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Japanese cuisine is quite unusual and unique as compared to any other cuisine across the globe. The cuts of eatables tend to contribute to the food’s taste. This is why the chefs always work with the Japanese knives for making provisions that are otherwise difficult to make with other knives.
No second thought here: In the world of cutlery, these knives are legendary. They attract both chefs and cooks who are looking for the one that will slice comfortably and last long. The Japanese chef knives are designed using the materials of high quality. Hence they remain sharp even after several years of rough and frequent use.
Both home cooks and professional chefs believe that the devotion to craftsmanship and eminence has made these knives worthy of anyone’s money despite the high price tags. However, there are many high-quality, affordable Japanese knives.
Japanese chef knives have gained their popularity significantly due to their sharpness and superior quality construction. These blades pass through well-set processes to ensure quality, safety, functionality, and durability. Most of them have double-beveled blades to last longer than usual and reliable while chosen for daily use.
Whether you need one as a perfect chef knife or especially for slicing vegetables, there is at least one great Japanese chef knife for you. This post will guide you to choose the best Japanese chef knife as per your requirements so that you need not put more effort in searching.
We’ll start with five best Japanese chef knives, in our opinion.
2020’s 5 Best Japanese Chef Knives in the Market
Yoshihiro VG10 Japanese Chef’s Knife
This gyuto knife from Yoshihiro is ideal for the beginners who are looking for a versatile Japanese chef knife without compromising the perfect blend of price and quality. You can rely on it for anything ranging from mincing to dicing several times and yet sharpen it only once a week.
This knife has a three-layer design featuring the VG-10 Japanese steel at the core whose hardness is around 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale. This gives you excellent sharpness, sharpening ease, longevity, and edge retention for a long time.
A sophisticated 16-layer hammered external steel is chic but functional enough to keep friction and food sticking at bay. The Western-style handle is made up of premium mahogany and is triple-riveted to ensure stability as well as firmness while handling hard foods. This one of the best Japanese knives you can find on Amazon.
- Elegant look
- Very sharp
- Resistant to stains and wear
- Easy to maintain
- Initially uncomfortable holding for big palms
DALSTRONG Santoku Knife – Shogun Series
This is a highly-rated knife that blends Dalstrong’s award-winning craftsmanship, santoku design, and best build materials. The price at which this santoku knife is available will rarely give you this blend.
This is no ordinary santoku. A hand-finished edge features an angle of 8 to 12 degrees per side. The credit for this construction goes to the conventional Honbazuke process having three steps, which also improves edge retention abilities and strength.
It is then cooled using nitrogen to render better flexibility apart from ensuring resistance to corrosion and hardness. The extremely sharp blade is made up of AUS-10V Japanese steel rating 62+ on Rockwell to retain the edge and perform extraordinarily. The interior of it is packed in between 66 layers of high-carbon steel.
Nicely tapered and rightly balanced are the small divots improving non-stick performance and curtailing surface resistance. A slight curve close to the blade, along with the remaining flat edge makes you chop comfortably.
The triple-riveted handle is made up of G-10 material that keeps most abuse away. Its ergonomic shape gives you great hand control and a pinch grip.
- Great craftsmanship
- Highly Resilient
- Very sharp
- Great balance
- Resistant to heat, moisture, stains, and cold effects
- Lifetime defect warranty
- A bit difficult to sharpen
Tojiro DP Petty/Utility Knife
Made for chefs hunting for a versatile knife that also acts as a utility knife, the Tojiro petty knife is worth considering for small hands. The 6-inch knife can even act as a santoku, thus, saving money for you.
The blade is made using stainless steel of fine quality whose Rockwell hardness level is 60+. Thus, it is pretty hard to mince, dice, and slice a variety of foods with ease. The same hardness level makes this knife reliable as well as durable without any fear for major wear and tear.
This Tojiro knife is made for use by people of all ages, such as teens, adults, and the elderly. This is indicated by the compact handle that is comfortable to hold. Made up of composite wood, the handle endures water or heat impact. It is also triple-riveted for firmness.
