Yes, the Santoku-vs-chef-knife dilemma is unquestionably debatable. People who prefer the first one will stand by it in any debate.
On the other side, people who prefer the chef’s knife will believe that using the Japanese knives will never give you the same results of a regular chef’s knife.
In case you are new to the world of knives and blades, and you wonder what differences are between Santoku (Bunka) and Chef’s knife, this article is made especially for you.
But the real question that should be asked actually is, “what are the differences between them when they appear to look nearly the same?”
If you have zero experience in this field, it will be hard for you to pick out any difference.
In spite of everything, there is no doubt that both of them are flexible and versatile enough to be regarded as the jack of all trades.
With an eye toward understanding the differences between both of them, we should go with the similarities first, so we can appreciate what things are these knives capable of doing.
If you think that it is not a big deal to know the differences between them, then you are not seeking a professional position in the world of cutlery.
If all you know about these knives that the Santoku knife is the just the Japanese version of the chef’s knife that is considered to have the Western-style, then you should read this article for more interesting information.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife| the similarities between them
Right from the word go, we will start with the common features between the Santoku and the chef’s knife.
You have to know that both of them are general-objectives knives and not a specialized one, unlike the special knives for cutting meat as the carving, boning, or the trimming knives.
You can use them in multi-uses that range from cutting, chopping to dicing, and mincing. As for the garnishing, I would prefer a regular paring knife.
This type of knives will be seen in both professional kitchens in the 5-star hotels and in regular home kitchens.
As for the materials, you will find the standard materials in both of them, either a ceramic or metal.
There is a controversy about which is better, whether the ceramic or the steel.
Some go with the steel, arguing that it is more durable and will be better in resisting the corrosion.
However, I have to mention that the Japanese steel blades, as in the Santoku knives, are thinner than the chef’s knives.
Finally, you can see that it is true that there are a lot of similarities between the Japanese and the chef’s knife.
However, there are also differences that you should bear in mind before choosing one of them, so you don’t waste your money on the wrong choice.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife | what are the differences between them?
After mentioning the main similarities between them, let’s tackle the differences. The main differences are simply in the blade and their origin.
You may think that an origin is just a place where the knife is produced, but this is not true.
Different places result in different features and even differences in the uses.
For a better understanding of the different parts between them in an easy way, we will tackle several areas for every knife separately.
This way will give you the chance to see each difference separately so that you can see its strengths as well as its weak points.
In the end, you will be able to understand which knife is appropriate for you.
There is no one better than the other. Both of these knives are strong and well-constructed.
The point is that you are choosing the one that will match your daily uses.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife | the features of the Santoku knife
Yes, it can be said that Japanese products are high-quality ones. This type of knives, which is made in Japan, is one of these top-quality products.
If you think that a Japanese knife can only be used to cut the Asian food, then you are mistaken, as this knife is made specifically for a variety of uses.
However, the technique of using it will definitely be different than western-style knives.
We cannot mention the features without talking about the blade as the blade of this type of knife is the defining point of its properties.
The “three uses” knives come with a wide sheepsfoot blade without any presence of a tip.
Do you want to know more about a sheepsfoot blade?
It is a kind of blades that features a straight edge as well as a spine that bends down to meet it at the point of the blade.
Since this type of knife is a Japanese one, its blade is much thinner than the chef’s blade. These thin blades can be used mainly for refined slicing.
What’s more, you can find a single bevel knife, and you can also find a double bevel from the same type.
If you don’t know what the significance of the bevel is, all you have to know is that it is the area that is established to shape the knife edge.
Unlike other types of knives, Santoku ones have no bolster. Many people may argue about this issue, as the bolster is considered to be a finger guard for your safety.
Without this part, you may face injuries much more easily.
However, most of these knives come with a perfect balance so that you can hold them easily and effortlessly.
Bearing in mind that its blade is thinner, then it is more likely to be lighter in weight to hold.
Some of these Santoku knives come with a Granton edge that prevents your food from sticking into the edge.
This stunning feature facilitates the process of cleaning and cutting.
Finally, most of them come with a size that ranges from 5 to 7.9- inch.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife | the features of the Chef’s knife
On the flip side, there comes the chef’s knife, the origin is the main core of the differences, as this type of knives is made and produced in both Germany and France.
So, the next time anyone asks you to state a difference between a Santoku and a chef’s knife, you should start with their origin.
Different origins always result in different shapes and properties.
As a beginning, the spine in this knife is much thicker than the Santoku knife. You can easily spot that the blade is broader in the chef’s knife.
Upwardly, the wide blade curves creating a point. What I really like about this blade is that it offers you different serrated versions.
You can easily buy the serrated option from this type to cut your bread with.
Unlike the santoku knives, you will mainly find that this knife comes with a two-sided bevel.
