- 1 Top 7 Best Japanese Chef Knives you can find on Amazon
- 2 Zelite Infinity 8-inch Japanese Chef Knife
- 3 Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- 4 DALSTRONG Chef Knife – Shogun Series Gyuto – VG10 – 9.5″ (240mm)
- 5 Miyabi Birchwood SG2 8″ Chef’s Knife
- 6 Shun Premier Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch
- 7 Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyutoh
- 8 New Aritsugu 18 cm. Gokinko Yo-Deba
- 9 History of Knife Making in Japan
- 10 The Classic Technique of Making Laminated Blades
- 11 Valuable Tips on How to Choose the Best Japanese Chef Knife
- 12 Differences Between Japanese and Western Chef Knives
- 13 Types of Japanese Knives and Their Uses
- 14 Best Japanese Chef Knives in the World – Japanese Knives Brands
- 15 Should You Buy Japanese Chef Knife or a Western one?
Top 7 Best Japanese Chef Knives you can find on Amazon
Take a look at some of the best Japanese chef knives on Amazon today. Which is your favorite Japanese chef knife?
Zelite Infinity 8-inch Japanese Chef Knife
The Zelite Infinity knife pairs brawn and beauty to create this professional chef knife. With its distinctive patterns of banding the Zelite Infinity has a beautiful look of a Damascas Steel Japanese knife. The blade is made of high carbon stainless steel and Premium Japanese steel, also called VG-10 Super steel. It is quite curved towards the tip, allowing the user to easily rock it back and forth for creative techniques. The cutting edge is sharpened between 12 and 15 degrees. The knife is very sharp and the cutting edge retains its sharpness for long.
The Zelite Infinity Japanese Chef Knife was made with comfort in mind. Its triple-riveted full tang helps to keep the handle secure through years of use. The handle is also smooth to save some wear and tear on your wrist if you are going to use often. The knife is also well balanced to keep that control within your own hands. While the full tang provides more balance, the knife’s blade is also thicker and thus heavier. To counter this problem, Zelite Infinity features additional steel on the end of the handle to improve the knife’s balance.
The blade is made in such a way, that it glides effortlessly, via vegetables and fruits, thus it is ideal for making thin slices. The reduced drag means little or no food sticks to the knife while dicing or slicing. The liquid nitrogen tempering process helps the blade to remain stain or rust free and very sharp with routine maintenance. The handle is very solid but still ergonomic. It is rounded, designed for a secure, but comfortable grip. The shape and size of the handle ensure that you do not tire your wrist out quickly, and the Zelite Infinity chef’s knife weighs 8 oz, which is average for this type of knife.
Pros of Zelite Infinity Chef’s Knife
- Unique, appealing Damascus pattern
- 12 to 15 degrees edge for razor sharpness edge
- Handle is triple riveted to full tang for increased durability
- Ergonomically designed triple riveted round handle for comfortable, secure grip
- Liquid nitrogen tempered steel for long-lasting sharpness
Cons of Zelite Infinity Chef’s Knife
- Due to its fine edge, this knife needs to be sharpened more often than others
- You may need to sharpen the knife before first use
Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
The Shun 8-inch classic cook’s knife is an all-purpose knife suitable for a wide range of cutting tasks. The 8- inch blade is ideal for preparing fruits, vegetables and other kinds of food. The knife is easy to sharp and maintains its sharp cutting edge for long. It features a core comprising VG-10 super steel, accompanied by a 16-layer Damascus cladding of a high content of carbon stainless steel on each side, totaling to 32. This classic chef’s knife is made to have a 16 degrees angle so that its sharpness is unbeatable. In fact, its sharpness is far beyond that of western knives that are sharpened toan angle of 20 to 22 degrees.
Just like the Zelite Infinity, the Shun 8-inch classic cook’s knife is built with comfort in mind. The knife’s handle is made of Ebony-black D shaped PakkaWood to allow for maximum comfort and control. The blade is wide enough to keep your knuckles off the cutting board, and is extra handy when transferring cut foods from board to pan. Its curved belly allows it to be rocked gently through fresh herbs or spices to produce a very fine mince. The blade is also thinner, making it lighter and less tiring to use than the Western style chef knives.
