What’s the Best Japanese Knife Set of 2020?

Japanese cuisine is among the most celebrated ones across the globe. One of the main reasons for this is the cuts of their ingredients, which significantly contribute to the taste. This persuades the professionals to use the best Japanese chef knife set for preparation.

Featuring an attractive and unique design, Japanese knives are known to deliver perfect cuts. Precise edge and slim narrow blade are ideal for cutting soft to hard vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Further, the blade is hard enough to keep frequent sharpening at bay.

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Different styles of Japanese knives exist, each having a specific purpose to fulfill. For example, there are sushi knives for making sushi rolls, nakiri knives for especially cutting veggies, santoku knives for dicing fruits and nuts, and bread knives for slicing breads.

Investing in each of these knives one by one could prove to be a costly affair. Thus, a Japanese knife set is a more affordable choice if you are a serious cook who intends to prepare presentation-worthy meals with precisely-cut ingredients.

Many of us believe that full knife sets or the best Japanese knife sets are costly. However, this is not always true, as there are many brands offering mid-range or budget sets delivering great value for money.

The are many esteemed brands offering a variety of Japanese cutlery sets, delivering superb performance and lasting durability. However, even mid-range brands are ensuring the same at a decent budget range.

Still, the price is not the only factor when it comes to choosing a Japanese chef knife set. Although popular amongst both professional and recreational cooks, it is not that easy to choose the best Japanese knife set.

 

2020’s 3 Best Japanese Knife Sets

Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set

Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set

This set from the legendary Kamikoto is the mark of more than a thousand years of expertise. It is the best Kamikoto knives set you can buy. Carefully handcrafted, the blades are made using steel of high quality, which is highly resistant to corrosion as well as is durable.

The set comes with a 7-inch nakiri, 5-inch utility, and an 8-inch slicing knife using which you can handle more complex and smaller kitchen tasks. Each knife is well-balanced and weighted for lasting functionality. Thus, this can be the best Japanese chef knife set for such chores.

All blades are hollow ground on one side and meticulously tapered on the other. Along with them, even the handles have a finish of satin reflecting a cool luster.

The handles are made using the G-10 material, which is admired for its high durability. The inserted glass fibres make this material tough and highly resistant to water. The handles are not susceptible to mold or dampness; rather, they do not shrink, chip, rust, soften, or oxidize over time. They also do not become brittle, which is a plus point.

The wider shape atop tapers close to the bottom. All these features along with the rounded edges contribute to a solid grip. The presence of half bolster means easy sharpening along the entire edge length. The set comes in a box of natural-colored ash wood, which ensures safe storage.

Pros

  • Balanced
  • Heavy
  • Giftable
  • Ergonomic handle that is impermeable to water
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Value for money

Cons

  • More sharpening frequency than usual
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Global Kabuto Knife Block Set, 7-piece

Global Kabuto Knife Block Set, 7-piece

This modern block set comes with six Japanese knives namely, 3-inch paring, 5-inch and 8-inch chef, 4.5-inch utility, 5.5-inch nakiri, and 8.5-inch bread models. The blades of these knives are stamped, not forged. However, the brand’s standards of production and quality assurance make them the tough competitors of quality forged knives.

These knives are lightweight and highly well-balanced due to which they are preferable even by professional chefs. Their blades are made using high-carbon stainless steel, which when used with the dimpled handle ensures a perfect grip.

While the hardness level is below 60, the blade edge’s sides are ground such that you get a straight, sharp edge. Another notable feature is the distinct convex edge due to which edge retention is as per the expectation.

The absence of a bolster makes it simpler to clean these knives. The ergonomic yet distinct handle shape makes these knives ideal for those who do not prefer square Western handles or experience uneasiness while using the standard knives for a prolonged period.

The black Kabuto knife block is black and is transparent enough to show the blades of all six knives. The top rim is made using stainless steel. This one can be the best Japanese knife block set for those who want to get started.

Pros

  • Sleek
  • Light
  • Giftable
  • Super sharp
  • Ambidextrous
  • Super edge retention and balance
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Easy to sharpen

 

Cons

  • Not forged but stamped
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Shun Classic 10-piece Knife Block Set

Shun Classic 10-piece Knife Block SetIf you have some experience of working with different Japanese knives and are looking for a comprehensive set from a popular brand, this set from Shun will not disappoint you. As it comes directly from an esteemed brand, its craftsmanship and quality are of great quality.

You get nine tools namely, 3.5-inch paring, 5-inch nakiri with a hollow edge, 4.5-inch honesuki, 7-inch santoku, 6-inch utility, 8-inch chef, 9-inch carving with a hollow edge, 9-inch honing steel, and all-purpose shears.

The Classic set comes with the stunning Damascus blades with ebony PakkaWood handles featuring a D shape and is strong as well as resistant to moisture. The blades are super sharp to offer the desired performance immediately.

They are handcrafted using the proprietary VG-Max steel that is known for its high performance as well as excellent edge retention. The blades are also ground and bead-blasted to reflect the most stunning wavy pattern.

The outcome is a sharp, hard, and corrosion-resistant set that is visually appealing. Yes, the Rockwell hardness rating is 60+ and that these double-bevel blades have an angle of 16 degrees on both sides.

Coming to the block set, it is made up of bamboo and contains 13 convenient slots to hold these tools.

Pros

  • Made in Seiki
  • Sleek
  • Razor-sharp
  • Great balance
  • Durable
  • Strong

Cons

  • Not for boning
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Why Choose a Japanese Knife Block Set?

