The humble kitchen knife also known as the ‘chef’s knife’ or the ‘Japanese kitchen knife’ is surely one of the most versatile implement you can use in the kitchen.
The best Japanese kitchen knives are capable of mincing, dicing, julienning, chopping, and shredding a wide range of food items to perfection. However, the fact that you can also use a chef’s knife for uncorking a wine bottle, opening a beer bottle or deboning meats and fishes is what makes it multifunctional.
So, what makes a Japanese kitchen knife a must-have multi-tool for your kitchen? The low-key and simple design of the chef’s knife is more than compensated by its razor-sharp, triangular 8-inch blade with a distinct curvature and a phenomenally strong handle.
This blog reviews 10 best Japanese kitchen knives in detail so that you find it convenient to choose one model or brand which meets your specific needs.
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Top 10 Best Japanese Kitchen Knives To Add In Your Kitchen
The Japanese kitchen knife set from Mr. Takaaki Nakamura is definitely the best chef’s knife set you can go for. There are a total of 5 knives in the set and every piece has been chiseled out of the best grade of industrial stainless steel.
The razor-sharp blades of the knives ensure that you can slice, dice, mince, julienne, and chop any and every food item or component with effortless ease. The shank or handle material has been shaped out of ABS resin that allows the user to have a comfortable yet firm grip.
This ALLWIN HOUSEWARE ‘high carbon stainless steel VG10 handmade Damascus chef knife’ is one of the popular Japanese kitchen knives you can keep handy in your larder.
This chef’s knife is ideal for dicing, slicing, mincing, and chopping vegetables, meats, and fruits. The cook’s knife is a cladded Japanese knife having a 8-inch long blade whose core is of ‘67-layer high carbon stainless steel’ that is wrapped around with a layer of VG10 Damascus Super Stainless Steel.
The cladding offers the kitchen knife a unique hardness as well as durability and also ensures that the beveled edge stays sharp as well as requires little maintenance. The shank crafted from G10 material is ergonomically designed for a good grip.
Each and every knife in the 12-piece Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Series Japanese Steel Knife Set-Cutlery Set has been forged out of a single piece of top quality Japanese stainless steel.
This is a full tang knife as the blade goes right up to the tip of the handle, staying firmly in place even after extensive use. The razor-like sharpness of the blades comes in perfectly handy for accomplishing any type of mincing, dicing, slicing or deboning job.
This Ginsu Gourmet set consists of a 8-inch chef’s knife, 8-inch slicer, 8-inch Santoku knife, 6-inch cleaver, 8-inch bread knife, and 7 other components including a block made of bamboo.
The ‘DALSTRONG Chef's Knife - Shogun Series X Gyuto - Japanese AUS-10V - Vacuum Treated - Hammered Finish - 8" - w/ Guard’ effortlessly qualifies for the ‘preferred Japanese Kitchen Knives’ tag.
This is a double-edge knife with an 8˚-12˚ beveling on both sides that has been achieved using the integrated 3-step Honbazuke method. Additionally, the blades have been nitrogen cooled, imparting to them an incredible level of sharpness, flexibility of use, and enhanced resistance to rust.
Full tang feature means blades stay riveted to the handle almost forever. Tsuchime finishing minimizes drag and boosts up performance.
The 4-inch paring knife/professional Damascus peeling knife from Kaizef can be definitely classed with the quality Japanese kitchen knives. This Kaizef chef’s knife’s core has been carved from certified Rockwell 62+ Japanese super steel and sheathed in super-strong SUS 410 stainless steel which offers the blade lasting hardiness.
A full tang blade welded to the shank via three rivets guarantees a lifetime of bonding and an 8-12% beveling on both sides ensures swift and smooth cutting action. The handle’s contoured profile makes sure your grip is rock solid.
You’ll find the ZELITE INFINITY, Alpha-Royal Series, 8-inch chef knife indispensable when it comes to cutting, slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping a near endless range of foodstuffs. The blade’s core is top grade Japanese AUS10 Super Steel encased in 33 layers of hand polished stainless steel that helps retain sharpness and hardness as well as keeps its corrosion free.
