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10 Best Japanese Chef Knives in 2021

Are you looking for the best Japanese chef knives that will elevate your culinary experience? Or maybe one that provides confidence with every slice? Indeed, your timing is right. Needless to say, you’re in the right place.

The Japanese knife is no doubt a legendary cutting tool. It’s the sharpest of all kitchen knives and a powerhouse in the world of chef knives. Essentially, it combines design perfection, razor-sharp edge, and lifetime durability. As a result, it guarantees peak performance each time you chop, slice, or dice food. Indeed, it’s one knife that makes you look forward to those food prep sessions.

01. Shun Classic – Overall Winner

Highlighted Features

  • VG-MAX steel blade and Pakkawood handle
  • 8-inch double bevel curved blade
  • 15-degree edge angle
  • 61 Rockwell hardness rating
  • 1-ounce weight

Equipped with Shun’s proprietary VG-MAX steel, this chef’s knife provides a pretty much all-rounded cutting performance. It’s more advanced steel and the newest in the line of Shun’s VG super steel knives.

But what’s so special about the VG-MAX steel core? Well, it uses a high-tech formula that comprises a higher carbon content, chromium, tungsten, molybdenum, and vanadium. As such, it demonstrates a higher level of corrosion resistance and edge retention.

Also, the higher carbon content makes it harder than other steel blades. The blade has a slightly curved design. Indeed, it makes it easy to rock the knife on the cutting board. And because of that, it offers more precise cuts.

Like most Japanese chef knives, Shun VG-MAX uses a Pakkawood handle. It’s durable and water-resistant. Even more, it’s easy to clean and tough enough for constant use. As it turns out, the design of Shun VG-MAX is based on traditional Japanese blades. Hence, it promises excellent performance in every cut. Finally, it’s not very reasonable, but it would be the best quality chef’s knife for under $200.

Pros
  • Fine material and incredible quality control
  • Elegant and functional Damascus steel finish
  • Classic and comfortable Pakkawood handle
  • Flawless, multi-purpose cutting performance
  • Shun offers free sharpening for its knives
Cons
  • A bit more expensive than its counterparts

02. Mac Knife Professional 8-Inch Chef Knife

Highlighted Features

  • Molybdenum steel and Pakkawood handle
  • An 8-inch double bevel hollow blade
  • 15-degree edge angle
  • 61 Rockwell hardness rating
  • 10-ounce weight

Thanks to a dimpled design, the Mac Mighty MTH-80 chef’s knife pretty much takes the concept behind frictionless blades to a whole new level. Indeed, it’s among the best Japanese chef knives for cutting, slicing, and dicing sticky food.

But there’s more to this knife than the dimpled, hollow edge blade. It boasts a thinner, 2.5mm blade and bolsters design, making it lighter. Hence, this is a knife that doesn’t put much strain on your hands. Also, it makes quick work out of almost any food.

Well, let not the thin blade design fool you into thinking that this is a flimsy, delicate knife. Conversely, it’s fashioned from molybdenum steel. Thus, it has a high degree of hardness, toughness, and tensile strength.

A Pakkawood handle wraps up the legendary look of this chef’s knife. It’s elegant, food-safe, durable, and heat-resistant. Also, it has rivets that keep it securely attached to the rest of the knife.

Pros
  • Beautiful dimpled design for faster and easier cutting motion
  • The thinner blade makes it lighter and nimble
  • Pakkawood handle gives a comfortable grip
  • The smooth lines on the blade make it easy to clean
Cons
  • No for beginners

03. Global 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

Highlighted Features

  • CROMOVA 18 stainless steel blade and handle
  • An 8-inch double bevel blade
  • 10-15 degrees bevel angle
  • 8-ounce weight
  • 58 Rockwell hardness rating

By using an all-metal construction, the Global 8-inch chef’s knife easily enters the list of the sturdiest, high-strength chef knives on the market. It doesn’t, however, use just any metal. It comes in indestructible CROMOVA 18 stainless steel, befitting the lifetime warranty.

The blade provides more than unsurpassed durability and strength. It also has a straighter edge. Indeed, it makes the knife dramatically sharper than those with beveled edges. Also, it stays sharper for longer.

Do you think that’s all? Well, you’re mistaken. As mentioned, the Global chef’s knife comes in CROMOVA 18 stainless steel. Essentially, it’s a blend of chromium, vanadium, and molybdenum. Well, it has one of the highest degrees of toughness in a chef’s knife. Yet, it’s soft enough to sharpen with a whetstone.

