Kai Pro Santoku

Good balance, comfortable handle, 16° compound bevel edge blade, decent edge retention, and very competitive price make this a premium chef's knife worth owning.

Kai Pro Santoku

Kai Pro Santoku Kitchen Knife

SOURCE:Store Locator
Overall Length:12-1/2"
Blade Length:7"
Bevel:16° bilateral (32° included angle)
Handle:POM (Polyoxymethylene)
Warranty:Limited lifetime
Full Specifications:Click Here

For most of the past decade I've been using a Wusthof Classic (#4183) that has all the qualities I want in a premium chef's kitchen knife – comfortable handle, excellent balance, reasonable weight, and good edge holding ability. But, superior features come at a superior price. Recently though, I've had the pleasure of using a Kai Pro Santoku chef's knife, which offers a lot of the same features I've come to love with the Wusthof, at about half the price.

The Kai Pro is a graceful looking knife, with a hammered (aka scalloped) finish in a 'santoku' design, or what we would likely classify as a 'sheepsfoot' design – the top front edge of the blade curves down to meet the cutting edge of the blade. According to Wikipedia Santoku means "three virtues" or "three uses". In this case it likley refers to the chopping, slicing, and dicing uses of the knife.

The belly (cutting edge) of the knife has a gentle curve from tip to heel, which means that this knife is best used in a single downward cut, or in a very gently rocking motion, rather than a heavy downward chopping action or an extreme rocking motion. With a bit of practice it's, at least to me, a very natural, and effective, cutting motion.

The blade has a bilateral 16° compound bevel edge (for an included angle of 32°). This makes for a very sharp cutting edge, but it can more easily chip or fracture, especially if used to cut meat where is might strike bone, or if you inadvertently knock the cutting edge against a hard surface, which can happen if you toss the knife in the sink to wash it with other cutlery. On the up side, the blade holds an edge reasonably well and is easy to sharpen. I use both a 9 and 3 micron DMT Diafold diamond sharpener on my kitchen knives. But, if you're not comfortable hand sharpening knives it's a good idea to protect your investment by using a commercial knife sharpener – Chef's Choice, EdgeLogix, Wusthof and Work Sharp all make good sharpeners.

Kai Knives has chosen to use AUS6M steel for the blade. There are three grades of AUS steel rated by carbon content. The AUS6M has, at 0.65 percent, the lowest carbon content. Plus it contains some vanadium). It's widely considered to be a moderate grade steel – good wear and corrosion resistance, moderate edge retention, and easy to sharpen. My guess is that they've selected this steel inorder to keep the knife in the sub $100 price range.

The Kai Pro has a riveted thermoplastic POM (Polyoxymethylene) handle, which you'll find on a lot of premium knives because it's strong, hard, and both abrasion and water resistant. The tang extends all the way through the handle – that extra weight in the handle enhances overall balance.

The pudding is in the cutting, so to speak, and the Kai Par is nothing to turn your nose up against. It's very well balanced with a comfortable handle, and that thin blade speedily chops and dices through veggies, and smoothly slices through lean meat and fish. For the amount of use it's had in my kitchen over the past month I'm pleased with its edge holding ability.

At under $100 this knife represents good value. A premium knife should last a lifetime, so even factoring in a twenty year life span the Kai Pro will set you back about $5 a year – peanuts.

Photo Gallery

Kai Pro (top); Wusthof Classic (bottom)

Comfortable handle and no bolster

1/16" tang extends full length of the handle

Blade is fully honed, ready for use

Best used in a single downward cut or gentle rocking motion rather can a chopping motion

An excellent knife for chopping, slicing, and dicing

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