The best Japanese kitchen knives
In the kitchen, the essential object to prepare your preparations is of course the knife. It will be used to slice, cut, mince your ingredients and it will be necessary at several stages of your recipes. It is therefore essential to choose the most efficient tool available and in this field, the Japanese knife is one of the favorites of chefs around the world.
Precise, sharp, strong and endowed with unparalleled handling, the best of Japanese knives will accompany you for a very long time, because it is built to last. To help you choose the model that suits your needs, we review 8 products , before providing you with a comprehensive buying guide to understand what makes the best quality Japanese kitchen knife .
Our selection at a glance:
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The best Japanese knives of 2020
- Japanese knife KAI 1706 – A chef’s knife with a damask blade
- Chef’s knife Tojiro – the best Japanese kitchen knife at a low price
- Kai 1702 Messer Japanese Santoku Knife – A model of excellence for your kitchen
- Shan Zu Japanese Damascus Knife – A pro knife at a low price
- Misono MIS 781 Santoku Knife – The best of Japanese knives
- SekiRyu Multi-Purpose Knife – Mini Price for an Efficient Japanese Knife
- Makami Premium Santoku Knife – A sturdy and sharp Japanese kitchen knife
- Japanese Chef’s Knives from Sunnecko – An ergonomic and inexpensive model!
Best-comparatif.fr strives to each article to provide you with clear and relevant information to help you choose the most suitable product for your needs. Our selections are the result of many hours of research and analysis of information about each product.
Our goal is to simply save you time by offering you only the best products of the moment 🙂
No product in our selection is sponsored.
How did we make our selection?
We don’t all cook the same way, our hands and skills certainly differ and choosing the best Japanese knife can be quite subjective. However, to establish this selection of 8 models, we relied on very precise criteria, and we searched the customer reviews and the tests of specialists – cooks and knife enthusiasts – to keep only the models that are the best. unanimity.
Here are the elements on which we based our choice.
- The sharpness of the blade : a good knife should be sold with a perfect edge. Normally, you can take it out of its box and slide it onto a sheet of paper to split it in 2 without any effort. If you sharpen it regularly, you can use it for 6, 8 or even 12 months without any maintenance.
- The strength and quality of steel : there is no point in having a blade that cuts if it breaks easily. The composition of the blade, its thickness and its malleability are points that must be taken into account to have a knife capable of performing many tasks without getting damaged.
- Dimensions: there are different sizes of Japanese knives, for various uses. But for a cook who is looking for versatility, it will be necessary to opt for a Santoku or a chef’s knife, with blades between 16 and 30 cm.
- The reinforcements : for better stability and more weight, some manufacturers add metal reinforcements of their Japanese knife, which can increase durability
- Balance : when handling a knife, it is important that the weight is perfectly distributed over the entire knife. However, not all users will agree on what this ideal scale represents. Some prefer to have a heavier blade, others will favor knives with a handle with more weight, when some want the distribution to be homogeneous. You can check your preferences by carrying different knives at home, and you will soon find out what you like!
- The type of blade: we also check the way the blade is forged or welded and the type of blade is fitted to the model. For your information, Japanese kitchen knives with damask blade are inspired by the tradition of Japanese cutlery and the techniques used to create … katana!
- Comfort of use: when cooking, there is nothing worse than having trouble handling a knife, because its handle is poorly optimized or the knife slips. It is painful, on the one hand, and above all, it is very dangerous. We have therefore made sure to choose only Japanese kitchen knives that are handled correctly.
- Full tang blade : we will finish with this precision concerning the making of the blade. Full-tang is now standard on high-quality knives, and that simply means that the blade is forged in one go and takes up the entire surface of the handle. This results in sturdy knives.
Based on these different elements and on the feedback from many users, we have kept only 8 Japanese knives for this selection, in order to offer you this comparison which will allow you to choose the best Japanese knife with a quality ratio. / price worthy of your expectations.
1. Japanese knife KAI 1706 – A chef’s knife with a damask blade
The Japanese SHUN Premier 1706 Tim Mälzer knife from Kai is a chef’s knife (a Gyuto ), which will allow you to perform most kitchen tasks: it is ideal for cutting meats, precise for slicing vegetables and fruits and it has universal maneuverability. It is sold with a rubberwood cutting board which measures 35cm x 25cm x 2cm.
