If you’re someone who spends a lot of their free time in the kitchen, whipping up their favorite recipes or just experimenting, you may be aware of the different cuts of food that different knives can give you. Some knives are actually designated with certain functions in mind – here, we’re going to be talking about two such knives that might sound slightly unfamiliar to you at first if you’re not well-versed with Japanese knife types.
Don’t fret, however – telling the difference between the two is extremely easy and will help you pick out the knife that is most suited to your usage. Trust us, you don’t want to pick a knife and apply it to a cut of meat – and the next thing you know, you’re struggling with the thickness. To avoid situations like this in the kitchen, read over which knife you should choose – no matter if you’re a beginner, an amateur, or a knife-wielding expert.
What Is A Santoku Knife?
Directly translated from Japanese, Santoku means “three virtues.” Naturally, we can assume that this wonder-knife can perform three such virtues. But what are these virtues, and how can they make your job in the kitchen easier?
The Santoku knife specializes in three usages – mincing, dicing, and slicing. The knife was primarily made keeping Japanese housewives in mind, which owes to the knife’s small size. If you’re someone who has large hands, you might find yourself struggling with the handling of this knife. Alternatively, you might find yourself thriving at the agility that the blade of this knife has to offer. Yoshihiro santoku knives are our favorite; they look premium and work like a charm.
What Is A Gyuto (Chef’s Knife?)
This knife is the true multi-purpose knife of Japanese households and is quickly perpetrating Western households as well. The term “Gyuto” means “beef knife” and is considered to be an all-rounder in the kitchen. While its specialty is cutting large batches of meat, it can also be used for most other things in your kitchen. We have a separate guide that rounds up the uses of Gyuto knives that you can refer to.
With a long, heavy blade and a steady handle, there’s nothing you can throw its way that it can’t accomplish. Its main purposes are chopping, cubing, and other forms of cutting that require force and not precision.
Santoku Vs Gyuto | The Differences
1. Blade Design
The Santoku, as mentioned before, was made keeping the needs of Japanese housewives in mind. This knife is definitely more petite and connects directly to the hand, without a bolster for support. The tip of the Santoku is flatter than any other chef’s knife, which makes for utilization of the tip in cutting. This flat tip ensures that it is able to perform slicing motions with ease. The blade itself is quite thin and allows for more precision than most budget knives, while also being flat – meaning that you can scrape all your cut vegetables with ease. Overall, the blade design induces more precise and smoother cuts.
The Gyuto is an absolute delight for those who are amateurs in the kitchen. It’s extremely versatile and fulfills the roles for all your chef’s knives in one. Its agility comes from its unique design – different from Western knives, the Gyuto has a flat heel and its balance point runs further along its tip as well. These features all contribute to the rough motions that beginners usually display while learning cutting techniques. Beginner chefs are put at ease with the blade design and do not feel too intimidated about the task at hand.
2. Blade Length
With the Santoku, the size can be both a help and a hindrance. It’s smaller than knives that you may be used to in the Western kitchen, and will thus be a total no-go if you have large hands. Santoku knives are not longer than 5”-7.9”, so this may be a definite problem. Or if you’re someone who has small hands or simply doesn’t prefer larger knives because you think they’re unwieldy, then Santoku knives may be the best option for you. It also makes it easier for your food to have more precise cuts since it’s easy to miss the mark with longer blades.
Gyuto knives are well longer than Santoku knives. Averaging at around 10”-12”, this knife ensures that you spend less time in the kitchen cutting and chopping. Unlike the Santoku knife, you can apply more pressure to a Gyuto knife.
You can cut any form of meat and vegetable, despite their size. Although there are special meat cleavers and nakiri knives for cutting meat and vegetables respectively; a gyuto pretty much suffices for the need of an average home chef. Since the tip of the knife is pointed, you can aim for higher accuracy during food prep. If you’re an amateur chef, however, we do recommend you to go for the average Gyuto sizes – and not the even longer blades that are common with trained professionals.
The Santoku, owing to its small size, is substantially more lightweight than other chef’s knives. It’s all about the comfort – some chefs would simply be at greater ease handling a knife that they can wield like an extension of their limb. While this certainly takes away from the magic of smooth cuts, it can definitely make your work quicker.
