Best Japanese Chef Knives for All Your Cutting and Chopping Needs

Are the current kitchen knives you own just not, well, cutting it? Nothing is more frustrating than investing in a set of knives only to find that they are heavy, unwieldy, and constantly need to be sharpened.

If you are looking for the next level up in knife quality, a Japanese chef knife is the samurai sword of the kitchen. Chefs around the world love these knives for their high-quality materials and designs. You will find that these knives are much sharper on average than Western knives, that they are sturdy and durable, and that they are lightweight, ergonomic and comfortable to use.

Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife (8.25'' (210mm))Yoshihiro VG10
Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm)Tojiro DP Gyutou
Traditional Japanese Professional Gyuto Kitchen Chefs Knife - Premium 8-inch High Carbon Stainless Steel Gyuto Sushi Knife with High Corrosion Resistance in a Single Bevel Chisel Edge GrindSimple Song
Yoshihiro VG-10 46 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife (Octagonal Ambrosia Handle) (9.5" (240mm))Yoshihiro Hongasumi
Santoku Knife - MAD SHARK Pro Kitchen Knives 7 Inch Chef's Knives,Best Quality German High Carbon Stainless Steel Knife with Ergonomic Handle,Ultra Sharp,Best Choice for Home Kitchen and RestaurantMad Shark Pro
DALSTRONG Phantom Series - Japanese High-Carbon - AUS8 Steel (6-Piece Set w/Magnetic Block)Dalstrong Phantom Series

In this guide, we will introduce you to some of the top Japanese knives which are available on the market. If you want to learn more about Japanese chef knives before you begin shopping, scroll past the product overviews for further information.

1. Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife

Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife (8.25'' (210mm))

If you are looking for a gorgeous and well-designed knife which is handcrafted and great for all-purpose use, think about the Yoshihiro VG10. Made of Damascus steel, it is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. While this overview is for the 8-inch knife, it is also available in 7 inches as well as 9.5 inches.

Good

  • The layers of steel used in the manufacture of this product are not just beautiful, but also functional. The core consists of VG-10 stainless steel for superior strength, and the edge is made out of HRC 60 stainless steel, which is extra sharp. The 16 hammered outer layers reduce friction.
  • The full tang handle is made out of stunning mahogany, and provides for a comfortable grip and a balanced blade.
  • The stainless steel layers of this knife are resistant to stains, and will not corrode easily.
  • The knife arrives already sharpened, so you do not need to do anything to prepare it before you use it for the first time. While it does require routine sharpening, you should have no problem getting it back to the same sharpness that it had originally with the right tools and techniques.

Bad

  • On occasion, blades seem to break, but thankfully, this is a very rare occurrence and likely reflects human error during manufacturing. The company is known to offer excellent customer service and rapid repairs when necessary.

2. Tojiro DP Gyutou

Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm)

If you like the Yoshihiro VG10, but you are looking for something a little bit more basic at a somewhat lower price range, you might think about the Tojiro DP Gyutou. Unlike the Yoshihiro VG10, this blade is not Damascus steel, but it is well made and gets the job done.

Good

  • If more than one person in your kitchen will be using this knife, the even edge of the design makes it an option for those who are right or left handed.
  • The high-quality steel is durable and resists corrosion. You do not need to dry it off instantly while you are preparing food.
  • The knife is stupendously sharp out of the box. In fact, you may need to be extra careful with it, as even while cleaning it, it is not difficult to slice through a dish rag or sponge. As with any other knife, regular sharpening is required. On that note, cleaning the knife is easy, but make sure that you avoid using any coarse materials, or the knife will lose its perfect shine.
  • The knife handle is large enough to accommodate the vast majority of chefs without any hassles. The handle is comfortable, allowing for a steady grip. This is extra important with such a razor-sharp knife.

Bad

  • As seems to be commonplace with even the highest quality knives, occasionally, these blades do chip.

