Whether you are an aspiring or professional chef, the best Japanese kitchen knives are must-haves. They have thin and delicate blades for making accurate cuts and beautiful presentation. From slicing sashimi to cutting a sushi roll, these knives will come handy.
Choosing Japanese knives, however, is not an easy feat. Especially if you are a first-time buyer, you need to consider several factors, such as the construction of the blade and the quality of the handle.
Need help choosing for the best Japanese knives? Keep on reading and we’ll help you decide what to buy!
The Benefits of Japanese Kitchen Knives
While you will have countless options for kitchen knives, Japanese knives are hard to match. If you need more compelling reasons to choose these knives, below are some of the benefits worth knowing.
- They are Sharp: The sharpness of Japanese knives is unrivaled. Even the thinnest slices will be easy to make. It is effortless to make food more presentable.
- They are Lightweight: Using Japanese knives will not cause too much strain on your wrist or hand. Even when cutting or slicing for a long time, your comfort will not be an issue.
- They are Made of High-Quality Steel: Japanese knives are also known for their premium construction. They are made using the best steel available to ensure top-notch quality.
- They are Durable: Anyone who has owned a set of Japanese knives will surely agree about their longevity. They can withstand many years of use.
- They are Made by Skilled Craftsmen: You will also love how these knives are made by Japanese craftsmen. Each knife is a work of art.
Reviews of Top Picks for the Best Japanese Kitchen Knives by Consumer Reports
Having a hard time deciding? We’ll make your life easy! Below are some of the best Japanese knives that should be on your radar!
#1. DALSTRONG Chef’s Knife 9.5” Shogun Series
The price of this knife can be an issue for most people. However, if the quality is more important than cost, then this is one product that should be on the top of your list.
One of the best things about this knife is that it is handcrafted. It is made by artisans for 60 days, so you can be sure of attention even to the smallest details.
It is also an impressive choice because of the use of high-quality material. This is one thing that justifies the steep price of the knife. It is made of AUS-10V Japanese steel, which is known for its superior sharpness and edge retention. With a 62+ Rockwell hardness rating, you can be confident that the quality will be second to none.
The lifetime warranty that the manufacturer offers is also a good thing. To add, if you are unhappy in any way, let the manufacturer know and you will receive an unconditional refund.
If there is one thing that you might not like, however, it would be its weight. It can be quite heavy. There can also be a problem with its balance. Holding the knife can be quite a challenge for some people.
- Hammered finish
- Firm handle
- Exceptional sharpness
- Not well-balanced
#2. Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Series Forged 12-piece Japanese Knife Set
If value for money is what you are looking for, this is one of the best choices. Yes, it is expensive, but that is because it comes as a set. It has almost all the knives you will need, such as chef’s, santoku, utility, and steak knives, among others. It also has shears, honing rod, and a wooden block to keep everything organized.
The knives are expertly-balanced, which will make them user-friendly. Even if you are a newbie in the kitchen, you will not have a hard time holding the knives. They also have ergonomic grips for comfort and safety of the user.
With the forged construction of the knives, they are sharp and long-lasting. Even after a long time of use, it is impressive how the edges retain their superior quality.
If the things mentioned above are not enough to convince you to choose this product, you might have a change of mind after learning about the lifetime warranty. This should be more than enough to give you peace of mind.
- Comes with most of the knives you will need
- Has a wooden block
- Comfortable to grip
- Easily prone to rust
- Difficult to maintain
#3. Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife
The price of this knife can be a disappointment for some people, but you should look beyond that. If you consider its overall construction and performance, then it will be easy to understand why this is an expensive product.
Among others, one of the best things about this product is the use of VG-Max steel for the blade. It has a sharp edge that can make thin cuts effortless. It also has more chromium, which will improve the knife’s rust resistance.
It is also worth noting that the steel used in this knife has been through heat treatment. This reinforces the material to make it stronger. It also ensures that the blade will be thinner and sharper, making it a great option even for people with discerning preferences.
For the handle, the main material used is Pakkawood. It is a hardwood infused with resin, making it more durable. It won’t warp over time, even if it is often wet. The handle has a water-resistant finish. It is round, although, some people noted that holding the knife can be quite awkward.
- Great edge retention
- Durable construction
- Handle can be awkward to hold
#4. 9-piece Knife Block Set Japanese AUS-10 Damascus Steel Knives
Can’t decide on a specific knife that you want to have in the kitchen? This set is for those who want to have it all! It comes with the basic knives you will use for most tasks. It also comes with a steel sharpener. Plus, there is a block that makes it easy to keep everything organized.
