• Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2020 (Dalstrong, Shun, and More) 1
  • Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2020 (Dalstrong, Shun, and More) 2
  • Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2020 (Dalstrong, Shun, and More) 3
  • Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2020 (Dalstrong, Shun, and More) 4
  • Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2020 (Dalstrong, Shun, and More) 5

Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2020 (Dalstrong, Shun, and More)

Looking to level-up your culinary skills? A Japanese chef knife is an invaluable and versatile tool in the kitchen! These high-quality knives are known for their strength, sharpness, and style. Whether you're a budding home cook or professional chef, having a sharp, well-made knife will make cooking easier and safer.


We love Japanese chef knives for their thinner and sharper cutting edges made of hard steel. Our top pick among these cutlery wonders is the Zelite Infinity Chef's Knife. It's double-beveled, ambidextrous, and sharp enough to cut anything with ease. Read on for the rest of our favorites, and check out our buying guide for plenty of useful information!

  • Last updated: 09-23-2020
  • 79 views
Table of Contents

Top 10 Best Japanese Chef Knives

Here are the 10 best Japanese chef knives that we hand-picked based on the quality, purpose, and popularity. 

1

Zelite Infinity 8-Inch Chef Knife

$124.97

Blade materialCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialGarolite
Handle typeEuropean
Blade length8 in.
Weight0.62 lbs.
HRC61+/-1
2

DalstrongShogun Series 9.5-Inch Chef Knife

$129.99

Blade materialCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialG10
Handle typeEuropean
Blade length9.5 in.
Weight0.54 lbs.
HRC62+
3

ShunClassic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

$149.95

Blade materialCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialPakkawood
Handle typeJapanese
Blade length8 in.
Weight0.44 lbs.
HRCNot listed
4

Tojiro8.2-Inch Gyuto Knife

$85.00

Blade materialCobalt alloy steel
Handle materialComposite wood
Handle typeEuropean
Blade length8.2 in.
Weight0.28 lbs.
HRC61
5

Zelite Infinity7-Inch Santoku Knife

$112.97

Blade materialCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialGarolite
Handle typeEuropean
Blade length7 in.
Weight0.56 lbs.
HRC61
6

DalstrongGladiator Series Paring Knife

$29.77

Blade materialCarbon German steel
Handle materialG10
Handle typeEuropean
Blade length3.75 in.
Weight0.23 lbs.
HRC56
7

Lucky Cook10-Inch Sashimi Sushi Knife

$28.99

Blade materialStainless steel
Handle materialWooden
Handle typeJapanese
Blade length10 in.
Weight0.9 lbs.
HRC55
8

KaiWasabi Chef's Knife

$34.95

Blade materialCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialPolypropylene
Handle typeJapanese
Blade length8 in.
Weight0.3 lbs.
HRC58 +/- 1
9

Miyabi Kaizen Chef's Knife

$129.95

Blade materialVG10 steel
Handle materialMicarta
Handle typeJapanese
Blade length8 in.
Weight0.7 lbs.
HRC60
10

TUO Fiery Series Nakiri Knife

$28.95

Blade materialCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialPakkawood
Handle typeEuropean
Blade length6.5 in.
Weight0.75 lbs.
HRC56