3. Traditional Japanese Professional Gyuto Kitchen Chefs Knife by Simple Song

Traditional Japanese Professional Gyuto Kitchen Chefs Knife - Premium 8-inch High Carbon Stainless Steel Gyuto Sushi Knife with High Corrosion Resistance in a Single Bevel Chisel Edge Grind

For those who are looking for an even lower budget option in the gyuto department, this Traditional Japanese Professional Gyuto Kitchen Chefs Knife from Simple Song can help you save even more money on a high-quality blade. Measuring 8 inches, it is made of beautiful, high-quality materials that perform well and hold up great to regular use.

Good

  • The blade of the knife is made out of 420HC stainless steel which has been heat-treated. This improves the hardness of the steel. It also helps the blade to stay with sharp for longer, reducing the amount of maintenance you need to do to keep that razor edge.
  • As a corrosion-resistant knife, this product is ideal for cutting produce or anything else wet.
  • One of the distinguishing features of this product is its single bevel 15” right-side edge. While this does mean that the knife is not as ambidextrously functional, it does increase its sharpness. It is also more traditional.
  • The full-tang handle is sturdy and balanced, and is made out of hardy, attractive rosewood.
  • There is a 30-day satisfaction guarantee for this product. With its all-purpose functionality, its economical price, and this satisfaction guarantee in place, it could be a good starting knife for a beginner.

Bad

  • Sometimes, you need to sharpen this knife right out of the box. While this might be annoying, it is not a major drawback as you need to learn to sharpen your knife anyway.

4. MAD SHARK Pro Kitchen Knives Santoku Knife

Santoku Knife - MAD SHARK Pro Kitchen Knives 7 Inch Chef's Knife, Best Quality German High Carbon Stainless Steel Knife with Ergonomic Handle, Ultra Sharp, Best Choice for Home Kitchen and Restaurant

Having shared several gyuto knives in this list, it seemed like a good idea to also include a santoku knife. This affordably priced MAD SHARK Pro Santoku Knife is a high-quality, versatile option which is ideal for a wide range of cutting, chopping and slicing tasks in your home or professional kitchen. While this is the 7-inch version of the blade, you can also purchase an 8-inch or 4.5-inch version. A Damascus steel version is available as well.

Good

  • You will notice a series of divots along the edge of the knife. These reduce the tendency for food to cling to the blade, making it easier to clean.
  • The premium high-carbon German steel this blade is made from resists corrosion and is sturdy enough to offer excellent longevity through repeated use.
  • The handle is designed ergonomically and is made out of military grade polymer. Triple rivets secure the handle to the blade.
  • This company stands behind its knife with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. If there are any defects in your knife and workmanship is at fault, you can receive a 100% refund.

Bad

  • Sometimes, out of the box, you need to sharpen this knife. You also may need to sharpen it a bit more frequently than some other Japanese knives.

5. Yoshihiro Hongasumi White Steel Yanagi-Kiritsuke Sushi Knife

Yoshihiro Hongasumi White Steel Yanagi-Kiritsuke Sushi Sashimi Japanese Knife Rosewood Handle with Nuri Saya Cover (10.5'' (270mm))

If you’re shopping specifically for a knife to use to cut sushi and sashimi, consider the Yoshihiro Hongasumi White Steel Yanagi-Kiritsuke Sushi Knife. This beautiful knife has a minimalist design which is both appealing to the eye and effective in the kitchen. It is available in two lengths: 10.5” and 11.8”.

Good

  • A combination of White Steel #2 and iron are used to create this knife. The iron contributes what the manufacturer calls “beautiful mist patterns.” As to the White Steel, that is where the hardness comes in.
  • The length, width and heft of the blade are optimized for easy slicing.
  • The octagonal Wa-style handle is a traditional design, and is built to be comfortable and ergonomic. While the blade has a bit of heft to it, the handle is lightweight.
  • The flat rim on the back combined with the concave and flat grinds used in the knife’s design help to protect the flavor and texture of the sushi or sashimi you are preparing.
  • This knife is not made in a factory, but is crafted by hand. Great attention to detail has gone into the craftsmanship of every blade and handle. Your purchase includes a “Saya,” which is a wooden sheath. Storing the knife inside it helps to maintain its sharpness and pristine polish.

