Japanese knives are globally known for their exceptional performance and superior quality which makes them the go-to cutleries for every professional chef. They are designed with high craftsmanship to ensure every single piece out there stands out from its peers giving you the confidence to conquer any recipe. Professional cooks have showcased their skills by taking advantage of the Japan knives and it is beyond any reasonable doubt that these cutleries are a great addition to any kitchen.
Our best pick goes to Shun DM0706 Chef's Knife. The knife features an exceptional VG-10 stainless steel with 32 layered clad for added strength and durability. Its 8” blade allows you to conquer any recipe meal after meal. Its handle is ergonomically designed with black laminated Pakka wood which offers great balance and comfort.
If you are on a budget, Ginsu Forged 12-Piece Japanese Knife Set is the best knife for the money. The set consists of one piece forged Japanese stainless steel for a balanced and comfy knife. The blade is stain and rust resistant with an ultra-sharp edge which retains its sharpness for long. It only requires periodic sharpening with a wet stone making it our best budget pick.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Japanese Knives
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1. Shun DM0706 Chef's Knife
Shun DM0706 series is a classy knife which is crafted with high precision in Japan to suit varied culinary uses. With this model, you can chop, dice, slice, and cut effortlessly. Its cutting-edge comprises of 32 layers superior quality and rust-resistant Damascus steel which is folded to ensure a sharp cutting edge which retains its sharpness for long.
Better still; the folded steel produces elegant watermarks on the blade giving it a classy look. Its D- the shaped handle is ergonomically designed and weighted to provide a secure grip with high comfort levels. A resin coating gives the knife refined looks bringing efficiency and elegance to your home.
The 8-inch chef knife is a great addition to your kitchen. Its quality, design, looks, and performance are unmatched to none making it one of the best Japanese knives for professional chefs.
2. Ginsu Forged 12-Piece Japanese Knife Set
Enjoy performance and great control with this Ginsu Japanese knife set. The set includes everything you need to get any meal ready. All the pieces are fogged as one piece from Tang to tip to give you the confidence to prepare any meal. Ginsu knives set come when they are already sharpened so you can start preparing your food right away.
Designed with one piece of superior quality Japanese steel, these Ginsu knives set boasts of their quality cutting edge which stays sharp for long. Its handle is perfectly designed to give you better control and balance all the time making the preparation of the trickiest meals simple and fun.
3. Shun Premier Chef's Knife
Shun is a professionally designed knife which touts of a 16 layered Damascus steel with an elegant hand hammered finish which prevents food from sticking on the knife as well as reducing drag cutting. It is a great multipurpose knife which can be used for chopping and cutting both vegetables and meat making it a great addition to any kitchen.
Its blade consists of a VG-10 High Carbon which helps the knife retains its edge serving you generation after generation. Its Rockwell hardness rate ranges between 60-61 which give the knife an ultra- sharp edge. The PakkaWood handle features a resin-impregnated hardwood which is strong, and moisture resistant making the knife more durability.Materials used to construct the handle are NSF approved which ensures high sanitary standards giving you peace of mind and confidence to handle any recipe.
4. Yoshihiro VG10 Japanese Knife
Are you looking for the best Japanese knife for beginners? Then this Yoshihiro could be a perfect pick for your culinary tasks. The knife is designed with VG-10 three-layered stainless steel for a durable, sharp, and edge retention. A 16 layered steel is used to cover the outer part preventing food from sticking on the blade sides while bringing a stylish look at the same time.
The knife gives you versatility like no other by allowing you to complete different tasks easily. From chopping hot roast chicken to slicing and dicing recipes, this Yoshihiro chef knife will give you the confidence to handle any recipe meal after meal without impacting the quality.A full Tang high-end Mahogany wood handle offers better control and balance for smooth preparation of your meals.
5. Shun Stainless-Steel Knife
This Shun stainless steel knife touts of 16 layered SUS410 Damascus steel on each side to ensure you get a professionally designed knife that can serve you for generations to come. The Damascus style gives it an elegant look and helps reduce friction when slicing.
Its blade is famous for retaining its edge and sharpness with a Rockwell hardness of 60-61 giving you the confidence in every meal. Its handle is designed with PakkaWood materials which are NSF approved to ensure high sanitary standards, full control, and stability each time.Cleaning the knife only requires hand washing which makes its maintenance easy. Overall, Shun Nakiri knife is where craftsmanship, performance, and style meet. The knife has been trusted for its exceptional performance and design which makes it stand out from its peers.
