Differences Between a Gyuto Knife and a Santoku Knife?
There is some reverence and awe attached to Japanese kitchen knives. As far as kitchen cutlery go, they have always been a cut above the rest, not just in the craftsmanship and efficacy but also in the differentiation in designs and uses. Japanese kitchen knives are crafted with unique and impeccable artisanal craftsmanship. They add a little charm and beauty to your cutlery set and to your cooking craft.
If you are a professional chef, you have probably encountered names such as sujihiki, gyuto, nakiri, bunka, deba, santoku and kiritsuke. Japanese kitchen knives have been forged over centuries of tradition to the point that you can find a Japanese kitchen knife for every kitchen task ranging from the all-rounders to knives that are uniquely specialized for cutting meat, fish or vegetables.
The Japanese all-rounders are more like the traditional western-style kitchen knives. Two of the best Japanese allrounders are the Gyuto and Santoku kitchen knives. These two are some of the best-known multipurpose kitchen knives and they share lots of similarities although there also exist some distinct differences between them. Being multi-use kitchen knives, they are quite versatile and can be put into a number of uses in the kitchen.
What is the Gyuto Kitchen Knife?
Pronounced as Gyūtō Bōchō in Japanese, the Gyuto kitchen knife is a double-bevel kitchen knife which looks just like the classic western-style kitchen knife, except that it is thinner and has a tall heel. It is a multipurpose and versatile kitchen knife that can be used on numerous recipes and in various cutting styles. You can use it on practically most of the produce and ingredients in the kitchen including fish, meats, vegetables, fruits and herbs.
They have tall heels as well as a slight curve from the midsection towards the tip that also makes them suited for rock-chopping, pull-cutting, tap-chopping and push-cutting actions. They also have pointed tips suited for delicate and precision cuts. The blade lengths for the Gyuto knives range from 180mm to 300mm. It is undoubtedly the best and most versatile multipurpose Japanese kitchen knife.
What is the Santoku Kitchen Knife?
In Japanese, this knife is pronounced as Santoku Bōchō. Like the Gyuto, it is also a multipurpose kitchen knife. It is relatively shorter with blade lengths ranging from 130mm to 200mm. Santoku knives work best on fishes, meats and vegetables. In Japanese, Santoku translates into ‘tree virtues’, a reference to the knife’s versatility that sees being put into a variety of uses including slicing, dicing and chopping fish, meat and vegetables. Like the Gyotu, the Santoku knife can also be used with most recipes. Unlike the Gyotu, however, it has a straight edge but with a blunt sheepsfoot blade profile.
Similarities Between the Gyuto Knife and the Santoku Knife
The main similarity between the Gyuto and the Santoku kitchen knives is that both of these knives are highly versatile, multipurpose kitchen knives. You can pretty much do any task with them be it in dicing, chopping or slicing fish, meat and vegetables.
Both Santoku and Gyuto kitchen knives have a long tall heel that narrows towards the tip. However, while the Gyuto kitchen knife has a long and gracile taper towards the sharp tip and looks very similar to the traditional western-style kitchen knife, the Santoku knives have the sheepsfoot blade profile that suddenly curves from the spine towards the rounded tip. Both also have flat heel-sides but as we shall see, the edges differ slightly.
Both knives are made more or less from the same materials such as carbon steels and stainless steels. The handles can either be Japanese style or western-style and are made from materials ranging plastics to natural woods.
Differences Between the Gyuto Knife and the Santoku Knife
While Gyuto knives are double-bevel, Santoku kitchen knives are single-bevel knives. However, double-bevel Santoku knives are now becoming more commonplace due to their growing popularity in the west. The single bevel of the Santoku allows chefs or cooks to make very clean cuts on the produce that help preserve its flavor, texture and freshness. The asymmetric grind of the Santoku knife also means that there is a ‘handedness’ to its usage; depending on the bevel, some are better suited for left-handed users while others are better suited for right-handed users. That is not the case with the double-bevel gyuto or double-bevel Santuko knives which don’t carry the handedness factor and are, thus, easier to master.
Unlike Gyuto knives, Santoku knives have larger (or taller) blades. However, they are relatively shorter than the Gyuto which are longer western-style chef’s knives. Typical blade lengths for Gyuto knives range from 180mm to 300mm while that of the Santoku kitchen knives range from 130mm to 200mm. The wider blades of the Santoku can also be used in scooping up the food or ingredients from the cutting board.
The Gyuto, on the other hand, is shaped like the traditional western-style chef’s knife. The only difference is they tend to be much thinner than the western chef’s knife. Gyuto are slightly tall but their blades are not as wide as those of the Santoku knives.
The Tip of the Knife
The longer Gyuto kitchen knife has a sharp and pointed tip that easily pierces food and is also suited for precision cutting or slicing of produce. On the other hand, Santoku knives have tips that are quite blunt and slightly rounded and which are not suited for piercing produce. The Santoku knives are said to have a sheepsfoot blade profile which easily distinguishes them from that of the Gyuto kitchen knives with their long, tapered and sharply pointed tips. As a result, the Santoku knife is often regarded as the most obvious alternative to the Gyuto, which is a western-style Japanese chef’s knife. The Santoku is also quite popular in Japanese households while the Gyuto is more commonplace in the west.
The Santoku kitchen knife has a straight edge while the Gyuto kitchen knife is flat at the heel but has an edge with a slight curve from the midsection towards the tip. These differing designs will have a bearing on the scope of use of these two-multi-use knives.
While the Gyuto, thanks to its slightly curved edge, can easily be used for rock-cutting and rock-chopping uses in addition to pull-cutting, push-cutting and tap-chopping uses, the Santoku is not suited for any back and forth rocking uses. Instead, the straight cutting edge of the Santoku kitchen knives are perfect for making swift clean cuts on your produce in an up-and-down motion. The straight edge of the Santoku kitchen knife is also ideal for push-cutting and tap-chopping uses.
Overall, the Gyuto is the better multipurpose kitchen knife thanks to its pointed piercing tip as well as its slightly curved belly that is suited for rocking motions. These extras make the Gyuto a more versatile kitchen knife. However, you can still use the Santoku, another all-purpose kitchen knife, for most of the kitchen tasks that you would do with the Gyuto.
The Santoku knives also tend to be cheaper than the Gyuto kitchen knives. However, their single bevel make might pose a challenge to chefs who are not familiar with single bevel kitchen knives. Santoku knives will be ideal if you a need a general-purpose kitchen knife for dicing, slicing and mincing. Because they are shorter and thinner than the Gyuto knives, Santoku knives give you greater agility and are fairly easy to wield. You can therefore use a Santoku knife for extended durations without grappling with hand fatigue. The flipside is that you have to make repeated up and down motions since you can’t rock with these knives but their short lengths, lightweight build and comfort compensates for the fatigue that you would get from the repeated chopping motion.
Santoku knives will come in handy in most of the recipes that will require knife work. However, if you are looking for the ultimate allrounder, you should definitely go for the Gyuto kitchen knife.