The knife boasts a stainless steel bolster and end cap that not only add beauty and durability, but also enhance ergonomic qualities for the highest safety and control. The half bolster design makes it easy to sharpen the blade from the tip to the back edge, while the ergonomic handle and full tang ensure that the knife is well balanced.
Pros of the Shun 8-inch classic Japanese chef knife
- Full tang and an ergonomic handle
- VG-10 super steel holds an incredibly sharp cutting edge for long
- Wooden handle for maximum control and comfort
- Hand sharpened 16 degrees double bevel blade
- The 8-inch blade makes the knife ideal for multiple kitchen tasks
- Lifetime manufacturer warranty
- Rockwell hardness rating of 60 to 61 meaning its sharp edge is extremely durable
Cons of the Shun 8-inch classic Japanese Chef knife
- It is only designed for right-handed people
- It is not dishwasher safe
DALSTRONG Chef Knife – Shogun Series Gyuto – VG10 – 9.5″ (240mm)
The DALSTRONG Chef Knife – Shogun Series Gyuto – VG10 – 9.5″ (240mm) is a top quality Japanese knife featuring 67 layers of metal: 66 layers of flower Damascus folded over VG-10 super steel. The knife has a Rockwell hardness rating of 62. The knife is ruthlessly sharp and is hand finished to a mirror-like polish within a staggering 8 to 12 degrees angle per side using the traditional three-step Honbazuke technique. The knife’s blade is nitrogen cooled for maximum corrosion resistance, flexibility, and harness.
The knife boasts a G-10 Garolite handle. It is a military grade carbon fiber material that is highly durable. The handle comes with three rivets for enhanced resilience, while the full tang gives the knife superb robustness. With a Rockwell hardness of 62, you can be sure that this chef knife will perform exceptionally well and will maintain the sharpness of its cutting edge for long.
The 66 layers of premium high carbon stainless steel give the knife maximum durability, strength and excellent stain and rust resistance properties. Like most Japanese chef knives, the DALSTRONG Chef Knife is well balanced. The blade comes with a tapered end to reduce surface resistance for buttery smooth cuts and enhanced nonstick properties. The overall weight of the knife is 26 0z, making ideal for dicing and slicing.
Pros of the DALSTRONG Chef Knife
- Rockwell hardness of 62+
- Tapered blade to ensure smooth cuts and enhance nonstick properties
- Triple riveted full tang handle for superb robustness and enhanced resilience
- Ergonomically designed Military grade G10 handle for enhanced durability
- Tapered bolster offers perfect balance
- Lifetime warranty
- Dishwasher safe, but highly recommend hand washing only
Cons of the DALSTRONG Chef Knife
- This chef knife is a bit pricey when compared to other knives in the same class
Miyabi Birchwood SG2 8″ Chef’s Knife
Crafted with the finest materials available, the Miyabi knives are one of the top quality chef knives on the market. These knives feature a lovely Damascus pattern on the blade that elegantly showcases the 101 layers of steel, fifty on each side of the blade and an SG2 micro carbide powder steel core sandwiched between the layers. SG2 micro powder steel core is one the top performing hardest steels on the market today.
To enhance the strength and efficiency of the blade, a CRYDUR hardening process is carried out, giving the knife a Rockwell Hardness Rating of 63. The CRYDUR hardening process also helps to increase the flexibility, corrosion and rust properties of the blade. The knife is hand finished in the Honbazuke three-step technique by master Artisans in Seki, Japan before it is released to the market. This creates a beautifully polished corrosion and rust resistance blade. Also featured on the blade is a Katana edge, reminiscent of the legendary Japanese swords, popular for excellent craftsmanship.
A traditional D-shaped handle made from Karelian Birchwood is then adorned to the Japanese chef knife using an intricate mosaic pin, accented with an engraved end cap and two red spaces. Karelian Birchwood is used for two reasons. First, it is the only wood that has ever been used to craft a Faberge egg, and it is able to hold as a prized knife handle material. The D shaped handle allows you to use it efficiently and smoothly no matter how tall you are or which hand you cut with.
