Small Chef's Knife | Santoku

Posted by Ramon Elzinga on


Japan, became popular in the years post World War II (1940’s).


Blade Length & Width

Between 6-8” (150mm to 200mm) with 7” (180mm) being most common.

Width is 1.5-3mm. Traditionally a lighter, thinner blade, but thickness varies with western styles.



With cultural roots in buddhist ‘vegetable-centric’ principles, the expansion of western influence in post-war Japan necessitated a modernised knife that excelled in the three areas of home cooking; meat, fish and vegetables. In this way the Santoku can be understood as a vegetable-first knife, with added versatility in meat and seafood preparation. The knife is characterised by a flatter belly and sheep’s foot tip, where the spine curves downward to the cutting edge. This shape is designed to work in harmony by matching the blade length and height to the weight of its handle.


Santoku translates to “three virtues”, speaking directly to its versatility, although historians debate whether this refers to the ingredients it can be used on (meat/vegetables/fish), or the cutting styles it can be used for (chopping, mincing, slicing).


Tips When Using the 'Santoku'

This can be the one knife you own, or complement other knives in a larger collection. In recent years, it has overtaken the chef’s knife in popularity, where the increase in vegetables in the common diet has led to this shape being preferred. It should be light, with a good balance over the centre of the knife, making it comfortable and agile to use.


There are two main styles of Santoku; the thicker western-style with granton edge (scalloped sides) made from a single piece of steel, or the lighter Japanese-style with damascened cladding around a harder steel core. Functionally the western-style is heavier and suitable for a larger range of preparations, but lacks the balance and agility of its Japanese counterpart.


The Image

Background Art by Yayoi Kusama

Knife Designed by S. L. Dolman | Koi Knives, SA

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