Kiritsuke vs gyuto vs santoku

Kiritsuke vs Gyuto vs Santoku: Japanese Chef’s Knives

By Bobby B. |  August 16, 2019  | Japanese Knives

Just like the chef’s knife in America and other Western countries, Japan has it’s own all-purpose chefs knives.  They come in slightly different shapes and sizes and even have some different, more traditional styling to them.  However, the intent is the same.  Provide chefs with an all-purpose knife, perfect for many cutting techniques on several different foods.  Traditional foods in Japan are different than they are in the West.  They tend to eat more fish and less red meat.  The design and style of their knives reflect this.

On this page, we are going to discuss the types of Japanese knives that are similar to the Western chef’s knives.  It’s almost more like a Kiritsuke vs Gyuto vs Santoku debate really.  But first, let’s briefly discuss each knife individually so to identify its strengths.  If you’d rather skip ahead, click the specific match-up that you’re interested in.

Kiritsuke Knife

The kiritsuke knife is probably the least popular, but coolest looking knife of these three.  They are usually very long (8-10″ long, or more in some cases) and have a tall, flat blade.  Like most Japanese knives, it’s not uncommon to see a kiritsuke made of high-carbon steel hardened to HRC60+.  The Blue Steel Kiritsuke by Shun Cutlery shown here is no different.

The long, flat blade make it great for chopping large vegetables, but not as good for using a rocking-chop technique like many Western chefs prefer.  Ultimately, a kiritsuke is very visually appealing and some of the longest versions can even look like a sword.  However, more functionality with lower prices can be found in other knives.

Gyuto Knife

The gyuto knife is much more flexible in its kitchen usefulness.  You may or may not have actually heard of a gyuto before, but it’s basically just the Japanese version of a Western chef’s knife.  There is actually very little difference other than the traditional Japanese styling that typically accompanies it.  Examples of this might be an octagonal pakkawood handle and thinner/harder steel.

As with Western chef’s knives, a gyuto has a rounded belly giving it more of an all-purpose shape.  it an easily be used for slicing and rock-chopping many different foods around your kitchen. The Miyabi gyuto shown to the left is one of our favorites.  it was the same knife we used in our Shun vs Miyabi Showdown recently.

Santoku Knife

We’ve written a ton about santoku knives here on BladeAdvisor.  They’ve been popularized in the United States in recent years due to shoutouts by TV chefs.  The reality is that it’s a great multi-purpose knife that rivals chef’s knives for kitchen space all the time.  Some would argue that the thinner blade structure makes for better slicing.  It’s also lighter weight for those that use a knife all day long.

As you can see in the example Santoku shown here, their blades flat across the bottom and rounded at the top.  This makes them perfect for slicking, dicing, and chopping foods like fish, meat, and vegetables.

Kiritsuke vs Gyuto

Kiritsuke vs Gyuto

First, let’s compare the kiritsuke and the gyuto knives.  The first thing that probably stands out between these two is the point.  Like most knives, the gyuto has a point that meets towards the middle of the blade, whereas the kritisuke is much flatter across the bottom and front of the blade.  The tip is much more squared off, giving it a very unique look. 

Unfortunately, in our experience, the flat front of the kiritsuke is not as functional as it is cool-looking.  Like many Japanese-style knives, the flat bottomed blade lends itself to a push chop or thrust cutting motion as shown in this video.

On the other hand, a gyuto knife does more things for more people, and quite frankely is must more comfortable to us for Western chefs.  It’s shaped more like what they’re used to and is easier to pick up because of this.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you’re goal is to buy a great new showpiece for your kitchen, there’s not much else out there that tops a kiritsuke’s cool factor!  But, assuming you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck with functionality, we think your money might be better spend on a good gyuto with high-quality, hardend steel.

Gyuto vs Santoku

Gyuto vs Santoku

When it comes to a match-up of the gyuto vs santoku knife debate, it’s one with much more usefulness in our opinion.  Both knives certainly serve many purposes in the kitchen.  It could be debated that either one of these knives could be one of the most useful in your kitchen.  We’ve actually written about a similar topic before when we compared Santoku knives vs Chefs knives.