This all-rounder chef knife comes with an 8-inch blade making it ideal for hobby and professional chefs. It can be used for dicing and slicing meet, cutting vegetables and chopping herbs. It can also be used for chopping, rocking and circular motion.
Pros of the Miyabi Birchwood SG2 8 Inch Chef’s Knife
- 5000MCD CRYDUR hardening, Rockwell hardness of 63
- Lifetime warranty
- Traditional D-shaped handle for enhanced comfort and control
- All purpose 8-inch blade with added flexibility and corrosion resistance properties
- Hand honed using the ancient three-step Japanese Honbazuke technique
- Made of SG2 micro-carbide steel for enhanced blade strength
Cons of Miyabi Birchwood SG2 8 Inch Chef’s Knife
- Comes with a reasonably higher cost price; however, this compensated for by the many features and capability of the Japanese chef knife.
Shun Premier Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch
The Shun Premier 8-inch Chef’s knife is a top quality multi-purpose knife that ranks among the best chef knives on the market in terms of functionality and aesthetic appeal. Each takes at least 100 handcrafted steps to get completed. The materials used by Shun are among the most advanced in the industry: high carbon VG-10 Japanese steel clad with 16 layers of SUS410/SUS431 pattern Damascus steel. The knife comes with a double beveled edge, making extremely razor sharpness. The blade is sharpened at an angle of 16 degrees, which is considerably higher than Western knives.
The Shun Premier 8-inch Japanese chef knife is well balanced and lightweight. This makes it easy to use and produces smooth, swift cuts. The rounded handle is made of contoured walnut Pakkawood, which looks not only good but also but easy and comfortable to grip. The 8-inch blade makes this knife an all-purpose knife for your cutting, slicing and chopping needs. Overall, it is an excellent knife that meets the feel standards for a wide range of cooks.
Pros of the Shun Premier 8-inch chef’s knife
- Wooden D-shaped ergonomically designed handle for a firm, comfortable grip
- Beautiful Pakkawood handle and hand hammered finish, gives the knife an aesthetic touch
- Easy and safe to use
- Lightweight and well balanced
- Sharp low drag blade design
- Hand sharpened, 16 degrees double bevel Japanese chef knife
- Comes with a very attractive price, making a common option for many chefs
Cons of the Shun Premier 8-inch chef’s knife
- The knife is a lightweight and a little fragile for carrying out heavy duty tasks
- Some people complain that food particles or debris get accumulated on the hammered surface
- Dishwasher safe, but needs to be hand washed
Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyutoh
The Yoshihiro Damascus Japanese Chef knife is a top rated knife in terms of aesthetic appeal and functionality. It is handcrafted using traditional Japanese styles, and the Damascus has 16 layers of steel and VG-10 core. This makes a beautiful top performing knife, and that is why it is the best seller from Japan. Additionally, most of the chefs choose it because it is incredibly sharp, durable and awesome. The knife comes with a three-layer construction and steel center core with an HRC 60 for exceptional longevity, edge retention, and sharpness.
The handle is made of wood which comes from Mahogany. It is lightweight and well balanced. If you have to spend hours doing prep, then this knife makes your life super easy. The knife is extremely easy to use and produces smooth and swift cuts. The handcrafted mahogany handle and full tang allows for seamless use. The hammered texture of the blade helps to reduce friction and prevent food from sticking to the blade.
Pros of the Yohishiro Damascus Chef’s knife
- Hand forged and made in Japan
- Full tang for excellent balance
- Handle is made from premium mahogany wood for comfort
- Elegant 16 layers hammered outer steel to eliminate friction and keep from sticking to the blade
- Three layer construction with VG-10 steel center core with an HRC 60 for exceptional durability, edge retention, and sharpness
Cons of the Yohishiro Damascus Chef’s knife
- The knife has both high carbon steel and steel layers which means it can rust due to high carbon properties. Thus, it is recommendable to keep it dry after use
New Aritsugu 18 cm. Gokinko Yo-Deba
Made in New Aritsugu the 18 cm Gokinko Yo-Deba Japanese chef knife is one of the best Japanese chef knives on the market. Gokinko blades have added chromium making them less susceptible to staining. This knife should be cleaned and dried after use, to prevent it from stains and rusts. The blade is made by combining four layers of ao-ko high carbon steel with four layers soft iron. The handle is Japanese ye with a water buffalo horn bolster. Being a deba knife is heavier and thicker making it perfect for boning poultry, meat, and fish. The blade is sharpened on one side only. This 18 cm chef knife is the perfect Japanese knife, the kind you have always dreamed. The beautiful finish and wooden handle render it an aesthetic touch.
