Wusthof Gourmet Santoku Knife Review (4188/17)7 min readNovember 29, 2020
Wusthof Gourmet 4188/17 is a Santoku or traditional Japanese cook’s knife developed by a famous German manufacturer with a more than 200-years history. Unlike other Solingen-based cutlery companies like Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Wusthof focuses only on kitchen knives and accessories including sharpeners and whetstones. This approach adds some exclusiveness to the brand identity and, in my opinion, should increase customer loyalty. However, those cooks choosing Wusthof knives definitely appreciate other characteristics of these blades. Here’s my own Wusthof Gourmet santoku knife review and rate. I will explain what I like and dislike in its cutting tool.
- Series – Gourmet
- Blade material – molybdenum vanadium steel
- Steel grade – X50CrMoV15
- Type – stamped
- Blade length – 6.7” (17 cm)
- Handle material – polyoxymethylene
EDITOR’S RATING: 5/5
Despite using a Wusthof Gourmet knife set in my home kitchen, I’m not a huge fan of Gourmet because of its simple and modest design. This series mostly plays a role of a reliable cutting tool rather than a functional cutlery masterpiece capable of decorating your kitchen. Wusthof Gourmet 4188/17, however, looks more expensive than it is due to its blade engraving and hollow edge. Although, this santoku knife does not have much finesse. It’s a compact blade made in a somewhat primitive manner emphasizing the focus on functionality rather than design. Its main advantage is in its alloy, not the appearance.
The blade looks gorgeous and it would feel luxurious with a thicker width and larger weight. In fact, the only element that betrays its class is a discreet black plastic handle with a traditional design and no other color options. In addition, it has no bolster which is a required part of Wusthof forged knives. This santoku knife comes in a small paper case and plastic bag. Such a cheap approach may disappoint you since it will require additional packing if you consider this knife as a gift. For this purpose, I would choose a more prestigious Classic series or turn towards a Gourmet set instead of the single santoku knife.
Wusthof knife model names always contain a length of a blade in centimeters. A number behind a slash in the 4188/17 model name indicates that this santoku knife is 17 cm long which is equal to 6.7 inches. This value is a standard among Wusthof santoku knives. The main specialty of this model is that it has a hollow edge which adds another level of effectiveness and convenience while working with this knife. The hollows prevent product pieces sticking to the blade, thus allowing you to focus on slicing rather than cleaning the knife.
The Wusthof Gourmet has a full-tang blade which means it runs through the entire handle right to the butt, thus increasing the strength and durability of the blade. Its tip is lowered and the cutting surface has a straight shape which allows you to use the whole cutting edge length while cutting, chopping, and slicing any products with a little pressure. This enables you to get thin and neat slices. However, I would like this knife to have a more sloping cutting edge.
- Slicing – the Wusthof Gourmet santoku knife can easily separate the softest fillets of small fish or poultry as well as tender flesh of a rabbit or chicken liver and manage with tough and large pieces of beef or big fish.
- Cutting – the santoku blade is suitable for cutting any vegetables or fruits, various types of greens in straws or small cubes. Due to its excellent balance, the knife will enable you to effectively prepare ingredients for any vegetarian dishes;
- Chopping – with this knife, you can easily chop any type of food into small crumbs, even turn meat or fish fillets into minced meat. Although, you shouldn’t use it for chopping bones.
In this Wusthof Gourmet Santoku review, it’s worth mentioning some facts about the knife manufacturing process. The 4188/17 model has a stamped blade which makes it easy to sharpen manually while it’s as sharp and accurate as forged ones. Due to a Precision Edge Technology (PEtec), Wusthof kitchen knives get excellent blade geometry. Their laser cut knives require less production stages compared to forged blades which leads to a lower price. The total number of manufacturing processes is 35 including 20 control stages that guarantee reliability and accuracy of the complete item.
The company cuts Gourmet blades from a high-quality chrome molybdenum vanadium stainless steel plate using a laser. They go through the same stages of production as forged knives: from quenching to grinding and polishing the finished blade. The knife remained sharp enough for about a month without the need for honing. The reduced weight and convenient shape of the Wusthof Gourmet series allow you to work easily for a long time. The knife weighs only 0.25 lbs. (114 g). One of the main benefits of the Wusthof Gourmet santoku knife is its balance between price and quality.
Wusthof Gourmet 4188/17 has a compact handle made of polyoxymethylene. Often used for producing handles for premium kitchen knives, this plastic prevents slipping the handle in a hand. I tested this feature by chopping parsley while holding this santoku in a wet hand. I had no discomfort while working with the knife. It felt sitting reliably in my hand and I wasn’t afraid of cutting my fingers instead of the greens. Although, I always strive to keep my hands clean and dry while cooking that’s why this advantage makes little sense for me. It, however, can matter for you.
Polyoxymethylene feels a warm and durable material. It provides tactile pleasure and ensures a reliable hand grip while slicing. This is exactly why I prefer plastic handles over metallic ones. The Wusthof Gourmet santoku knife handle is securely fastened with 3 steel rivets that form a smooth surface. You won’t even feel they exist on the shells. The handle has a typical shape with special recesses for a convenient grip. Instead of a counterweight on the handle butt, Gourmet has a special curve finger stop, also known as a hand guard, to ensure even more reliable grip and prevent injuries. On the left side, the handle has a red logo imaged on a sticker.
As well as a European Wusthof Gourmet cook’s knife, also known as a French knife, the santoku costs less than $90. I suppose that it’s a fair price for a razor-sharp hollow blade laser cut from the chrome molybdenum vanadium steel plate. This is a simplified technology compared to forging, of course. On the other hand, you get what you pay for. This production method, however, allows the manufacturer to create cheaper and lighter knives.
The latter characteristic, in my opinion, is extremely important for a home use where different people may use the same knife. They can include kids who aren’t that skilled and experienced in using cutlery. Heavier knives bring more risks of injuries, especially when they fall on the floor from the cooking table.
I hope my Wusthof Gourmet santoku cook’s knife review will help you make the right choice. To conclude, you get a high-quality santoku knife which is lightweight and easy to sharpen at home using a manual sharpener or whetstone. Furthermore, it can remain sharp for a month or two without the need for applying honing steel. If you need the best Wusthog santoku knife under $100 and you value quality more than design, then the 4188/17 model with a hollow edge would be a wise purchase.
Pros and Cons
- Reliable chrome molybdenum vanadium steel
- Easy to sharpen manually
- Hollow edge
- Made in Germany
- Anto-swiping handle materials
- Reliable assembly
- Stamped blade
- Mediocre design
- Simple packing
- Small cutting edge slope degree