The handle, too, comes in stainless steel. It’s hollow but with a precise amount of sand to keep the knife balanced. Moreover, the handle is molded for comfort and dimpled for superior grip. Again, it has a finger notch for additional safety.

Related: Top 17 Global Knives Review With Ultimate Guide

Pros
  • Thin, durable blade provides excellent cutting power
  • One-piece design offers superior durability
  • A straighter edge makes it sharper
  • Molded, dimpled handle for superior grip and comfort
Cons
  • The dimpled pattern makes it a bit difficult to clean the handle

04. DALSTRONG 8-Inch Kitchen Knife

Highlighted Features

  • AUS-8 steel blade and pakkawood handle
  • An 8-inch single bevel blade
  • 13-15 degrees edge angle
  • 58+ Rockwell hardness rating
  • 16-ounce weight

Agile, precise, and mercilessly sharp, DALSTRONG 8-inch Phantom Series chef’s knife pretty much has all the bells and whistles of a high-end Japanese chef’s knife. It boasts a full tang, precision-forged, single-piece high-carbon steel. Indeed, it’s one knife that gives a lifetime of strength, sharpness, and durability.

Yet, that’s pretty much the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, DALSTRONG 8-inch Phantom Series is a feature-rich chef’s knife promising a ton of other goodies. Most notable is the nitrogen-cooled technology. It offers enhanced hardness, flexibility, and corrosion resistance. And honed at 13-15 degrees, the tapered blade promises little to no drag.

Well, the blade combines AUS-8 steel and high-carbon. So robust is the blade material that it scores 58+ on the Rockwell hardness scale. And that makes it entirely dent-proof. Nonetheless, it’s easy to sharpen to a razor edge.

I pretty much like the comfort that the D-shaped Pakkawood handle offers. Indeed, the ergonomic shape rewards you with superior grip and ultimate control in each cut. Other touchups include a copper and mosaic pin that lend a subtle, refined look.

It’s so thoughtful of DALSTRONG to include a knife sheath. It not only provides convenient and safe storage but also opens fully for thorough cleaning. If are you always looking for a professional quality knife at a reasonable price, then this is the best quality chef knife under $100 that might an excellent choice for you.

Related: Dalstrong Shogun Chef Knife Review With Ultimate Guide

Pros
  • Masterfully elegant and with exceptional performance
  • Lightweight, nimble, and well-balanced
  • Comfortable D-shape handle
  • Includes a sheath for safe storage
Cons
  • The engravings make the knife a bit harder to clean

05. Simple Song 8-Inch Single Bevel Chef Knife

Highlighted Features

  • Heat-treated 420HC stainless steel blade and rosewood handle
  • An 8-inch single bevel blade
  • 15-degree edge angle
  • 3-ounce weight

Gyuto kitchen knife often termed beef-sword in western cuisine, is designed to make quick work out of tough meats. From pork belly to sinewy meats, it cuts and dices mercilessly. All is possible, thanks to the high carbon stainless steel bevel edge blade.

Okay, 420HC stainless steel blade, such as the one in this Gyuto knife, doesn’t hold its edge well. Simple Song, however, heat-treats the blade for optimum edge retention and sharpness. Again, the blade is stain-resistant, tough, and one of the easiest to sharpen.

Also, simple Song goes out of its way to meticulously hone the blade to a 15-degree edge. It’s incredibly sharper than your average 30-degree traditional blade. Also, it’s flatter, making it easy to separate food slices.

Well, the knife has a full-tang rosewood handle. By extending the entire length, it provides a more robust handle construction. Hence, it’s extremely resistant to bending and tough enough for harder foods and heavy-duty tasks. Even more outstanding, it provides a balanced feel.

Read More: 7 Best Chef Knives Under $50 In 2021 

Pros
  • Sharper, single beveled blade
  • Lighter and maneuverable
  • Naturally strong, full-tang rosewood handle
  • It comes with a sheath for storage
Cons
  • Single bevel only

06. Kyocera Advanced 7-Inch Ceramic Chef’s Knife

Highlighted Features

  • Advanced ceramic material
  • A 7-inch double bevel blade
  • 3-ounce weight

Do you plan to do larger slicing tasks? Well, you can bet your money on the Kyocera 7-inch advanced ceramic knife. Its ultra-sharp, pure ceramic blade has one of the best edge retentions in a chef’s knife.

More specifically, the blade comes in a proprietary zirconia material. Sometimes referred to as ceramic steel, it offers superior toughness, strength, and excellent wear properties. And compared to traditional steel blades, it holds its edge ten times longer.