Since the Gyuto knife is well longer than the Santoku knife, it contributes to its weight as well. If you’re someone who likes to feel the weight of their knife while working, this is the perfect investment for you. While slightly heavy, it makes the knife sturdy and increases the force you can put with every cut.
It is popular for Santoku knives to only be single-beveled. Bevels in knives are indicated by the tapering that occurs, usually just before the edge of the knife. Some knives are sharpened from one end only, while in some knives, chiseling occurs on both ends. It’s popular for Japanese knives to only be single-beveled since Asian cuisine is known for highly specialized cuts. Similarly, Santoku knives are single-beveled as well, but due to the advent of Western cooking, some Santoku knives are double-beveled now. The single-beveled Santoku knives, despite their small stature, make them incredibly powerful. With cuts of meat that require great amounts of precision, you can manage to achieve the perfect cut every time.
Gyuto knives are double-beveled, and this knife type may be familiar to most Western chefs out there who are unacquainted with Asian cuisine. Have a look at this article to read a more comprehensive take on single and double beveled knives.
However, the difference between the Gyuto knife and the ordinary double-beveled Western knives is that Gyuto knives are substantially sharper, despite their bevel type. This not only contributes to their versatility with cutting all sorts of food items but makes it so that you don’t have to struggle with the toughest cuts. It’s truly an all-rounder through and through!
The Santoku knife, often being mostly single-beveled, is much sharper than traditional chef’s knives. This must be considered when sharpening or honing a santoku. This knife is beveled anywhere from 12-15 degrees, which makes the edge of the knife extremely steep. This results in the usage of power-slicing, a technique that makes your cutting experience much smoother than before. It may not be suited to cut tougher pieces of meat, however, and the blade may be damaged this way. There are specially designed meat cleavers to cut through tough pieces of meat.
The Gyuto, as we mentioned, is usually double-beveled. This offers familiarity to chefs accustomed to Western cuisine, though it takes away from the sharpness of the knife slightly. On both sides, the Gyuto knife is beveled at 16-22 degrees, making it more suited to power-chopping instead of slicing. It also takes away from the precision value a bit, and you’re left with a knife that can cut through almost anything – yet with a greatly reduced sense of accuracy.
What is a Santoku used for? The Santoku knife, like we said before, is a knife of “three virtues.” Mincing, dicing, and slicing are the three virtues that the Santoku knives are infamous for. Owing to the blade design and physical properties of the Santoku knife, it is perfect for an agile tool that can cut smaller foods with precision. The three cutting techniques of mincing, slicing, and dicing all require a blade that can cut with ease and with great accuracy. Hence, Santoku knives will be your companion if you’re new to these techniques and want perfect cuts.
The Gyuto knife, also referred to as the “cow’s blade”, is a knife that is the staple of most Japanese households. What is the Gyuto knife used for? It’s extremely versatile and is a tool that you can rely on to get the job done. It aids in rough chopping, cubing, and since it’s double-beveled and large – it can cut through almost any meat and vegetable. If you utilize both push and pull cuts in your cooking process, you will find that the Gyuto knife will serve you for quite a while. It offers you more precision than regular Western knives yet less than Santoku knives, so keep that difference in mind once you’re investing in either one!
Verdict | Santoku Vs Gyuto: Which Is Better?
Before investing in either the Santoku or Gyuto, we encourage you to think closely about what your needs in the kitchen are. The greatest similarity between the two is how versatile they are – they can absolve you of most of your kitchen responsibilities easily, and can be quite a joy to use. Both of these knives are designed for individuals who consider cooking a necessity rather than a hobby. However, if you’re a professional or you’re looking to branch out further into different avenues of cooking, you can definitely look up some higher-end versions of these knives. Some brands that we recommend you look into are Cangshan Cutlery, Dalstrong, Wushthof and Kamikoto among others.
An important difference to be keeping in mind with the Gyuto vs Santoku, however, is the Santoku knives can be slightly easier on your finances than the Gyuto knife. If you’re someone who finds themselves looking for accurate meat cuts, then we recommend you to go for the Santoku knife. Contrarily, if you’re someone who cooks large batches at once and want the job done quickly, the Gyuto knife is your friend. Whichever one you choose, it’s definite that you’re going to find much use out of it in the future.