Japanese knives are considered to be some of the best chef’s knives in the world and the sharpest in the kitchen.
Cleaner cuts, sharper precision, and swift handling, the Japanese knife is often compared to the Western knife–but behind the curtains, Japanese knives are expertly crafted and constructed to provide the chef with a sharper edge in the kitchen.
Whether you’re a professional chef at a restaurant or a home cook in the kitchen, experiencing the expertly crafted and handmade Japanese blade provides its wielder with a premium steel blade for durability and ever-lasting sharpness and a buttery smooth handle for those swift cuts and kitchen maneuvers. Because of the degree of sharpness of Japanese knives, they require a dedicated sharpening routine and a Two-Sided Sharpening Stone for the sharpest edges.
Whatever the situation is in your kitchen, a set of Japanese knives offers the versatility and quality in craftsmanship to refine your skill in the kitchen. Japanese blades differ in types and sizes, two of the most popular blades being the Gyuto and Santoku.
Let’s take a look at the best Japanese kitchen knives under 100, under 200, and some of the best brands of Japanese knives to buy.
Best Japanese kitchen knives under $100
For the chef at home or the stay at home cook, sometimes paying a premium price for a set of kitchen knives may be too costly and even break the bank. This is especially true if cooking is your hobby and not your full-time job. In which case, here are a few top picks for the best Japanese chef knives and kitchen blades you can buy under 100.
Below is a list of Japanese chefs knives curated from online retailers such as Amazon scored based on 3 metrics: rating, price, and the number of sales.
1. Wasabi Black Chef’s Knife
A solid choice for a chef’s knife that’s under 100 and costs a small fortune of a professional chef’s knife. The Wasabi Black Chef’s Knife is the perfect Santoku knife for home chefs and suitable for beginner to intermediate level chefs learning the ropes in kitchen. This Japanese style knife is highly recommended by reviewers and commonly complemented for its lightweight, razor sharpness, and refined finish.
2. Tojiro DP Gyutou Chef’s Knife
The Tojiro DP Gyutou, produced by Fuji Cutlery in Japan, is a double bevel blade that’s efficient and reliable for any chef or home cook in the kitchen. The blade is lightweight in size, has a well-balanced build, and holds a sharp for a very long time. The Tojiro DP Gyutou joins the Shun Classic Chefs knife for being one of the sharpest knives in the world–for this price range. For being under $100, this knife is one of the best Japanese chef knives for the on-the-go chef or for the long shifts in the kitchen.
3. Mercer Culinary Genesis 7-Inch Forged Santoku Knife
This is a high performing chefs blade with an ergonomic Santoprene handle and German steel, providing superior comfort and durability with ease of sharpening. For an entry level chef, this blade comes at an incredible value and will be your go-to knife in the kitchen. For the experienced chef, this knife may not be the best of all kitchen knife brands but is excellent for prepping meat, veggies, and fruits. As one reviewer puts it, “Great performing workhorse at an unbeatable value.”
4. Simple Song’s Traditional Japanese Gyuto Chefs Knife
Traditional Japanese Gyuto Chefs Knife by Simple Song, available on amazon.
The Simple Song 8” gyuto chef knife is a sharp-edge, well-rounded, traditional-style Japanese knife best for whether cooking at a restaurant or at home. From the experienced chef to the stay at home cooks, this chefs knife has dependable edge retention, balanced precision and a reliable sharpness for the simple meals at home to the premium meals at a higher-end restaurant.
5. Augymer’s Japanese Professional Chefs Knife
For under a 100, you’re paying a small fortune of a cost for a premium kitchen chefs knife made from Japanese high carbon stainless steel. For the average consumer or beginner chef, this beautiful blade provides the necessary precision, balance, and flair that you need in the kitchen. Also works as a perfect gift for a kitchen connoisseur or an aficionado of sharp blades.
With all the essential qualities of a premium Japanese knife, this knife is sharp, balanced, and multi-functional for all your basic kitchen needs. “Great knife for the price. But it’s not a Shun Kiritsuke,” described one reviewer on Amazon.
6. Japanese Damascus Steel Chef Knife
Japanese Damascus Steel Chef Knife by GreaterGoods, available on amazon.
This low-cost, gyutou knife constructed with premium Damascus steel is simply the best knife in your kitchen being under 100. This knife is crafted with Damascus steel to hold a sharper edge for longer and has a “surprising quality,” as mentioned by one reviewer on Amazon.