Compare the Best Japanese Chef Knives

Image
1
Zelite Infinity  8-Inch Chef Knife 1

Zelite Infinity

2
Dalstrong Shogun Series 9.5-Inch Chef Knife 1

Dalstrong

3
Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife 1

Shun

4
Tojiro 8.2-Inch Gyuto Knife 1

Tojiro

5
Zelite Infinity 7-Inch Santoku Knife  1

Zelite Infinity

6
Dalstrong Gladiator Series Paring Knife 1

Dalstrong

7
Lucky Cook 10-Inch Sashimi Sushi Knife  1

Lucky Cook

8
Kai Wasabi Chef's Knife 1

Kai

9
Miyabi  Kaizen Chef's Knife 1

Miyabi

10
TUO  Fiery Series Nakiri Knife 1

TUO

Name

8-Inch Chef Knife

Shogun Series 9.5-Inch Chef Knife

Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

8.2-Inch Gyuto Knife

7-Inch Santoku Knife

Gladiator Series Paring Knife

10-Inch Sashimi Sushi Knife

Wasabi Chef's Knife

Kaizen Chef's Knife

Fiery Series Nakiri Knife

Features

Ambidextrous Gyuto Knife for Professional Chefs and Home Cooks

Vacuum-Treated Resilient Chef Knife

All-Purpose Knife With a Sharp Curved Blade

Multipurpose Chef Knife for the Left- or Right-Handed

Premium Knife With Minimal Resistance

Small Utility Knife for the Delicate Tasks

Filleting Knife for the Best Sushi and Sashimi

Hand-Sharpened Chef Knife for General Tasks

Single-Beveled and Sharp Multipurpose Knife

Nakiri Knife for Perfect Push Cuts

Price$124.97$129.99$149.95$85.00$112.97$29.77$28.99$34.95$129.95$28.95
Blade materialCarbon stainless steelCarbon stainless steelCarbon stainless steelCobalt alloy steelCarbon stainless steelCarbon German steelStainless steelCarbon stainless steelVG10 steelCarbon stainless steel
Handle materialGaroliteG10PakkawoodComposite woodGaroliteG10WoodenPolypropylene MicartaPakkawood
Handle typeEuropeanEuropeanJapaneseEuropeanEuropeanEuropeanJapaneseJapaneseJapaneseEuropean
Blade length8 in.9.5 in.8 in.8.2 in.7 in.3.75 in.10 in.8 in.8 in.6.5 in.
Weight0.62 lbs.0.54 lbs.0.44 lbs.0.28 lbs.0.56 lbs.0.23 lbs.0.9 lbs.0.3 lbs.0.7 lbs.0.75 lbs.
HRC61+/-162+Not listed6161565558 +/- 16056
Link

How to Choose a Japanese Chef Knife - Buying Guide

You're looking for a Japanese chef knife, so you know this type of knife holds a special place in the world of cutlery. You might be a culinary connoisseur or a novice cook just stepping into the kitchen. Undoubtedly, a Japanese chef knife will be a great addition to your cutlery collection. 


This comprehensive guide lists the points you need to know about these wonderful kitchen tools to help you make a confident choice. 

Choose a Knife Based on the Cooking Task

Most professional chefs and home cooks need a few good knives that can handle every basic kitchen task. Let's get into the basics of the types of Japanese knives that a chef would want to possess. 

A Gyuto is a Must-Have Japanese Chef Knife

 A Gyuto is a Must-Have Japanese Chef Knife

A gyuto is a must-have for all those who are serious about cooking. You won't find a Japanese chef who doesn't possess a gyuto, the Japanese version of the European chef knife


The significant difference is that the blade of a gyuto knife is thinner and has substantial edge retention. This makes them brittle and less suitable for heavy work. Traditional gyuto knives had a single-bevel blade since Japanese cuisine primarily included fish, rice, and vegetables.

 A Gyuto is a Must-Have Japanese Chef Knife

With Western influence, they started to manufacture double-bevel gyuto knives. The blade can be between 6 to 15 inches long and 1.5 to 5 millimeters thick. This thin and hard blade is ideal for precisely cutting and slicing raw or cooked meat.


Gyuto knives can have a European or Japanese handle, and modern knives can be single or double-bevel. Due to their straight profile, gyuto knives are preferred for push cutting.

Knives With Thin Blades Can Finely Cut Vegetables

Knives With Thin Blades Can Finely Cut Vegetables

For cutting vegetables and leaves, a nakiri knife with a thin blade and European handle works best. They are generally 6 to 7 inches long and are double-beveled. They are famous for their superior performance in chopping and rocking. 


If you want a single-beveled knife for cutting vegetables, go for a usuba knife with a Japanese handle. It has a thin rectangular blade and is chiseled on one side. They are famous for their ability to finely cut vegetables for garnishing salads and dishes.

