Designing a marvelously dainty kitchen where peculiarly elegant dishes are made or even taking your home cooking a step ahead definitely involves a good choice of your culinary tools. And the most important tools in any kitchen are Kitchen knives. Speaking of kitchen knives, Japanese kitchen knives are definitely a chef’s first choice for various reasons.
Why Japanese kitchen knives?
Japanese Kitchen knives have proven their ability to stay at the top of the kitchen knives list for a long time. Japanese use their centuries-old experience with steel, along with technology pursuing the best steel products. A typical Japanese knife outsmarts a European knife by its hardness, type of steel, blade angle, and its easily sharpening process due to design.
The hardness of steel that a Japanese knife is made from, defeats other knives for Japanese knife hardness rating marks an average HRC 61.5 vs. an average HRC 54 for a typical German knife. Of course, a harder knife means so much less maintenance and honing.
Japanese craftsmen nowadays use various alloys (mixtures of metals) according to the knife’s uses.
A high quality Japanese knife has its cutting edge sharpened to a fine angle facilitating the process of slicing and cutting through food. The sharper edge noticeably decreases the force you need to make while performing a cutting task, and eventually less tire your muscles and joints.
The design of a Japanese knife makes it easy to sharpen unlike other knives that have a thick bolster which extends all throughout the knife.
A set of Japanese knives is a must have in any kitchen. In this article you are going to discover which knives are behind the scenes of a five star meal.
How to choose your ideal Japanese kitchen knife?
Are you indecisive trying to purchase a good quality, decent price Japanese knife? Does it take you a long time reviewing each product and comparing ratings, pros and cons, and price? Today, reading this article, you will be getting the necessary guidance and technical advice which will make you less hesitant on what to choose from a wide variety of Japanese knives brands and designs.
We will also guide you through what you need to know about picking the suitable knife for your needs, how to choose the best Japanese kitchen knife – or set of more than one. We will also provide you with our top ten best Japanese kitchen knives list that is carefully reviewed to limit the hassle of looking, comparing, reviewing and choosing the most recommended, effective kitchen knife to your preference.
Japanese kitchen knives come in many shapes, sizes, weights, materials, and of course prices. In order to make it easier for you to select your preferred kitchen knife, the following aspects need to be considered.
- Type of knife or what it will be used for
- Size of knife
- Material of blade and handle
Type of knife or the using preference
Selecting a preferred type of knife, that fits the needs of your kitchen and completes your set of blades, best filters out your available choices when purchasing a Japanese kitchen knife. Whether you are a dedicated chef, or an amateur cook, you probably own more than one type of blade, each with an assigned task in the cooking process. The list below summarizes the basic types of knives, with details about the shape and tasks that each type is made for.
1. The Gyutou knife or chef’s knife
This is a must have item in any knife set, and the most important. Its Size can vary from 6 to 12 inches long. From the name you can tell, it can be used for a wide range of tasks including chopping and dicing different vegetables or even slicing steak.
2. The Nakiri or vegetable knife
It is a double edged knife used for cutting vegetables. It comes in handy when cutting hard goods like squash or pumpkins.
3. The Santoku knife
4. The Petty or paring knife
This type of knife is characterized by its short blade, between 2.5 and 4 inches, and its pointing tip. It is a chef’s number one choice for peeling fruits or vegetables and creating garnishes.
5. The Honesuki or boning knife
This knife usually has a triangular shape and measures between 3 and 7 inches in length. Yes, you guessed right, it is used for segregating meat from bone. It specifically facilitates the job by its flexible, curved blade. This tool’s degree of flexibility specifies its tasks. A stiff blade comes in handy for cutting beef, a less stiff one is better used for poultry, and a really flexible one is best used for fish.
6. The Deba, Yo-deba or Butchery knife
The Deba and Yo Deba are Japanese kitchen knives that are used to cut fish originally, but can be used for meat. Their thick spine is their key feature. The Japanese “Deba” means “pointed carving knife”. This category of kitchen knives covers a range of lengths that vary according to the fish or meat chunk size.
7. The Pankiri or bread knife
As the name tells, a Pankiri knife is used with bread or other baked products. Thanks to its serrated blade, this knife slices bread chunks efficiently.