Boasted with premium Japanese Damascus steel and a high-carbon core, this 8-inch handcrafted chefs knife comes at an incredible value for chefs seeking for the same quality and feel of an authentic Japanese chef knife but at a small fraction of the cost. For more knives under 50, the Genesis Forged Santoku Knife by Mercer Culinary is fully forged, made from high-carbon, no-stain German steel and is a workable and efficient chefs knife for the average consumer.
Best Japanese Kitchen Knives under $200
Making our way into the mid-tier category of kitchen chefs knives, this list presents the best Japanese knives under 200 to keep your wallet and kitchen happy. Bringing you the best knives in class that’s just almost at the quality and feel of an authentic Japanese knife.
1. Misono UX10 Santoku
This Misono UX10 knife is built with top quality Swedish stain-resistant steel for longer lasting edge retention. The santoku, meaning “three virtues”, is an all-purpose knife that takes its name from its ability to easily handle meat, fish, and vegetables. This blade holds a 70:30 Asymmetrical bevel and includes a steeper angle from the front, providing a delicate cutting edge that’s true to the sharpness of a traditional Japanese single bevel knife.
2. Masamoto Gyuto 210mm
The Masamoto Gyuto 210mm was rated #1 as the chef’s favorite hybrid knife by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine in a review of best knife brands. The 210mm gyuto has a carbon-steel blade sharpened to a 70/30 edge to provide superior sharpness and corrosion resistance. Combined with a balanced feel and lightness in the handle, the Masamoto Gyuto 210mm is one of the best chef knife used in the kitchen for all types of purposes and spaces.
3. Yoshihiro VG-10 Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife
The Yoshihiro Gyuto Chefs Knife is the most versatile and essential of all chef knives in the kitchen and is perfect for chopping fresh produce to carving a roast chicken straight from the oven. This Yoshihiro chefs knife should be in every entry-level chef’s knife block. With a Western-style knife influence, this Gyuto knife provides excellent sharpness and edge retention while being multi-purpose in the kitchen.
4. Miyabi Kaizen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
The Miyabi Kaizen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife has a traditional Japanese blade profile, coupled with a 65-layer Damascus chef blade for incredible sharpness and performance. The Miyabi blade has a first-class sharpness out of the box and will last you a very long time with enough care. The Miyabi Kaizen Chef’s Knife has a blade that is perfectly balanced and refined with a D-shaped handle made of black linen Micarta. This Miyabi blade pairs perfectly well with this Miyabi Birchwood Knife Block Set.
5. Enso HD Chef’s Knife 8-inch
Enso is a company with a notable reputation for handcrafting and producing Japanese blades in Seki City, Japan since 1932–hence the high reviews and reoccurring customers. Reputation aside, the Enso HD chef’s knife is highly recommended for its sustainable build quality and performance. Generally compared to the Shun DM0702 Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife, the Enso chefs knife is “sharper and heavier with better balance,” says one reviewer.
6. Shun Classic Stainless-Steel Nakiri Knife
Introducing your new favorite knife for slicing and dicing vegetables and fruits. This Shun Classic knife is sharp right out of the box and will the sharpest blade in your kitchen drawer. Featuring a 6-1/2 inch blade and a whopping 16 full layers of high-carbon stainless steel on each side. Shun Classic is notably famous for their sharp blades, making kitchen prepping with fruits and vegetables a smooth breeze.
7. Shun Classic Chef’s Knife
The Shun Classic Chef’s Knife comes from a collection of Shun cutlery in handcrafted in Japan by trained specialists. The Shun Classic Chef’s knife embodies all the fine qualities of a handmade kitchen knife: Incredibly sharp edges and unmatched aesthetics–setting Shun knives apart from every other kitchen knife on the market today. A super lightweight blade, combined with the highest quality folded Damascus steel, the Shun classic knife will definitely see more time on the cutting board than the knife block.
8. Shun Premier Chef’s Knife
Here’s another essential kitchen knife by Shun, providing the perfect all-around knife for chopping and slicing meat and vegetables. “Best steel, best design, best value, and wicked sharp,” as mentioned by one reviewer on Amazon. The steel blade, build, and edge retention feels premium and smooth to work with, making food prep easier than ever. Shun doesn’t cut any corners and proves to offer one of the highest quality knives at this price range. In other words, the Shun Premier chef’s knife is an essential buy for any chef looking for a beautiful and sharp kitchen knife.