Consider a Multipurpose Knife for Many Tasks

Consider a Multipurpose Knife for Many Tasks

Chuka bocho, a Japanese cleaver knife, can be used for various tasks, such as chopping, slicing, and mincing. It has a thin and sharp rectangular blade and is heavy enough to cut large vegetables and fruits. The knife's heel can be used for removing tiny blemishes from fruits and vegetables, and its spine can mince garlic and ginger. 


Santoku knives are another versatile option. "Santoku" can be translated as "a knife of three virtues!" These knives are convenient since they can slice, dice, or mince things like meat, fish, and vegetables. This double-beveled knife can have a Japanese or European handle. 


Bunka knives, which are ideal for the preparation of Western dishes, have a wide handle and a gentle double-beveled blade. Its thin tip can make precise and delicate cuts, which is essential for working in a professional kitchen. These knives are not readily available, however, and bladesmiths often make them in small batches on demand. 

Choose Specialized Knives for Cutting Fish and Meat

Choose Specialized Knives for Cutting Fish and Meat

Single-beveled yanagiba and deba knives are used for working with fish. Yanagiba knives can be between 10 and 14 inches long and are suitable for slicing even the most delicate fish. It can cut meat as well due to its long thin blade.


Both yanagiba and deba knives typically have a Japanese handle. Deba knives are suitable for rough tasks in the kitchen, and yanagiba knives are ideal for tasks that require precision. Both are available for both left and right-handed people.

Choose Specialized Knives for Cutting Fish and Meat

Deba knives are crafted to break down a whole fish precisely. It's one of the best tools for cleaning and filleting fish as well as breaking down poultry. Its thick spine allows your auxillary hand to apply some force when cutting through thick bones.


Suhijiki is the double-beveled Western-style alternative to yanagiba. The long and finely-ground knife is suitable for carving meat roasts and fish fillets as well as thinly slicing cucumbers and carrots.   

The Petty Knife is Always Handy to Have for Chefs

The Petty Knife is Always Handy to Have for Chefs
Perhaps this is the most used of all knives in Japanese kitchens - it can do almost everything. Petty knives are also called paring or utility knives, and they are suitable for a variety of delicate tasks like peeling, coring apples, parring, or slicing.


They are good at cutting fruits and vegetables with a hard exterior and a soft interior, too. For cutting herbs and plants, you wouldn't need kitchen shears if you have a paring knife!

Look at the Blade Material and Design to Find Its Cutting Efficiency

Look at the Blade Material and Design to Find Its Cutting Efficiency

Most stainless steel Japanese knives are hand-forged. However, bladesmiths prefer using carbon steel for making authentic knives since carbon steel can be harder and is easier to sharper and grind. 


Also, carbon steel knives can be ground to steeper angles and offer longer edge retention. However, they aren’t as rust-resistant as stainless steel and can get discolored. For the best of both worlds, try high-carbon stainless steel blades. These resist stains and can retain their sharpness for a long time.

Look at the Blade Material and Design to Find Its Cutting Efficiency

Stainless steel, unlike its name, isn’t completely rust-resistant either. But, it can resist rust if you rinse and dry it immediately after use! High-quality stainless steel will have exceptional sharpness and edge retention. Plus, stainless steel blades are easy to sharpen and maintain.


Japanese knives are typically long and have a straight profile, but you may see curved products. Look for a knife that can offer the best pinch grip as this will help reduce the impact on the bolster (the place where the blade meets the handle). 

Don’t Forget to Look at the Handle Material and Design

Japanese knives are known to have lightweight handles, as they're mostly partial-tang. With Western influence, the traditional craftsmanship combines the use of full-tang handles to make certain cutting tasks easier. The shapes can vary too, depending on the manufacturer and the craftsmanship.  

The Handle Type Can Affect the Pressure You Need to Apply

The Handle Type Can Affect the Pressure You Need to Apply

Japanese chef knives can have an oval Japanese handle, octagonal Japanese handle, or a European handle. Japanese handles are partial tang, which means that the blade is glued a little distance into the handle. These handles are lightweight and give the right balance between the bolster and the tip. They can feel quite nimble to use, too. 


If your cooking task does not require applying extra force, an octagonal handle will do - it's perfect for slicing and push cutting. A wide handle makes sense if your hands are bigger. Octagonal, D-shaped, and oval handles suit right-handed chefs, but many knives are suitable for both left and right-handed people.


