Chopping veggies could be cumbersome if the knife you are using for this task is just not right. Imagine your situation if you are performing this task after coming home from a busy, hectic schedule at the office.
You cannot ignore this task, nor is there an alternative for the same. Thus, the only wise solution is to invest in the knife, especially meant for chopping. This is precisely where a nakiri knife has proved itself. A quality nakiri makes chopping even hard veggies quite enjoyable.
Although any sharp knife can easily help you in cutting vegetables, a professional, serious chef will always choose a nakiri considering its design made for chopping veggies. A good nakiri easily distinguishes chef-made and your-cooked meals.
Regardless of whether you are a keen cook at home or a professional chef, you would not prefer to ignore the potential of good kitchen tools. A nakiri knife is just one such tool.
We had covered about nakiri knife, and its origin and uses in the past here.
This article will be helping you find the best nakiri knife. You can start with our favorites if you are in a hurry.
Also called nakiri bocho, a nakiri knife features a Japanese design. It typically has squared-off tips and a straight blade edge for cutting through to the cutting board such that there is no need for a pull or push. Yes, you can expect perfect output without these normal actions that any other knife would require.
All nakiri knives are thin and light yet powerful enough to cut any vegetables. They are thinner than those knives that are specially designed to cut meat or bone. A distinct ability of these tools is the blade design that resides leveled on the cutting board instead of possessing a curvature from front to back.
This design enables you to cut by progressing straight up and down instead of moving back and forth. The thin and flat blade profile along the cutting edge allows the knife to move easily. If the blade is thick, it becomes difficult to cut accurately.
2020’s 3 Best Nakiri Knives Reviewed
Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Nakiri Knife with Hollow Edge
This nakiri knife is a leader due to its features. Ideal for slicing and cutting, this tool has a Granton edge that gives you the benefit of no sticking. The hollow edge has evenly positioned vertical indentations to form air pockets.
The 7-inch long blade is angled on each side and is made using stainless steel that has high carbon. It is thinner than a conventional cleaver and has a 10° cutting edge.
The full-tang being triple-riveted to the handle and the full-bolster design give you more control and ensures handle usage safety. The polypropylene handles are highly resistant to heat, discoloration, impact, and fading.
- Great sharpness
- Finer cuts
- Edge retention for a long time
- A great mix of balance and strength
- Custom text engrossing model available
- Not for dishwasher
Shun TDM0742 Premier Nakiri Knife, 5.5-Inch
This nakiri is Shun’s powerhouse! It is a unique build with a stunning hammered finish, pakkawood handle, and a curved toe. The toe rocks against the cutting board to ensure even chopping. The ultra-sharp, thin, and 5.5-inch long blade makes chopping a breeze by gliding smoothly and safely.
The layered Damascus steel and hand-hammered finish ensure no sticking of food. Similarly, the pakkawood handle in walnut finish provides a comfortable grip.
- Lasting sharpness
- Clean cuts
- No stickiness or dragging
- Secure grip
Kai 6716N Wasabi Black Nakiri Knife
This is an economical option. It is an all-purpose nakiri featuring the standard Japanese style for quick cutting. The 6.5-inch long blade is made using Daido 1K6 no-stain steel that has a high carbon and ensures excellent edge retention. It is also bead-blasted to give you a sleek finish. The sharpness is like a razor but is ideal for cutting with perfect balance while easy dicing and slicing.
While the blade is conventional, the handle seems to be modern. It is made using bamboo powder and polypropylene, the mix that is immersed in an antibacterial ingredient for clean cuts.
- Longer than other nakiris
- Great edge retention
- Not for rough cutting
How to Choose the Best Nakiri Knife
No two nakiri knives are identical. Although the design can be typically the same, there is at least one distinguishing feature or factor such as size, price, or build material. Thus, for choosing the best nakiri knife, it is wise to compare the promising ones and find out which one tends to meet all your requirements without compromising the decided budget.
For this comparison, you need to know the features or factors that affect your buying decision. So, let’s check them out!
As stated before, a nakiri is always light in weight. The credit for this goes to its thin blade. This is also the reason why it is usually lighter than other knives. At times, a nakiri is 40% less in weight than an usuba knife having the same features as well as length.
Most people are under the illusion that a thin blade will end up harming the veggies or fruits that are cut. The truth is that a nakiri swiftly and smoothly passes through the spongy, crunchy, and crispy texture of veggies and fruits to make a clean cut even they are delicate.
A nakiri knife is not only sharp and durable but is also long. It comes with a bigger blade than most other non-Japanese knives. The minimum length is 5 inches, which also contributes to easy, safe, and cozy chopping.
A standard nakiri will have a blade whose length varies from 5 to 7 inches. This length is sufficient to handle most veggies. Thus, it is essential to find the blade’s length before you shortlist any model.
It is the build material of the nakiri blade that is responsible for sharpness, longevity, and productivity. Thus, selecting the right blade material is indispensable for buying the best nakiri knife.