Pros of the New Aritsugu 18 cm. Gokinko Yo-Deba
- Easy and safe to use. The wide handle keeps the knuckles off the board
- Ergonomic wooden handle is easy and comfortable to grip
- Beautiful finish and Round wooden handle give this knife an aesthetic touch
- Lightweight and well balanced
Cons of the New Aritsugu 18 cm. Gokinko Yo-Deba
- Comes with a considerably higher price
History of Knife Making in Japan
The history of Japanese chef knife can be traced back in the Stone Age. Whether made of stone, ceramics or steel. The oldest Japanese knife first existed from the Nara period (710 to 794), and it is reserved in the Shousouin Museum. This knife nearly resembles the Japanese sword, and it has a very long handle. Many attribute the making of Japanese knives too many locations. Some of these locations include Sakai, Seki and Takefu Village.
Knifemaking in Sakai, Osaka
One of these premier locations is the city of Sakai. Sakai is a port town in Osaka, Japan and has been a popular destination for Portuguese vessels back in the 1500s. It is in this city that the government allowed specific swords to be made using only Japanese steel. This is the steel of legends. In the 15th century a lot of Samurai sword was made in Sakai. The people in Sakai had advanced technique for metallic tools. Therefore, they were able to make not only swords, but also firearms that were introduced by Portuguese visitors.
In 1573, Shogun Tokugawa authorized the production of knives in the city of Sakai. These knives increasingly became popular for their excellent cutting performance. The name Sakai became synonymous with quality blacksmith production of steel cutting tools.
Sakai knives were developed in different stages by a network of small artisan shops. Each artisan-focused exclusively on different tasks of the knife making process, such as engraving, grinding and handle making. These artisans worked together with dealer, who acted as general contractors for the production of knives under multiple brand names, but all used the Sakai Wazashu seal of quality.
During the knife making process, blacksmiths would first do the initial forging, hammering and heat treatment of the blades. Next, grinding and sharpening the edge was done. The knives would be sent to the handlers, where they would be engraved by the distributor. The process of knife making is still used today.
Knife Makers in Seki, Gifu
The city of Seki in the Gifu Prefecture is regarded a hotspot for knife making in Japan. It is also considered the home of many famous knife makers and manufacturers. Seki knives are popular all over the world. Knife makers in this region combine modern and traditional aspects of knife making with the help of technology that allows them to make excellent laminated steel knives that are used by most professional chefs.
Knife Makers in Takefu Village
Currently known as the city of Echizen in the Fukui Prefecture, Takefu village was a manufacturing center for agricultural tools. About seven centuries ago, the village started producing knives and swords. The story goes that a popular sword maker, Kuniyasu Chizuru resided here, and during his stay, he crafted sickles and swords for farmers. These were highly regarded for their top quality features, which made to became popular throughout Japan.
The Rise of the Santoku Knives
In the mid 17th century, the Japanese government lifted the foreign relations policy of blocking goods from coming to Japan. During this period, the western chef knives were introduced and became accepted in the country. In the mid-1900s, Japanese artisans took the advantages of their traditional knife and the newly introduced chef knife and innovated the “Santoku” knife. Santoku knives are known all over the world for their unique features and capabilities. Today a, Japanese chef knife is recognized for its fine quality and also skillful technique needed behind the blade .
The Classic Technique of Making Laminated Blades
A laminated steel blade refers to a sword or knife blade that is made out of different types of steel rather than a single metal. Laminated steel makes an extremely durable blade that is noted for both its edge holding ability and roughness. Each features two external layers of softer steel for added strength, while the center layer is extremely hard (Rockwell hardness of 59) for long-term edge holding. Here are the critical steps followed while making laminated Japanese knives.