You can’t, however, sharpen this knife using random methods. Instead, Kyocera recommends using its battery-powered diamond knife sharpener. It easily hones a dull ceramic blade to a smooth, sharp edge. Though sharp, this knife isn’t for hard, bony, or frozen foods. It’s well-suited for fruits, vegetables, and boneless meats.

Kyocera chef’s knife is incredibly lighter. Also, it has an ergonomic handle. Hence, it stays balanced, reducing fatigue during repetitive cutting.

Pros
  • Sharper, non-porous, and stain-proof blade
  • Ten times the edge retention of steel knives
  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Unlike steel knives, it doesn’t transfer ions from the blade
Cons
  • A bit more difficult to sharpen
  • Not designed for all-purpose tasks but instead for larger slicing tasks

07. Tojiro DP Gyutou – 8.2-Inch Chef Knife

Highlighted Features

  • VG10 steel blade and laminated handle
  • An 8.2-inch double bevel blade
  • 60 Rockwell hardness rating
  • 9-12 degrees edge angle
  • 4-ounce weight

Tojiro DP Gyutou is easily one of the best-rated Japanese chef knives. Well, the 3-layered design is perhaps its most outstanding feature. It has a VG10 steel core, one of the best quality stainless steel in a Japanese kitchen knife. And as for the outer layers, it uses 13 chrome stainless steel.

Well, such specs give this knife one of the highest degrees of hardness, scoring 61 on the Rockwell Scale. Besides the hard cutting edge, you also get a very sharp blade. And like any other high-end chef’s knife, it provides unbeatable resistance to rust and corrosion.

This gold-standard stainless steel knife has a tough blade, no doubt. Interestingly, it’s as easy to sharpen as your everyday kitchen knife. Also, the blade has a double bevel edge. It’s not as sharp and precise as single bevel versions. Still, it accommodates a wider variety of tasks. This knife has a laminated full-tang handle for strength and balance. Even more, it has three studs that provide solid reinforcement.

Related Reads: 8 Best Chef Knives For Beginners 2021

Pros
  • Durable, 3-layered core
  • Balanced blade length for versatility and easy maneuvering
  • Double bevel design for use on both sides
Cons
  • The handle may not very comfortable

08. Zelite Infinity 8-Inch Chef Knife

Highlighted Features

  • AUS-10 Damascus steel blade
  • 61 Rockwell hardness rating
  • An 8-inch double bevel blade
  • 9-12 degree edge angle
  • 4-ounce weight

Zelite Infinity Executive Edition knife takes the concept of a multi-layered blade to the extreme. It combines the AUS10 super steel core and 67 layers of stainless steel finish. Hence, you get a knife that’s very durable, rust-resistant, and with better edge retention. Even more outstanding, this knife is very easy to sharpen.

Again, this Damascus knife has a very high carbon content. And with a double bevel blade honed to between 9-12 degrees, the blade is razor-sharp and scores a staggering 61 on the Rockwell Scale. Hence, you get a ruthlessly sharp knife that is built to last.

Besides the quality of Japanese steel, this knife has the heft of a German knife. And with the aerodynamic blade heel, it can break small bones and make quick work out of heavy-duty cuts.

At 57mm, the blade is noticeably deeper. It provides not only maximum knuckle clearance but also encourages rocking-style cutting motion. The full-tang handle is triple-riveted for extra strength and durability. Also, it has an ergonomic, round-shaped design, which, together with the tapered bolster, provides extreme balance and comfort.

I don’t think I will have done this knife justice without commending the Japan Tsunami Rose Damascus Pattern. In tandem with the mosaic rivet, it lends a final statement of complete beauty.

Related: 7 Best Chef knives For Small Hands 2021

Pros
  • Combines the quality of Japanese steel
  • Ideal for multi-purpose use
  • Deeper blade offers maximum knuckle clearance
  • It has a ruthlessly sharp double bevel blade
  • Harder, yet flexible and elegant Damascus steel
Cons
  • A bit more expensive than its counterparts

09. Yoshihiro 8.25-Inch Japanese Chef’s Knife

Highlighted Features

  • VG10 steel construction and mahogany handle
  • An 8.25-inch single bevel blade
  • 63 Rockwell hardness rating
  • 15-20 degree edge angle
  • 4-ounce weight

Yoshihiro is a true testament to the versatility of Gyuto chef knives. It can dice, slice, chop, and carve all types of food. And with a cutlery-grade VG10 stainless steel core, it manages a score of 60 on the Rockwell Scale. Indeed, it’s a knife with exceptional hardness, durability, edge retention, and sharpness.

