In case you are a big fan of Japanese cuisine, it is likely that you want to prepare it with the appropriate tools. In today’s article, we are going to talk about the best Japanese chef knives you can find in today’s rich and competitive market.
Unlike some other types of chef knives, Japanese ones are generally more lightweight, sharper, and more delicate, and as such, they are perfect for preparing exquisite dishes and specialties from eastern cuisine. In our research for the best products, we found various items that will suit different budgets and needs, so there will be plenty of choices for everyone. There is a lot to cover, so let us start without further delay.
List of Best Japanese Chef Knives
1. Shun Chef’s Knife Cutlery Premier
This 8-inch blade from the Shun shop is a prime example of how a knife for Japanese cuisine should look and feel. The manufacturers are known for their high-quality, well-balanced products, and this piece of cutlery is no different in any way.
This knife is excellent for all-around cutting, slicing, dicing, or chopping, and it comes with a comfortable handle that allows you to perform all tasks effortlessly. The blade itself is made from Damascus steel with a hammered finish that is not just effective in cutting and slicing but also looks very appealing.
Although this product is marked as dishwasher-safe, it would be wiser to hand wash it to preserve the quality of materials and prolong its lifespan. The smooth and precise cutting is something that you will instantly fall in love with, and it will make your job in the kitchen much more satisfying. The price is also relatively affordable, especially when you consider the quality you are getting.
- Comfortable handle
- Highly versatile
- Visually appealing
- Hammered finish
- Damascus steel blade
- A bit heavy for a Japanese knife
2. Yaxell Mon 6-piece Knife Set
Yaxell is a well-known manufacturer of kitchen cutlery that has a tradition that has lasted for almost a hundred years in Seki, Japan. Their products are a fantastic combination of traditional and modern manufacturing, and the end results are sharp, lightweight, and effective knives.
This particular set includes a paring knife, utility knife, santoku knife, chef knife, bread knife, and one Ash storage block. Getting all of these for such a low price is a rare occurrence on the market, especially because you are getting a top-of-the-line and durable product for it.
The knives are beautifully designed thanks to their sandblasted finish and Katana sword wave. All handles are made of micarta that provides superb comfort for effortless use and excellent balance. Stainless steel construction also serves as a testament to the quality and durability of the set, which is definitely a worthy consideration.
- Lifetime replacement warranty
- Extremely sharp right out of the box
- Comfy micarta handles
- Excellent edge retention
- Full tang
- No empty slots in the storage block
3. Global – 8 inch, 20cm Chef’s Knife
In skilled and capable hands, this 8-inch blade is an absolute beast in the world of Japanese knives. It is a product coming from the Global store, and it is constructed with a carbon blade, while the handle is made of stainless steel, which guarantees an anti-corrosion effect and durability.
This unit is every chef’s dream, be it for its versatility, beautiful design, or smooth cutting and slicing you can perform with it. Razor sharp does not even begin to describe the incredible capabilities of this blade. It is well-balanced and will perform amazingly at any kitchen job you can think of.
In order to prolong this knife’s lifespan and take advantage of its full value, you will have to take special care of it. Ensure that it is always hand-washed and dry when you use it, and you will have an absolute blast using it. This is a well-balanced and high-quality product that goes for a reasonable price, and as such, it should definitely get the chance to be an integral part of your cutlery.
- High-quality stainless steel construction
- Well-balanced and lightweight feel when using it
- Lifetime warranty for build problems and product defects
- Very sharp
- The grip holes in the handle can get food and debris stuck inside
- Requires a delicate maintenance
4. Miyabi Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch, Birch/Stainless Steel
This gyuto, or kitchen knife, is a product from the Miyabi store that offers fantastic stainless steel construction that ensures smooth cutting and high durability. Aside from being top-of-the-line at what it does, this product is also super-easy to maintain as it stays sharp longer.
It comes with a Karelian birch handle that is very lightweight and comfortable for use, regardless of your kitchen tasks. This blade is finished with traditional Japanese Honbazuke honing, and it is sharpened and polished in three stages, which ensures you will slice and cut when preparing your dishes effortlessly.
Aside from being very sharp and effective, this knife is also well-balanced and good-looking, as the Damascus pattern provides that extra elegance. Even though the price of this knife is a bit high, it is stylish and effective, which makes it a worthy buy for anyone who decides to opt for it.