The 7 Steps To Building The Best Japanese Chef Knife
Step 1: Joining of Two Sheets of Different Metal
The way steel and iron are combined during creation is what makes for the many different types of Japanese knives. First, iron is heated in a furnace that can reach up to 1000 degrees Celsius. Steel is then placed on top of the iron, and the metals are heated again and then hammered together to remove any impurities. Since iron is too soft, a specified amount of carbon content, around 0.06 percent is added to make a good cutting edge. By combining hard steel and soft iron, the best qualities of both metals are brought together. This lead to the formation of a chef knife that is not only hard to break but also retains its cutting edge.
Step 2: Forging and Rough Stretching
When forging, the laminated blade is heated to about 1200 degree Celsius in a hearth. It is then hammered to achieve the rough shape of the blade. In this stage, some special welding adhesive is poured on top and melted at high temperature. The blade is then struck to remove iron oxide and other. This helps to improve the quality of steel.
The laminated blade is put into the hearth, again heated and then hammered to a rough shape and thickness of the final blade. This helps to refine the particles inside the metal so at to create a strong blade with a longer lasting edge.
Step 3: Normalizing and Annealing
In this stage, any iron oxide remaining on the surface of the blade is removed, and the surface of the blade is smoothed. The metal particles are refined to enhance the longevity of the blade. Next, the blade is annealed by heating to about 800 degrees Celsius and then down in water or straw ash. The same process is repeated again and again to make the blade stronger. Irregularities that may have happened through this process are corrected.
Step 4: Hardening and Tempering
The blade is heated again and then dipped into oil or water to immediately cool. This is done to harden it and improve the longevity of the cutting edge. In this stage, heating temperatures are kept considerably low to avoid damaging the strength of the blade and making the cutting edge worse.
Hardened steel without further treatment is brittle, thus tempering is done to ensure that the blade reaches its correct level of softness. During tempering the blade is heated and quickly covered with clay that protects it from sharp changes in temperature. Clay allows the blade to cool slowly. This process helps to increase flexibility and creates a beautiful and distinctive hamon pattern on the blade.
Step 5: Straightening and Sharpening
When steel is hardened, it shrinks slightly which produces some warpage. The blade is therefore straightened using a copper mallet to strike it and correct its shape. This process helps to make the blade perfectly straight and easier to use. After straightening, the blade is honed using a revolving whetstone. During honing, water is continuously poured on the blade to prevent it from softening due to the heat produced. Black spots that appeared during the tempering process are removed at this stage.
Step 6: Polishing
Any cutting marks that are present on the surface of the blade can lead to the accumulation of unwanted particles or water that can cause rust. To prevent these unsanitary conditions, a sandpaper is used to polish the blade to a mirror-like finish. Polishing helps to create a hygienic and a more rust resistant knife.
Step 7: Handle Making and Assembling
The craftsman chooses an appropriate handle for the knife. When making the handle, a dried piece of wooed is curved into the correct size. It is the curved into the correct size; a hole is made for the haft. Buffalo’s horn is cut into the same size of the ring and pushed into the handle. Both the wood and horn are polished till they get smooth. The haft is then heated and fitted into the handle. The knife is balanced. The handle is slightly burnt at the point where the blade and handle meet to prevent corrosion. Company brand and insignia are then engraved on the blade.
Valuable Tips on How to Choose the Best Japanese Chef Knife
- Know the Type of Blade Look
There are three major types of the blade looks for Japanese knives: Damascus and Suminagashi, Hammered and Tsushime and Kourouchi. For Kourouchi, the blade features a blackened look and helps to protect carbon steel knives from rusting. Tsushime and Hammerded blades are finished with a hammer cold forge to give them a more grain dense structure and add a beautiful finish. For Damascus and Suminagashi blade looks, two contrasting sheets of steel are forged together and folded over many times. This gives a wavy like the pattern on the blade. Damascus come in darker or lighter variants.
- Choose the Right Type of Handle
Japanese knives come in three common handle options: Western handle, Octagonal or 8-faced handle or oval handles. Oval and octagonal handles are comfortable even for long stints. They are lightweight and help to balance your knife towards the pinch grip point and look too. More importantly, it is important to choose a handle that is studier, more comfortable and easy to blend.