I like the finish on the 3-layered VG10 stainless steel core. Essentially, it has 16 layers of hammered stainless steel. Not only is it tough and rust-resistant, but it also has the renowned Japanese Damascus Pattern. It’s stylish and eliminates friction for non-stick cutting performance.

Impeccable quality is high on the list as this knife also boasts a full-tang Western-Style mahogany handle. It’s durable and welds into your hand for balance and comfort. Also, the handle has rivets for additional reinforcement.

Pros
  • Durable and sharp VG10 steel blade
  • Handcrafted to exact quality standards
  • Beautifully hammered Damascus cladding
  • Reasonably priced
Cons
  • It needs to be kept dry after each use to prevent rust

10. KYOKU 8-Inch Kitchen Knife with Sheath

Highlighted Features

  • VG10 steel construction
  • An 8-inch double bevel blade
  • 58-60 Rockwell hardness rating
  • 8-12 degree edge angle
  • 3-pound weight (knife plus sheath)

Meticulously fashioned from VG10 steel, the KYOKU knife promises top-notch performance. It scores 58-60 on the Rockwell Scale. Still, it’s very easy to sharpen and has incredible edge retention.

You’ll definitely love the hand-honed edge. Beveled at 8-12 degrees, it provides a scalpel-like sharpness. Well, such a razor-fine edge allows it to slice through meats like butter.

Also, this knife has 67-layered Damascus steel. Indeed, it serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. The cladding enhances toughness, hence protecting the VG10 steel core. All the while, it has a beautiful wave pattern that showcases luxury and stunning craftsmanship.

I like the full-tang composite G10 handle. It uses a fiberglass-like material that’s incredibly strong and highly resistant to heat and moisture. And with a gentle-sloping bolster, the ergonomic handle makes each cut easier, safer, and comfortable.

Pros
  • High-quality VG10 steel core
  • Functional and aesthetic Damascus steel cladding
  • Lightweight, well-balanced design for marathon prep-sessions
  • Includes a sheath for storage
Cons
  • The knife tends to have a bit more weight on the handle

Japanese Vs. German Knives – What’s the difference?

Japanese Vs. German Knives

Well, there’s no straightforward answer. Nonetheless, I’ll outline their strengths and weaknesses based on the use, blade angle, hardness, and symmetry. After that, you’ll be able to tell the winner between the two.

Use: Well, German knives are generally utilitarian and a workhorse at that. They’re thicker and heftier. Even more, they tend to have a fatter and more rounded belly. Thanks to such specs, German knives can take more abuse and make quick work out of hard or frozen foods, including bones. The finer Japanese knife, on the other hand, is excellent for delicate slicing.

So, between the two, a German knife tends to be a little more multi-purpose and is suitable for cutting through tough foods. But should you require precision work, a Japanese knife is the best.

Blade angle: The blade on German knives tends to have a wider bevel angle, averaging around 17.5 degrees. As for a Japanese knife, you get a thinner blade angle, mostly 10-15 degrees per side.

Based on the above, a Japanese knife is sharper, thanks to the narrower blade. Also, it’s less likely to damage the food, making it ideal for delicate foods that demand a little more attention.

Hardness: Whereas they all use steel blades, Japanese and German knives have different degrees of hardness. Generally, German knives average 57 on the Rockwell Scale. Japanese knives, on the other hand, tip the scales at 60-63.

Hence, Japanese knives are harder and hold their edge better. Well, German knives don’t retain an edge for that long. But by using softer steel, German knives are less prone to chipping and bending, making them more durable.

Symmetry:

Well, Japanese knives focus mostly on right-handed users and are angled at 70/30 degrees. Hence, left-handed users tend to run into issues. German knives, on the other hand, are more balanced and symmetrical. As such, they accommodate both left and right-hand users.

Best Japanese Chef Knives – Buyer’s Guide

Why Are Japanese Knives So Good

Not every Japanese knife you stumble across has what it takes to provide a magical culinary experience. Essentially, you need to pick a knife that has the right set of features that exude impeccable quality, peak performance, and optimal comfort. Well, this handy, must-read guide lays it all out for you.

Blade Material

As far as blade material goes, you have two options: high carbon steel and stainless steel. Well, stainless steel offers good rust resistance and is easy to maintain. It’s mostly for beginners and semi-professional users.

A high carbon steel blade, on the other hand, offers a higher grade construction. It’s harder yet easier to sharpen. Also, it doesn’t discolor or stain. It’s pretty much the number one choice for professional chefs.

