The 6 Best Japanese Kitchen Knives
Not only are the best Japanese kitchen knives made from ultra tough steel, but they're sharp enough to slice and dice just about anything, saving you major time and frustration in the kitchen. When shopping around, the material of the knife will be the first thing you'll want to keep an eye out for.
Traditional Japanese knives are constructed with high-carbon steel, making them tough enough to take on any kitchen task. Some of the most efficient blades are made with a type of high-quality Japanese steel called VG-10. You'll definitely want to check to make sure whichever knife you choose is made from this signature carbon steel to get the best quality blade possible.
If you tend to do a ton of food prep or cook multiple meals per day, consider investing in a knife that will stay sharp and last for the long haul (or one with a lifetime warranty). You may also want to consider specific knives for the kitchen tasks you do most — like slicing meat or chopping veggies. (FYI for knife novices: Meat knives will be thinner, more flexible, and have a pointier tip than the flatter vegetable knives.)
To help you out with your search, here's a roundup of some of the best Japanese kitchen knives on the market.
1. Best Overall, All Things Considered
Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife
At first glance, spending over $100 for a knife may seem pricey. But this sleek, multipurpose chef's knife is expensive for a few reasons.
First, the blade is constructed with the highest quality VG-10 stainless steel in not one, but 32 layers. Yes, there are actually 32 layers of steel in this single blade. The steel's surface is slightly textured to slice through literally anything, and it's also completely rust resistant. Plus, even though this knife is fancy, it's dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
And when your knife starts to get dull? Shun knives come with a lifetime replacement and sharpening warranty, so you can send them in to get sharpened — or replaced if anything happens to it — as many times as you want. While it may seem like a major investment, this knife can do just about about anything and will last you the rest of your life, saving you money in the long run.
2. Best For Beginners
Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Forged Japanese Steel Knife Set (12 Pieces)
For the most bang for your buck, buying in bulk is the trick. This Japanese knife block set includes a paring knife, a utility knife, a serrated knife, a santoku knife, a multipurpose knife, shears, a honing rod, and four steak knives — all nestled in a bamboo block. While all the blades are made from Japanese steel, they aren't as high quality or durable as the pricier knife, above, and may wear out sooner. However, several reviewers mention that this is a great introduction to Japanese kitchen knives and highly recommend this block set.
One thing to note: The warranty on these knives is, frankly, confusing, as some reviewers report a one-year warranty, while the manufacturer's policy says this block set has a lifetime warranty. After reading the particulars, I'll say, regardless of the timeline, it'll definitely cost you in shipping to send these back to the manufacturers if you exercise the warranty.
3. Best Knife For Slicing Meats
DALSTRONG 6.5-Inch Boning Filet Knife
This slim boning filet knife is perfect for slicing even the toughest meats. Made with high-quality Japanese steel, this knife holds up against poultry, beef and fish, but still offers just enough flexibility to cut through red meats without snapping. The slim, narrow blade can easily maneuver around bones and ligaments, and the razor-sharp tip can effortlessly slice and dice without any drag. Plus, this knife is 100 percent corrosion-resistant. And, even if anything were to happen, it comes with a lifetime guarantee so you can replace it without worry.
4. Best Knife For Chopping Vegetables
DALSTRONG Nakiri 7-Inch Asian Vegetable Knife
Until you've chopped veggies with a steel, flat-bladed knife, it's tough to realize what you've been missing. Not only is the blade made of high-carbon steel, but it has been specifically designed to lie flush against a cutting board when you chop. That means there's more blade surface, which allows for faster cutting and less prep work. It has also been tapered for maximum slicing efficiency, and the extra height on the blade means you can slice all the way through everything from melons to piles of leafy greens without a hitch.
5. Best Knife For Bread
Zelite Infinity 8-Inch Bread Knife
This serrated steel knife can cut through even the crustiest, crumbliest bread without a problem. Made with the highest-rated Japanese steel, the blade is evenly serrated so you can easily make a sawing motion to slice through fresh bread. However, reviewers mention that this knife is so sharp that they didn't even need to "saw" through most of their breads — it only took one slice to get through. This razor-sharp blade will last a lifetime, but if anything happens to it, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
6. Best Knife For Paring
Zelite Infinity 4-Inch Paring Knife
If you tend to peel a lot of fruits or veggies, this slim paring knife is the best choice. The high-carbon steel blade ends in a razor-sharp spear point, making it perfect for delicate knife work like slicing small fruits or creating fancy garnishes. Plus, the triple-riveted, slightly rounded handle makes it easy to maneuver, while the no-slip casing keeps the knife firmly in your hand as you dice and peel.
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