K-Tip Santoku FAQ’s

K-Tip Santoku FAQ’s

Posted by Ramon Elzinga on

K-Tip Santoku FAQ’s

The Santoku knife is a general-purpose Japanese kitchen knife that can be put into a number of uses ranging from slicing to cutting, chopping, dicing and mincing your food. These make the Santoku knives some of the most commonly used Japanese kitchen knives, both in professional kitchens as well as in the home kitchens. Santoku knives have a length of between 130mm and 200mm, flat edges and a sheepsfoot blade that gradually curves down at an angle towards the tip of the knife where it meets the straight front edge of the blade. The k-tip Santoku knife has a ‘reverse tanto’ tip just like the Bunka knife. 

You will notice that the k-tip Santoku knives look quite similar to the Bunka knives. They are also generally more commonplace than the Bunka knives, that have a wider blade suitable for chopping vegetables. Like in the Bunka knife, the triangle-shaped tip of the k-tip Santoku knife can be applied into delicate cutting or slicing tasks such as in slicing meats and vegetables. 

The main difference between the conventional Santoku knife and the Bunka knife is in their tips. While the Bunka knives have a k-tip or reverse tanto tip, the Santoku knives have a more curved or sickle-shaped tip which is referred to as Kamagata in Japanese. A k-tip Santoku is therefore almost indistinguishable from a Bunka knife and combines aspects of both knives. 

What is the K-tip Santoku Knife?

The k-tip Santoku is simply a Santoku knife with a ‘reverse tanto’. It, therefore, looks pretty much like a Bunka knife and also has characteristics of the Bunka knife. In Japanese, Santoku knives are simply referred to as Santoku bōchō where Santoku literally translates to “three virtues” or “three purposes”. This is derived from the fact that it is a general-purpose Japanese kitchen knife that you can use on fish, meat as well as on vegetables. 

Where Does the k-tip Santoku Knife Fit in Your Kitchen?

Santoku knives are generally recommended for use as a multipurpose kitchen knife. In Japan, it is more commonly used by home cooks than by professional chefs. It is in fact more popular than the Gyuto knife, the other general-purpose Japanese kitchen knife. Apart from the fact that you can use it on a variety of ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables, Santoku knives are also versatile enough to be used for a number of cutting tasks such as chopping, slicing and dicing. You can acquire this as your multi-use kitchen knife. 

How Long is k-tip Santoku Knife? 

The blade lengths for Santoku knives generally lie in the range of 150mm to 180mm. Blade lengths of at least 165mm are quite common. 

What is the typical spine width of the k-tip Santoku Knife? 

Santoku knives have a typical spine width of 2.5mm to 3.0mm. Santoku knives can sometimes be manufactured with scalloped sides or a Granton edge that prevent food from sticking on the blade although most of them won’t have bolsters (the metal between the handle and the blade of the knife). Generally, however, all Santoku knives will have a uniform thickness from the spine to the blade.

What is the blade profile of the k-tip Santoku Knife like? 

The conventional Santoku knife features the so-called sheepsfoot tip design where the knife gradually curves down at an angle from the spine towards the tip of the knife. The sheep’s foot design makes for a somewhat blunted tip, drawing the spine down to meet its relatively straight edge. This design also provides for very small clearance on the cutting board if you rest the blade naturally on the plane from the heel towards its tip. 

In the k-tip Santoku knife, you have the ‘reverse tanto’ tip in place of the sheep’s foot design. This, in effect, transforms the Santoku knife into a bit of a Bunka knife. 

The blade in the k-tip Santoku knife or the conventional sheep’s foot design Santoku is shorter, thinner and lighter. It is also wider like that of the Bunka knife. 

The cutting edge is more linear and it doesn’t provide you with much latitude for a rocking cutting motion. You can still use your Santoku knife in a rocking motion but it will be inefficient this way as only a very small part of its cutting edge will make contact with the cutting board or plane. This is because it is designed with an extreme radius at the tip and a short cantilever span stretching from the contact landing point to the tip of the knife which results in very small ‘knife travel’. These limitations ease a bit in the k-tip Santoku knife. Due to this, a Santoku knife will work best in a single downward cut that uses less of the rocking motion. An upside of the Santoku blade is its large width and weight that improve the efficiency of the cutting. 

What is the k-tip Santoku Knife Best Suited for? 

The k-tip Santoku knife, like other Santoku knives, is a “three virtues” knife. It is a general-purpose knife that you can use to cut meat, fish and vegetables. Its k-tip or ‘reverse tanto’ also make it ideal for delicate cutting work such as slicing off sinews or fats. The thin blades of the Santoku knives also enable you to make very refined slicing. 

What are the k-tip Santoku’s core strengths and weaknesses? 

The k-tip Santoku knife is a general-purpose knife that is a bit taller than the general-purpose Gyuto knife, for example. This provides the chef or the home cook a better clearance for the knuckles of the knife hand when they are cutting directly over aboard.  The good clearance also creates space that allows the knuckles of your hands to steer the knife’s blade when you are performing various cutting actions such as pull cutting, tap chopping or push cutting. 

On the other hand, the tall and heavier blade makes the k-tip Santoku knifeless agile than a shorter knife like the Gyuto. 

The conventional Santoku knives have the trademark curved Kamagata or a sickle-shaped edge that creates a wider angle and the tip is thus unlikely to break easily. On the other hand, this “sheepsfoot” tip makes the conventional Santoku knife less precise and less nimble. 

With the k-tip Santoku, the ‘reverse tanto’ makes these knives more precise and able to make delicate cuts or slices on your meat or fish. 

You will be able to cut very efficiently with a k-tip Santoku knife when you hold the blade edge parallel to the cutting board during a downward cutting motion and then give the knife a slight push or pull motion. This also initiates the cut. 

What is the k-tip Santoku Knife Not Suited For? 

The k-tip Santoku knife offers plenty of advantages that derive from its ‘Santoku’ build and from its k-tip that adds a measure of precision and delicacy in the cutting action. The knife is versatile enough that you can use it as a general-purpose kitchen knife. On the other hand, it is a tall and short knife and which may not be suited for heavy-duty kitchen work.

What is the k-tip Santoku Knife’s Core Strengths? 

The k-tip Santoku is a general-purpose kitchen knife that you can use for the ‘three virtues’: meat, vegetables and fish. It is also a multi-use knife that you can use with various cutting actions including slicing, dicing and chopping. The k-tip or ‘reverse tanto’ enables you to make some delicate slices on your fish or meat. The k-tip Santoku knife also has a relatively balanced weight and it is easy to wield. 

Who Should Use the k-tip Santoku Knife?

The k-tip Santoku is an easy-to-use general-purpose kitchen knife that can be comfortably used by home cooks. Its ‘three virtues’ make it a versatile addition to your knife set and you can put it into multiple uses including cutting fish, meat or vegetables.

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