The main material used in the knives is 67-layer steel known for its exceptional durability. It also has an excellent hardness rating. However, while the manufacturer claims that it has good edge retention, many of the users seem to disagree, complaining about how it can easily go dull. This is one thing that you should watch out for.
The knives have a classic black G10 handle with flower rivets. The handles are designed to be easy to grip. The textured surface will prevent your hand from slipping.
- Comes with ergonomic handles
- Makes clean and precise cuts
- Has a knife block
- Can easily go dull
#5. Shun Premier Nakiri Knife
Like the other options that are included in this list, the price can also be an issue for many people. However, before you complain that it is expensive, look at its quality first. After this, you will realize that the cost is justifiable.
This 5.5-inch knife is one of the shortest of the products recommended in this buying guide. It comes with a thin blade, which is perfect for slicing vegetables.
In terms of its construction, the blade is made of Damascus steel. It has a hand-hammered finish, a procedure that is known as tsuchime in Japan. It is supposed to improve the durability of the blade. Despite this, some people noted that chipping can be an issue.
The Pakkawood handle that comes with the knife is another impressive feature of this product. It is a combination of natural wood and resin as a reinforcement for longevity. It also has a secure and comfortable grip, making the knife effortless to hold.
- Hand-hammered finish
- Premium handle
- Ergonomic design
- Chips easily
- Not as sharp
#6. Sakai Takayuki Japanese Dimple Knife
Among others, one thing that we like the most in this knife is its dimpled construction. Dimples are shallow indentations that you can find on the edge of the blade. Technically known as Granton edge, they will make it easier to pull the blade out by minimizing suction. When cutting meat, it will also lessen the stickiness of the knife.
As for the blade, it uses special alloy steel. It is different from most Japanese knives because this steel is from Sweden. This steel is from a company that has been around since 1670, so you can be confident that the quality will be second to none.
Aside from the blade, the wooden handle is another highlight of this product. It has an ergonomic design, so holding it will not be a problem. It follows the natural curve of your hand. The textured construction is also a good thing, which will prevent slipping.
- Ergonomic handle
- Well-balanced construction
- Difficult to sharpen
How to Choose the Best Japanese Kitchen Knives
The options will be plenty, but this should not be an excuse for you to decide in haste. To make a well-informed decision, below are the most important things to consider.
The most important part of the knife is the blade. This is what performs the knife’s main functions. It should be sharp and must stay sharp for a long time. Aside from edge retention, durability is also an important consideration. It should not easily chip or crack.
The following are some of the most common materials you will find in the blade of Japanese knives:
- Steel: It is an alloy of steel and other elements. Most of the time, it contains carbon to improve tensile strength and ductility. The higher the carbon component is, the more difficult it will be to maintain.
- Stainless Steel: This Japanese knife is made of steel alloy that has a minimum of 10% chromium. The addition of chromium allows the blade to resist rust. However, take note that it is not rust-proof.
- VG-10 Stainless Steel: This is high-grade stainless steel. Aside from steel, the material also contains carbon, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, cobalt, and manganese. This is hard to match if corrosion resistance is what you are looking for.
- Damascus Steel: It is easily identifiable because of the wavy patterns that you will see on the blades. To make this kind of knife, several molten layers are folded, which will also make it thicker than most Japanese knives.
Like the blade, the handle of the Japanese knife will be indicative of its quality. Wood and campsites are the most common materials used. Look for a long-lasting material, specifically one that does not easily crack or warp even if it gets wet.
More than durability, the handles should have an ergonomic design. It should be easy to grip, even for a long time. It should have curves that follow the contour of your hand. A textured surface is also nice, which will come handy if your hand is wet.
Type of Knife
Do you need a chef’s knife? Or are you looking for a cleaver knife? You should identify your needs to find the knife that will work best. If the budget is not an issue, consider buying a set that comes with all the knives you will need.
This is one thing that most people ignore despite its importance. It will be indicative of value for money of the knife that you will buy. The best option would be one that comes with a lifetime warranty for your peace of mind.
When it comes to cutlery, the best Japanese kitchen knives are hard to match, including our recommendations above.
From professional chefs to aspiring home cooks, Japanese knives are well-loved because of their quality. However, this will depend on the specific product you will be choosing.
The type of steel used, edge retention, construction of the handle, and ease of cleaning are some of the most important things you need to consider.
Take your kitchen to the next level! Get the best Japanese knives today!