Kitchen knives are knives that design foodstuffs we use in food preparation. The most common kitchen knives are the chef knife, serrated knife, and paring knife. An ideal chef knife performs excellently in various activities such as; slicing, dicing, or carving in turkey or chicken cases. However, this review will focus on the best Japanese kitchen knives that suit you. Japanese knives are razor-sharp, western-styled lightweight knives that are ideal for precise tasks like slicing vegetables, cucumber, cleaning tuna etc.
- Top 10 Best Japanese Kitchen Knives Reviewed for 2020
- #1. Zelite Infinity Chef Knife 8 Inch, Damascus Japanese – Editor Choice
- #2. DALSTRONG Chef Knife – 9.5″ – Phantom Series – Best Value
- #3. TUO Cutlery Cleaver Knife – Japanese AUS-10 Damascus Steel – Best Overall
- #4. Zelite Infinity Chef Knife 10 Inch – Superb Edge Retention
- #5. KATSU Kiritsuke Chef Knife – Best for Handcrafted Octagonal Handle
- #6. Chef’s Knife – Professional 8 Inch Damascus Blade – Chef Kitchen Knives
- #7. KUMA Professional Damascus Steel Knife – Best for Corrosion Resistant Blade
- #8. Santoku Knife – imarku 7 inch Kitchen Knife Ultra Sharp
- #9. DALSTRONG Paring Knife – 4″ – Phantom Series – Japanese High-Carbon
- #10. Dalstrong chef’s knife – Best for Vacuum Treated
- Why Choose the Best Japanese Kitchen Knives?
Top 10 Best Japanese Kitchen Knives Reviewed for 2020
#1. Zelite Infinity Chef Knife 8 Inch, Damascus Japanese – Editor Choice
Zelite Infinity Chef Knife is a 12.95-inch long, full tang chef’s knife produced with premium materials. Aesthetically, the finishing of the Zelite Infinity Chef Knife is a beautiful Damascus pattern that can resist stains, discoloration, and corrosion. The Zelite Infinity blade measures 8 inches in length and features the Japanese AUS-10 super steel, which has 67 layers of high carbon stainless steel.
In thickness, the Zelite knife is about 2.4mm thick with rounded edges and a tampered bolster.
Also, the Zelite Infinity Chef Knife is a double bevel knife, finished with the traditional 3-step Honbazuke method. Because of its lightweight measuring about 9.9 ounces, it is well balanced throughout its body.
Its ergonomic handle measuring about 4.95 inches in length made with textured plastic fits just alright in large or small hands. Ideally, you can use this Zelite knife for slicing, mincing, dicing, or chopping.
Whenever it gets blunt, you can hand sharpen it yourself. The 12-degree blade edge makes slicing of thick meat like pork, chicken, beefsteak, and sushi/sashimi feel effortless, just like slicing butter. It is one of the best Japanese chef knives available, and most professional mid-level chefs also prefer it. The Zelite infinity chef knives manufacturers are in China.
Other Zelite infinity knife collections include the Santoku and Asian knives, bread and serrated knives, boning and filleting knife, pairing and utility knife, etc. Zilite produces quality high-end Japanese knives and is one of the most preferred top Japanese knife brands.
#2. DALSTRONG Chef Knife – 9.5″ – Phantom Series – Best Value
The 9.5 inches Dalstrong chef knife- phantom series has a kiritsuke shape, with a sword-like front end and a straight edge allowing it to push cut easily. Dalstrong Chef Knife is a powerhouse sushi knife weighing close to 190 grams masterfully elegant and perfectly balanced. Its blade is razor-sharp, giving it exceptional performance.
This phantom series of sashimi/sushi knife features a long, beautifully crafted 3.5 mm narrow blade that ensures paper-thin slices of fish, meat, and vegetables. The edge is so sharp it slices through fibers in the flesh effortlessly without tearing.
Its edge comes as a single bevel honed to 13-15 degrees angle per side, and nitrogen cooled to enhance its hardness and flexibility. Its AUS-8 quality Japanese steel blade with 58HRC hardness contains a high chromium level for corrosion and stain resistance.
You can easily sharpen its blade with a whetstone at a 15-degree angle on a 1000/6000 grit or an even finer one. On the Dalstrong chef knife, comes the traditional D-shaped handle design with just the right amount of grip necessary to sit comfortably in your hand. Additionally, the blade boasts a premium quality laminated Spanish Pakkawood ideal for strength, refinement, and beauty, carefully crafted with brass and copper mosaic pin.