8. The slicer, Yanagi, Takobiki, or Kiritsuke
These three Japanese names are different versions of a slicer in the western- kitchen. In the Japanese kitchen however, Yanagi, Takobiki, and kiritsuke knives are used for different dishes. Yanagi has a single edge, and is used to cut slices of sashimi, and sushi with precision. Takobiki are used for the same purpose as Yanagi knives, but have a blunt tip, supposedly for safety reasons. The Kiritsuke slicer is designed with an angled tip, and is known for being used only by executive chefs in Japanese restaurants.
The size of the knife
As mentioned earlier, each type of knife has a typical size range in order to best suit the task it is made for. Also bear in mind that it all depends on what is best for your kitchen, preference, and everyday tasks. If most of your kitchen work is cutting cucumbers and tomatoes, then you are going to narrow down your choices to smaller size tools. Also it is very important to consider how big or small your hands are. A knife that is not the right size for you can jeopardize your cooking experience.
Blade and handle material
Shopping for this one knife that adds all the enjoyment to your cooking, you should be knowledgeable of the best materials that make up the knife, handle and blade.
Material of handle
Knife handles can be made up of wood, carbon fiber, aluminum, stainless steel, Titanium, Fiber glass laminate etc…
- Carbon fiber: considered durable and light.
- Stainless steel: corrosion resistant, very durable, but can be less comfortable.
- Wood: can be considered corrodible.
- Aluminum: lighter than stainless steel, very durable, but it conducts heat very well!
- Titanium: relatively light, rust-resistant, very strong.
- Fiberglass laminate: G-10, relatively strong, durable, and comes in colorful unique looks.
In reality, it all depends on your preference and comfort.
Material of the blade
For centuries, craftsmen have been thriving to come up with the best substances and alloys that make up the perfect blade. So we might as well give it some time to know more about the constituents of a good blade. The most commonly used blades are stainless steel, carbon steel, titanium and ceramic blades.
Stainless steel blades are of the most popular kitchen cutlery for their corrosion and rust resistance, and durability. However, it may not be as sharp as high carbon steel, and may stain in some environments.
High carbon steel blades are extremely hard and sharp, eventually they require less maintenance and re-sharpening. They are also more affordable than stainless steel. But they can be rust sensitive if not well cleaned and dried after each use.
Titanium blades are strong and rust resistant but they soft and not as sharp as other types of blades.
Ceramic blades can be extremely hard, but it tends to crack once dropped. They also require specific tools to re-sharpen.
In reality, there is no perfect material that everybody agrees on, it is all a matter of preference and needs.
Weight of the knife
The efficiency of a knife determines how hard or easy your cooking experience will be. And the weight of your knife is essential in determining how efficient it is. Holding a heavy tool in your hand is going to make you tired easily and slow down your work. A very light knife on the other hand, is going to require more effort from you to perform the task. So choosing a knife that weighs just right for you is very important.
Nobody wants to pay huge amounts of money when they can get a certain product or service at a lower price. And purchasing a knife is no exception to the rule. When shopping for kitchen culinary, you are seeking a tool that matches your needs within a certain budget.
Top 10 Best Japanese Kitchen Knives
Here is a review of our top 10 picks of Japanese Kitchen Knives:
A chef’s knife is the fundamental of all knives, one that can be solely used when cooking a whole meal. For this reason, picking the best chef’s knife required close attention to detail in order to reach the almost faultless.
The Wabi x Sabi pro kitchen 8 inch Chef’s knife is our favorite due to the following aspects:
- This knife is extremely sharp and holds its edge.
- Best value for price
- As efficient as very expensive knives
- Its light weight and comfortable grip
- Excellent balance
- Right size for cutting almost any think in a typical home kitchen
- Good looking
- Might be relatively light if you prefer heavier knives while cutting and chopping
The second best Chef’s knife goes to the Mercer Culinary M23830 for the ergonomic design which provides a very comfortable grip. Its blade is not any less quality, made of a single piece high carbon Japanese Stainless Steel.
- Extremely sharp
- Excellent value for price
- Perfect size
- Easy sharpening
- Not very fancy looking
- Very sharp that it needs attention while using
Cutting watermelons and squash could never be easier without this Nakiri vegetable knife. It is loved by many professionals thanks to its precision full tang and its super hard high carbon stainless steel blade.