Design & materials
Visually, this Japanese kitchen knife is the most beautiful effect . Its 12 cm handle in high quality walnut wood gives it great elegance and the reinforcements at its ends ensure its solidity.
It features a damask blade with a hammered surface – a recognized standard for providing strength and flexibility to the blade – and which allows the blade to stick to the ingredients during cutting. Indeed, the air rushes into the steel bubbles, which allows a perfect grip during cuts. Cooks who love precision will be in heaven.
The damask blade of this Japanese knife is made of stainless steel with 32 layers , it is anticorrosive and extremely sharp. It measures 20 cm, which gives this knife a certain versatility.
In its totality, it therefore measures 34 cm, for a weight of 212 g.
Comfort of use of this Japanese knife
The handling of Kai’s Japanese kitchen knife is remarkable, with a well-balanced handle / blade balance. It is easy to use, which optimizes your preparation time, and only its imposing size makes it more suitable for cooks with wide hands than for those with small hands.
Its small weight is also an advantage, because you do not get tired even when you have to cut many foods for long minutes. It’s so easy that it becomes a real pleasure to do it!
Beautiful, sharp, balanced, this model from the Kai brand, supplied in a superb wooden storage box, is one of the best Japanese knives you can buy. Its price is justified by the overall quality of the object and by its great longevity.
The Best Kitchen / Chef Knives
2. Tojiro Chef’s Knife – The best inexpensive Japanese kitchen knife
The Tojiro brand is recognized for its know-how in Japanese cutlery and it offers here a versatile chef’s knife, industrial manufacture, but which allows to have a high quality tool for an attractive price.
Design & Materials
This Japanese kitchen knife opts for a classic design , far from the traditional Japanese knives as we imagine them. We are dealing here with a standard kitchen knife as we see all over Europe, which could disappoint cooks who are looking for a more authentic model. But the Japanese quality is there!
This Made in Japan model has an 18 cm blade , composed of 13 layers and designed in an alloy of cobalt, chrome steel and stainless steel, which gives it a remarkable edge. It’s flexible enough not to break when slicing through the toughest foods (but not bones, be careful!) And tough enough to slip into pieces of meat or the flesh of fish to perform your recipes without any difficulty.
Its handle is reinforced, it is full-tang , for increased longevity and it weighs only 190 g, for a total length of 31 cm.
Comfort in use
The grip will not disconcert anyone, since this Japanese knife takes the shape of Western knives. Anyone who has ever cared about a kitchen knife will know how to handle it from the first moment.
On the other hand, one of the most remarkable points of this model is its perfect balance , which allows you to work the food effortlessly. The handle holds well in the hand and the small weight of the knife works in its favor.
Finally, know that it does not lose its edge quickly. Even after several months of regular use without sharpening, the knife is as effective as the first day.
The Tojiro brand – whose logo is affixed to the blade – offers a very good Japanese kitchen knife at a very reasonable price, sold in a nice box. We recognize the know-how of this cutlery specialist, who guarantees you great comfort in the kitchen. Top !
3. Kai 1702 Messer Japanese Santoku Knife – A model of excellence for your kitchen
The Kai brand is used to offering Japanese knives with harmonious curves and undeniable professional quality . With this Santoku model – ideal for cutting meats, fish and vegetables – we once again have a very good overview of the know-how of this specialist in cutlery.
Design & materials
Elegant. This is the first word that comes to mind when we see this superb 1702 Santoku Messer model . It represents exactly the image we have of a Japanese kitchen knife and users who want a knife that respects traditional curves will not be disappointed.
It is equipped with an 18 cm Damascus steel blade , which in addition to offering it a remarkable style gives it a perfect edge. Its composition and the 32 layers of this blade allow it to be anticorrosive and it is made according to the principle of Tsuchime , the art of hammering the blade , in the city of Seki in Japan.
This is a way of guaranteeing ease in the cuts, because the air which rushes between the food and the steel bubbles will have a suction effect, which means that the knife never comes off what it is. he decides. For the most demanding cooks , who carry out high precision preparations, this is exactly what is needed.