It also comes with a Dragonlock Dalstrong sheath that folds shut correctly over the blade, locking it entirely to ensure safety. Generally, it is one of the quality Japanese knives among cheap Japanese knives with well over 75000 chefs recommending and using this chef knife, earning it a top Japanese knife brand to purchase.
#3. TUO Cutlery Cleaver Knife – Japanese AUS-10 Damascus Steel – Best Overall
TUO cutlery was founded over 20 years ago in China and has succeeded in producing several quality Japanese knives. This kitchen knives have a narrow blade that provides an agile movement and an elegant modern design that functions excellent. This knife has a superior full tang blade and an ergonomically designed yellow and black Pakkawood handle. They ensure that it fits perfectly firm in hand when held without slipping off even in wet conditions, providing effortless, relaxing cutting experience.
Tuo cutlery performs excellently in kitchen tasks, such as slicing, dicing chopping, mincing, or cutting through thick pieces of meat and tough vegetables such as squash. It features a Dragon-keel Damascus pattern across its Japanese AUS-10 67-layer stainless steel blade.
On the Rockwell hardness scale, TUO measures a hardness of 62HRC and has a length of 8.5 inches. TUO cleaver knife boasts a broad blade that is stain and corrosive resistant. It is useful for little tasks like flattening garlic and tenderizing meats while also scooping up prepared ingredients and carrying it to the wok, with a weight of only 1lb, which is reasonably light for a knife this size.
Regarding its unique cutting technique, you only need to grab the knife tight enough and apply some weight with your other hand. Directing this weight on the knife’s spine is essential to cut through the thick fiber of meat and tough vegetables. Its versatility and resilience make TUO cleaver knives one of the best Japanese knife brands available. They perform great in commercial places such as restaurants and butcheries.
#4. Zelite Infinity Chef Knife 10 Inch – Superb Edge Retention
Zilite infinity 10 inches knife is an elegantly well-designed knife. For chefs, it is needed to perform those correctly done slices and cuts required of them. This knife performs excellently in slicing meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables. It’s over length is 15.38inches with a blade thickness of 2.4mm and weighs 10.7 ounces.
Zelite infinity knife features the premium Japanese AUS-10 super steel with a 67 layer of high carbon stainless steel. Its polishing is with the Japanese tsunami rose Damascus pattern, ensuring you have that master chef experience. Features a 10 inch long sharp blade with a 48mm deep that provides maximum knuckle clearance.
More so, it has a design that enables it to perform a rocking-motion style of cutting, earning it the best Japanese cooking knife recommended.
Zelite infinity Japanese steel knife is also one of the high-end Japanese knives in stores and has an incredible 12-degree pro razor edge per side. Its blade is a Gytou non-stick stainless steel. On the Rockwell hardness scale, this unique knife measures 61HRC.
During production, liquid nitrogen for cooling improves its edge retention properties and corrosion resistance. The handle is a top military-grade G10 triple riveted to the full tang blade for superb strength and durability.
Zilite infinity classic 3-metal mosaic rivets attach its ergonomically designed rounded handle to ensure a firm grip. With a tapered bolster, this knife provides comfort and balance.
Additionally, the 3-step Honbazuke method sharpens the blade during production. It comes with mirror-polished cutting angles ensuring maximum safety and sharpness. For resharpening, use a 1000/6000 whetstone.
#5. KATSU Kiritsuke Chef Knife – Best for Handcrafted Octagonal Handle
Katsu Kiritsuke knives are multipurpose knives and one of the best Japanese cutlery available. It is one of the most versatile and essential of all knives a cook can have. It features the traditional Japanese convex ground professional AUS-10, 67-layer Damascus steel blade. Because of its 2.2mm thick blade it excels in sharpness and durability. It comes easy when resharpening with the recommended 1000/6000 grit whetstone.
The knife has an overall length of 14.17 inches, having a full tang stainless steel, non-corrosive blade length of 8 inches. The handle is ergonomic and crafted with octagonal shaped ebony wood. The handle has a buffalo horn tapered bolster that welds well. Because of its averagely light 188g weight, it sits comfortably firm in the hand when in use.
Katsu Kiritsuke knives come with a dark walnut wood magnetic Saya style sheath that makes it look even more elegant when carried around for field activities such as camping.
This knife comes in a uniquely designed gift box containing the knife itself and its sheath at purchase. It can be a gift on special occasions such as weddings, Christmas, thanksgiving days. Its maintenance comes naturally and is recommended not to be used to cut, hit or chop frozen products or bones. Katsu is one of the top Japanese knife brands in the world.
