It is undoubtedly true that the finer things in food are not only focused on what food was made, but also how it was concocted. When I began to immerse myself in cooking, I first focused on the taste of the food made. However, as I began learning more and more about cooking, I’ve learned that the creation process is just as important as ensuring a great-tasting dish.
The first learning agenda I had was to advance my knife skills. I’m no Michelin chef, but having uniformly sliced ingredients will have an impact on the overall taste and presentation of the food. Having the same size cut pieces is crucial, why? because, each part will cook at a same rate, meaning you won’t have one side under cook and the other over cooked. All sides will be evenly cooked, if it’s evenly sliced.
Here’s another reason to improve on your knife skills – robertrose.ca/article/why-knife-skills-are-important.
Throughout the self-learning of my knife skills, I realized that investing in a properly manufactured knife is an important aspect to look into. The importance of a good knife promotes heightened security in the kitchen, as well as the efficiency with your kitchen work. Even if a high-quality knife turns dull with frequent use, its weight and angle give huge advantages.
Japanese knives are one of the most reliable knives that you should check out. It is no doubt that the Japanese are famous for their top-quality blades, given that they had an era of creating katana swords. Hence, exceptional durability and hardness are to be expected from their blacksmith products.
However, despite the good reputation of Japanese knives, some knives stand out from the others. The best Japanese knives could be hard to spot at times because there are just so many competing brands and types in the market. Ranging from overall quality to affordability, a Japanese knife is surely made available in an exceptional variant
Best Japanese Knives Compared and Reviewed
1. Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife
An overall good knife must feel solid and sturdy when being used. I look for a knife that perfectly rests in my palm and gives me the solid glide motions when cutting. These types of knives are usually designed for precise cuts while maintaining their durability over the years.
The Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife is currently on my top list because of its VG-MAX steel, which is a formula exclusive to Shun. The VG-MAX provides extra tungsten for a sharper edge, ensuring clean and precise cuts. Moreover, its additional chromium, cobalt, and carbon provide corrosion resistance, strength, and durability respectively.
The handle of this knife is made from ebony PakkaWood. This is a hardwood engineered with resin composite, making it extra strong and durable. It is a high-quality wood perfect for knife handles because it’s quite dense and more water-resistant than any existing woods.
To better maintain the quality of the knife, it requires proper slicing of the user. It must be pushed forward and down then pulling it up and back while slicing through the food to create a locomotive motion. This is the best way to keep its quality because it provides chipping.
This 8-inch Chef Knife is the classic knife that I think everyone must have their hands on. It is a staple kitchen utensil perfect for cooking enthusiasts and even beginners who are only getting into cooking. This is definitely the best type of knife to start helping you when it comes to honing your knife skills.
When I purchased this item, my high expectations were met because this isn’t only aesthetically pleasing, but it does the job. However, the lack of presentation with its packaging is disappointing. I had to buy a knife guard for this specific knife for storage.
2. Kuma 8-inch Chef’s Knife
My best bet for the sturdiest Japanese knife lies on the Kuma 8-inch Chef’s Knife. This specific brand and type of Japanese knife have a good reputation of having a good thin blade for cutting vegetables and also for delicately slicing specific meats.
Its material is composed of 67 layers of high carbon, premium Japanese Damascus steel providing better durability. Because of this, its strong and chip-resistant quality makes this knife one of the best. Damascus metal is known for being superior to all knives because it is a super hard metal that doesn’t easily chip off.
This specific knife is something that I’ll always have on my wish list. This is totally not made to disappoint because it highlights its ergonomic qualities with its lightweight handle. The handle is also hand-polished and created with a soft spine for a balanced and comfortable grip, while still being aesthetically pleasing.
What have others said about the Kuma 8-inch Chef’s Knife?
“ This is now definitely one of my favorite things in my kitchen ” – Leemin O
3. Shun Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife
A more controlled grip must be one of the many qualities that you’re looking for in your chef’s knife. If so, you might want to look into this specific knife. The Shun Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife prides itself in its contoured PakkaWood handle that’s of better and thicker quality than the classic.
It is made up of a thinner blade than the other products of Shun, thus it is lighter to use and it is easy to handle. Though this could be a bit over the top for beginners, this could be a good product if you want to upgrade with your knives.
