Cookware 38

CarboNext 180mm Santoku - a delayed review

Eiron | Jan 5, 201204:34 PM

A wonderful knife for the price, but not to my preference for ergonomics.

Earlier this summer we had a small group pass-around of Chemicalkinetic’s then-new santoku. It’s from a relatively new line of knives dubbed “CarboNext” & marketed by JapaneseChefKnives.com as one of their “JCK Original” lines.

Chem’s original quick-review is located here:

cowboyardee was a participant in the pass-around & has reviewed the knife. His review is located here:

I was also a participant in the group. Besides using the knife myself, I let one of the chefs at a local Rocky Mountain Inn use it for a day, just to get a different perspective from my own. I enjoyed reading Chem’s comments regarding his new knife, but I haven’t yet read CBAD’s review, as I didn’t want to think about whether I agreed or disagreed with his opinions. :-) Ok, on with the show….

I compared the 180mm CarboNext santoku to my 180mm Forschner Rosewood santoku (plain edge, NOT granton edge) & 210mm Kantesune KC-102 gyuto. The chef at the Inn compared it to her Wusthof Culinar santoku, which I sharpened for her prior to the comparison.
Forschner Rosewood santoku:
Kanetsune KC-102 gyuto:
Wusthof Culinar santoku:

I measured a few areas of the CarboNext santoku, then measured the corresponding areas of my Forschner & Kanetsune. These measurements are not performance-bearing characteristics; they are simply an attempt at convenient comparison spots.

CarboNext santoku -
Weight: 160g
Blade length: 180mm
Handle length: 120mm
Blade height at heel: 46.0mm
Blade thickness:
2.1mm (spine, above heel)
2.0mm (spine, 70mm away from heel)
1.1mm (spine, 26mm from tip)
Handle height:
18.7mm (bolster, at heel)
22.1mm (front rivet)
23.9mm (max center)
23.6mm (min rear)
Handle width:
16.2mm (scales, behind bolster)
17.0mm (front rivet)
17.0mm (continuous to end)

Forschner santoku -
Weight: 100g
Blade length: 180mm
Handle length: 121mm
Blade height at heel: 45.4mm
Blade thickness:
1.7mm (spine, above heel)
1.6mm (spine, 80mm away from heel)
1.1mm (spine, 26mm from tip)
Handle height:
28.0mm (scales, at heel)
21.0mm (ahead of front rivet)
25.7mm (max center)
21.1mm (min rear)
Handle width:
14.0mm (scales, front)
14.1mm (scales, rear)

Kanetsune gyuto -
Weight: 150g
Blade length: 210mm
Handle length: 120mm
Blade height at heel: 45.6mm
Blade thickness:
2.1mm (spine, above heel)
2.0mm (spine, 68mm away from heel)
1.2mm (spine, 26mm from tip)
Handle height:
18.1mm (bolster, at heel)
22.1mm (front rivet)
23.4mm (max center)
23.4mm (min rear)
Handle width:
15.6mm (scales, behind bolster)
16.0mm (front rivet)
15.0mm (taper to end)

The knife is just as pretty as you’d expect a new knife to be. (Well, assuming you’re a knife knerd…) Overall fit & finish is very good. The handle, rivets & tang all feel smooth. The blade has a very nice looking “industrial” finish to it; sort of a “heavy satin” final finish grind rather than being completely polished out. The outlines of the knife’s profile look balanced & properly proportioned (to me) for a santoku, & there’s a nice, gentle curve to the cutting edge.

Out of the box, the handle, the balance & the weight were the first things I noticed. As you may (or may not) know, I’m nuts about ergonomics in my knives. (Seriously – it’s a sickness.) I wasn’t fond of the square shape of the handle. This shape is common among nice Western knives, & most people don’t find it offensive. I’m not a fan. To me, it felt too “blocky” & a bit too bulky. (By comparison, the Kanetsune is a bit narrower & has a slight taper towards the rear of the handle. The “plain slab” sides of the Rosewood handle of the Forschner is also more comfortable to me, most likely due to the much narrower sides and slightly more comfortable contouring on the underside of the grip.) As has been mentioned in various threads before, humans are amazingly adaptive creatures; I’m sure I could get used to the CarboNext’s handle within a reasonably short time of using it.

The balance was also off for me. Again, many folks don’t mind if the balance-point of a knife is ½ inch one way or another. This knife balanced right about the middle of the bolster, showing that the handle was quite a bit heavier than either of my own santoku or gyuto. That should make the knife “sit” in the hand a little better, & it should also be a nicer feel for someone who uses a full grip on the handle rather than the pinch grip at the heel of the blade.

Although the overall weight of the knife wasn’t far from my favorite gyuto, the shorter profile (180mm santoku vs 210mm gyuto) & shifted balance-point made it feel heavier than it was.

Chem had put a wicked edge on the knife before he shipped it out, so there was no issue with sharpness. For cutting performance, I thought the CarboNext worked fine on softer items. A slight draw or push on meats & “watery” veggies (tomatoes, peppers) produced cuts just as effortlessly as with my Forschner & Kanetsune. Harder veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions) felt more difficult to cut when compared to my own knives; even drawing the blade while cutting required harder downward force to push through these items. I was getting more resistance, but I couldn’t really tell why.

The chef at the restaurant had similar comments when comparing it to her Wusthof Culinar santoku. Here is her comparison of the cutting performance of the two knives:
“The CarboNext works great on softer items & vegetables, such as peppers, garlic, meat & cheese.
My Wusthof Culinar works a little smoother on harder veg, such as carrots & cucumbers; it slices smoother & better overall.”

After thinking about it, I wish I’d taken measurements of the CarboNext’s blade thickness behind the edge at several points up the height of the blade. I think this is probably creating the difference in cutting feel between this knife & my own. (Of course, I may change my opinion after I read CBAD’s review.)

This knife was wonderful to sharpen! Compared to the VG-10 of my Kanetsune (& my two Shun Classic knives), this CarboNext took an edge more quickly & with less effort. Feedback was amplified to the point where I could almost tell how the edge was progressing without any close-up inspection. It was a nice balance between the hard steel of my Kanetsune & the soft steel of my Forschner. I’d love for all of my knives to sharpen with this level of feedback & ease!

This is a very nice knife; it has good workmanship & sharpens beautifully. It’s not flashy in appearance, but that helps to keep costs reasonable for an authentic Japanese knife of this quality. Add to all of this the “Honko” (“Real Tool Steel”) easy-care carbon steel blade material, & this should be a serious consideration for anyone looking to spend $100 on a santoku. (For example, if you’re already considering spending $80 on a Calphalon santoku, I think you’d be much happier spending the extra $20 to get the CarboNext santoku.) The only detractions for me were the ergonomics (weight, balance, handle shape); but as I mentioned, most people probably wouldn’t notice these points.

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