#6. Chef’s Knife – Professional 8 Inch Damascus Blade – Chef Kitchen Knives
Nunchi professional chef’s knife is a well-designed professional knife for chefs. They are functional and durable enough to be used by an aspiring home chef or used at outdoor weekend grills.
This Asian hybrid 8 inches blade comprises 67 layers of VG-10 wavy-patterned silver Japanese Damascus stainless steel blade. Thus, it gives it an incredibly sharp edge at a 12-15 degree angle. The excellent chef knife improves your cooking experience because it is well balanced and cuts through even thick fibers of meats, fishes, and hard vegetables. This knife is a well-crafted gyuto knife for home kitchens or restaurants that performs well enough to be termed one of the best Japanese knives.
Nunchi chef knife is ultra-sharp with superior edge retention that can serve as a go-to tool for almost all your daily cooking needs. It is perfect for slicing, dicing, chopping, and cutting with precision. Its blade is a full tang and is 8 inches long with a deep of 1.8 inches. It weighs 15.2 ounces and is hard enough measuring 60-62HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale.
The handle is ergonomic and designed with a dark brown +S/S 430 pakkawood that has necessary grooves to enable it to sit firmly in the palm when held. With the latest Japanese knife reviews, whether you plan to add another premium chef knife to your collection or your first time investigating quality Japanese knives, the Nunchi chef knife is recommended. It has a stunning design and is easy to maintain.
#7. KUMA Professional Damascus Steel Knife – Best for Corrosion Resistant Blade
Kuma professional steel knife is a super sharp and expertly designed kitchen knife. It is one of the best Japanese steel chef knives available now. Featuring a beautifully layered 8 inches hardened carbon steel blade, it performs multiple functions great for professional chefs and home cooks.
Kuma knives feature a solid VG10, 67 layers of premium Japanese Damascus steel blade posing extraordinary strength and durability. It measures about 63HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. This sturdy kitchen knife is ultra-strong and chip-resistant for robust and lasting resilience in performance. Although China produces this chef knife, it isn’t low-grade and doesn’t fall under cheap Japanese knives.
While many chef knives appear to be strong and durable, their thin blade of inferior quality bends and breaks easily under pressure. Kuma stainless steel blade is corrosion resistant and has gone through a series of engineering processes. Its hand-finished V-shape sharpening technique is done at a 15-20 degrees angle to ensure its sharpness lasts. The handle has an ergonomic design with a lightweight ultra-comfortable high-quality plastic. The handle’s contours are efficient enough to enable the knife to sit well in hand without discomfort or slips.
The knife comes in exquisite design with minimal bolster for smooth and thorough cutting using both regular and pinches grip. This full tang knife has an excellent spine for a balanced and comfortable grip while applying firm pressure. It comes with a protective sheath for safety and easy carriage.
#8. Santoku Knife – imarku 7 inch Kitchen Knife Ultra Sharp
The Santoku imarku 7 inches knife features a superb quality 7CR17Mov German steel. It is useful in the kitchen for daily tasks such as slicing, mincing, and cutting meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. It is an all-purpose knife suitable for both home and restaurant kitchens.
The Santoku 7 inches imarku knife is one of the cheapest Japanese knives available. It has an overall length of 12 inches and weighs 190 grams. This full tang blade is stain, corrosion-resistant with a width of 1.7 inches, and a thickness of 2.5mm with a scalloped hollow edge sharpened at a 15-18 degree angle. The blade is hard enough for everyday tasks and measures between 56-58HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale.
For a comfortable grip, the handle design has the Spanish pakkawood that provides a secure grip. Thus, it also minimizes tension on the wrist even in wet conditions regardless of hand size. Its lightweight is well balanced throughout the knife and doesn’t put fatigue on the wrist when using. Ideally, it is for those who just like cooking or preparing snacks.
#9. DALSTRONG Paring Knife – 4″ – Phantom Series – Japanese High-Carbon
Dalstrong chef knives are ultra-sharp and elegantly designed. They are precision specialists, engineered for coring, peeling and mincing fruits and vegetables, slicing carrots, shallots, herbs, or garlic cloves. However, this 8 inches Dalstrong chef knife features the Japanese AUS-8 steel beautifully engraved with the Dalstrong name down the spine and the Japanese kanji for phantom or ghost.
The blade is ice-tempered for excellent resilience and superior edge retention. It is hard enough on the Rockwell hardness scale measuring 58HRC. Furthermore, the traditional honbazuke method sharpens the knife excellently. Thus, bringing the edge to a razor-sharp 13-15 degree angle, ensuring swift and effortless performance. This Japanese steel knife comes as a full tang knife with high chromium levels for stain resistance and performs incredibly well. The blade is tapered for durability and flexibility with a polished spine to facilitate a comfortable pinch grip.