Again another notable difference in the features is that this type of knives comes with a bolster, unlike the other one.
Taking into account that the blade is broader and the spine is thicker, then it is more likely to be much heavier in weight.
If you hold both of them, you will undoubtedly feel that the chef’s knife is a lot heavier than the Santoku one.
Just as the Santoku knives, this type can also come with a Granton edge.
It is always advisable to look for a one that comes with this type of edge to prevent any sticking.
Lastly, these sizes in this type are much taller than the other one. The sizes range from 6 to 12 inches. Even the blade length itself is longer in this type.
Most of the people prefer the 8-inch knife. If you are one of the professional chefs, you may go with 10 or 12 inches.
After reading the features of both knives, you can easily identify that the key differences are in the blade and the bevel.
In the chef’s knife, you can easily identify a tip, unlike the Bunka one.
The absence and the presence of the tip make a difference in the way of cutting itself.
The second thing we mentioned is the bevel that is mainly double in the chef’s knife and can be single in the santoku.
The difference in bevel changes the angle in the sharpening process.
You can use a much smaller angle of 15 degrees only for the single bevel instead of 30 for the double-bevel angle.
It is essential to understand that while using the Santoku knife, you don’t use the rocking motion technique; instead, you chop your food down in just one single motion.
On the contrary, you use the rocking motion technique with the chef’s blade.
Hence, you have to bear in mind every use for every knife you have so that you can use it in an ideal way.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife | what are the uses of the santoku knife?
Let’s be honest if you bought an expensive knife for and use in the wrong situation, it will be useless.
That is why it is always important to understand the uses of the knife before buying it so that you can make the best out of it.
If you are a linguaphile and you love to know words from other languages, you may have come across the word ‘Santoku’ which simply means the ‘three virtues’ or ‘three uses.’
Can you name simple three uses of a knife other than chopping, mincing, and dicing? These are the main purposes of this type of knives.
Chop your veggies and dice your fruits but avoid cutting large and huge amounts of meat and these delicate tasks, so you don’t end up with damaging the blade.
If you are a chef at a 5-star hotel and your job is to make these fancy expensive plates that consist of thin slices of food, then you will definitely need one of these knives that are made to give you the thinnest slice.
You can use this santoku knife to mince some beef for your tasty burger.
With this knife, you can also cut a thin slice of cheese to melt it over your meat.
Mince some herbs to garnish your food with this Santoku knife.
Have a look at this article concerning A handful of fresh herbs for extra information.
The blade in this knife is good enough to lift your food from a cutting board into a pan or a plate.
Do you love doing sushi at home as one of the regular home cooks or you are a professional chef in an Asian restaurant?
If yes, you need to cut these slices of salmon over the top of your rolls that will be easily achieved by this type of knives.
Cutting thin slices is what distinguishes this Japanese knife from any other one in the market.
People with small hands will appreciate this type of knives as it comes in a shorter size, unlike the chef’s knife. Hence, it will fit perfectly in your hand.
It is worth noting that the blade length is shorter in this type of knives.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife | what are the uses of the chef’s knife?
Virtually, you won’t find that huge difference between the two blades, but when it comes to the uses, you will find them.
Thanks to the flexibility of this knife, it can tackle lots of your kitchen tasks perfectly.
However, once more, try to avoid using this knife for cutting huge chops of meat or poultry and stick with the small quantities.
Do you always suffer from that short memory of a goldfish and forget to carry out the food from a refrigerator earlier?
Both of these knives will not be the most suitable option for you, as you may find yourself with a broken knife
Fortunately, there are special options for cutting frozen food instead of doing it with normal knives.
France is known for its famous French baguette that you have to try if you ever got the chance to visit this lovely country.
You can see the professional chefs using their serrated chef’s knife to get the bread.
In case that you want to cut your homemade baguette just as the noble Frenchmen, then go with the serrated options of the chef’s knife.
Unlike the Santoku knives, this type has a tip that will be ideal in separating the chicken parts, and it will act just like a perfect knife to cut your chicken.
Choose any favorite type of cheese, whether cheddar, mozzarella, or even parmesan, and cut it easily with the chef’s knife.
If you are aiming at making these thin slices, then you should choose the santoku knife over this one.
Santoku-vs-chef-knife | How to care for these knives
Whether you choose the santoku or the chef’s knife, you expect either of them to last for a couple of years with you in good condition.
Hence, you need to maintain these knives carefully so that you can use them for a long time without any need for a replacement.
Tit for tat is a strategy here. You give something, and you will get just as what you give.
If you maintain your knife properly in all aspects, including the cleaning, storing, and sharpening part, you will get a sharp knife for a long time that is ready to use at any time.
Handing washing is recommended in whichever of the two knives. Exposing these knives to the high pressure of the dishwasher will lead to their damage.
