A Good Cook Needs Good Knives
I think a home cook needs at least 3 knives: a paring knife, a chef's knife and most important a Santoku knife. In the kitchen, I use a Santoku knife all the time. It's a very versatile knife that is great for chopping, dicing, mincing or slicing food.
I recently received a New West KnifeWorks Santoku knife to review. I used it for about a month so that I could give a really complete analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.
As you may know, I cook a lot and the use of a good quality knife is essential for me in the kitchen. I love kitchen gadgets and kitchen electrics, but there is no more faithful companion in the kitchen than a trusty knife. It's something you'll use almost every time you cook, so it has to be an asset, not a liability.
When I received the knife, I was very pleased by the general appearance of it. It has a 7-inch blade, which is perfect for high-speed vegetable chopping. The bright red color of the handle makes it easy to identify the knife while you're in a rush (which is usually my case), cooking for a big crowd. It's a full tang, which means that the blade runs the entire length of the knife.
The knife is not too heavy. When I hold the knife between my thumb and finger at the blade and handle separation (called the bolster), you can tell that the knife is well balanced. It doesn't tip forward or back even though the blade is longer than the handle. This means that you don't have to do a lot to keep the knife level with the cutting board.
The handle is very smooth and is seamless. I like this feature a lot for a quick, easy clean up. No food can get trapped inside the knife, so it's very hygienic. I also like the fact that it has an ergonomic handle. And it's made in Japan.
But how well does it cut? In short, I was very pleased by the quality of the blade. It slices the most delicate fruit like a tomato into perfect slices. It also cleanly cuts meat without tearing it. My ultimate test was slicing frozen beef for my Pho. When making the Vietnamese soup, one of my concerns is to get very thinly sliced pieces of meat so they cook instantaneously on contact with the hot broth. The knife passed the test. To me, a good quality blade is the key to easy food prep, and the Santoku Phoenix knife is has an excellent blade. I also love the dimples on the Santoku knife for a non-slip grip of meat and vegetables.
Like every other Santoku knife, this one needed sharpening after a lot of use, especially after cutting a rough pineapple peel. I liked that the bolster of the knife is slightly thinner than the width of the handle so it doesn't get in the way when I sharpen the blade.
I'm petite and my hands are quite small (I'm a short Asian woman). I really liked the knife but I don't think it fit my hand well. I think the width of the handle is more suitable for a man's hand. I think the handle would fit my hand better if it was a little narrower, like the comparable Wusthof knife. I can hold the knife safely but I got fatigued easily after chopping a large quantity of onions. For reference, my father-in-law tested it as well and he didn't find it too wide at all.
Overall, the "hot" Santoku Phoenix Knife is a beautiful, high quality knife. Assuming that New West's other knives are of similar quality, I would be very happy to use a narrower-handled knife on a regular basis. I think the knife is a beautiful piece for a male cook: sturdy, sharp and very lean. It also comes in a leather sheath, again, very manly if your man wants to take the knife while going fishing. So if you're in the market for a new knife, definitely consider the Santoku knife offering from New West KnifeWorks.