The convex blade is manually sharpened and you will have no trouble sharpening it yourself, when needed. You just need to know the right gesture and it will be a breeze!
The walnut wood handle is the final touch, which gives this Japanese kitchen knife a timeless style.
Comfort in use
Its weight (399 g) makes it a heavy and very well balanced Japanese knife. The weight distribution is done across the entire knife, with a metallic reinforcement under the handle (which also serves as a brand recognition hallmark) and a slight curve that conforms to the shape of your hands, for an ideal hold.
It can be used by both right-handed and left-handed people , due to its V-shaped blade, and its size makes it perfectly manoeuvrable by both men and women, because the latter often tend to prefer Japanese Santoku knives. for their smaller size compared to Gyuto .
This Japanese knife from the Kai brand – a limited edition of 5555 pieces – is a marvel, which resembles a work of art. If you like to combine beauty and efficiency, here is the best Japanese knife of the selection.
4. Japanese Damascus knife from Shan Zu – A pro knife at a low price
With its long blade, this raindrop patterned pro knife could satisfy cooks who want a sturdy, versatile and comfortable model once in hand. This is what the Shun Zu brand offers, with this chef’s knife with a damask blade.
Design & materials
This 34 cm Japanese kitchen knife opts for a mixed style, with a 20 cm long damask blade that looks very Japanese and a black reinforced handle that looks towards the western knives.
Its blade is made from Japanese 67-layered carbon steel by artisans in Yangjiang City, Guangdong Province, China. It is an area famous for its cutlery, which incorporates Japanese know-how wonderfully. This damask blade (with a less marked effect than on some knives, it must be admitted) has several qualities.
It is resistant to corrosion and wear, which prevents it from losing its very good initial edge and it is non-stick. In effect, this results in a blade that slides along the ingredients while cutting them, which is a pleasure. The patterns that adorn the blade of this Japanese knife represent water drops, which offers a particularly original visual effect to this model.
Its handle, meanwhile, is made of G10, a material that combines glass cloth and epoxy resin, easy to clean and strong.
Comfort of use of this Japanese knife
The kitchen knife Japanese Zu Shan is well balanced, and the handle ensures a very appreciable held in hand . It does not slip, and you can easily make most of the cuts you want. It is simply a little heavier than average , which in use can lead to muscle fatigue if you use it for heavy tasks.
It is very sharp from the base and nothing can resist it, which means that it will find a privileged place in your kitchen quickly. Too bad the storage box is made of cardboard, because it could be damaged very quickly!
For an affordable price, you will get a good quality Japanese knife , which gives you versatile use. We appreciate its mix style, its grip and its solidity, but its blade deserves to have a more marked damask effect.
5. Misono MIS 781 Santoku Knife – The best of Japanese knives
Misono is one of the biggest brands of Japanese cutlery and its products never disappoint. With this UX10 – MIS 781 model, a Santoku knife that allows you to cut meat, vegetables and fish without any problem (because Santoku means three good things, three uses…), we find all their art in one and the same object.
Design & materials
This Japanese quality knife with western shape has an 18 cm blade, with sharp edges and a mirror effect material. You only have to look at it to understand how sharp it can be.
This blade is made from an ultra fine stainless steel from Sweden, for a perfect cut and minimal loss of edge, despite many uses. It has the Misono inscription, which testifies to its quality, but relies on a certain sobriety.
Design level, this knife of 34 cm in total (for a weight of a little more than 300 g) indeed moves away from the traditional Japanese kitchen knives and opts for a more contemporary approach, with in particular a black handle with metal reinforcement. which fixes the blade in Full-tang.
Its staminated wood handle, classic and robust, is impeccable.
Comfort of use of this Japanese knife
The balance of this Japanese knife from Misono is certainly what gives it its strength. Thanks to a perfect grip, and to the ideal distribution of weight , the feeling of lightness which emerges from its use gives the impression that the food does not oppose any resistance.
Whether it is meat, fish or fruits and vegetables, the cuts and slices are done at full speed (do not hurt yourself!) And we manage to obtain finishes of extreme precision . If you are one of those cooks who enjoy making dishes as beautiful as they are good, this Misono knife will allow you to do it without any effort.