6. Tojiro DP Petty/Utility Knife
Tojiro knife is designed using a 'honwarikomi' method where a 13% chromium stain proof stainless steel and a superior quality Swedish carbon steel are used. The blade is double edged with 50/50 balance and a Rockwell hardness of 60± 1 for a hassle-free cutting.It features a 5.9" cutting blade which handles different recipes with ease. The handle is made of a composite wood which offers a comfy and balanced control over the knife even for the most demanding recipes.
7. Tojiro DP Paring Knife
With a three-layered clad of a VG10 super strong steel which is protected with two layers of rust and stain resistant steel, this Tojiro DP series is designed to help you complete your culinary tasks effortlessly. The knife has a Rockwell hardness of 60 for added durability and strength.Its wooden handle is triple riveted to offer you comfort and balance. Overall, Tojiro series is crafted with high craftsmanship to give you great versatility. The brand is trusted by professional chefs and has been for years relied upon for most culinary tasks.
8. Misono UX10 Santoku
Misono is a triple riveted knife with a 7.0-inch blade for efficiency. On the blade is a Misono UX10 stamp which cannot be duplicated so you can rest assured of a quality knife. Its black handle is ergonomically designed for comfort, and balance while bringing elegance to your kitchen. Though the knife is efficient, it is only ideal for right-handed users.
9. Shun Classic 6- Piece Knife Set
With VD-Max core which boasts of a 34 layered stainless Damascus steel on both sides for edge retention and great performance. The set consists of 6 pieces set designed for different culinary tasks giving you the confidence to approach any recipe.Its D-shaped handle features ebony PakkaWood material which is super strong, durable and moisture resistant. For great performance, the knife is recommended for hand sharpening and washing.
10. Mac Knife Superior Bread Knife
In case you may be in search of the best Japanese bread knife then this Mac series could be a great choice for you. The knife is made from exceptionally high carbon steel which is rust-resistant and ultra-sharp for precision slicing. The blade is well serrated to give you clean cuts all the time.Its Pakka wood handle has triple-riveting for added strength and stability. Its lightweight design makes it ideal for use even for extended hours without getting fatigued. However, the knife is not dishwasher safe.
Things to Consider When Buying a Japanese Knife
Japanese knives feature two design types, that is the stamped and forged knives. Stamped knives are designed using a machine where a piece of sheet is cut, reshaped and then the blade is sharpened. Stamped knives do not stay sharp for long and will require regular sharpening which may call for a replacement.
Manufacturers use heat treatment to give the blade strength. In case you happen to settle for a stamped model, ensure it is heat treated.
Forged knives, on the other hand, are heavy as compared to stamped but in regard to durability, they stand out. During construction, the steel is heated under extreme temperatures and molded to the desired shape which makes the blade strong.
Blade hardness plays a significant role in the performance of your knife. One way of determining how strong the blade is by checking out its Rockwell rating. Models with high Rockwell rating retain their edge for long. For beginners who may be looking for a quality knife which can retain its edge even after repeated sharpening, a Rockwell hardness of 58-60 is recommended.
Note that, even though the hardness of a knife can help you determine its edge retention, some brands will have a Rockwell hardness within this range but may not withstand the test of time.
While different metals will behave differently to different hardness, the performance of the knife should not be strictly based on its hardness.
Japanese knives will feature carbon steel, stainless steel, Damascus, or ceramic materials. Each of these metals differs from each other in regards to quality, performance, cost, and ease of maintenance. Knives designed using Carbon steel are easy to sharpen and retains their sharp edge for long as compared to stainless steel but are more prone to rust. For a carbon steel knife to last, it will require proper care to prevent the blade from rusting.
Though rust-proof, stainless steel is hard to hone and may call for professional honing or else you will not enjoy the sharp cutting edge. Cost-wise, stainless steel is more affordable as compared to carbon steel.
Ceramic knives have blades made of superior quality zirconium oxide which is exceptionally light and strong like a diamond. Compared to stainless steel, ceramic knives retain their ultra-sharp edge for long. However, ceramic is very delicate and required careful handling. Dropping the knife may chip it.