9. Dalstrong Japanese Chef’s Knife – Shogun Series X Gyuto
The perfect chef’s knife that carries an incredible build quality and first-class precision. For a professional chef, the handle is smooth and perfect for the chef’s preferred pinch grip. Boasted with strong and sharp Damascus steel and a mirror polish finish, the Japanese chef’s knife by Dalstrong is a workable and reliable Gyotu knife at an excellent price point.
Kamikoto Santoku Chef Knife
One of the most highly recommended purchases for Japanese knives is the 7-inch Santoku Chef Knife by Kamikoto. Headquartered in Tokyo, Kamikoto has built a legacy in steelmaking excellence over generations of master knife smiths. The blades are produced using traditional Japanese methods and materials.
Kamikoto forges each blade from the highest-quality Japanese steel sourced from select steel mills in Honshu, ensuring quality and craftsmanship in each blade. The Kamikoto performs like a flawless blade and has the perfect balance of strength and aesthetic to make it your new all-around kitchen knife.
Be sure to check out this recommended Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Collection that includes a 7-inch Nakiri vegetable knife, 8.5-inch slicing knife, and 5-inch utility knife, in a clean and refined natural-colored ash wood box for storage and safekeeping. A chef’s favorite.
Types of Japanese Knives
In Japanese cuisine, a wide variety of dishes are prepared for dinner, which requires the chef to carry an array of blades to prepare each portion of food prep. The type of knife that is often seen the most in the kitchen is the Gyuto, a versatile chefs knife for a multitude of complex tasks in the kitchen. Although not listed below, Japanese sashimi and sushi knives are a special kind of breed of knives that allow for efficient sushi making and comes in a set of knives.
There are 4 main differences that stand out in the process of crafting a Japanese knife:
- Handle (Western vs. Japanese)
- Blade Grind (single vs. double)
- Steel (stainless vs. carbon)
- Construction (laminated vs. mono-steel)
The Gyuto is a Japanese chef’s knife with a Western style blade that curves smoothly and tends to hold a sharper edge than Western knives. Popular amongst professional chefs and home cooks, the Gyuto knife is a staple in every chef’s knife block and best for being versatile and efficient in design and purpose. The Gyuto knife provides multi-purpose qualities and an extended tip that makes it easy and efficient for chopping and mincing meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit.
General size: 210 mm to 270 mm
The santoku knife is one of the most popular knives in a Japanese home, used for mainly cutting vegetables and fish. The santoku blade tends to be flatter and has a less pointy tip, unlike the Gyuto.
General size: 165 mm to 180 mm
The nakiri knife has a square tip and flat edge, making it suitable for cutting into dense products from the tip. The blade tilts towards the handle, allowing the grip to be comfortable and secure when cutting.
General size: 165 mm to 180 mm
These knives are generally used to cut eat and tend to be 150 mm in size.
General size: 240 mm to 300 mm
The hakotsu is described as a butchering knife, generally used to cut meat that is hung from the bone.
General size: 150 mm
This blade is generally used for cutting into denser ingredients and has a flat profile, tall blade, and short handle.
General size: 170 mm to 220 mm
The yanagiba is popularly known as the sashimi knife and is generally used for cutting fish. The knife can be used to cut fish in several different techniques.
General size: 270 mm to 330 mm
The deba is a thick knife used to cut into the tougher and more difficult parts of a fish such as the bones.
General size: 120 mm to 210 mm
The usaba is a thin blade with a flat profile, primarily used for push cutting.
General size: 120 mm to 240 mm
In the Kitchen
Owning a Japanese knife set can benefit both the home cook and professional chef in the kitchen. Whether you’re chopping vegetables, carving into poultry, or delicately slicing sashimi, a set of Japanese cooking knives has various blades for traditional and modern cooking practices in which many forms were adopted from French and German cutlery ideas during the Meiji period 1860-1890s.
Japanese knives are like fine wine–with enough care and precision, mastering the steel blade of a Japanese knife comes with ease and of mastery of technique. Some blades are made with stainless steel. The sharpness and lightness of a Japanese knife originated from traditional Japanese blacksmithing techniques and is comparable to that of a samurai sword’s blade.
Unlike Western knives, wielding a Japanese knife demands greater care and expertise. For emphasis, Japanese chefs often carry their own set of Japanese knives and sharpen them as needed and later rest them at night.
Considering the many culinary differences between Japan and other cultures, Japanese cutlery has curated in design and construction to cover a host of various native cuisines. The best Japanese knives may come at a cost–but considering the quality, strength, and longevity of these blades, Japanese knives may be the best in value for your money.