- Very sharp
- Multipurpose blade
- Resistant to stains
- Value for money
- Not for small palms
Kai 6716N Wasabi Black Nakiri Knife
Although a nakiri, this Wasabi knife is super versatile to help in making sushi and slicing loaves of bread. It can even cut tomatoes as thin as paper. For the rest of the veggies and fruits, you will never regret having it in your kitchen. You can quickly make food preparation with it at any time.
The black nakiri knife delivers unmatched cutting performance and retains superior retention of its edge. All credit goes to the Daido 1K6 stainless steel having a high amount of carbon.
Although the blade-style or shape is conventional, the handle is modern as it is made using polypropylene and bamboo powder. Further, it is filled with an antibacterial agent so that your food preparation is clean. The overall design is such that it does not allow dust or dirt to settle in gaps.
- Very sharp
- Easy to hold
- Slimmer handle
Lucky Cook Sashimi Sushi Knife 10 Inch
Consider this knife if you are on a budget, or you’re a beginner looking for a sashimi knife that not only can smoothly cut the delicate sushi rolls but also can dice and chop tough vegetables. Yes, it is that versatile!
This 10-inch sushi tool features a long, straight, and narrow blade made up of stainless steel that is asymmetric in shape and is quite thick from rear. This allows you to perform your work by making just one or two moves. The specific shape is also responsible for making quick horizontal cuts. The right-sided bevel contributes to splitting slices you made now.
The wooden handle is a bit oval and is comfortable to grip. It is so convenient that you can slice a full bowl of produce without being exhausted.
- Ideal for beginners
- Value for money
- Not for making vertical cuts
History of Japanese Chef Knives
Why should you know about the history or evolution of these knives? You need to know to gain trust by knowing how superior or stronger these knives are than the standard ones. The fact is that the Japanese people are highly skilled at making knives of high quality using radical tools.
The roots of making knives lie in their ancient skill of designing sharp samurai swords or katanas. From here, they gained a reputation for designing pitilessly sharp knives.
Just five centuries ago, the Japanese people diverted themselves to make general knives along with these swords. Gradually, they then became well-known in this arena. Today, their knives are preferred for versatile performance, hard blades, less maintenance, and longevity.
Japanese Chef Knives Versus Western Counterparts
If you have ever done a quick search on Japanese knives, you must have come across many Western contestants. The latter ones are similar to the all-in-one models of the Japanese knives. Thus, with just one Western knife, you can slice, cut, chop, and dice.
However, the fact is that both are significantly different, although they might look similar most of the time. You should know these differences so that you do not end up with a Western model in the name of a Japanese knife.
- The Japanese knives are authentically more delicate than their Western counterparts. Further, each of them has a particular task to fulfill with utmost precision.
- The Japanese knives are relatively sharper. They are designed using very hard steel so that you can get consistently expert-like exact cuts. In short, Japanese chef knives are harder and stronger than Western tools.
- A harder blade means a narrower edge, which means the sharp edge is retained for a longer period than usual despite regular use. In other words, you need not sharpen it frequently. This is something that a Western chef knife cannot ensure due to a softer edge. Thus, the blade’s hardness is one of the significant differences between the two. It is possible to measure the level of hardness using the Rockwell scale. Most Japanese knives will have a hardness rating of 60 or above. This is much more than what other knives have (around 50-55). A Japanese chef knife’s blade features an angle of 15 degrees, while a Western one typically has an angle of 22 degrees.
- Another primary distinction is that a Western model is honed on both sides. Thus, it has what is called symmetrical bevel.
Types of Japanese Chef Knives
A myriad of diverse types of Japanese knives exists, each with a stunning design and a lush history. Based on the material and method of production, conventional knife-forging Japanese methods are split into two classes. These are the Kasumi and Honyaki.
Kasumi knives are designed using two materials. These are soft iron locally known as Jigane and high-carbon steel traditionally called Hagane. Both of them are forged together. These Japanese knives are simpler to sustain than the Honyaki.