Bad

  • This is undeniably a high-budget knife. But for the dedicated sushi chef, it is an investment which can pay off handsomely.

6. DALSTRONG Phantom Series – Japanese High-Carbon Knife Set

DALSTRONG Phantom Series - Japanese High-Carbon - AUS8 Steel (6-Piece Set w/Magnetic Block)

In the market for a whole set of Japanese knives? The DALSTRONG Phantom Series – Japanese High-Carbon Knife Set is an investment, but when you divide the price by the number of high-quality Japanese knives you are getting, you will find that the cost is quite reasonable, making the purchase an excellent value.

Good

  • When you purchase this set, you receive a total of six different Japanese knives. Your purchase also includes a block for holding these knives along with six additional open slots for other knives in your collection.
  • The knives included in this set are a bread knife, a kiritsuke knife, a chef’s knife, a santoku knife, a utility knife and a paring knife.
  • The blades of these knives are crafted from AUS-8 high-carbon steel and have been tempered in ice. This allows them to retain their razor edges for longer between sharpenings. The spine of each knife has been polished by hand. You’ll find that these blades do a great job resisting rust.
  • The non-slip handles are made out of laminated Spanish pakkawood, and are aesthetically pleasing, rugged, and comfortable. The D-shape also improves stability, ensuring your grip is steady.
  • There is a 100% satisfaction guarantee on this knife set along with a lifetime warranty.

Bad

  • Once in a while, one of these blades may snap. As mentioned in some of the other product overviews, this seems to be one of the more widespread flaws when purchasing knives, regardless of the brand. Keep in mind that it is still pretty rare for this to happen.

Considerations When Buying a Japanese Chef Knife

1. Type of Knife/Intended Use

There are a number of different types of Japanese chef knives, each with its own intended purpose. The type of knife you should purchase depends on how you plan to use it.

  • Gyuto: Looking for a single Japanese knife to slice through all your problems? This type of knife can be your go-to blade for pretty much everything.
  • Sankotu: Similar to the gyuto, this blade can handle a wide variety of tasks. It is smaller than a gyuto.
  • Deba: This is a Japanese butcher knife.
  • Sujihiki: This is a Japanese carving knife.
  • Pankiri: Use this type of knife to cut bread.
  • Petty: Use this type of knife for paring.
  • Yanagi: Want to make sushi at home? This is the knife to buy—unless you are focusing mainly on octopus or eel, in which case a takobiki may be more suitable.
  • Honesuki: Use this knife to bone fish and poultry.
  • Hankotsu: Use this knife to bone tougher meats.
  • Kiritsuke: This is another type of knife you can use on fish.
  • Nakiri: This option works well for veggies.
  • Usuba: This is an alternative knife for veggies.

2. Materials

For the blade, look for high-quality stainless steel, as this material is durable and easy to maintain. There are a wide variety of materials used for Japanese knife handles, each with benefits and drawbacks.

3. Ease-of-Use

This consideration encompasses a number of aspects of knife design. The easiest and safest knife to use will be one that is well balanced and which offers a firm, ergonomic grip.

4. Quality Craftsmanship

You would think that any Japanese knife would be made in Japan, but you would be surprised by just how many are made in China or other countries. If you want the authentic article, make sure that the knife is actually made in Japan. Also consider spending extra if your budget allows it for a handcrafted knife rather than one which is factory-made.

5. Aesthetics

While functionality is what matters most in any knife, the appearance of the knife is worth considering as well. Once again, if you have it in your budget to pay a little extra, you will find that there are a number of beautiful knives on the market which look just as amazing as they work.

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