Zelite’s signature conical bolster boosts ‘pinch grip’ that aids in slicing veggies and fruits. Hornbazuke honing technique not only makes the blade incredibly sharp but also keeps the beveling intact.
Once you start using the SETO Japanese Chef Knife you’ll never want to use another kitchen knife. The blade core is of forged VG-10 stainless steel protected by 33 layers of Damascus steel which gives it a razor-like sharpness and also keeps it rust-free.
The D-shaped handle carved out of red sandalwood furnishes good grip while the plywood bolster helps in slicing, dicing, and sectioning food items with effortless ease. Fluorine coat and concavity of the knife counteracts the weight of the blade with the handle.
The 7-inch Usuba cutter-slicer-cleaver from TradaFor is one of the best Japanese kitchen knives in the single-edged chef’s knives category. The rust-resistant blade forged from 1.4116 high-carbon German steel is beveled on the right side and has a perfectly straight edge that facilitates even chopping, slicing, and dicing through hard and soft food components.
This razor sharp and thin blade is also ideal for julienning. The Pakkawood handle firmly soldered with the blade, enables steady
grip and is moisture resistant. The knife is well-balanced and lightweight enough to be used even by dainty hands.
The Kotobuki Japanese Kitchen Knife Set comprises of two knives-an all-purpose knife, and a cleaver. Both the knives are double-edged which means you can use both the tools for carrying out a gamut of cutting, slicing, chopping, filleting, and deboning tasks.
Also, being double-beveled implies that even a left-handed person can use the knives. The blades have been forged out of carbon steel and can withstand rust as well as daily wear and tear. The handles crafted out of hardwood transfer a robust grip.
Shaped out of high quality VG-10 Japanese Super Steel, the 8-inch long blade of chef knife from Magic Cuisine lets you cut, slice, chop, and mince your way through veggies and fruits in a flurry.
The carbon content makes the blade rust-resistant and prolongs its shelf-life as well. 67 layers of Damascus beaten high grade stainless steel makes the Japanese knife perform beyond your expectations. The handle constructed from premium quality material is hand-polished and anti-slip thus enabling a solid grip.
Japanese kitchen knives: How to Select?
Making a standardized list of the Japanese kitchen knives is an immensely challenging task simply because all kitchen knives are not created equal. In other words, a Japanese knife that you find eminently handy may not be so for somebody else.
The effectiveness of a typical chef’s knife varies from person to person, and invariably depend upon the manner you hold the tool, your hand size, and the specific purposes you’ll use it for. Beware of the fact that nowadays you’ll come across several ‘Japanese kitchen knife’ brands that are crafted in China.
Though the ‘made in China’ chef’s knives are produced using more or less the same manufacturing process or technology that premium brands of Japanese knives use, they still happen to be inferior compared to the latter. The cheaper Chinese brands use low-quality materials and do not adhere to stringent quality control methods.
Nevertheless, there are a few brands of Japanese knives that are Chinese made but can compare with some of the bestselling Japanese brands in terms of performance, and they are less costly as well.
Before you can embark on the task of listing some of the Japanese kitchen knives, it’d be worthwhile for you to know that there are different variations of Japanese knives as well. If you go online and search with using the keywords, ‘Japanese kitchen knives’, you’ll see links for ‘Gyuto’, ‘Santoku’, ‘Sujihiki’, ‘paring’, ‘Nakiri’, ‘Yanagiba’, ‘Kiritsuke, ‘Honesuki’, ‘Deba’ and ‘Steak’ knives. However, this is not a comprehensive list as there are many other kinds of chef’s knives.
How to tell a Japanese knife from a Western knife?
Also, bear in mind that Western or European knives are different and distinct from Japanese knives. Western chef knives are culinary powerhouses that can be pressed into service for filleting a large salmon to deboning a sizable cut of beef to performing tasks that calls for delicateness, like julienning lemons strips.