In case you tremble or probably don't know how to handle delicate items, then avoid settling for a ceramic model.
Knives made of Damascus blade usually have a carbon steel core which has several layers of both soft and hard steel that makes the blade hard and strong with the power to retain an exceptionally sharp edge.
Depending on the model you choose, Japanese knives can either be single or double beveled. Single beveled means that you only need to sharpen one side while double beveled models require honing on both sides.
Double beveled models are easy to handle but do not retain their sharpness for long as compared to single beveled models. However, single beveled models are hard to use and will require you to practice. If you are a beginner, it is a great idea to go for a double beveled model then once you have advanced, you can upgrade to a single beveled model.
Most kitchen knives will allow you to prepare different meals with ease. Every knife has specified types of food or recipes it is recommended for. By looking at your knife shape, you can easily determine which tasks you can accomplish with it.
For instance, if you need a knife which can slice, dice and cut, you should go for a more curved edge with at least 5" blade. A broader blade which is 3” long is great for cutting vegetables and fruits while narrower blades are great for peeling, chopping and cutting raw fish.
Serrated blades are ideal for cutting bread, fruits, vegetables, and pastries. Most manufacturers highlight some of the tasks you can use with the knife. Let your cooking guide you in choosing the right tool for the job.
While the design plays a significant role in your comfort levels, the weight of your knife can ruin or spice up your cooking. Though some people may prefer a lightweight model, others may not have any issue working with a heft model. There is no recommended weight limit for kitchen knives. Your choice should be dictated by your preferences and whatever you are comfortable using.
Though different models will feature different handle sizes, materials, and design, the final decision will be determined by your personal preferences. Remember to factor in the size of your palm when choosing a knife to avoid buying one that will overwhelm you.
Note that, not every knife handle will fit you. While some can be used by left and right handed user, others will restrict you. Always get to know if the model you are planning to buy suits your dominant hand. If you will be sharing the knife with others, consider their needs and focus on buying one that can be used by anyone.
When using a knife, your hand may accidentally slip towards the blade which may cause injury. A good Japanese knife should have a bolster to prevent your hand from sliding forward.
All knives have different sized blades to allow you to accomplish different culinary tasks. The length you choose will depend on the purpose of the knife. However, the length that the blade extends on the handle will determine the strength and stability of your knife.
For better control and balance, it is highly advocated to go for full tang models.
One of the reasons why most people find it to complete easy tasks with their knives is because they are not well experienced. It is normal to have some challenges using a new knife but with regular practice, you can perfectly well. For beginners who have never used Japanese knives before, we would recommend you go for lightweight models.
Once you perfect, you can upgrade to more heavier and professional models.
Ease of maintenance
You will be required to maintain your knife depending on the material used to design it. Read your manufacturers manual and ensure you have followed the instructions to the letter. When cleaning, get to know whether your knife is dishwasher safe or not. Some models are not recommended to be cleaned on a dishwasher due to the quality of the materials used.
Also, ensure you use the recommended honing method to avoid any chances of destroying your blade. When cutting your recipes, ensure you have placed them on a wooden chopping board in order to keep the blade well maintained.
Some manufacturers will cover you for a limited time while others for a lifetime. While going for a lifetime warranty will keep you covered for long, you should never settle for a brand that does not satiate your needs because of the warranty period. Always go for models which will help you conquer your recipes with confidence and have all the great features that you may be looking for in a knife.
What is the best Japanese knife?
Not every knife out there will work best for you. And as much as owning a quality knife can give you the confidence to handle any recipe, the best Japanese knife should be based on your cooking style, comfort level, quality, and budget.
Know what you would like in a kitchen knife and compare different brands, their features and how they can help you accomplish your culinary tasks effortlessly. Remember while having a knife is one of the essential requirements when preparing your meals, buying the wrong model can ruin the quality of your meal.
Worse still, you will be forced to use excessive force or spend more time in the kitchen that you could have saved if you had the right tools.
Who makes the best Japanese knives?
Japanese knives are known for their quality and exceptional performance. The knives have a long history and have evolved for over a thousand years and in the culinary world, they are the finest cutleries that are trusted by professionals. Though the market will offer different brands to choose from, you should consider the blade type and its performance.
Brands that have been around for quite some time are highly recommended. All the above-reviewed brands are from popular brands and have been crafted to help you handle different culinary jobs. Each is specifically designed for a specific use. You can choose one that suits your cooking style.