On the other hand, Honyaki knives are truly forged modes and are composed of a single material. White steel and blue steel are among the most common versions of Honyaki knives.
Japanese chef knives are grouped into the following types based on their purpose.
- Deba: Is one of the most primary Japanese chef knives. Used for cutting fish, this knife usually has a thick spine, single-side edge, and a gently-curved blade. A Deba is among the heaviest as well as the most durable knives of Japan. In the U.S.A., it is linked to a cleaver whose main use is butchering. Read more about cleaver knife here.
- Gyuto: Is considered similar to a typical European French knife. However, a Gyuto can hold its edge better and has a thinner edge than its Western counterparts. The best part is that a Gyuto is an all-purpose kitchen knife, except for jointing chicken. It is made to endure heavy daily use while slicing and cutting the tough veggies and fruits. Seen in different knife sets, this knife features a normal length of 5 to 15 inches. Read our article on Gyuto knife to know more.
- Sashimi/Yanagi/Shobu/Yanagiba: This is a knife with a long and narrow blade ranging from 8 to 12 inches. A sashimi knife is used for slicing and cutting any type of food, vegetable, and meat due to the ease it promises and the convenient length it has. This knife is specially made for generating long slicing motions. It is commonly seen in Japanese as well as international sushi restaurants. Yes, a Yanagi is a sushi knife that has excellent precision because of its long blade.
- Takobiki: Is often interchangeably used with Yanagiba due to a similar look. However, the difference is in terms of the edge. A Yanagiba comes with a pointy edge; whereas, this one features a square tip. This design of a Takobiki defends one from the risk of injury when handling large volumes. Unlike a Yanagi, a Takobiki lacks some precision. With the length ranging from 8.5 to 15.5 inches, a Takobiki is utilized for cutting an octopus (tako meaning octopus).
- Petty: Is an ideal utility tool. It is named so due to its small size. You can use a petty knife for all types of cutting chores. However, it is considered as the best knife for peeling veggies and fruits apart from cutting them. A petty knife is conventionally a single-ground tool, but you can even spot them as V-grind knives.
- Santoku: Is the most popular Japanese chef knife. With a blade taller than a Gyuto, a santoku is useful for daily cutting chores due to its versatility. The taller blade keeps rocking or slipping at bay. The normal length range is 6.5 to 9.5 inches. As per the maker, you get a conventional Japanese handle or a European handle. Read our article on Santoku knives to know more.
- Pankiri: Is simply referred to as the bread knife. In other words, a Pankiri cleanly slices loaves of bread and other baked items. This Japanese knife typically contains a serrated edge that is particularly included for cutting through the dense loaves easily as well as without suppressing it. If you are interested in finding out other bread knives in the market, read here.
- Nakiri: Is a pure vegetable knife in Japan that is much like a small clever. It is useful for cutting thick-skinned vegetables as well as fruits easily. A nakiri is also capable of slicing and dicing any kind of produce with great precision. Read our article on Nakiri knives to know more.
The material used in Japanese Chef Knife
Okay, you need to know about this steel material so that you can choose an authentic knife. Most traditional and modern Japanese chef knives are made up of high-carbon steel, which is the current rage. This material is the choice of professional chefs over the standard stainless steel.
Why so? There are justifiable reasons. This carbon steel holds its edge for a longer time and is quite sharper than a blade of stainless steel. Although quite harder, it is simpler to sharpen a carbon-steel blade.
The content of carbon in these blades has been on the rise across the centuries, along with the added base metals. This indicates that both the hardness and the resulting sharpness has also been on a steady rise.
On the flip side, carbon steel is more brittle than stainless steel due to a higher level of hardness. In other words, you need to take more care of your blade, which is a plus point if you are a serious cook. This care is required to keep rusting as well as staining at bay.
Thus, the best Japanese chef knife is made up of this steel. You may also come across names such as VG, VG-10 (old), and VG-MAX (new) steel. Well, they are stainless steels having a high amount of carbon.
If you have found ou the best Japanese chef knife for your purpose, you can never be disappointed while cooking meals. Choose your type and let food preparation be a breeze.