- Very sharp
- Very efficient with hard goods
- Good value for price
- Great for small hands
- Light weight
- Good balance
- Suitable for smaller hands
- A little short blade
- Small for bigger hands
This elegant, razor sharp, good performing Nakiri knife speaks for himself.
Its hardness rating of HRC 58+ makes it durable with sharpness and edge retention.
- Very elegant
- sharp and durable
- A durable deluxe handle
- Well balanced
- Handle a little too long
- Corrodible if not well protected
This fancy looking knife that comes with a matching sheath makes our perfect Santoku knife for its ease of use and affordability. It can easily and precisely do any cutting and chopping task. There are also different color and size versions of this knife so that it meets your taste.
- Extremely affordable
- Cool looking color
- Keeps its sharp blade
- Perfect size for small hands
- Easily sharpened
- Narrow handle making it somehow hard to handle
- Material of the handle is not very comforting
This knife was voted as our best paring knife thanks to its solid construction and design that allows it to be our favorite paring knife.
- Hard blade
- Thin and suitable for precise cutting and paring
- Although designed for right handed, still suits the left handed.
- Very high performance with its relatively small size.
- Gets dull after a number of uses
- Not the best grip for some
- Not well balanced
In case your kitchen witnesses a lot boning tasks and you need to make the process of separating bones from meat, then this Kessaku boning knife is a must have.
- Smooth pakka wood handle
- Comes in a fancy gift box
- Extremely sharp and suitable for meat cutting.
- Very hard blade which retains its edge
- Comfortable to handle
- Its pointed tip enables it to cut through very narrow zones
- Not dishwasher safe, like all fine knives
Mercer brand proves its excellence manufacturing quality knives for affordable prices. And this Genesis Carving knife is no exception. This knife features a unique design making it our go to carving knife.
- Ergonomic non-slip grip
- Excellent balance
- Hollow edges
- Very sharp
- Good looking
- Too long for some people
- Hazardous to work with – extremely sharp
Once again, the Mercer brand is one of our top ten picks. Neatly slicing chunks of bread could never be better without this best serrated knife.
- Ergonomic, non-slip handle
- Perfect for bread with hard crust, as well as tomatoes
- Great value for price
- Correct edge angle
- Needs sharpening after several uses
- Not very safely packaged
This is the beginner chef’s partner for getting the ultra-thin slices, especially for sashimi or sushi.
- Decent quality
- Easy to maintain
- Handle is slim
- Single bevel, not easily handled by left-handed
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between forged and stamped knives?
The most important difference is the way each knife is manufactured. Forged knives are made of one whole steel bar that is heated then treated to shape. Whereas stamped knives follow a baking process similar to that of a cookie making. Forged knives are typically harder and heavier but are harder to sharpen and not as good as stamped knives when used for slicing.
Why not choose a set of Japanese kitchen knives?
In our review, we preferred not choosing a complete set of knives in order to shed the light on single knives and their uses. Moreover, many people usually opt to purchase a single knife that meets their needs or completes their pre-owned set.
What does ergonomic handle mean?
An ergonomic handle does not have a standard definition. It only promises a comfortable grip which can be due to a number of features, including material type and coating, and design
What is a Single bevel?
Typically, western knives are sharpened on both sides of the blade, eventually called double bevel blades. Japanese knives however, can come sharpened on one side of the blade- single bevel. You need to be careful when choosing a bevel if you are left handed, as most single bevels are sharpened from the right side which may not be suitable.
Which knives are dishwasher safe?
Most fine knives are not safe to dish wash. Even when a manufacturer claims that a knife is dishwasher safe, they advise you to manually wash instead in order to preserve the knife’s quality.
So next time you make sushi, or any Japanese dish make it as a PRO using the preceding well-reviewed items. We hope Our detailed information on types, uses, sizes, and materials of Japanese knives makes a good guide for your next buy.
As you previously read, Japanese Kitchen Knives are not limited for Japanese dishes; they tend to be amazing with our everyday, western style cooking. And of course what is best for one chef may not be another’s ultimate. That is why you may want to review each item before making up your mind. And please let us know of what worked best for you.