simply replying to your question. The OP has already made a purchase, so I didn't see much reason to elaborate. Just more of a quick statement on my part that I still care about handle shape with a pinch grip.

                                            1. re: Eiron

                                              Stop picking on rosetown. He is my buddy.

                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                        "When you see a 'nakiri' with what looks like a bevel halfway down the blade face, that is usually actually a usuba"

                                        Usually, that is the case, but this Tojiro just looks a bit strange. I think it is a real nakiri (double bevel) and not an usuba (single bevel). A santoku from the same series also look funny due to the Damascus pattern:

                                        http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todpdas...

                                        bluewayjapan from ebay has posted some really nice pictures to illustrate this effect. You can click through the four photos:

                                        http://www.auctiva.com/hostedimages/s...

                                        Edited: both Chefknivestogo and bluewayjapan have claimed these are double bevel knives.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Wow that definitely is some effective optical illusion. Handsome looking knife as well. I am not familiar with that knife brand, how do they compare with others in the $100-$150 price range? (I did order the Hattori nakiri but am just curious for future reference, LOL)

                                          1. re: skyline

                                            "I am not familiar with that knife brand"

                                            It is Tojiro. The same knife brand you listed above in your "Aug 16, 2011 12:04AM " post. You forgot? :)

                                            http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojiro4...

                                            Tojiro DP are known to be very good value knife -- probably one of the least expensive and yet very functional Japanese knives. Hattori HD and Tojiro DP have very similar construction scheme. Both have VG-10 steel as the core steel, and both have softer stainless steel for cladding the VG-10 core. Some people claim Hattori HD is slightly better. I don't know for sure, but cowboyardee does because he has played with both.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Oh, I was using "unfamiliar with" in the context of not knowing its comparative quality, and/or never having used or owned any... not in the context of "never having heard the name before". :-)

                                              For instance I am familiar with the Revol brand of bakeware, having seen it for sale online but I don't own any and so I'm not familiar with how it compares to, let's say Pillivuyt. LeCreuset, or Emile Henry in performance, durability, etc. -- and what specifically the differences are between Revol and the others, if any.

                                              Sorry if I misled accidentally. :-)

                                  2. While I have a more pedestrian Wusthof Santoku than the ones mentioned here, but I prefer it to my Henckels chef's knife. It is lighter and more maneuverable than the chef's knife. It is my daily driver.

                                    1. I agree with everything Chem said in the first post. For me a santoku and a gyuto or chefs knife is basically interchangeable. I think anyone who makes a huge deal about the shape being different is exaggerating to some point. I prefer a santoku to a chefs knife because I like to use the front 1/3 of the knife for detail work, and the extra belly helps for that, but I don't really have a problem using a chef's knife for the same thing. The main benefit I see is the greater ability to push cut a very thin vegetable like a chive...with a flatter knife you are more assured to completely cut through, rather than have that little connected piece at the very bottom that you sometimes tend to get with a more curved knife, especially when you have a huge pile of chives or scallions or something like that.

                                      BTW Chem: The plural for santoku is santoku. The plural for anything in Japanese is the same as the singular.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: la2tokyo

                                        "The plural for anything in Japanese is the same as the singular."

                                        Thank you, I didn't know that. :-)

                                        1. re: la2tokyo

                                          That may be the plural when using the word in Japanese, but isnt' necessarily the case when using it in English. :) What it comes down to - is the plural a grammatical operation on the word, or a semantically distinct word. We have debates about plurals of Italian words because, to English writers, 'panino' and 'panini' look like different words.

                                          A way around this foreign plural question is to use the foreign word as an adjective - hence the thread subject line 'santoku knives' (and 'panini press'). In English the adjective does not have to agree with its noun in number or gender.

                                          Another question - what doe santoku mean? Isn't it the equivalent to 'all-purpose', or '3 purpose'? In effect it's a general purpose knife.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            I believe it's 3 virtues , slicing,dicing,mincing

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Yes, it means three virtues. The most popular interpretation is three cutting actions as Dave mentioned: slicing dicing and mincing. There is also the other interpretation which means vegetables, meat and fish. The important point is that it refers to an "all-purpose" knife.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                That is interesting, and logical. :-)

                                                Now having just ordered one you know I have to ask if anyone knows what "nakiri" means (tried a search but didn't come up with a definition other than saying that it is a type of knife).

                                                I am woefully ignorant of the meaning of Japanese words other than that "koro" means "little heart" or "tiny spirit" (according to a friend who had a Japanese Bobtail kitten with that name).

                                                1. re: skyline

                                                  Well, Nakiri-bocho (菜切り包丁) lieterally means vegetable cutting knife, as indicated here in wikipedia:

                                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakiri_b...

                                                  Here is another page and another phrase:

                                                  菜切り包丁 (nakiri-bōchō): Japanese knife used for cutting vegetables

                                                  http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%88%...

                                                  菜 means vegetables

                                                  切り means cutter or cutting form

                                          2. My nakiri arrived today and I am amazed that I got it so quickly - I only ordered it 3 days ago, and late in the day at that! I'm not used to that kind of efficient service, LOL. They sent it via Express Mail which is another marvel considering they only charged $7 for shipping which in today's world of online shopping isn't out of line IMHO. I mean, it's not like they're Amazon or anything. :-)

                                            The knife is beautiful, the handle is amazingly comfortable (more than I expected it to be, in fact!) and it cuts like a dream. I'm especially glad now that one of my blocks is the magnetic one because there's no way it would ever fit into a typical slotted one, LOL

                                            Cowboy, thanks again for recommending the nakiri in response to my OP! :-)

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: skyline

                                              "My nakiri arrived today and I am amazed that I got it so quickly"

                                              You bought it from JapaneseChefsknife? It is very fast.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                Yes, from JapaneseChefsKnife. Maybe since I am a new customer they wanted to make an especially good impression? ;-)

                                                1. re: skyline

                                                  They are just crazy fast. I am always amazed how fast the mailing service from Japan to US. I have to say that it feels faster than buying knives within the US. I bought a CarboNext knife from Koki (JapaneseChefsknife) and many people have bought knives from him. The knives just always arrive fast.

                                                  :)

                                                  A few of us like to write our knife experience, like these:

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794677

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794174

                                                  Please write a review of your Hattori HD Nakiri if you have a chance. Thanks.

                                                  1. re: skyline

                                                    Oh my goodness, that is a beautiful knife.

                                                2. re: skyline

                                                  Glad you like it. Hope you find the time to write up a review or tell us how you're liking it after getting used to it for a few weeks.

                                                3. While, as others have said, they're slightly better for a certain cutting style, I'm personally equally happy using a chef's knife (German or Japanese), Chinese cleaver, or santoku / nakiri. I do think there is a certain degree of trendiness in the santoku, but doesn't mean it's not a good general purpose cutting knife. I have a feeling that for some folks, a santoku, which is often shorter than an equivalent chef's knife (because you're using a more up-down motion than a rocking motion) is a little less intimidating than an 8-10" knife.

                                                  Like the OP, I'm vegetarian, so almost all the cutting in our house is of fruit / vegetables. These days, I reach for the Chinese cleaver more often than not. For heavier stuff (squashes, etc), I might reach for a bone cleaver or a heavier duty German chef's knife.

                                                  Most santoku I've held have a little bit thinner blade than the chef's knives I've used. If you're already happy with the knives you have, no reason to go out of your way to buy something else - if you get the opportunity to try one out in person first to see if it's comfortable for you, that might be a good idea.