The handle carries the traditional Japanese D-Shape design made from premium quality laminated pakkawood imported from Spain. The carefully crafted brass and copper mosaic rivets hold the handle together, allowing it to tuck into your hand’s palm perfectly. It has a stainless steel hand-polished end cap that also adds to its balance. The bolster is mirror polished with minimal size, correctly engineering the knife balance for comfort and performance when being applied. It comes with a sheath for easy carriage and safety.
#10. Dalstrong chef’s knife – Best for Vacuum Treated
Shogun series of Dalstrong knives are one of the best chef knives available today. This longer chef knife has a slight curve to its belly and a narrower blade with a width of 45.6mm.
Featuring a 2.2mm thick AUS-10V Japanese steel blade, it sails through vegetables and meats with virtually no effort. It is a 67 layered steel, Damascus sharpened under the 3-step Honbazuke method making it highly versatile and able to make cuts easily. It is a knife every serious chef should have.
Dalstrong knife is hard sharpened at 8-12 degree angle per side and has incredible edge retention with a hardness of 62HRC. Its tapered bolster provides a perfect balance and finger protection, gently encouraging a swift and comfortable pinch grip. The 9.5 inches blade is a full tang stainless steel blade that is rust/corrosion resistant.
With its smooth spine, it enhances comfort when pressure is necessary for cutting dense fibers. The handle has the military-grade G10 design that is impervious to heat, cold, and moisture. It is ergonomic and has its name engraved on the end cap for distinction. It comes with a sheath, same with all Shogun series chef knives.
Why Choose the Best Japanese Kitchen Knives?
Japanese kitchen knives are among the most elegant kitchen knives that you can easily buy. However, top chefs often use these types of knives because they allow for a much cleaner cut with minimal wrist action. Here are some guides in choosing the best Japanese knives that suit you.
The best knife for cooking has to be one that feels comfortable enough when held. A larger knife such as the Dalstrong 9.5″ chef knife wound did not perform substantially in tiny carving tasks unlike a 4-5″ streamlined knife. The majority of large knives with carbon steel blades feel slightly heavy when held because of the high carbon content.
The majority of the best Japanese knives are quite expensive, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Cheap Japanese knives can be purchased for under $60 or opt for those that cost a little higher. Quality Japanese knives cost $90 upwards of $300 and even much more depending on the brand and build material.
3. Blade Materials
Most Japanese knives have either carbon steel or stainless steel blades, and they both have their unique feature. Stainless steel is better for the average home kitchen because it is easier to maintain, resists corrosion and discoloration better than the carbon steel blades.
However, stainless steel blades are harder to sharpen on a regular whetstone. The carbon steel blade has a sharper edge that stays sharp for more extended periods. They require regular maintenance, and they must be wiped clean and dry after use to prevent it from discoloring and rusting.
Another option of blade material used in Japanese knives is a combination of the carbon steel and stainless steel, i.e., the carbon steel blade is covered (clad) in stainless steel. Some top Japanese knife brands build their blade with AUS-10V, VG-10, or AUS-8 62-67 layers of steel that measures 60-65HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale.
The shape of any knife’s handle plays a crucial role in how the knife is balanced and how firm it feels in your hand. Your choice of kitchen knife mustn’t slip off when in use or discomforts you. Most of the best Japanese knives use the Spanish pakkawood, textured plastic or military-grade G10 handle, triple-riveted, and also with bolster for a more secure grip.
5. Knife Maintenance
Maintenance of Japanese knives is relatively easy, but notwithstanding, the knife you get must depend on how well you plan on taking care of it. Using the right cutting surface, such as a cutting board made with wood, helps retain the knife sharpness and rigidity.
Also, washing with warm water and soap and wiping all the water off before putting the knife away prevents corrosion and discoloration. To sharpen your knife, use a Japanese whetstone of recommending grits or have it done professionally.
These best Japanese kitchen knives are excellent in quality, sharpness, durability, and performance. These knives possess an attractive appearance that any cooking enthusiast would admire at a single glance. They are firm when held and are comfortable when applied.
A quality Japanese knife will make preparing meals more enjoyable and help make you a better chef. There are several factors to consider when buying a Japanese knife. They are: steel type, blade style, handle, the brand of knife, and price are some of the main factors to consider when purchasing. We recommend starting with a decent entry-level chef knife or an all-purpose Santoku knife for a first-time buyer or amateur chef.