Most nakiri knives have blades made using stainless steel. However, there are different types of stainless steel, and all of them are not made equal.
Regardless of the type of stainless steel you choose, it will have some amount of carbon. Each type will have it in a different amount. The amount contained in the blade will help in gauging the overall quality. In case of any Japanese knife, two types exist, which are as follows:
- Low Carbon: The blade with low-carbon content is soft due to which it quickly becomes dull. Thus, you need to sharpen it quite frequently.
- High Carbon: The blade with high-carbon content is tough. It will retain a sharp edge for a long time. It is more durable, easier to sharpen, and needs less maintenance than a nakiri blade with low carbon.
Undoubtedly, a nakiri knife made using high-carbon stainless steel is the best choice. Go for it if your priorities are durability and quality. The lifespan of such a knife is higher than that of a knife having low carbon.
It is essential to choose a nakiri blade that has a finished surface. This is because only such a surface can prevent food from sticking to the blade at the time of cutting.
Many modern models come with a hammered finish that is called tsuchime in Japan. It is hammered by hand and is typically made to decrease drag at the time of chopping so that the food does not stick.
Hand-hammered finishes work by forming air pockets for releasing food smoothly from the blade to keep sticking at bay. If you find a nakiri blade with a Granton edge, you still get the same benefit.
Thus, do check out the blade finish before shortlisting or buying a nakiri knife.
Gauged in Rockwell, knife hardness determines how tough and durable a knife is. In other words, it indicates that the blade is not brittle, which otherwise would break in half, in case it drops or slips. A Rockwell hardness level of 58 and more is tagged as tough. Thus, it is best to look for a nakiri whose hardness level is in this range.
Cutting Edge Angle
The angle of cutting edge should be low, as it is the main contributor to sharp cuts. It is essential for precision and efficiency, as well. So, it is wise to choose a nakiri knife with a cutting angle ranging from 8 to 12 degrees.
Still, it is wise to choose an angle with which you are comfortable. You need practice and mastery to tackle extreme sharpness. So, choose an angle that is comfortable and gives you the desired level of sharpness.
Both blade quality and handle quality are equally important to check. While blade contributes to the performance, handle contributes to the overall safety and comfort.
While assessing the essential factors such as material, blade, and price, the quality of a handle should not be ignored. After all, it is the handle that will make you move the knife. Thus, it needs to be completely comfortable and of top quality.
You should look for an ergonomic handle that adapts to your hand curves and delivers a firm but comfortable grip to ensure safety at the time of cutting. Otherwise, the knife is likely to slip to end up causing an injury.
Nakiri Vs. Santoku
Before you go out and buy a nakiri, it is essential to know it inside out. For this, first, you need to know how it is different from its similar-looking Japanese knives. Most people will tell you that nakiri is similar to santoku, both of which are seen in Japanese kitchens. While nakiri knives are famous for their sharp chopping, santokus seem to be more popular than the former.
A nakiri knife’s straight blade cuts cleanly and evenly. However, a santoku has a curved blade that is designed so, especially for mincing, slicing, and dicing. Such a blade is also required for cutting meat. While both of them are light, they possess dissimilar blade shape.
A santoku knife is ideal for tackling more types of cutting chores due to its pointed edge and curved shape. On the other side, a nakiri is ideal for cutting thin food slices. It is unwise to expect this output from a santoku knife.
Nakiri Vs. Usuba
A nakiri knife is also often compared with an usuba knife. Again, both of them are Japanese knives used for chopping veggies. However, an usuba knife differs in the sense that it is usually flat and single grind on one side. This makes it tougher to sharpen this knife than a nakiri.
Unlike usuba knives, nakiri knives are versatile. They will do all the tasks that an usuba knife can do. However, they are easier to sharpen, less delicate, and lighter than the usuba knives.
The blade of a nakiri is far thinner than that of an usuba. Here, it is assumed that both the knives being compared are of the same length.
Is a nakiri knife only meant for fruits and veggies?
Typically, yes! Nakiri knives are exclusively made for chopping these two things. It is highly recommended not to use it for cutting anything else.
How to clean a nakiri knife?
After daily use, you should clean your nakiri knife with a soft and damp cloth. In case the blade seems to be oily or has some rigid residue on it, clean the blade gently with soapy water and then use a cloth to dry it.
It is unwise to keep the knife in normal or soapy water for long. This is because it is then likely to rust that can further disintegrate the wooden handle.
How to have my name embossed onto the nakiri blade?
It is possible to get your name engraved onto the blade of a Japanese knife. However, most of the time, this is possible only if you approach a professional blacksmith. This is because most sellers are less likely to provide this service.
A nakiri is an excellent entry-level knife for those who are big buffs of salads, soups, and other vegetables or fruit dishes. You should choose the one whose blade is long and has a blade finish, a low cutting angle, and an ergonomic handle.