- Very sharp
- Durable edge retention
- Beautiful handle
- Elegant design
- Easy to maintain
- A bit pricey
5. KUMA Professional Damascus Knife
Coming from the Kuma store, this Damascus knife is a perfect pickup for anyone that looks for a sharp and well-built Japanese chef knife that will stand the test of time and provide superb performance. It is made using top-notch steel and is designed in a way it will fit like a glove in any kitchen.
The beautiful Damascus pattern is a real eye candy and will make you want to use it as soon as you get it out of the box. Once you do, you will notice how sharp and well-balanced this unit actually is, and cutting with it is a real treat as it makes your kitchen job a lot easier and more fun.
Since this knife is made of 67 layers of top-notch high-carbon steel, the strength, chip resistance, and durability are almost guaranteed. The handle is slightly beveled and feels super sturdy, which will give you more confidence when using the knife. It is a hand-finished product, which according to manufacturers, ensures that the blade will be sharp right out of the box. As it turns out, this is, in fact, true.
- Chip resistant blade
- Very durable
- Sharp right out of the box
- Beautiful Damascus pattern
- Sturdy handle
- It provides a more western-style feel
6. Zelite Infinity Santoku Knife
This santoku knife is a fantastic entry-level Japanese knife that will perform amazingly in the hands of beginners. It is a product with a slightly curved blade, Granton edge, and Damascus steel pattern that make it look unique.
Aside from its beautiful design, this unit is highly effective, well-balanced, and super-sharp right out of the box. It is constructed with 16 layers of metal that create a lovely pattern. The shape of the handle makes the knife very easy to hold, which is very important for people that use Japanese knives for the first time, as they will easily get used to the grip.
The excellent balance is mostly due to a full tang, and the whole package is absolutely amazing for all-around use. It is a decorative knife with a really sharp edge, and although it feels a bit heavier than the rest of the entries from our list, it will provide you with an amazing feel and superb performance.
- Attractive blade
- Performs well on typical kitchen tasks
- Excellent for beginners
- Nice-looking packaging
- Slightly curved blade for more versatility
- It might feel a bit heavy for some chefs
7. Shun Premier Build-a-Block Set
Since this small set ships off only with a chef knife and a honing rod, you might be wondering why it is called a set in the first place. However, the knife alone is worth almost the full price as it is very sharp, lightweight, and excellently balanced.
The storage block included in this set offers three empty slots, meaning that you will be able to add some extra knives inside. The Pakkawood handles are incredibly comfortable and sturdy, and aside from being practical, they also look fantastic. What adds even more to comfort is the fact that you will be able to slice effortlessly without applying too much pressure to handle.
One of the main reasons this knife performs so well is its very thin edge that ensures easy slicing. However, due to this design, the knife should not be used to cut frozen or very hard food as it can damage over time. When thinking about this knife, the excellent comparison would be that it is more of a sports car than an SUV. It is excellent for finesse slicing, but for heavier tasks, you should probably opt for something different.
- Full tang
- Very sharp from the get-go
- Excellent edge retention
- Very light and thin
- Extra empty slots in the wood block
- Pakkawood handles
- The design of the storage block could be more elegant for such a good-looking knife
8. Yoshihiro VG-10 Japanese Knife
Coming from the Yoshihiro store, this knife is available in two sizes, but today, we are going to pay closer attention to the 9.5-inch variation. Right out of the box, you can notice just how much the manufacturers devoted attention to making this perfectly balanced and sharp knife, which is absolutely worth every cent you will invest in it.
It is a knife that delivers traditional design in a big way, with its kanji characters, the hammered blade side, and the Damascus finish. It is a true state-of-the-art unit that performs as well as it looks. The first thing that is going to impress you about this product (apart from the looks) is just how well-balanced it is.
It is very comfortable to hold, and the edge is sharp right out of the box. Although it is a bit pricier unit, it is very much worth it, as you will end up with one of the best Japanese chef knives on the market. Essentially, if you want to make a smart investment in top-of-the-line knives, then this product might be exactly what you need.
- Superb craftsmanship
- Fantastic balance
- Beautiful design of handle and blade
- It can fit into a larger Yoshihiro set
- It comes sharpened only on one side of the blade
9. Mac Knife Series Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife
It is important to mention right from the get-go that this knife is a budget pick for people that do not want to spend a lot of money on their cutlery. However, the price does not compromise the quality of this product, and it will deliver the performance you would likely expect from a more expensive knife.
