The model I tested was the Classic Ikon 17cm. It costs around €90.
The Santoku is a multi-purpose knife, developed by Japanese cutlers but using Western blade technology, i.e. double-edged. It can be used for chopping, slicing and dicing most foods (keep it away from bones, though, as the blade is quite thin-edged). The broad blade allows you to scoop up the items chopped and put them on plate or in pan, swiftly and easily.
Wusthof are one of the most respected European manufactuers of culinary knives and are based in Solingen, Germany’s ‘steeltown’. Most of their knives are in the European tradition, forged, with shouldered bolsters for strength, familiar blade shapes and shaped and riveted handles. The Santoku reviewed is, in effect, a blend of two traditions. The blade construction is European, the shape, pure Japanese. Handles on the Classic Ikon series are round and unsculptured, in the manner of many Japanese knives. Balance is good, whichever way you hold the blade, but perhaps not quite so precise as the D-shaped handles on Shun Classic knives (alas, twice the price) . The Wusthoff Classic Ikon is certainly more comfortable than the popular Global knives, whose handles are too short for my hand. The blade, like all Wusthof knives, is a high carbon content stainless steel, designated x50 Cr Mo V15. It’s worth remembering that ‘stainless’ does not mean ‘non-staining’, by the way. It means what it says – ‘stains less’ so it’s still worth taking good care of your pricey knives, by washing, drying and putting them back in a safe place immediately after use.
The term ‘Granton’ refers to the oval hollows scooped out of the rear face of the blade, designed to prevent food clinging to the blade. Does it work? Not remotely. I was still having to pick bits of garlic and pancetta off the back of the blade afterwards.
The main problem I found is that I was unable, using a combination of steel, patent Japanese sharpener and whetstone (with all of which I am fairly proficient) to get the edge of this knife really sharp. Possibly the most telling test is to ask a knife to slice through an unskinned onion. Alas, compared to my two-layer carbon Doi usuba, the Wusthof was not at the races.
Overall, I wouldn’t buy this very expensive knife. If you can find them, the bamboo handled Chroma or Bunmei knives, at half the price, are more up for it and, in my opinion, nicer to use. A shame, because I’ve owned a few good Wusthof knives, including a boning knife I wouldn’t swap for the world.