Whether you are training to become a chef or everyone in your family simply loves your food, growing is about practicing. You need to improve yourself, but more importantly, you also require the best tools to ensure a good experience. Whether you are into Japanese cuisine or you simply enjoy discovering new dishes and surprising your friends and family, investing in specialized knives will make your life easier.
But unless you have been around Japanese knives for your entire life, you probably have no clue how to choose the best usuba knife. Usuba knives are most commonly used by professional Japanese chefs. They are mostly used for vegetables. Here is everything you need to know about usuba knives, as well as the top options available on the market.
About Usuba Knives
An usuba knife (known as usuba bocho in the Japanese cuisine) is used for vegetables. Just like other Japanese knives, this one is usually chisel ground and comes with a bevel on the front side. The hollow ground urasuki located on the other side is one of its main characteristics.
The edge is normally flat. Some knives are slightly curved, while others are perfectly straight. They are quite tall, so you have great clearance when chopping on boards – you will never have to worry about injuring your fingers or knuckles.
Compared to other knives, usuba knives have thin blades. This is what the name refers to in Japanese. The main idea behind a thin blade is to be able to cut through all kinds of vegetables without crushing or cracking them.
Usuba knives are similar to nakiri knives. When comparing nakiri knife vs usuba, you should know that nakiri knives are more suitable for home uses. Besides, the blade is sharpened from both sides, which is a bit different from usuba blades – sharpened from one side only.
There are more varieties to choose from when looking for the best usuba knife, hence the necessity of a little research. Just because a modern usuba knife looks different, it does not mean that it is fake or useless.
For instance, Kanto knives come with a square blunt tip. On the other hand, Kansai knives come with a spine – ideal for delicate work. Generally speaking, usuba knives are excellent for Kyoto chefs, who rely on this knife for pretty much everything they do.
Now that you know a bit more about these knives, what are the best-rated usuba knives on the market?
2020’s 5 Best Usuba Knives
Yoshihiro Usuba Knife
Varied designs – The classic usuba knife is available in two different options – rosewood and white. The color change will only affect the final appearance of the handle, without affecting quality standards or materials.
Superior blade – The blade will most likely make the difference. It is based on NSW Damascus, so it comes with 46 different layers. Overall, the blade measures 6.3 inches in length. Also, it is double-edged – 50/50. Technically, this is a nakiri knife. It is rated at 60 on the hardness Rockwell scale. Practically, the blade will last for ages, it is super sharp and it will most likely provide superior edge retention.
High-quality handle – The handle looks simple and basic. It comes in two different colors. However, no matter what color you choose, you will benefit from mahogany – durable, good looking, and solid. The knife will never slip out of your hands, even if they get a bit sweaty. Other than that, you have an octagonal shaped handle, which adds to your grip. It is long enough to be used comfortably by people with both small and large palms.
Extras and maintenance – No matter what color you choose, all usuba knives from Yoshihiro come with their sheath. It is a stylish natural magnolia cover that will keep your knife safe when stored. In terms of maintenance, you should never clean this knife in a dishwasher, as it may damage the blade. Do it manually with water and some mild soap.
- High-quality blade with exceptional durability
- Incredible edge retention
- Super sharp out of the box
- Well shaped and nonslip natural magnolia handle
- Not a full tang construction, which would have been even more stable
Tuo Usuba Knife
Diversity and style – Often advertised to be a nakiri knife, Tuo’s best usuba knife is available in a stylish appearance that will draw immediate attention. Based on a mix of black and stainless accents, it is not just good looking, but it is also suitable for a plethora of applications in your kitchen. While ideal for vegetables, it is great for other types of foods as well.
Built to last – This knife is made of stainless steel. It is a special forged German type of stainless steel. Once produced, the blade goes through a specific vacuum heat treatment, as well as nitrogen cryogenic tempering. In other words, it is flexible and incredibly hard, but also durable. It is worth noting that the blade measures 6.5 inches in length – it is pretty wide for finger clearance too.
Ergonomic handle – A top-notch blade becomes useless if the handle cannot compliment it. Tuo has already considered this factor, so there is nothing to be concerned about. Practically, you have a nice curved handle – ideal for both right and left-handed people. All these curves also reduce slicing resistance. The handle is made of pakkawood, so it has a slip-resistant stylish surface.
Sharpening and maintenance – The knife is razor sharp out of the box. Plus, you can sharpen it yourself at 14 to 16 degrees on each side. You can use a sharpener or a stone – whatever you have around. It has a full tang design and triple rivets for balance. As for its maintenance, make sure you never clean it in a dishwasher. Simply do it manually and use some mild soap – also let it dry before storing it away.
- Extremely well balanced
- Super ergonomic handle with great curves
- Almost no slicing resistance
- Good looking finishes on both the handle and the blade
- Made from durable materials – rust and corrosion-resistant too
- The slight texture when you run your finger over the rivets
Nanhaione Bigsun Usuba Knife
Engineered to deliver – Whether you are into salads, soups, herbs, or just plain vegetables, Nanhaione’s best usuba knife will not disappoint you. It is excellent in terms of chopping and it is straight with a slight bend towards the tip. In other words, it makes full contact with the cutting surface – no more veggies sticking to the blade or crushed vegetables.