- Shape of the Blade Also Matters
The shape of the blade will have a major impact on what the knife will cut. Most Japanese knives have a straighter blade and are ideal for very precise cuts and fine chopping. When blades are curved or rounded, they will not be as round as German knives that are used for rocking chops.
- Check the Rockwell Hardness Rating
Even though Japanese knives are the hardest chef knives, they come in different levels of hardness. When considering the thickness of the blade, you also have to consider the sharpening. The harder the steel is, the longer it will retain its sharpness. Hard steel is also difficult to sharpen when they become dull. Softer steel does not retain their sharpness for long but is easier to sharpen.
- Consider the Purpose of the Knife
A Japanese chef knife comes in many different styles and are specially designed with a specific purpose. The five come types of Japanese knives include santoku, Gyutou, Yanagi, deba and Usuba. The most common ones are the santoku and Gyutou knives. Santoku knives can make more precise cuts, but are difficult to control. They are ideal for fine slicing, mincing, and chopping. This is because they have a straight thin blade. Gyutou knives are not as precise as santoku knives. They are not heft enough to cut via hard ingredients and bones. Gyutou are good general purpose knives for vegetables and soft proteins. If you want more control, these are the best knives.
Differences Between Japanese and Western Chef Knives
When you are shopping for a new chef knife, it is likely that you will come across two main types of knives: Japanese and German chef knives. Of course, there are many other types of knives out there besides these two. However, it is safe to say that these two are the most prevalent- and so it is imperative that you understand the differences between them. If you are buying a chef knife from a reputable manufacturer, you cannot really go wrong with either. However, one may be better suited for your needs than the other. Here is what you should know.
One of the main difference between Japanese knives and their Western counterparts it the materials they are made of. Basically, Japanese knives are made of two substances, which are soft iron and hard steel. These two metals are forge-welded together and hardened by dipping them in water. Western knives, on the other hand, are made from a single piece of steel metal. This explains why Western knives have a low Rockwell hardness rating.
Both Japanese and German knives are made of steel blades, but all steel is not created equal. Some steel is much harder than others. The Rockwell scale is used by metal experts to determine how hard a piece of steel is: the higher the number, the harder the steel is. Because of the materials used, Japanese knives tend to be harder than western knives. Most high end Japanese chef knives have a Rockwell hardness of 62 to 64. Even the lower end ones, their Rockwell hardness can reach 60 to 61. Western knives, on the other hand, have a Rockwell hardness of 52 to 56.
However, hardness can also be a con for the best Japanese chef knife. Hardness makes it difficult for you to sharpen, while it is the opposite for Western knives. Additionally, harder knives have high chances of breaking if they are dropped accidently. If you are in the habit of throwing your knife into the sink, it is important that blade of a harder knife could easily chip. More importantly, you cannot use the knife to crack bones like you can with a western knife. The main advantage of harder knives is that they will give you a better cutting ability.
Another main difference between Japanese knives and their Western counterparts is the fact that Western knives are sharpened on both sides of the blades. Thus, they have what is known as a symmetrical bevel. Obviously, this affects how German knives are sharpened. When selecting a knife sharpener for Western knives, you have to make sure that the tool is able to sharpen both sides of the blade.
Japanese knives have a single bevel – in other words, the blade is only sharpened on one side. Due to this single bevel angle, Japanese knives are usually sharper than Western chef knives. A Japanese chef knife can have a bevel as 5 degrees. The main aspect to take into account when selecting a sharpener for Japanese knives is that you have to control of which side of the blade you are required to sharpen. If the honing tool automatically sharpens both sides of the edge, you will clearly damage the knife.
- Blade Angle
With Western knives, the combined angle of each edge is the overall angle you should take into account. The angle on the blade of a Western knife is wider when compared to that of a Japanese knife. Factory edges for Western knives range between 18 to 28 degrees while Japanese knives tend to have 10 to 15 degrees per side. The angle of the blade is key to a knife’s sharpness. The narrower the angle, the smaller cutting path through and the less the damage you will do the food.
