Japanese knives are widely considered to be some of the most robust and well-crafted culinary knives available. They can demand a high price in the shops, but we’re going to be looking at what you can get for a budget of $100 and under.
Lighter and thinner than Western-style chef’s knives and built with a hardened steel that stands up to continued use, Santoku knives could be considered to be at the cutting edge of knife technology. Santoku means “three uses” – mincing, slicing and dicing.
How do I recognize a Santoku knife?
The Santoku knife is distinctive and tough by design. Look out for the following details –
• Flat cutting edge
• Handle in line with the top of the blade
• The “sheep’s foot” – a round curve at the end of the blade.
• Granton edge – flat divots in the side of the blade to prevent food from sticking to the knife. Although not all Santoku knives have this feature.
Some jargon you might need to understand
The “bolster” of the knife is the band that joins the blade of the knife to the handle.
The “tang” is the metal part of the knife that extends into the handle. A long tang provides strength to the overall knife.
Here is the list of the best Santoku Knife under 100 and some others:
With a non-slip, ergonomically designed handle, this German-made knife resists rust, corrosion and discolouration. The handle is constructed from Santoprene – a heat-proof plastic that will last you for years, resistant to the corrosive nature of cooking oils and acids at high temperatures.
The bolster is a good weight, affording added durability and excellent stability in handling. Mercer also offer a short bolster version, but it’s generally better to go for a larger bolster to provide better stability in use. The tang runs the entire length of the handle, offering extra strength.
This knife is a perfect weight with a really significant grip that makes for safe use. Great for slicing, mincing and dicing, with a Granton edge, this really is a great knife for a superb, affordable price.
With a Granton edge that makes slicing veg with a high water content a breeze, this Swiss-crafted blade is designed for the professional but at a price that’s ideal for the home cook.
A lifetime warranty guarantees the longevity of this blade which has a cleaver-like design that makes scooping up whatever you’ve chopped a simple, single action. The blade provides a highly efficient motion for slicing, dicing and mincing.
This Victorinox knife has a plastic handle and no obvious bolster, so is a little more on the light-weight side than some of the other knives featured, so for the Santoku purist, this might be a deal-breaker. However, the blade is super sharp and perfect for day to day cookery.
This German-built 8 inch knife has a precision built blade, bolster and tang, forged from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel. The PEtec (Precision Edge Technology) blade is laser tested for sharpness and designed to provide the optimum cutting angle, with a 20% sharper blade that will stay sharp for twice as long as a standard Santoku knife.
With a hollow Granton edge, this knife comes very highly recommended. The blade is rust and corrosion proof after having been buffered and finished off by hand, for a professional finish that will last.
On the top end of the $100 budget, you really do get what you pay for. This is a knife that, with proper care, will provide you with many years of safe, stable use.
So, which is the best?
On balance, you always get what you pay for. In this case, you get a super knife that will last you for years with the Wusthof Culinar 8-inch Wunder Knife. The PEtec blade will stay sharp for twice as long (with proper care) than a standard Santoku blade and will never rust or corrode.