Made for precise and efficient slicing of meats, vegetables, and fruit, the santoku design developed in Japan but quickly became a Western favorite when introduced to chefs in American and Europe. Master blade smith Bob Kramer improved the classic design, introducing features with American techniques in mind.
Bob Kramer’s knives are unique in that the design details come from someone with experience as both a chef and a master knife maker. Kramer’s early years in restaurants exposed him to professional chefs with stubborn habits but very little knowledge about knives. American chefs often work on heavy tasks and details with the same knives, while Japanese chefs apply different tools to different tasks and work with a light touch. Kramer’s custom knives adapted Japanese concepts to American habits, and the Shun Kramer Pro santoku manufactured by Kai USA brings those improvements to knives more people can afford.
Production knives usually show a squared blade spine, rough on the fingers and hands if like most Americans you use the spine of the knife for better control and applied pressure. Kramer’s custom knives receive careful crowning, rounding, and polishing of the blade spine. Kai USA’s craftsmen adapted the concept to the Kramer Pro series, giving the santoku a partially crowned spine.
Although the handle slabs of this full tang knife with 7-inch blade look like rose wood, they’re actually a durable composite called Pakka-wood. The rippled layers of steel in the blade show the many thin sheets of stainless steel that make up the sides of the blade. The edge itself is harder SG-2 steel, tempered between the usual standards set for European or Japanese blades. The 3mm blade’s hardness gives the knife excellent edge-holding but allows sharpening with an ordinary honing steel.
Compare to the Shun Classic Santoku with a cutting edge of harder VG-10 steel.