Tips for using and maintaining Japanese knives
Japanese knives offer you an exceptionally sharp edge which guarantees you an ultra-sharp edge which lasts longer. Though they are known for their unmatched quality, they require better care and use in order to increase their durability and performance. Knowing how to use and maintain your cutlery properly will not only save you money but also ensure high sanitary standards.
Before we focus on the right care and maintenance tips, here is how to use your Japanese knives properly.
Using your knife to prepare recipes on hard surfaces like marble can damage the blade and chip it. Always ensure you use blade friendly materials like a wooden or plastic chopping board.
Know the right knife for the job
Every knife out there is designed to help you complete different culinary tasks. For you to achieve great results, you will require the right one for the job. For instance, if you are deboning meat, a deboning knife will do, chop with a chopping knife, and cut your meat with a carving knife.
Let the knife do the job
If you have the right knife for the job, you do not need to use excessive force. Using a lot of energy means something is wrong. Either you are using the wrong type of knife or the blade is blunt. Japanese knives are made of an exceptionally sharp and strong blade which requires less effort to chop or cut through.
If you share the knife, it is a good idea to teach others how to use it to avoid any misuse. Let them know what the knife can and cannot do. Do not forget also to train them how to take care and store it.
Care and maintenance of your Japanese knife
Keep your blade well maintained
Even with proper use, your knife will need to be honed after some time. Using a blunt knife will consume much of your time to get the job done and will increase the chances of injuring yourself. Sharpening your blade will bring the fun and give you the confidence to handle any recipe meal after meal.
Better still, a sharp knife helps reduce waste while increasing your productivity. Also when your knife becomes blunt, it will lose its aesthetic appearance. Sharpening it helps improve its looks which invigorates your moods when cooking. If you have ever used a blunt knife, you know how it feels; at times you even end losing appetite or starve your loved ones.
Never wait until your knife becomes blunt that it cannot cut anything. Sharpening your knife when it has gone totally blunt is hard as compared to maintaining a slightly sharp one. However, over-sharpening is not healthy for the blade.
While some may be honed daily and have no impact others will wear out easily. When honing use the recommended sharpening method. Check out the recommended sharpening frequency of your knife and determine whether you can commit to its maintenance.
Test your blade sharpness
There are different ways you can use to test whether your knife is sharp.
When done sharpening, clean and wipe your knife properly. Using a dry piece of paper, slice the paper into pieces. If you get toothed or jaggy edges or the knife gets caught, your knife requires more sharpening. If you get clean cuts, your knife is ready for use.
Place your knife on your fingernail and slightly use the weight of your knife without applying pressure and observe what happens. If the knife slides down, it needs more sharpening, but if you feel slight resistance or feel a slight chip, your knife is sharp.
Do a food test
In case you do not have a piece of paper or don’t want to risk cutting your finger, you can use food to do the blade test. Try to use the ingredient the knife is intended for and determine its efficiency. If you have to use excessive force, then the blade is not sharp enough. A sharp knife should cut effortlessly.
Once you have sharpened your blade, do not use the knife without washing it. Stick to the recommended washing method. Though using a dishwasher helps keep it clean, some models only need to be hand washed.
When is the right time to wash your Japanese knife?
Every cutlery requires proper care and Japanese knives are not an exception. And as much as cleaning it helps keep it well maintained, washing it at the wrong time can increase chances of rusting. Even the stainless steel models which are rust resistant can also be massively affected if cleaning is not done on time.
As a rule, you should clean your knife immediately after using it, not waiting until you done with cooking.
Store it properly
Once done with cleaning, ensure you have properly dried your knife prior to storing. This isn’t enough to keep it safe. Ensure your drawer is free from any moisture or wet cutlery. Make sure the blade does not come into contact with any other stainless steel cutleries. Using a blade guard or knife block can help prevent this.
Avoid leaving your handle wet. Wooden materials can easily rot or crack due to excessive swelling caused by moisture.
Maintain the handle
Maintenance of your knife does not only revolve around the blade but also the handle. Some handle materials like wood will need to be treated with oil or wax after some few months of use. Do not just assume and use anything to maintain your handle. If your knife handle is wooden, check out your user manual to get to know how often you need to treat it and the recommended treatment method.