Japanese knives are thinner and more lightweight when compared to Western knives. The weight of these knives makes them ideal for slicing things like butter very little effort. Despite their lightweight, Japanese knives have a higher Rockwell hardness rating than European knives. This allows them to retain their sharpness for long.
Western knives tend to be bulkier and heavier. They are made of softer steel, meaning that their edge becomes dull faster than the average Japanese knife. Heavy use will see imperfections appear along the blade. However, the fact that the material is softer means that most Western knives can be sharpened with great effect. The bulkiness and heavy weight of western knives makes them perfect for cutting meat, fish and vegetables, making them suitable for preparing Western cuisine.
Western knives differ from Japanese knives in that they are curved along the blade. The curve allows you to apply different amount of pressure to specific areas of the blade. The curved shape of these knives also means that when selecting which sharpener to buy, you need to make sure it can sharpen your knife all the way along the curved edge.
In Japanese knives, it is rare that the blade is curved. Since it is long and straight, be sure that any knife sharpener you purchase can sharpen the knives of this shape efficiently. The straighter edge of Japanese knives makes them better suited for chopping and making clean slices.
Most Japanese knives have an exceptionally high core of high carbon steel that is then sheathed with over layers of one or more steels. These external layers are typically made of a more ductile material that protects the inner core. This combination results in a knife that blends a razor sharp edge that can be sharpened easily. Like lamination, cladding adds properties of rust resistance, which reduces maintenance. Many Japanese knives are clad in style known as Damascus (or Suminagashi). Western knives do not have a clad like their Japanese counterparts.
- Tang and Bolster
Tang refers to the way the blade is affixed to the handle. Western knives usually have a full tang and a bolster. A full tang means that the metal of the blade starts from the tip and continues to the end of the handle. The bolster is the thick piece of steel that located before the handle. Japanese knives, on the other hand, do not have tangs or bolsters. Lack of bolster, makes the knife easier to sharpen.
Types of Japanese Knives and Their Uses
People that are new to Japanese knives and even some more experienced users usually have questions about what makes Japanese knives different and how the different knife shapes can be used. What follows is our simple guide to the most common types of Japanese knives and their specific uses:
In Japanese, santoku means three virtues. Santoku are all-purpose knives with a taller blade profile than a Gyutoh. Santoku knives have a flatter belly than the Gyutou and can be used comfortably with an up and down chopping motion rather than a rocking type cut. Its three virtues are the knife’s ability to cut vegetables, meat, and fish. Santoku knives are the most popular kitchen knives in Japan.
Gyutou is a Japanese knife that is equivalent to the typical European chef knife. The main difference from Western chef’s knife is its thinner blade. Gyutous are the ideal all-purpose kitchen knives and can be used for multiple tasks. They come with much harder steel and double grind edge. They are made with Western and Japanese style handles. In Japanese, the word Gyutous means beef knife.
Sujihiki knives are equivalent to the Western slicer knives with only a limited difference. First, the blade is thinner and made out of harder steel. This allows for a better retention of the cutting edge. In addition, the bevel on the blade is sharpened to a steeper angle. This allows for a more precise cut. Sujihiki knives are used for carving, filleting and general purposes.
Petty knives are used for delicate knives, such as peeling, carving of fruits, vegetables. Petty knives are an essential tool for bartenders who serve fresh fruit garnishes.
Honesuki knives are Japanese boning knives. They differ from the Western version, in that it has a stiff blade with very little flex and is triangular shaped. Honesuki knives are suitable for deboning poultry and cutting via soft joints. Typically, they have an asymmetrical edge even though 50/50 balanced versions. Due to their height and shape, Honesuki knives can also function nicely as a utility or petty style of knife.
Nakiri knives are Japanese knives with a doubled edged style. They come with a straight blade, making them ideal for allumette, brunoise and julienne and other precision knife cuts for vegetables. Additionally, they are a great tool for cutting into the very hard-skinned produce like squashes and pumpkins.
Usuba are traditional Japanese knives for cutting vegetables with a single edge. Single-edged knives are incredibly sharp and are favored for precise vegetable work.
Kiritsuke are Japanese chef knives that feature an angled tip that can be used as either an all-purpose knife or a sashimi knife. In Japanese restaurants, the Kiritsuke knives are only used by the Executive chef and cannot be used by other chefs.