This knife is crafted using high-carbon steel by Japanese artisans in Seki City. The blade is corrosion-resistant and hand-sharpened to make it super sharp and retain edges for a very long time. The edges are also double-beveled, which makes them much easier to sharpen, which every chef will appreciate.
The hollow edge of this product provides some advantages when compared to non-dimpled ones, as it performs much better when cutting ingredients such as potatoes, making a cleaner cut with less food sticking. The handle is also comfy and suitable for both beginners and pros alike. Overall, this is a great blade for anyone that works on a budget and wants to get a very good multi-purpose knife.
- Very durable
- Good for right-handed and left-handed users
- Suitable for pros and beginners
- Three size options
- It might be too light for some kitchen tasks
Things to Consider Before Purchasing Japanese Chef Knives
When you start browsing for Japanese knives, you should look only for the best of the best. We want to help you with finding the best value for your money’s worth, so we have put together a brief list of guidelines you should follow. Let us begin.
There is a total of four essential types of Japanese chef knives you can opt for – gyuto, santoku, nakiri, and petty. Gyuto is a universal type that is suitable for various tasks in the kitchen, and it is famous for its thin and light blade.
Santoku is also a multi-purpose knife that is generally familiar in the western world. It can be utilized for slicing, dicing, and mincing. These knives are a fantastic choice for chefs with small hands.
Nakiri is a knife that is excellent for the accurate slicing of vegetables, and finally, petty is a type of knife that performs excellent when you have a kitchen task that requires a smaller blade (slicing garlic, hulling strawberry stems, etc.).
The choice of blade length entirely depends on the kitchen tasks you want to perform. Buyers usually go for the most common eight-inch knife; you can explore some six-inch units, as they are more suitable for users with smaller hands and work well for delicate tasks.
Tang refers to a part of a knife that extends into a handle. A full-tang knife will extend all the way through the handle, which will provide you with a more confident feel when using it and a better sense of balance.
You also have the option of a concealed tang, which means that no part of the tang is visible, and it is completely concealed in the handle. Lastly, there is a partial tang that does not extend through the handle, which can often impact balance and durability. The bottom line is that a full tang is the best choice, although it might cost a bit more.
Today’s market is jam-packed, with Japanese knives coming with various handles. If you want to opt for something that will provide you with a more lightweight and balanced feel, we recommend you go for a knife with an aluminum, stainless steel, carbon, or titanium handle.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something more traditional, there are plenty of choices with wooden handles. These knives also provide more precision when slicing. Some of the favorites as far as the wooden handles go, Pakkawood and Rosewood, are the most popular.
Japanese knives can be more or less divided into two categories – carbon steel and stainless steel. Japanese steel typically has a higher carbon content when compared to western ones and is excellent for delicate tasks. On the other hand, stainless steel is a bit more durable and adds corrosion resistance to the mix.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are Japanese knives more balanced?
Japanese knives generally tend to be lighter than western ones, so it is safe to say they are more balanced as well. Although some users prefer heavier knives, they strain your hands after multiple hours of use. With that said, Japanese knives are more balanced and better suited for delicate tasks.
2. How can you tell if a Japanese knife is good?
First and foremost, as with any other knife, it has to be very sharp right out of the box. These knives are generally well-balanced, lightweight, and better suited for delicate kitchen work. High performance, high durability, high quality, and low maintenance are all essential traits of Japanese cutlery.
3. What Japanese knives do pro chefs use?
Professional chefs use Japanese knives such as Santoku, Yanagiba, Deba, Nakiri, Sashimi, or Gyuto. All of these serve different purposes in the kitchen and add extra versatility to chefs so that they can perform a wide variety of tasks.
4. What should I avoid cutting with Japanese knives?
It is important to avoid cutting hard surfaces such as a benchtop, glass, ceramic, bamboo, or any type of frozen ingredients and hard foods, as all of this can damage the knife and reduce its lifespan.
5. What is the most versatile Japanese knife?
Gyuto is the most versatile and multi-purpose knife you can opt for, as it is suitable for cutting various types of foods effortlessly and accurately.
Japanese chef knives come in various shapes and forms and are probably the most versatile pieces of cutlery you can find in today’s market. Moreover, they are designed with a lot of attention to detail and have construction that is meant to stand the test of time.
Whether you are a fan of Japanese cuisine or not, you should definitely consider getting these knives, as you can perform various kitchen tasks with them. Although they will not always come at affordable prices, consider saving some money and buying them, as they will provide you with fantastic value and versatility.