Handle Type

The handle type is equally an important aspect as the blade. Well, there are two primary handle-type materials for Japanese knives: wood and metal.

A wooden handle is attractive, adding lots of beauty to the knife. Also, it’s very comfortable to hold and comes in lots of variety. But whereas it exhibits natural beauty, a knife with a wooden handle can be quite pricey.

Metal handles are popular for their durability and strength, with titanium and stainless steel being the most preferred choices. Metal handles, however, tend to get too hot if put near a flame. Indeed, that’s the reason that makes metal handles less popular among professional chefs.

Though not as popular, Japanese knives also come in stag handles. Meticulously fashioned from deer antlers, stag handles are costlier and rarer. Still, stag handles are tougher, incredibly durable, and with natural curves that provide superior comfort and grip.

Size

What’s the size of the blade? If you have a smaller hand, I recommend you settle for a short blade. The opposite goes for people with large hands.

Design

It’s good to look beyond a knife that’s just functional. It would be good if it also has stunning aesthetics.

Hand hammering, Damascus cladding, and wave-like patterns are among the design functions that turn your knife into a work of art. However, the distinctive beauty often comes with a world-class price. Besides aesthetics, consider the bevel design. Primarily, we have single bevel and double bevel knives.

Single bevel knives have a finer, sharper edge. Such knives are excellent for delicate foods and provide more consistent cuts. Double bevel knives, on the other hand, are excellent for slicing through large vegetables.

Weight

Are you going to hold the knife for too long? If so, settle for a lighter blade that doesn’t get your arms tired. It’s easier to maneuver and doesn’t put a lot of strain on your wrist. For short-time tasks, however, you can do fine with a knife that has some heft. Such a knife will also make quick work out of tough foods.

Sharpness

Japanese knives are renowned for their finer, razor-sharp edge. Hence, settle for a sharp blade that cuts and slices through food with ease. Generally, high carbon steel blades are the sharpest.

Edge

What’s the best edge angle for a good Japanese knife? Well, the recommended edge angle for a Japanese knife is 10-15 degrees. However, it can be slightly more or less depending on the type of knife. Generally, you want a finer, sharper edge for dicing and slicing delicate food, such as fish.

Ease of Cleaning

Just like any other kitchen knife, Japanese knives demand proper care that largely involves regular cleaning. Hence, to ease the task, choose a knife that’s easy to clean.

Well, as far as Japanese knives go, hand washing using a mild detergent is the best way to go about it. As it turns out, dishwashers tend to ruin the edge of the blades, allowing rust to set in.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a Japanese knife cost

How much does a Japanese knife cost?

Well, most cost a couple of hundred dollars or less. However, those considered a work of art can cost more than one grand.

Why are Japanese knives expensive?

Japanese knives are expensive and for valid reasons. They use high-end materials and demand extra labor to get the multiple layers together. Also, most are forged by hand on a small scale, hence call for a higher price tag.

Can you sharpen a Japanese knife with honing steel?

Sharpening steel isn’t recommended for single bevel Japanese knives, including Deba, Yanagiba, and Usuba, as it tends to damage the blade. Essentially, there are three types of honing steel: diamond steel, ceramic steel, and stainless steel.

Diamond steel is super abrasive and totally unsuitable for Japanese knives. Stainless steel ranges from super smooth to very coarse. Well, most are too coarse for Japanese knives. Superfine stainless steel, though a good choice, is quite rare and expensive. Ceramic steel is the go-to choice for delicate Japanese knives. However, ensure you use ceramic steel that’s internally reinforced for additional strength.

Why Are Japanese Knives So Good?

Most chefs prefer Japanese knives over European knives, and for valid reasons.

  • First, the Japanese knife uses harder steel. Hence, it holds its edge for longer, requiring less sharpening and maintenance.
  • Besides holding its edge for longer, you can sharpen a Japanese knife to a finer edge. Hence, it’s razor-sharp, making it effortless to dice and slice food.
  • The thinner, lighter blade on Japanese knives doesn’t put much strain on your hands. Hence, you can use it for long hours of slicing and dicing food.
  • Again, the bolster on Japanese knives doesn’t extend fully. Such a design makes the sharpening process quick and easy.

Conclusion

That wraps it up for the best Japanese chef knives. And I hope this in-depth review has helped you pick the best Japanese kitchen knife for your next food prep session. Also, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional chef or an amateur.

These knives will come to your aid, improving your culinary experience. But before you make the big step, which Japanese chef’s knife do you find most appealing on our list.