The razor-sharp edge of this blade is the ultimate knife that is perfect for every type of slicing. This could cater to your kitchen needs because it is perfect for slicing, dicing, and chopping. While doing the cooking process of slicing, dicing, and chopping, it won’t leave an uncomfortable feeling, thus it’s not less tiring to use.
Its knife steel underwent a heat treatment to create long-lasting value. In this procedure, finer-grained blade steel is the expected result, therefore, it promises a stronger and sharper knife edge.
Like the Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife, this product from Shun is as well made out of their strong VG-MAX product. However, this specific knife is designed for precise agile handling that can provide balance and precise results when cutting.
Though I haven’t personally used this product, reviews have stated that the blade gets chipped off when used for a long period of time. Regardless, numerous praises are surfacing, claiming its sharpness and ease in usage.
4. Global 8-inch Chef’s Knife
Best valued knives are what I personally look for in my kitchen utensils because they’re definitely worth the price that you bought them for. Global knives have a reputation for a noticeable thinner blade, while still being able to be worth its cost. Its bottom blade also seems proportionally wider than any other brands offered in the market.
This is a precisely balanced chef’s knife that is also known for its lightweightedness. Its blade is made of molybdenum vanadium stainless steel which is used to increase the knife’s strength, wear resistance, and toughness. Moreover, these specific elements also provide corrosion resistance.
Molybdenum vanadium stainless steel knives are not famous for their sharpness. Hence, a number of reviews have said that this specific knife has only average sharpness.
The handle of this knife is designed for comfort and is dimpled for a safe grip. Because of this, it rated a good score for its maneuverability and ergonomic qualities. It is also easy to hold, most especially for those who are only beginning to cook.
I also want knives that are easy to clean and maintain. Because of the large and prominent edge of this Global knife, it is easier to clean because you can easily see the corners with your naked eye. Reviews and different users have stated that despite knives being non-dishwasher friendly, this knife is said to be 100% dishwasher safe.
5. Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife
The knife that probably tops off all the reviews when it comes to being long-lasting is the Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife. It is known for its material which is SG2 micro carbide powder steel.
The SG2 is one of the most well-known steels used by Japanese knife industries. It holds a sharp blade and they have the reputation of being one of the most durable steels.
The high-quality blade of the knife is known for its powder steel surrounded by 100 layers of two different steels. Because of this, it ensures that its edges won’t be easily damaged and chipped off.
If thinking about purchasing this, it is highly suggested that you should first try fitting it into your hands. A number of reviews have said that they find it a bit heavy, while others personally think it’s comfortable and it sits well right on your palm.
Other than its aesthetically pleasing design, a lot of people have also commended on its sharpness and its good balance. Though it could be really pricey, you secured with its long-lasting quality.
My Top Choice
Key Considerations When Looking For a Japanese Knife
When purchasing the best Japanese knife, it is important to know that there are different variants of Japanese knives in the market. Just like any product, there are top-notch quality knives while some are at the average level.
Choosing the best kitchen knife varies according to your kitchen skills level and also of course, your preference. It is still important to note that some knives have different functions, thus not all knives could perfectly cut through all your ingredients and foods.
I know the frustration of discomfort when you’re constantly using a knife that isn’t perfectly lightweight. It is truly a joy to have the knife sit comfortably on the center of your palm, without having to worry about your numbing wrist because of the weight of the knife.
If you’re not really a professional chef and only a person who’s really enthusiastic about cooking like me, then knife weight is not really that big of a deal because we won’t have to use the knife the whole entire day. However, I find joy in practicing my knife skills and getting the perfect cuts as possible, thus knife weight matters to me.
The Shun Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife is the best at being lightweight as per the numerous reviews praising the specific product. If you’re like me who really wants a remarkable lightweight knife, then this product perhaps maybe something you’re looking for.
Knife Maintenance and Protection
Japanese knives are particularly famous for their corrosion resistance material used in their steels. Hence, corrosion isn’t something that we should really worry about when it comes to our Japanese blades.
I believe that you and I are the same when it comes to ensuring that our knives are clean and spotless every after usage. I personally hate it when I can’t clean all the edges and corners of my knives just because the structure of the knife is making other parts hard to clean.
Of course, it is a general rule that you cannot put your knife in the dishwasher, but some knives are okay with it such as the Global 8-inch Chef’s Knife. Though it is not really highly recommended to continue this practice, this certain knife is still one of the easiest knives to clean.