Western handles, on the other hand, are full tang and are often heavy and are sturdy. They work well with most gripping styles and can help you rock while cutting.

Handle Material Defines a Knife's Longevity

Handle Material Defines a Knife's Longevity

Wooden handles are durable and attractive. A variety of woods, like pakkawood or composite wood, are used to make Japanese knives. However, they can shrink or expand depending on the temperature. Yet, they're lightweight and offer an excellent grip


Stainless steel handles are less common, as they are heavy. They can be slippery and difficult to grip when there's oil on your hands, too. If you prefer this material, look for the use of plastic or rubber for added comfort and functionality. 


Micarta handles are made of linen cloths soaked in phenolic resin. These are strong, grippy, and waterproof. Garolite, or G10, is an impressive handle material made of fiberglass mesh soaked in a resin binder. It has amazing stability, low moisture absorption, and remain shrink-resistant even when exposed to extreme temperatures.

Match the Knife Size to Your Hand Size

Match the Knife Size to Your Hand Size

Choosing the size of your knife is also dependent on your hand size. Matching the size of the knife to the size of your hands will give you better comfort and control. If you have large hands or long fingers, you should choose a long and deep knife. If your hands are smaller, a big knife can be unwieldy.


The length and depth of the knife also matter, regardless of the size of your hands. You should go for a knife with a smaller handle and a blade less than 8 inches if you are a novice cook. On the other hand, professional chefs and expert cooks will do well with longer knives. 

Understand What HRC (Rockwell Hardness) Means

Understand What HRC (Rockwell Hardness) Means

The HRC or Rockwell of the knife is a great determinant of what the knife can do and how long it’s going to retain its sharpness. The higher the HRC, the sharper and more brittle the knife will be. It will also have a higher edge retention.


Blades with lower HRC will be too soft and are unfit for making knives. An HRC of 57 or 58 is ideal for professional chefs


A knife with an HRC between 56 and 58 is easy to sharpen and is great for all levels of cooks. Knives with an HRC between 58 and 62 remain sharp for a long time. Anything above 60 is harder to sharpen and can turn brittle quickly. 

Check Out the Finish of the Knife

Check Out the Finish of the Knife

A hammered finish has air pockets on the surface that helps food easily release from the knife. But since this does not apply to all foods, most chefs don't give much preference to this feature.


Some knives undergo cladding, a method of layering metal, to reinforce thin blades that have a higher HRC. The flip side is that the cladding material will have a lower HRC than the core material, which makes the surface prone to scratching. No cladding is applied to the knife's edge, however. The lack of cladding keeps it sharper. 

Check Out the Finish of the Knife

Damascus steel layers are used as cladding to add aesthetics and sharpness to carbon steel blades. These layers appear as patterns on the blade's surface. Various grades of steel are folded repeatedly during the forging process to bring about a Damascus pattern. Due to their lower HRC, the layers are susceptible to scratching. 


The blacksmith finish, as known as the kurouchi finish, is an unpolished blade meant only for aesthetic purposes. Like hammered finish, they can also help with food release. You can also find Nuteki and Fukugozai finishes. Both have a portion of the blade left unsharpened to show the evidence of the forging the metal went though.

Improve Your Knives' Performance With These!

Improve Your Knives' Performance With These!

Knives going dull is a common issue that can result from mishaps during your culinary experiments or just daily wear and tear. So, check out our favorite knife sharpeners! A sharp knife will make cooking easier and safer. While you're at it, take a look at some recommended santoku knives - another popular style of Japanese knife.

Summary

Japanese chef knives are an essential kitchen tool. It can be a little confusing to choose the right one, but you don't need to consult a bladesmith to validate the quality and capabilities of a Japanese knife! Being aware of the essential points mentioned above well help you choose with confidence. 


Whether you're a serious chef or a casual home cook, a knife sharpened to a fine angle that can hold an edge well is the best bet. If you're buying online, go for a knife that allows you to test and return it if needed. Enjoy cooking up a myriad of dishes with your new favorite kitchen knife!


Author: Biji Ravindran


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