By offering a Western-designed knife with a Japanese blade, the Misono brand offers here a knife of excellence, which will delight professionals looking for a tool to facilitate their work as well as individuals who like to cook with the most qualitative equipment. that is.
6. SekiRyu Multi-Purpose Knife – Minimum price for an efficient Japanese knife
Amateur cooks who want to combine style, an efficient knife and a low price may be interested in this model from the Sekiryu brand . If we are far from the high-end Japanese knives offered by certain models, we can only salute the capabilities of this little knife as pretty as it is effective.
Design & materials
This multi-purpose knife from the SekiRyu brand is a Santoku , which has a smooth wooden handle and a 17cm blade which makes it handy enough for a wide variety of action.
In its entirety, this model measures 29 cm, for a weight of less than 100 grams. It’s very light and you can feel it of course when cutting, since you have to press a little harder than with a professional knife, better balanced. However, it offers excellent results, especially for slicing fresh fish or meats. It is easy to make very thin slices without effort.
On its blade, the engraved kanji give it a not insignificant charm and only the handle is a little cheap , since it is presented to us in raw wood, without ornament.
It should be noted that its steel blade does not rust , that it is easy to clean and that it retains its sharpness, but that it has a certain tendency to get scratched over time. It does not hinder its performance.
It would need a small protective case to ensure its longevity and easy storage!
Comfort in use
Due to its lightness, it will be perfect for small daily tasks and will appeal to those who do not like to handle the heaviest knives.
The handle doesn’t have a non-slip grip, but if you use it without having wet hands, that’s okay. You should be careful with all your knives anyway! You might be advised to cover it with a coating for better handling, which many users do.
In terms of balance, it leans sharply to the side of the blade, which might bother cooks who prefer Japanese knives to the distributed balance from handle to blade. But it can be used by left-handed and right-handed people , thanks to its convex blade!
For the price, it’s hard to find fault with this traditional Japanese knife . If the handle would benefit from being more qualitative, the blade will accompany you perfectly in most of your cooking sessions, on a daily basis.
7. Makami Premium Santoku Knife – A sturdy and sharp Japanese kitchen knife
This Santoku knife from the Makami brand seems to be a very good compromise between quality, style and affordable price. With a stainless steel damask blade and micarta handle, it is visually appealing and guarantees the best results for the cooks who will use it.
Design & materials
The Japanese Makami knife is equipped with a damask blade in VG-10 stainless steel, with a blade length of 16.5 cm, specific to Santoku (for a total length of 30 cm). As a result, it allows cutting all major foods (except hard materials) and slicing with amazing ease.
This efficiency comes from its 67 layers of Japanese HRC 60 steel , divided into 33 layers on each side. Clearly visible on the blade, the steel ribs give this knife a very interesting style, which will delight lovers of beautiful objects.
Although sharp from the ground up, this Santoku knife does not lose its sharpness despite long use and its sharpening will be straightforward, once you know how to go about it.
Its handle is not left out in terms of design since the chosen black micarta gives it a certain elegance, just like the curves that emerge on this handle. At its end, a metal reinforcement ensures the balance and the robustness of the tool.
Comfort of use of this Japanese knife
Thanks to its different reinforcements and a good weight / size ratio (it is still 400g), this Japanese kitchen knife enjoys a very good balance in use. It sinks into meat or fish without having to force it, and it will be perfect for cutting large pieces of meat as well as for making sashimi with precision. In addition, the rocking movement necessary to slice the vegetables is almost automatic, thanks to this good distribution!
Be careful, however, because its weight could hamper cooks with small arms!
The handle is very ergonomic and well encompasses the blade (in full tang ) and it does not slip during preparations, due to the grip of the micarta.
Makami offers here a Japanese kitchen knife with the most beautiful effect , able to support you at length during your cooking sessions. For this reasonable price, you will have a robust, sharp and practical tool!
8. Japanese Chef’s Knives from Sunnecko – An ergonomic and inexpensive model!
For a professional Japanese chef’s knife at the right price, the Damascus blade model offered here by the Sunnecko brand is a qualitative alternative , which will allow all the most meticulous cooks to achieve culinary wonders without difficulty.