Top-notch blade – The blade is exquisite. First, it looks amazing. It has a beautiful pattern that will stand out in your kitchen. Other than that, you have 73 different layers of Damascus steel. The VG 10 Damascus steel will resist stains, meaning it will also resist rust. Rust usually starts with those unpleasant stains on blades – you can forget about these issues. The blade is super sharp out of the box and provides good edge retention.
Premium handle – The handle is worth a bit of attention as well. It features premium acrylic resin and pakka. It is designed with military-grade purposes and will most likely last for a lifetime. It is hand polished and ergonomic. It ensures great control and it looks stunning. While not textured, it provides a good grip, meaning the knife will not slip out of your hands when sweaty or wet.
Sharpening and maintenance – As you get a specialized professional knife, you want to ensure you look after it. In terms of sharpening, you can use a classic sharpener or a sharpening stone. Simply sharpen the knife at 15 to 18 degrees on each side. Once sharpened, edge retention will pleasantly surprise you. As for cleaning it, do it manually and never in a dishwasher.
- Stable and well balanced
- High-quality materials
- Beautiful design – both the blade and handle
- Suitable for more foods
- Good finger clearance
- Cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher, but manually
Bigsun Usuba Knife
Multipurpose profile – Bigsun’s best usuba knife will not disappoint you. The professional Japanese knife is mostly designed for vegetables. It can chop, slice, dice, and mince with no issues at all. However, given its size and balance, it is just as handy for other types of food. The knife can be easily used for fruits and even meat. It is designed for both residential and professional kitchens.
Quality blade – The blade measures seven inches in length. It is pretty standard for this type of knife. It is made of not less than 67 layers of Damascus steel. It is finely polished and ensures amazing toughness. The material is corrosion and rust-resistant. Other than that, the blade has a convex sharp edge and is rated at 60 in terms of hardness due to the vacuum heat treatment.
Exquisite handle – You will fall in love with the handle the moment you see it. The fine honeycomb design looks amazing, but this is not everything. You have a solid resin handle that will never fade, lose its color, distort, or shrink. It is comfortable to use and provides a good feeling when you touch it. Despite the fine polish, it is not slippery when your hands are sweaty or wet.
Availability and maintenance – This specific knife comes in two different styles. While everything is identical, the blade pattern is the aspect that makes the difference. It is a matter of personal preferences only – you can choose between spray and maple leaf. As for looking after it, make sure you never throw it in a dishwasher but wash it manually with some mild soap.
- A beautiful and super sharp blade
- Suitable for all kinds of foods
- Great for both beginners and professionals
- Easy to look after
- Ergonomic and comfortable handle
- Heavier than other similar knives in this segment
Regalia Usuba Knife
Versatile uses – Regalia does not mess around when it comes to quality, hence the popularity of its best usuba knife. The knife is excellent for a wide variety of applications in the kitchen. While usuba knives are normally designed for vegetables, you can use this knife for fruits and meat too. Foods are less likely to stick to it. It ensures a full-contact cutting experience and provides lots of clearance for your knuckles.
High-quality blade – The blade is what makes or breaks a knife. In this case, the blade makes a difference. You have a six-inch blade – more than enough for most of your kitchen applications. It is based on 67 layers of AUS10 high carbon Damascus steel. In other words, the knife is easy to sharpen, it has impressive edge retention and it can resist rust in the long run. The hammered finish makes it look stunning as well.
G10 handle – When it comes to the handle, knife manufacturers rely on all kinds of solid materials to ensure a good grip, comfort, and durability. G10 is a different standard though. It looks amazing and it will last for a lifetime. It is slightly textured and feels comfortable. More importantly, it will never slip out of your hands. It is riveted as well, so the knife has great balance when in use.
Care and maintenance – Damascus steel is known for not requiring too much maintenance. The material is rust-resistant and can easily face corrosion. When you sharpen the knife, stick to classic options – stones and sharpeners. Use a sharp angle – around 15 degrees for each side. Wash the knife manually and never clean it in a dishwasher, as the blade will go dull much faster than normal.
- Built with high-quality standards
- Extremely well put together
- Slightly textured G10 handle for comfort and a nonslip experience
- Easy to sharpen and look after
- Beautiful blade design
- Does not come with a cover, unless you register the knife with the manufacturer
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I use to sharpen a Japanese usuba knife?
You can use a modern sharpener, but a sharpening stone is likely to provide better results. As for the angle, most manufacturers recommend sharpening their knives at 15 to 18 degrees on each side, depending on how sharp you want them to be.
Should I be careful when choosing between usuba and nakiri knives?
Not necessarily. A classic usuba knife is used by professional chefs. A nakiri knife is more appropriate for residential kitchens and less experienced users. It is easier to use and sharpened differently. Other than that, there are no major differences between these two knives, so you can get the job done with any of them. This is also the main reason wherefore many nakiri knives are advertised to be usuba knives and vice versa.
Are there any special techniques when using a Japanese usuba knife?
If you have used a vegetable cleaver knife before, chances are you will face no issues at all when switching to a Japanese usuba knife. It comes with a middle-sized blade – quite wide though, so it provides good knuckle clearance and tackles the whole surface of your food. After all, most of the edge must be in touch with the cutting surface.
Can I use usuba knives for other foods?
Given the size and design, usuba knives can also be used on fruits, but many of them are just as handy for different types of meats.
Choosing the best usuba knife for your kitchen is not as difficult as it seems. There are a few characteristics that make usuba knives stand out in the crowd – get them covered and you are on the right path. There are more options out there and some of them are obviously better than others. You can start with the 5 we featured.