That is why it is always important to care for them by washing them by hand.
It is preferable to avoid using the scourers while washing them to prevent any possible damage.
What you really should try is using a wooden box for storing them after finishing, which will save them and keep them clean and safe.
Sharpening the Santoku knife
We don’t sharpen knives as an additional step or a bonus. Instead, it is a mandatory process to keep your knife on the run.
The main purpose of sharpening is in restoring the sharpness of the blade that locates in the angle.
Not only dull knives are useless, but also these knives can be dangerous and cause a lot of injuries for you.
It doesn’t end here as dull knives always result in wrong cutting, which results in losing a lot of the food aesthetic and value.
You can always find the best knives reviews in our page KitchenZad
As the pre-mentioned information states, most of the Santoku knives come with only a single bevel and are usually produced from sturdy steel.
Hence, you can easily make a finer angle on one side of the blade.
As for the angle required, you sharpen on a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 angle degrees.
Choosing the right angle will give you the perfect shape of the blade; as a result, cutting will be a breeze for you.
Due to the absence of a bolster, it is always easier to sharpen a Santoku knife, unlike the chef’s one that may use a bit more effort.
How to sharpen a santoku knife
If you are confused about using which tool to sharpen your Bunka knife, then you shouldn’t hesitate and go with the whetstones.
This type of stone gives you the ultimate sharpness, unlike other expensive methods.
Reading the instructions carefully is always a priority before applying; you can always watch tutorials before applying.
You can read the article How to Use a Whetstone for more detailed information.
The required tools
- Bunka knife
Step 1: Submerge the stone
Start by soaking the stone in the water for a minimum of 45 minutes.
Step 2: Adjust the coarse side
When using a whetstone, you should start with the coarse side, then adjust the correct angle of sharpness.
Step 3: Slide your knife on the stone
In this step, you will start sharpening by sliding your knife back and forth smoothly without changing the angle.
Step 4: Sharpen the whole knife.
You should make sure that the whole blade is being sharpened from the edge of the blade up till the handle.
Step 5: Repeat the process
If you own a double-sided bevel, then you should repeat the process for the other side until you get a sharp cutting edge.
Step 6: It’s time for the finer stone
After sharpening, you need to swipe to the finer side of the stone or use a separate fine stone to give a mirror polish to your knife.
Step 7: Clean the knife
It’s time to clean and wash your knife with soapy water, then dry it thoroughly. Finally, enjoy the razor-sharp cutting edge of your knife.
It’s not preferable to use sharpening steel in the case of the Bunka knife as these knives are made of a much thinner steel the chef’s knife.
Sharpening the chef’s knife
Just as the Santoku knives, it is preferable to stick with the whetstone for the sharpening part.
If you have experience in using a whetstone, this part will be a breeze for you.
If not, you should watch videos and try to learn about using these stones, as they will make a huge difference to your knives.
In this type of knives, we will start with a minimum of 15 reaching 20 angle degrees for the two sides of the knife.
Unlike the Santoku knives, you can use a sharpening steel rod for the honing part, as the blade is much thicker in this one.
Practicing is the key to success in any task, including this one. Hence, it would be best if you tried multiple times until you master the process.
It is always preferable to stick to the instructions of the stone you brought as it may differ from one to another.
However, here are some general steps for sharpening your chef’s knife with sharping steel.
How to sharpen a chef’s knife
The required tools
- sharpening steel rod
- chef’s knife
Step 1: Hold both the knife and the steel
Grasp the handle in your master hand and the sharpening rod in the other one.
Let both of them point upwards. Finally, let them intersect in the apex.
You can always learn from the best; Gordon Ramsay, on how to use a sharpening rod in this video,
Step 2: Adjust the measurements
Place the bottom of the blade against the rod for an approximately 3 cm.
- Make sure to adjust the right angle and to maintain it throughout the process.
Step 3: Start sharpening
Make a medium force by pulling the knife against the sharpening rod until you reach the tip of the blade.
Step 4: Repeat the process
You need to repeat this process from 5 to 10 times until you get a sharp cutting edge for your blade.
- Maintaining an angle is way more important than doing the process quickly.
After reviewing both knives, right now, you will be able to understand the differences between them and to make the right decision considering the best for you.
If you care more for making thin slices of food for decoration, desserts, or in Asian food, then you should choose the santoku knives.
But if you prefer a knife that will help you separate the chicken parts easily, then don’t hesitate and get a chef’s knife.
The two, either together or separately, are strong options for your kitchen that will help you achieve a lot of tasks easily and effortlessly.
Try to use a well-constructed cutting board that will be soft on these knives so that they can last for a longer time.
A cutting board is an important element in maintaining the lifespan of a knife.
If you tried any of them, you can tell us in a comment about your experience.