Here are some highlights of the differences between these knives:

Santoku Knife Benefits:

  • Typically 7-inches or shorter blade
  • Flat profile makes it good for up and down chopping & thrust cutting
  • Often lower cost than Gyuto
  • Frequently comes with grantons to reduce friction
  • Can scrap veggies off cutting board easily

Gyuto Knife Benefits:

  • Gyuto knives vary in size, typically 8-12 inch blades or longer
  • Longer length offers more flexibility
  • Curved belly makes it suitable for rock chopping
  • Pointed tip can be used in a multitude of ways

Which is Better: Santoku or Gyuto?

There are several factors mentioned above that make each knife favorable, but not all of them align with each chef’s needs.  Some of the differentiations that can be made between a santoku and a gyuto include: blade length, chopping style, and budget.

Santoku vs Gyuto
Blade Length

The first major difference is the lengh of their blades.  Santokus have shorter blades, often between 5″-7″.  This is great for chefs that have smaller hands or who are often chopping veggies like onions, cellery, parsley, and other greens.  Conversely, gyuto knife blades are longer, usually 8″ or more.  This makes them an ideal choice for larger vegetables like cantelope, watermelon, and the like. 

Chopping Style

The first major difference is the lengh of their blades.  Santokus have shorter blades, often between 5″-7″.  This is great for chefs that have smaller hands or who are often chopping veggies like onions, cellery, parsley, and other greens.  Conversely, gyuto knife blades are longer, usually 8″ or more.  This makes them an ideal choice for larger vegetables like cantelope, watermelon, and the like. 

Budget

The first major difference is the lengh of their blades.  Santokus have shorter blades, often between 5″-7″.  This is great for chefs that have smaller hands or who are often chopping veggies like onions, cellery, parsley, and other greens.  Conversely, gyuto knife blades are longer, usually 8″ or more.  This makes them an ideal choice for larger vegetables like cantelope, watermelon, and the like. 

If it’s not clear yet, both of these knives serve a handful of purposes and which you should use mostly depends on why you need it and your personal preference.

Ultimately, the gyuto probably is the most versatile in your kitchen if you can only buy one of these knives.  The length and pointed tip give it the ability to excel in more jobs.  However, since most of us already have a chef’s knife in our arsenal and they’re almost identical to a gyuto, a santoku makes more sense as a secondary option.  There’s really no reason to have both.

This works out well for those of us that are price conscience as that choice will likely save you a few extra bucks.  Or better yet, it will allow you to snatch up a good one with high-end materials that will last you forever and retain its sharp edge!

japanese chefs knives

Gyuto vs Santoku vs Kiritsuke Buying Guide

This is just a quick guide to help you know what to look for and where to look when buying one of these great Japanese chef knives.  Since they are less commonly used knives in the United States, we realize there aren’t as many resources out there, so here’s a brief guide.  The bottom line is not to sacrifice quality for price.

For more information on this topic, we encourage you to check out the buying guide at the bottom of our best santoku knife page

Where to Buy Japanese Chef Knives

High-end cutlery stores offer Japanese knives, especially in some of the larger U.S. cities.  Department stores and online retailers also offer a wide variety of santoku, gyuto, and kiritsuke knives, often at a much better prices than these boutique stores.  BladeAdvisor believes that Amazon is a great place to find a good selection and great price on these Japanese chef knives.

 

What to Look for In Santoku, Gyuto, and Kirtisuke Knives

If you haven’t bought fine cutlery before, it’s important to consider its materials as a top priority.  This is going to determine how long it will last, how sharp the knives are, how well they hold up to corrosion, and what kind of edge retention you can expect.  For most, it’s best to focus on blades made of stainless steel with a higher carbon content.  VG10, AUS10, and X50CrMoV are all good choices.  Similarly, finding handles that are both visually please and will stand up to water exposure is a must.  G10 and pakkawood are two such materials that are common on Japanese knives.

Conclusion

You might still be asking yourself, “so, which is the best Japanese knife between these 3 types?  There really is no generic answer that will be right for everyone.  The best way to determine which is best for you is to re-read the breakdowns above to compare and contrast the gyuto, santoku, and kiritsuke knives based on your usage, style, and knife skills.

If we were forced to make a broad statement, the santoku knife is probably the best fit for the bulk of home chefs, just based on it’s multi-purpose features.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This