Gyuto vs Santoku - Which is right for me?

by Ryan Shaffer April 15, 2021 4 min read

Japanese Kitchen knives

If you have just started down the path of finding a new, high quality kitchen knife, we would like to introduce you to the niche of Japanese Kitchen knives.  From ancient Japan to current day Japan, knife and sword making are held in high regard and honor. The attention to detail and the high standards of workmanship put into crafting Japanese knives isfelt even while doing the more mundane tasks found in your kitchen.

Companies like Hasu-Seizo are dedicated to bringing these handcrafted Japanese blades to everyone for use in their kitchen. If you don't already have your own Japanese kitchen knives, then the odds are good that you are wading into unfamiliar territory. Let's break down and explore two of the most popular Japanese kitchen blades, the Gyuto and Santoku knife.

Today, we want to highlight two of the most common Japanese kitchen knives while exploring their similarities, advantages, and core differences.

What is a Santoku Knife?

The Santoku knife is known as a large, all-purpose blade. The Santoku knife, which translates to 'Three Uses', is a relatively common and popular knife throughout kitchens in Japan. Typically, shorter than the traditional chef's knife, usually around 180mm, these knives feature broad and relatively blunt blades that feature a wide setting.

The Santoku blades were initially brought forth by Japanese craftsmen in the mid-20th century, following World War II. A blend of Western design and Japanese influence, it wasn't surprising to see the popularity of the knife grow.

The Santoku knife does not feature very much of a curve to the blade itself, so this isn't the ideal knife for rocking and cutting motions. Despite this fact, the Santoku knife is ideal for long and even strokes, often benefiting from the wide blade for the purpose of transferring food.

As you research Japanese kitchen knives you may see the name Bunka, this style of knife is interchangeable with a Santoku however some knife makers such as Global have started making both, with slightly different edge profiles.  In the U.S. the name Bunka is used specifically to denote a Kengata Santoku , which is a standard Santoku with a downturned tip.  The Kengata Santoku is useful for more detail slicing and, let's be honest, looks pretty awesome. The term Kengata translates to "sword-like" so it's no wonder they look cool.

Ideally, individuals will use their Santoku knife for the purposes of slicing, chopping, and dicing their food products. Most Santoku knives are created with high-quality steel, such as the Santoku Knife 180 mm Damascus 33 Layer blade by Hasu-Seizo.

Santoku Rainbow Aoniko Sakai Takayuki

Key Traits and Benefits of a Santoku Knife

  • Blade length typically between 160mm and 180mm
  • Edge profile is minimal curve
  • Ideal for Slicing, Chopping, and Dicing
  • Crafted from High-Quality Stainless Steel or High Carbon Blue Steel

As Santoku knives continue to thrive across Western and Eastern markets, knife manufacturers are bringing more and more optionsto market. Key considerations while shopping should be made toward material quality, blade length, handle style, and blade width.

Ginsan Santoku Sakai Takayuki

What is a Gyuto Knife?

The Japanese Gyuto knife refers simply to a traditional Japanese chef's knife. The term 'Gyuto' itself translates to 'Chef's Knife' which should bring to mind the intention of this utility. Gyuto knives are found within traditional kitchens in Japan as well as high-end restaurants where Western food is served. Originating out of the 19th century during the Meiji period, these blades were quickly adopted for use by admirers in the West.

The Gyuto knife is traditionally made from Yasugi (High Carbon), or stainless steel, which was the material used to craft Japanese swords. Tough, resilient, and incredibly durable, the best of the best Japanese Gyuto Knives can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Gyuto Aoniko Japanese Chef Knife Sakai Takayuki

Shaped similarly to traditional Western chef's knives, the Gyuto knife is traditionally thinner with a double-bevel edge.  Additionally, the Gyuto spine curves down toward the edge more at the tip than a traditional European chef’s knife which creates an edge with less of a curved profile than the European chef’s knife.

Key Traits and Benefits of a Gyuto Knife

  • Blade length starting at 180mm ranging up to 240mm
  • Edge profile includes a curve
  • Ideal for chopping, including rock-chopping, and push-cutting/pull-cutting
  • Crafted from high-quality stainless steel or high carbon blue steel

Gyuto Damascus Sakai Takayuki

Santoku vs Gyuto: Which Knife Is Right for Me?

Understanding the key traits defining both the Gyuto Knife and the Santoku Knife can help to clarify your shopping requirements. However, how do we know which blade to bring home to your kitchen? The truth is that the best home kitchen environments will likely carry both blades as while they have significant overlap, they also have enough differences to make each useful.

Key Differences Between Santoku and Gyuto Knives

  • Size – Santoku knives generally only go up to 180mm where Gyuto knives start at 180mm and go up to 270mm
  • Edge profile – While the Santoku has more of a flat profile the Gyuto has a curved edge profile making it more suited for rock-chopping

Similarities Between Santoku and Gyuto Knives

  • Ideal for chopping and push-cutting/pull-cutting
  • Versatile multi-use kitchen knives
  • Crafted from high-quality stainless steel or high carbon blue steel

No matter the blade chosen for your needs, consider learning the proper sharpening and maintenance practices to get the most utility out of your purchase.

Outfit Your Kitchen With Hasu-Seizo

The team at Hasu-Seizo is dedicated to providing its customers with access to the finest-quality authentic handcrafted knives in the greater Seattle region. A family-owned and operated business, Hasu-Seizo rose out of the Sakai Takayuki manufacturing brand located in Osaka, Japan.

With deep reverence for the art of Japanese knife making as well as a commitment to absolute quality and customer satisfaction, Hasu-Seizo has been excited to build a catalog of kitchen-defining utilities that clients around the world can enjoy from the comforts of home. Every year the team at Hasu-Seizo visits Osaka to touch base with their blacksmiths and bring back new innovations to their catalog.

A knife is more than just another tool in your kitchen, it is an extension of your life. Start shopping at Hasu-Seizo today for access to the finest handcrafted Japanese knives.

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