In professional tests, it sets the bar. Unlike the razor-straight edge of most santokus, the Shun's blade has a straight curve that allows for an uninterrupted rocking motion. Reviewers say it cut more smoothly through carrots than a thicker chef's knife, and its shorter blade gave them a greater sense of control. On the other hand, when it came to mincing, this blade beat out other santokus because it was closer to a traditional chef's knife. Users at Amazon.com say the blade's non-traditional shape is both a plus and a minus. As one user puts it, "If you like to rock-and-chop, this knife will do it better than any other santoku. If you like to drop-chop, then this knife isn't going to get quite as long a chop. I like both, so I'm quite happy the knife can perform both jobs."
Most home users love this santoku knife. In more than 75 reviews between Amazon.com and Cooking.com, it earns near-perfect overall ratings. Owners say the cutting edge is great right out of the box and will last a long time with proper care. They do caution, however, that when it does come time to sharpen the blade, most electric sharpeners won't be able to produce the ultra-fine edge this knife requires (any Shun blade can, however, be sent to the manufacturer for sharpening, free of charge). Users also say the balance and handle comfort are great.
Blade has several layers. A core of VG-10 steel is clad in multiple layers of high-carbon stainless steel. This gives the blade a Damascus finish that the manufacturer claims helps it slide through food more cleanly. The hollow-ground edge, with 10 rectangular indentations along the length of the blade, is also supposed to prevent food from sticking. Amazon reviewers are divided on this feature's effectiveness; some say food doesn't stick to the knife at all, while others say it makes no difference.
The handle of the Shun Classic Santoku is made of PakkaWood, a trademarked blend of resin and hardwood veneer. This material is dishwasher-safe, but Shun recommends washing the knife by hand to protect the blade from rust and chipping. The handle has no rivets and is capped with stainless steel; a metal bolster protects the user's fingers. The handle is D-shaped, meaning it's curved to fit a user's right hand; however, a left-handed version is available by special order. Right-handed users generally find the grip comfortable, especially for those with small hands. Overall, professional testers say this knife has a sturdy, solid feel.
Unique style. The blade's marbled pattern and sleek black handle give the Shun Classic an elegant, exotic appearance that appeals to owners. Many reviews at Amazon.com describe this knife as "beautiful," while a few say it looks "cool" or "awesome."
Among santoku knives, the Shun Classic Santoku DM0718 earns the most consistent praise from reviewers. Its biggest drawback is its price tag; for those seeking a more reasonably priced knife, we also found very good reviews for the Wüsthof Classic Santoku 4183 (*Est. $75). However, this German-made knife has not been evaluated in any professional comparison tests.
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Report Credibility: Good The Shun Classic Santoku DM0718 earns an overall score of 4.7 stars out of 5 from nearly 65 users at Amazon.com. Owners praise the knife's keen edge, great balance and comfortable grip. Several also say the hollow-ground edge (with scalloped indentations) helps keep food from sticking to the blade. Reviewers do have a few minor quibbles with this knife, noting that it's not good for lefties (although a left-handed version is available), and a couple report that the blade developed chips or rust. They also note that most electric sharpeners can't be used with this knife.
Review: Shun DM0718 Classic 7-Inch Santoku Hollow Ground Knife, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012
Report Credibility: Good Although the Shun Classic Santoku DM0718 receives less than 20 user reviews, it's one of Cooking.com's top-rated santokus, with a perfect 5-star rating overall. Owners say this knife has a great factory edge that glides through food, and it maintains that edge well. They also say the balance is terrific. But they caution owners to be careful to avoid cutting themselves -- an important warning for any sharp knife.
Review: 7-in. Classic Santoku Knife by Shun, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of October 2012
3. Food & Wine Magazine
Report Credibility: Fair Editors at Food & Wine magazine tested more than 100 Japanese chef's knives and list the top brands. Emily Kaiser Thelin and Emily McKenna describe Shun knives as comfortable and "gracefully sharp," citing the Shun Classic Series among the top four. Other brands called out for praise include Kyocera Classic, Global and Mac Professional. However, it is unclear just how these knives were selected or whether they went through any kind of testing.
Review: Japanese Knife Guide: Winning Brands, Emily Kaiser Thelin and Emily McKenna, July 2009