Design & materials
This Japanese knife is a Santoku featuring a Damascus VG10 73-layer stainless steel blade , adorned with a cloudy pattern for a striking effect. On this blade of almost 18 cm, for a total of 30.6 cm for the whole knife, there are also 12 steel bubbles . They serve to ensure a good glide between the cut food and the blade, and the result is flawless efficiency.
Non-stick, the knife blade is also anti-rust, anti-corrosion and easy to clean . Qualities that guarantee it a good lifespan. It also has a slightly curved edge, ideal for cutting most ingredients: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits… Nothing can resist it!
The handle of this Japanese kitchen knife is part of the brand’s Classic series and relies on Full-Tang manufacturing . Copper reinforcing rivets (3 in number) are used to fix the assembly and make the handle non-slip. In addition, a punch on the middle nail gives a small appreciable Katana look to this model. Lovers of pretty Japanese objects will appreciate.
The G10 that is used in the manufacture of the handle – a mixture of epoxy resin and fiberglass – increases the quality of the knife, which will withstand the ravages of time all and which will clean easily.
Comfort of use of this Japanese knife
This 259 g knife has a very good balance , due to its full-tang design and good weight distribution. Effortlessly, precise cuts can be made by simply pressing the food under the blade.
Delivered very sharp, it does not require frequent sharpening because it keeps its blade sharp and you will have to be careful when handling it, so as not to cut yourself. Its users often praise the merits of the grip and the pros agree that it is a product capable of meeting the expectations of professionals without any worry.
Delivered in a quality magnetic box , perfectly sharp, and offered at a very attractive price, this superb Japanese knife with Damascus blade is one of the knives best suited to satisfy cooks, amateurs or professionals!
Buyer’s Guide – Everything you need to know before buying a Japanese kitchen knife
- The handle
- The designs
- The price of the Japanese knife
To buy the best Japanese knife , here are the criteria to consider. You will be able to acquire a high quality kitchen knife, which will make your life easier during your culinary preparations!
For a first-class Japanese knife, we recommend the standard represented by the Damascus blade. The quality of this steel and its design guarantee you a resistant blade, which will not be damaged easily. The Full-Tang design is also preferred, with a blade that extends the full length of the handle.
A good Japanese knife blade will be anti-corrosion, easily cleanable, and it will not rust. Be careful, however, not to put your Japanese kitchen knife through the machine: they can be washed by hand! We also appreciate the hammered blades that facilitate cutting, such as the Japanese Santoku 1702 Messer knife from Kai .
The ideal blade will be hard enough to slice through the different foods you put through it, but soft enough not to break if you resist. In addition, it must be sharpened easily (with the right material) and will keep its initial edge as long as possible.
Note that for left-handers, it is better to favor a convex blade!
In combination with a good blade, you obviously have a good handle. This translates into a secure and easy grip , and a pleasant coating.
There are models opting for the wooden handle (nice but more fragile), while others prefer G10 or Micarta type materials (like the Makami Premium knife ). It is a question of preference to the touch, more than a parameter which really influences the performances offered by the knife.
On the most resistant handles, there are often reinforcing rivets, and sometimes a fixing seal at the end.
Japanese knives generally come in two categories: knives with a traditional design (like the superb Gyuto 1706 from KAI ) which we immediately think of when we imagine a Japanese kitchen knife, and knives with a Japanese blade but with a Western style, like the very good professional model from Misono .
This is mainly a matter of taste, because the performance will be the same if the tool is well crafted!
The knife must be easy to hold, not to slip , it must guarantee the safety of its user and allow him to slice, mince and cut quickly.
Its curves, size and weight, as well as the balance offered by the set have an impact on this ergonomics.
A good Japanese knife is made to last . When we know that some vintage Katana blades are still so sharp today, we understand why the fame of Japanese cutlery has crossed borders and that the greatest chefs around the world have adopted the Japanese knife.
To judge its resistance, you have to take into account the composition of the blade, the finishes of the knife and check that it is simple to maintain. If you choose the right model, it could go with you for decades!
There is a wide variety of Japanese knives, and in this selection we have focused on those that allow versatile use: Santoku and Gyuto , sometimes called a chef’s knife.
While both allow you to make most food cuts (meat, fish, fruit or vegetables), the Santoku is smaller, so more maneuverable by female hands, and it offers slightly increased precision compared to a chef’s knife.
