Why wouldn’t you want the knives in your kitchen to be as good as the one in your pocket? Not my line, I saw it in an ad, but it exactly represents my opinion on the line of Spyderco kitchen knives that have come into my possession.
The Santoku, utility and paring knife were on my wish list for a long time, but a new folder always seemed more attractive. It was the same thing with the Sharpmaker; I put off buying one way too long. Furthermore, I can be found in the kitchen all the time, cutting up stuff to try out a new folder. The kitchen knives are much more effective cutters when cooking than any folder.
The Santoku is best used for cutting everything that can be found in the vegetable aisle, and then some. Potatoes (not the peeling part), paprika, onions, celery you name it, the Santoku takes it apart like a laser. The wide blade not only protects the knuckles on my non-cutting hand, it also makes for a nice little shovel. In fact, the main reason I like this knife so much, is the fact that it is 50% shovel! Just turn the blade over (edge up) and you can neatly and safely pick up the food you just cut, or slide it cleanly from the cutting board directly into the pan. The fact that the Santoku has a nice rounded and blunt tip only reinforces this shovel function.
The handle, which is the same on all of these kitchen knives, is pretty peculiar. It’s a type of rubber that not too sticky when dry, and it gets stickier when it gets wet or greasy. I prefer to grip the Santoku with part of my thumb and index finger on the base of the blade. If I hold the knife on the rubber grip only, it feels as if I’m not getting enough control of this knife. It could be that I have to get used to using a longer blade.
Rockin’ the edge
The catalog states that the edge is slightly rounded to allow for rocking cuts. As a trained butcher, I am not so keen on this cutting technique as it does not work on meat. Also, I never had a good knife that could to this rocking. It’s very nice. When you’re cutting up an onion and the ‘order’ is lost and all you’re left with is a disorderly pile of large chunks, just put in the blade and start rocking. Within 30 seconds, a pile of fine onion bits emerge.
Cutting meat did not go as well. The wide blade acts like glue on meat. Both beef and chicken just stick too much on the blade. The Santoku’s blade shape and length encouraged me to try and cut some cheese. Oddly enough, the cheese didn’t stick as much onto the blade as the meat did. The curved edge allows for a nice two-handed rocking motion through cheese, just like a real cheese knife. The blade is pretty thin; it hurts the palm when pushing on the spine for cutting cheese for example (more resistance). That same thinness also accounts for the smooth cuts it makes.
Overall, I should’ve gotten this knife a lot sooner. For the price, you get an excellent vegetable chopper, a cheese knife and a miniature shovel. The Santoku is faster than (setting up) a blender, and a whole lot more fun to use too! My girlfriend expressed that she tought the knife was a bit too big, she feels a bit uncomfortable with it. And the fact that I keep ‘hogging’ the knife during cooking, is not helping either. In time though, I’m sure we will both find it to be our favorite kitchen knife.
A customized version for me would get a slightly shorter handle, tuned to left-handed use (the regular handle is slightly asymmetrical, tuned to right-handers), and make the blade just slightly thicker to improve handling with the support hand. Heck, a thicker Santoku should prove to be a pretty good camp knife!