Japanese knives are lighter but stronger than Western knives. They can hold their edge for a longer period than that of the Western knives.

Second, the craftsmanship of these knives is matchless. Many of them are handcrafted at Seiki, a famous city in Japan with a rich history of making the samurai swords. Hand skills are renowned across the globe.

The knives are admired for their razor-sharp edge, longer edge retention than other knives, and ultra-precise cuts. The legendary experience of the craftsmen along with modern technology has made these knives even more commendable for their functionality as well as durability.

Third, Japanese knives are harder, sharper, and leaner than Western knives. The sharp bevels, thin shape, and high-quality forged steel contribute to the durability of these knives.

Types of Japanese Knife Sets

KYOKU Knife Block Set of 5, 8” Chef Knife + 8” Bread Knife + 6.5” Carving Knife + 5” Utility Knife + 3.5” Paring Knife – Premium Japanese Steel with Wooden Block

There are different Japanese knife sets available in the market today. You can classify them into different groups based on their build material and the purpose they fulfill. The following are the most popular types of Japanese knife sets to consider:

Japanese Steel Knives Sets

As the name suggests, these sets have Japanese knives made up of stainless steel. Typically, they are made up of carbon steel whose hardness level on the Rockwell scale is 60 and above. This rating is considered higher than many other sheets of steel used for making knives.

While this hardness level ensures less sharpening frequency and better edge retention, it also means brittleness. This extreme hardness makes the edges vulnerable to chipping or breaking while working with dense items such as bones.

The good news is that the overcome the hard steel’s brittleness issue without compromising the ability to resist stain and corrosion, the makers of Japanese knives have come up with several steel alloys. These formulas tend to improve a few knife characteristics such as longevity and sharpness.

These steel alloys contain additions such as chromium (Cr) ensuring better stain resistance, nickel (Ni) ensuring more toughness and robustness, copper (Cu) increasing corrosion resistance, and molybdenum (Mo) for better corrosion resistance, more hardness and strength, and more toughness.

At times, even vanadium (Va) for improved toughness as well as wear resistance, tungsten (W) for better hardening properties, and cobalt (Co) for boosting strength and hardness are also added.

So, when you look for stainless Japanese knives, consider giving preference to VG-Max, VG-10, SG2, INOX, or molybdenum steel construction. They all keep brittleness at bay while improving toughness, strength, and resistance to stains and corrosion.

For the serious cooks and professional chefs for whom sharpness is the top priority, there are Japanese knives made in the traditional way using purer versions of carbon steel. These steels deliver remarkable hardness and performance while the issue of a brittle nature exists if not mixed with other elements to form alloys. Following are these carbon steels:

  • White: Is the purest form and is admired for its great sharpness and superb comfort of re-sharpening.
  • Blue: Has tungsten and molybdenum for improved durability as well as edge retention.
  • Powdered: Has a mix of molybdenum, vanadium, and chromium to offer a hard edge, rust resistance, and superior performance.

The best Japanese cutlery set is the one that provides all the aforementioned benefits while keeping the issue of brittleness away. Thus, carbon steel with mixes is what the home cooks and professional chefs prefer.

You will also come across Damascus steel knives featuring attractive wavy patterns. This steel is made using a minimum of two high-carbon steels having akin tempering as well as hardening properties. They both are forged together.

Regarded as extremely labor-intensive, this traditional steel needs skills and constant temperatures to deliver a product that has flexible properties while being very hard at the same time.

Sushi Knife Sets

Yes, these sets are specially made for handling sushi. You may be wondering why to invest in a sushi knife. Well, for beginners, sushi blades are designed longer than the other conventional metal blades. They are also designed extra sharp so that they can slice through different ingredients.

Remarkably, the standard sushi knives are single-edged, which indicates that they cut only as per how you angle the blade. Now, you may need a custom sushi blade in case you work using your left hand, as most single-edged blades work well for right-handed users.

Further, the best sushi knives are single beveled, meaning only a single blade side is sharpened. The other side is hollowed or flat. Such a design is responsible for giving a perfectly straight cut every time you pass the knife through the sushi ingredients.

Typically known as yanagibas, these knives are available in lengths ranging from 7 to 13 inches or more.  The right slicing motion is a single, continuous pull through the sushi, leaving a spotless edge throughout. The longer the knife, the simpler it is to get this benefit on all ingredients.

If the knife is shorter, you will have to end up making several strokes and yet you will not get a clean edge. However, a longer sushi knife means more steel, which means more expensive build material. In other words, you end up paying more for it than a shorter knife.

Thus, it is wise to choose a sushi knife set in which sushi knives are of different lengths, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Japanese Steak Knives Sets 

They feature very sharp edges that slice like butter. They are also made using high-quality steel and ergonomic handles. Being easy to hold, steak knives are well balanced due to which you can cut effortlessly.

Apart from the aforementioned features, Japanese steak knives have one more feature that sets it apart from their Western equivalents. Unlike the latter, Japanese steak knives do not have serrations. They are made of steel that delivers razor-like sharpness and has a 5- to 6-inch-long blade along with a tight 16-degree bevel.

The length is enough to pass via big steaks. However, a shorter one ensures superb control. Usually extending from heel to tip, the cutting edge may feature a bit of recurve for slicing in just one pass.

Read our article on steak knives here

 

Conclusion

If you are going to make Japanese cuisine, it is wise to invest in the best Japanese knife set. However, you should choose the one that uplifts your skills, keeps you safe, and works for a longer period despite facing various abuses.