For its part, the Gyuto will be more suitable for cutting thicker, longer pieces and it will adapt perfectly to the most imposing hands.
Depending on your main use, you will choose the model which seems to you the most indicated, but know that if the difference is palpable for the great cooks, an amateur will be delighted with one or the other of these models!
The price of the Japanese knife
This is a sensitive subject, because the best blades can be very expensive ! But you can now find Japanese knives with excellent bills for a hundred euros, which may seem substantial for a simple knife. That’s true, but it’s good because it’s not just a simple knife that the prices are higher!
If models between 20 and 50 euros will be good first purchases, to familiarize themselves with these sharp utensils, the most seasoned cooks will not hesitate to spend 200 or 300 euros in a high-end model, and they will not regret it. not.
FAQ – Answers to all the questions you have about Japanese knives
What is a Japanese knife?
The Japanese knife is a bit like the heir to the katana with which the samurai were equipped during feudal times in Japan. These blades, famous for their sharpness, were the pride of the local forges, but when the wearing of the saber was banned in 1876, in order to avoid a crisis in this industry, the artisans specializing in blades converted to cutlery.
When the most famous chefs on the planet start using them, they are overwhelmed by the delicacy of what they manage to achieve with these knives. In France, the wave began at the beginning of the 90s… and today, the Japanese knife is still the star of professional kitchens !
Japanese knives are therefore utensils renowned for their resistant , solid blade and the perfect finish and we could consider them as kitchen katana!
How to sharpen a Japanese knife?
To avoid damaging it, you need to maintain and sharpen your Japanese knife in the right way. For this, you will need a sharpening stone, preferably fine grain, or even very fine (opt for a grain fineness between 3000 and 8000).
Then, it is good to sharpen the Japanese knife about once a month , using a sharpening board and potentially a stone intended to smooth the surface of the main sharpening stone, when it deteriorates.
For a perfect result, the following steps must be followed:
- Soak the whetstone in water for 10 minutes
- Place the blade on top, tilting the top half of it at a 45 ° angle and press your index finger on the top of the blade, to raise this angle by about 10 °.
- Back and forth for a few minutes, back and forth, then test the sharpness on your finger or by cutting a sheet of paper. If it’s good, switch to the other side of the blade
- Finally, sharpen the tip of your knife
When this part is finished, you can use the finishing grain of your stone.
Be aware that by opting for a fine-grained stone, you will not damage your blade . So don’t be afraid to sharpen it when needed. Regular sharpening is much less painful than waiting until your blade is dull.
> See our article on knife sharpeners.
How much does a Japanese knife cost?
A professional Japanese kitchen knife can cost anywhere from $ 50 to $ 100 . It will then be an entry level, sufficient for amateurs and occasional cooks.
If you want a mid-range or high-end knife, capable of lasting several decades without getting damaged, count between 200 and 500 euros , to take advantage of the know-how of recognized Japanese craftsmen.
Finally, there are knives that happily exceed 500 euros , but they are rare and very often they are limited editions made by masters of cutlery who only offer their works to a privileged audience, such as some. of the greatest chefs on the planet.
Where to buy a Japanese knife?
To buy a Japanese knife and be sure of its provenance, there are 3 main choices:
- In Japan , in one of the expert cities in the field or at a knife dealer in the streets of Tokyo or Osaka who specialize in products for the kitchen
- On the internet , via merchant sites which serve as an intermediary between Japan and the rest of the world and which manage to offer suitable prices
- In specialized knife shops which tend to sell them at high prices, due to their reputation and their rarity in the country
What are the advantages of a Japanese knife?
The Japanese knife allows you to cook faster , to make cuts of unparalleled finesse and thus improve both your production time and the visual quality of your dishes.
As long as you are a sushi or sashimi lover , then you will have the only utensil capable of rendering the delicacy of these dishes.
In Japan, the good cutting of the food that you present to your guests is a mark of respect!
What are the best brands of Japanese knives?
Among the most famous knife brands in the world of cutlery, we can mention the models of the brand Tojiro , the collections of knives from KAI , some achievements of Shunryu and most of the professional models offered by the specialist Misono .
With all of these elements, you are now able to choose the best Japanese knives, maintain them and prepare meals with them that will delight your guests!
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