For knife protection, it is essential to make sure that your knives are packaged with a knife guard. The Kuma 8-inch Chef’s Knife comes with a knife guard that is durable and at the same time snug enough to protect your knife from chipping off.
Type of Steel
When I was just starting out my passion for cooking, I had minimal to no knowledge of the types of steel. Also, I couldn’t care less about the type of steel because I thought that all blade steels are the same or at least similar to one another.
However, I’ve learned in the long run that the type of steel is definitely something to look at when purchasing your kitchen knife. The type of steel has an impact on your food creations because each type varies on its sharpness, ease of sharpening, edge retention, and even the lightweightness it has.
If you’re looking for a very durable and easy to sharpen the knife, you might want to look into knives made out of Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel. The Global 8-inch Chef’s Knife in particular is made up of this material. Though this type of steel isn’t completely stellar with its sharpness feature, it still does the trick.
If you see a knife that has wavy patterns on it, you’re probably looking at a Damascus steel. The durability of this type of steel is exceptional, however, it’s not a perfect score with its sharpness and its maintenance, but still high-quality steel for knives. You might want to look into Kuma 8-inch Chef’s knife if toughness and durability of the blade is your top priority.
If you’re looking for an elite line of knives, then you might want to look into knives made out of SG2 steel. It is a high carbon content and a high alloy stainless steel that is best known for its superb quality that delivers the greatest performance. One brand that is made up of SG2 is the Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife, and you might want to look into this if you’re looking for a long-lasting blade.
It is really difficult to set a standard blade length that you should look into because there is no definitive answer. The only thing that matters when looking at the blade length is your own personal preference.
If you’re in doubt whether you have the right blade size and length for your knife, I recommend a middle ground Chef’s knife that it’s suitable for the majority of your kitchen work. The Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s knife is the knife I want to recommend.
Though other products are of the same blade length, the way this certain product is structured makes it sturdy, hence, it is easy to maneuver. You don’t only get to cut like a chef, but you also get to maximize the 8 inches of this knife without having to go through difficulties.
There are different types of handles to choose from. The Japanese handles have the reputation of being lightweight because of the way it is structured with the blade and as well as the material the handle was made of.
This is an essential part when looking for the right Japanese knife for you because this dictates the grip. This important feature imposes the comfortability, hence, affecting your overall performance in the kitchen. More often than not, handles also provide stability and weight to give you maximum comfortability and better kitchen performance.
The most popular and also the oldest type of handle is made up of wood. It has a good grip and has a durable composition. Wood is one of the best because they are solid and stable, hence you can expect that they won’t expand or contract in extreme temperatures.
I recommend the Shun Classic and Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knives because they use wood as their handles, specifically made from Pakkawood. This wood is exceptional because it can withstand wet environments because of its water-resistant feature. Moreover, this wood won’t degrade even after constant usage.
Frequently Asked Questions about Japanese Knife
Question: What’s the difference between Japanese and German knives?
Answer: The angle of German knives are ranging from 20 to 22 degrees, while Japanese knives are 12 to 15 degrees. In general, German knives facilitate a rocking style of chopping and Japanese knives are for both chopping and also creating clean slices.
Question: Are Japanese knives better than other Western-made knives?
Answer: Western-made knives are curved more than Japanese knives, hence you can utilize the knife by rocking to and fro in a chopping action to apply different amounts across the knife. Since they are made up of a softer material, it can easily be sharpened with great effect. However, it can also dull faster than the average Japanese knife.
On the other hand, since Japanese knives are made from the harder steel, they tend to be sharper for longer. They can be more durable and long-lasting than western knives.
Question: Is it a fact that Japanese knives are more well-balanced than other types of knives?
Answer: It is true that Japanese knives tend to be more balanced because of the weight in the blade. Since they are only slightly curved, unlike Western knives, they are easier to use with only a slight rocking motion needed.
Getting into cooking is truly a thrilling and exciting experience because you get to witness yourself produce good food. Hence, it is only deserving for you to own some kitchen utensils that will greatly help you with this cooking journey.
There are countless Japanese knives in the market and choosing one that’s best for you is one of the most important ingredients for creating a good food and kitchen experience for you.
Paul is an aspiring amateur chef from Sydney, Australia. Paul comes from Vietnam and has a passion for Asian food. He has visited Asia including Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Singapore and hopes to inspire others with his passion for food.