Deba knives are designed for filleting and cutting the fish. Deba knives have a blade that is about 165 mm to 200mm long. They are mainly fitted with Japanese style handles, although, some few makers do offer them in Western-type handles, as well.
Mukimono is a Japanese paring knife. The knife’s blade geometry is similar to that of the Usuba knives. It is thinner and smaller. Mukimono are primarily used for decorative food carving.
Best Japanese Chef Knives in the World – Japanese Knives Brands
Global is one the winning brands when it comes toa Japanese chef knife. Global knives are sold in over 65 countries around the world and have a number of prestigious awards as well as a solid reputation. The first Global knives were designed in 1985 by Komin Yamada of Yoshida Metal Industry. The knives are made ice tampering and hardening Cromova 18 stain resistant steel and are sought by both by professional and amateur cooks alike. Global knives come in a wide range of blade sizes ranging from 6 inches to 10 inches. They also com in different styles include Gyutou (chef’s knife), boning knives, bread knives and sushi knives.
Shun is based in Seki City, the home of Samurai sword making. Shun is known for making comfortable, razor-sharp knives. The company combines the tradition of Seki’s sword craftsmanship with advanced materials and modern technology to make every knife a functional work of art. Shun makes knives with different blade sizes ranging from 3.5 inches to 10.6 inches.
Kyocera is another popular Japanese brand. Kyocera knives, contain Zirconium oxide, a hard ceramic used in race-car brake parks. Kyocera knives come in a variety of blade sizes ranging from the 3 inches to 5.5 inches. They are also available in two major styles Santoku and petty /pairing knives.
Tamakura is one of the Japanese brands that handle every step of the knife making process without outsourcing any work. This explains the unique and exceptional quality of their craftsmanship. Tamakura blacksmiths are dedicated to perfecting the most minor details that customers may not notice at first glance. For this reason, they have produced knives that have been highly rated by top professional chefs worldwide. Tamakura knives come in different blade sizes ranging from 5 inches to 10.6 inches. They are also available in many different styles including Gyutous (Chef’s knife), Santoku, Sujihiki, Petty/pairing and the Yo Deba fish knives.
Also known as Nenohi, Nenox was established in 1975 and has continued to offer top quality cutlery at their stores throughout the world. Craftsmen at Nenox heat all their knives at low temperatures for an extended period of time so as to prevent any damage to the blade. Nenox knives are available in many different sizes ranging from 4 inches to 11.8 inches. They also come in a wide range of styles including Deba, Gyutos, petty, Sujihiki, Mukimono, takohiki, Usuba, Yanagi and Yo Deba. Nenox knives are made of stain resistant high carbon stainless steel.
Based in Osaka Prefacture, Sakai is the most famous city in Japan. 90 percent of the Japanese style knives are from the city. Although sakai Takayuki knives do not have the longest history within sakai, they are highly trusted by chefs for their consistency in quality. The blade sizes of Sakai Tahayuki knives range from 3.1 inches to 11. 8 inches. They come in different Japanese knife styles including Gyuotos, Nakiri, Kiritsuke, Santoku, Sujihiki, Takohiki, Deba, Honesuki, Yanagi and Petty /Pairing knives.
Other Japanese knife brands include Misono, Seki Kanetsugu, Sakon, Ikkaku Donryu, Caddie, Aritsugui and Haku.
Should You Buy Japanese Chef Knife or a Western one?
The answer to this question depends on many factors. Both Japanese and western style knives have their pros and cons. Japanese knives are made of hard metals, such as VG-10, Powder steel, and High Carbon steel. They take and hold an edge better, and simply put you will not have to sharpen your knife every time you use it. Western knives are made using soft metals, which means they have thinner cutting edges that need regular sharpening.
A Japanese chef knife has a higher Rockwell rating, which means it can easily break when it falls. Western knives have a lower hardness on Rockwell scale. This means they cannot break easily and are easier to sharpen. Japanese knives made of Damascus steel, which makes them knives look beautiful and luxurious. Western knives do not use the Damascus steel. Due to their many other features, Japanese knives are usually highly priced compared to their counterparts.
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