Conversely, a Japanese kitchen knife is designed to chiefly carry out tasks that require an unflinching attention to detail, largely because of the hardness and sharpness of the blade. In short, the best Japanese kitchen knives are extensively used for specialized purposes.
Essential features of best Japanese kitchen knives
The blade: Should you go for a carbon steel or stainless steel Japanese knife?
The most important factor that you should first take into consideration while selecting the best Japanese kitchen knives is the hardness or to be specific, the quality of hardness of the blade. Blades chiseled out of the best grades of carbon steel and stainless steel tends to be the hardest which naturally makes them the hardiest as well.
However, if you happen to be a regular homemaker or professional chef who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, it would be more practical for you to choose the stainless steel version instead of the carbon steel one.
Though a Japanese kitchen knife made out of carbon steel is as performance-oriented as the stainless steel counterpart, the former requires a greater degree of maintenance. Carbon steel blades tend to rust and corrode if you do not fully wipe off the water marks or condiments from the surface.
So, you need to be more careful while using a chef’s knife that comes with a carbon steel blade and see to it that the blade surface is completely dry when you are done using it for the day.
On the other hand, Japanese knives with stainless steel blades are easier to maintain as these can withstand water and food marks that you may forget to remove sometimes.
The best Japanese kitchen knives have blades attached to handles that are generally chipped out of premium grades of hardwoods. The handle is beveled to give it a smoothness that feels smooth inside your palm but does not get slippery when moist or wet.
The handle is textured in such a way that it helps in gripping the handle firmly without compromising on comfortableness. The fine texture also helps in retaining the handle’s shape.
Tang or projection of the blade fixed to the handle
The manner in which the Japanese’s kitchen knife’s blade is attached or fixed to the handle is termed as tang. Some chef’s knives are ‘full tang’ while others are ‘push tang’. The blade of a full tang Japanese knife goes through fully through the handle almost ending at the edge.
On the other hand, the blade in a push tang chef’s knife is wedged inside the handle up to a specific extent, and hence there is always the risk or possibility of the blade coming loose.
Nevertheless, the tang factor is usually not a matter of concern when it comes to picking from the best Japanese kitchen knives. Premium brands of Japanese knives are constructed robustly where the handle and the blade are soldered jointly to form a compact and solid unit.
Bevel: Single-edged blade or double-edged?
You must be aware that some kitchen knives have their cutting edge either on the left or the right side while others have sharpened edges on both sides. The cutting edge, or to be precise, the angle or inclination of the edging is called the knife’s bevel.
European knives tend to be beveled on both surfaces of the blade whereas Japanese knives generally have the beveling only on one end (the right-hand size in most cases).
Single-edged knives come in supremely handy for paring, dicing or slicing veggies and meats into super-thin or matchstick cuts whereas double-edged ones are meant for general-purpose use.
Nowadays, you’ll find Japanese knife brands that are dual-edged. However if you think that a single-edged knife will serve you better and you happen to be left-handed, then make sure the cutting edge is always to your right.
Cladding signifies that the blade has a core made of carbon steel and sheathed in a wrapping of stainless steel. The only worthwhile benefit of using a cladded or encased knife is that you don’t have to worry about its maintenance as the outer layer of material offers sweeping protection to the core layer.
The good quality Japanese kitchen knives have triangular-shaped blades that are usually 8-8.5 inches long. However, you may want to try a knife with a shorter blade if your hands are small.
Nevertheless, in order to make the most of a chef’s knife, it is suggested to settle for a knife with an 8-inch blade.
The 10 Japanese knives reviewed in this blog were found worthy to be used as chef’s knife both in the domestic kitchen and restaurant cooking area, with few notable exceptions.
While a few Japanese knives like the ‘Kotobuki Japanese kitchen knife set’ were found to be made out of inferior grade of material, some brands like the ‘Mr. Taakaki Nakamura’, Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Series’, and Dalstrong Chef’s knife’ perfectly made the cut for being the best Japanese kitchen knives.