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Gyuto vs Santoku. Which is better?

Choosing between a gyuto and a santoku can be a difficult choice, especially as they are not cheap and you don’t want to end up with a knife that isn’t right for you. Thats why I have broken down everything you need to know so you can make the right choice. 

There are several differences between a gyuto and Santoku. The main difference is the length. A gyuto typically has a length of up to 240mm mm long, whereas a Santoku typically measures up to 180mm. This additional length makes the gyuto more versatile when compared to a Santoku 

The other key main difference are:

      • Blade curve
      • Weight
      • Blade thickness
      • Blade strength

    Blade length and curve at a glance

     LengthBlade Curve
    Guyoto180mm – 240mmPronounced
    Sansoku160mm – 180mmMinimal

    Keep reading to find out which is right for you. 

    Choosing the knife that is right for you is going to come down to some key considerations. We are going to cover them in detail below. By the end of this article you should know the key difference between the Guyoto and Santoku and which is right for you, or perhaps both might be appropriate.

    What is a Guyoto chef knife?

    A Gyoto knife is the Japanese version of a western chefs knife. It is considered a multipurpose, all rounder that every chef or home cook should have. It is primarily used for rock chopping, push and pull cutting meat and making fine cuts with its pointed end. The gyuto can also be used on small bones.

    The Gyoto range from 180mm to 240mm and are considered the main knife of choise for many chefs and home cooks due to its versatility.

    What is a Santoku knife?

    A Santoku knife is a versatile knife that is primarily used for vegetable and boneless meat. Santoku means “3 virtues”, meaning the knife is extremely versatile and can be used for  mincing, dicing and slicing. 

    Santoku’s range from 160mm to 180mm and is a great choice from someone looking for a knife for vegetable and softer foods. 

    Due to the sharp, thin nature of santoku’s blades, they are not recommended for bones or tough food as the blades can chip or snap.

    Blade profile

    The blade profile of the Guyoto and Santoku are very different. This is because each knife has been developed for different uses and chopping techniques.

    The gyoto is a multi purpose knife that has been designed for chopping techniques like rocking (choppinging without lifting the front of the blade off the board), whereas the Santoku has been designed for up and down chopping and long slices. 

    Looking at the images below, you can clearly see the difference between the blonde profile of a Guyoto and Sandoku. 

    Curved blade profile of a gyotu knife

    Flatter blade profile of a santoku knife

    As you can see the blades have very different profiles. 

    The Guyoto has a very curved edge, which aids rocking and lets you use the knife’s weight to your advantage.

    The Santoku has a very flat profile, allowing for more contact with the surface of the chopping board.

    The curve of the blade will affect food transfer. 

    Food will stick more on a santoku than a gyuto, which is why you will see grooves cut into the side of the knife. These are called grantons and prevent food from sticking to the blade.

    Gyoto blade length VS Santoku blade length

    The difference in blade length of a gyoto and santoku is going to be the main consideration when choosing one knife over the other. 

    Although chopping style will be affected by length, you need to consider which is best for your size and height. If you’re short with small hands, a 240mm gyoto isn’t going to be the right choice for you. You would be much better opting for a santoku as it will be easier to handle. 

    Likewise, if you’re tall with large hands, I recommend choosing a gyoto closer to 240mm. The handles on larger gyotos are also bigger and will be easier for you to handle. 

    Knife recommendation based on height

    HeightGyotoSantoku
    5’10<180mm – 200mm160mm
    5’10>200mm – 240mm180mm

    Blade sharpness retention

    The blades gyuto’s and santokus will hold an edge for different periods of time due to the different factory edges of the blades. 

    Because the santoku is thinner, lighter and has a straighter profile, it can be made with a lower factory angle (lower sharpening angle) which will aid with edge retention. 

    This means that the gyuto will require more work when it comes to sharpening and honing the blade.

    Different types of steel in Japanese chefs knives

    Japanese Chefs knives are made with a variety of different steel. The most common are high carbon steel and stainless steel. 

    High carbon steel allows for an extremely sharp blade, but it will require more frequent sharpening and high carbon steel is more brittle and prone to rust. 

    Stainless steel, as the name suggests is far less prone to rust and the blade is far more durable. Stainless steel blades hold their edge for longer, but are harder to get razor sharp. 

    For someone looking for a low maintenance knife I strongly suggest choosing a stainless steel option. If you don’t mind some additional maintenance work in exchange for a razor sharp edge, then choose a carbon steel option.

    Chopping techniques

    Gyuto’s and Santokus are designed for different chopping techniques. 

    The curved profile of the gyuto’s blade makes it incredibly good for rock chopping, where you rock the knife back and forth and maintain contact between the tip of the blade and the chopping board.

    The tip of the gyuto is also very pointed, which makes it incredibly useful for finer, more precise cuts. 

    The flatter blade profile of the santoku made it ideal for push cutting, where the knife is moved up and down in a push pull motion. This is ideal for slicing, mincing and dicing food, especially vegetable.

    Food will stick more on a santoku than a guyoto, which is why you will see grooves cut into the side of the knife. They are called grantons and prevent food from sticking to the blade.

    Conclusion

    Both the gyotu and the santoku make great options. 

    Apart from all the details mentioned above, choosing the knife that is right for you is also going to come down to height and hand size. 

    I am 6’2 with large hands and much prefer the feel of a gyuto. I enjoy using a santoku for some chopping, for example, slicing carrots, however I much prefer the gyuto for everything else. It just feels right.

    If you’re more petite and have small hands, the santoku is probably going to be much nicer to use.

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