Whether you’re a chef extraordinaire or an everyday family cook, having the best Japanese chef knife is infinitely better than a set of mediocre knives.
If properly looked after, a superior quality sharp knife of the right size and weight for you, will ultimately be your best asset in the kitchen.
Among other things, particular regions of Japan are very well known for crafting superb quality knives, which are arguably the most significant tool in a cook's set.
With that being said, we've gathered a list of 5 highly regarded Japanese-style chef knives for all the foodies and professional chefs out there, as well as the everyday, at-home cook.
And if you're not confident with sharp knives, be sure to get some cut resistant gloves to complement your new purchase.
Best Japanese Chef Knife
1. DALSTRONG Chef's Knife
Dalstrong may be the ‘new guy on the block’ but they are committed to supplying kitchens (commercial and domestic) with superior quality sharp knives at an affordable price point to enhance their customers’ culinary experiences.
The Shogun Series 8” Chef’s Knife is an example of the quality you can expect from this company. Manufactured over a 60-day period from the highest quality materials (primarily stainless-steel), the knife features a cutting edge that is as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel.
The blade is honed to 8-12 degrees on each side and then nitrogen cooled to harness the sharpness to provide some flexibility and corrosion resistance.
The knife is then triple-riveted for enhanced resilience and finished with the hammered tsuchime method to reduce any drag that might lead to food becoming stuck on to the blade.
With a 55mm width at the top of the tapered blade, there is plenty of clearance for the knuckles. The knife’s handle is an ergonomically comfortable fit in the hand with an eye to control and agility.
The handle is impervious to heat, cold and moisture and has a non-slip grip. It’s also beautiful to look at with engraved end cap and trademark intricate copper mosaic finish.
Elegant and built to last and to be enjoyed, the Dalstrong Chef’s knife will not disappoint.
2. YOUSUNLONG Professional Kitchen Knife
Located in China, the manufacturer of this knife, Sunlong, produces a range of knives.
This 10” Chef’s Knife features a high-grade Damascus steel blade with a lovely black ebony and stainless-steel handle. It’s a lovely knife to look at and to hold. And it’s a knife chosen by professional chefs.
The 10” blade is 2.5mm thick and has a hardness grade of 58/60 with anti-corrosion qualities. The slightly convex shape and lightly hammered surface of the blade gives it the ability to resist food sticking to it.
The double-sided cutting edge of the blade makes it suitable for both left and right-handed people to use. The knife has a good weight to it with a firm balance and comfortable grip in the hand.
If you’re tired of mediocre knives which simply don’t do the job and take up too much time in your meal preparation every day perhaps it’s about time to try a superior quality knife like this.
You only need one and it will do all the cutting jobs you have quickly, smoothly and without effort on even the toughest foods you throw at it. And at the price these knives are selling for you will certainly be getting great value for your money!
3. XINZUO Chef Knife
The 8” Chef’s Knife from Chinese company Xinzuo is high-carbon Damascus stainless-steel knife with G10 handle.
The value of buying a Damascus steel knife is that it is made through a composite forging process - repeatedly folded on itself.
This gives the blade the advantages of sharpness, durability, rust resistance, food safety and a beautiful appearance.
The sharpness of the blade is ensured by the blade’s inner core of high carbon Damascus steel which gives it strength and stability (this knife has a hardness factor of 62HRC which is a very good number).
These qualities mean that the cutting edge of the blade can be sharpened to razor sharpness and will retain that sharpness with the occasional use of a honing rod or whetstone for maintenance.
The G10 handle is a high-pressure fibreglass laminate made from glass cloth and epoxy resin. It’s very durable and waterproof as well as chemical proof.
The handle is designed to be a perfect fit for the user's hand to enhance comfort while the knife is in use. The balance between the blade and the handle is all-important.
The knife arrives packaged in a beautiful textured box including red velvet for the blade. This is a beautifully made knife with all the features you want in a quality chef’s knife at an amazing price.
4. Ironstone® Grand Series
Would you like to have the ‘finest knife imaginable’? That’s what Australian company Ironstone believe they have brought to the market with the Grand Series Pro Chef’s Knives. Their criteria in this goal were a fusion of design, character and technology.
The steel they’ve used to create the blade has been named Aus-10 and smelted in Japan. The steel is combined with very carefully measured amounts of other metals including carbon for optimum hardness, corrosion-resistance, and edge retention. Then the steel is sent to China for the final forging process by expert bladesmiths.
With beauty in mind, the blade is finished with a Damascus pattern, a delicate dappled pattern on the surface created by folding the steel over itself repeatedly. This also gives the blade incredible hardness and durability.
The blade is sharpened by honing the edge on each edge to a degree of just 8-12 degrees, which is extremely sharp.
The steel used to make the blade helps to retain the sharpness over long periods of use. Occasional honing does help to keep the knife as sharp as possible though.
Finally, the handle is made of black G10, an epoxy resin which is durable and comfortable. The shape of the handle is designed to fit nicely into the hand and to balance with the blade so that precision cutting at speed feels natural.
Has Ironstone succeeded in their goal? It's probably a subjective test but they certainly have succeeded in producing very good quality knives at the very least.
5. WALLOP Dragon Bone Chef Knife
The Dragon Bone series of chef's knives from Wallop is intended for use both professionally and by home cooks alike. They are priced to meet both market sectors.
This 8.5” chef’s knife is a Japanese Damascus steel blade with a fibreglass resin handle. This particular knife is intended for use as a straight cut, push cut, Rachel cut, side cut, roll cut, and sawing cut. Perfect for meats, vegetables, fruits, etc.
Damascus steel has 66 layers of premium high-carbon stainless steel for strength, durability, anti-corrosion, and stain resistance.
The cutting edge of the blade has been sharpened by hand in a ‘v’ to between 8-13 degrees on each side for super sharpness and retention. The principle is to balance sharpness with elasticity for optimum slicing and cutting of the food.
The fine ladder-line hammered design on the blade helps to prevent food from sticking to it as well as looking beautiful and reducing knife drag.
The handle is made from ergonomically designed fibreglass resin (G10) to fit comfortably into the hand.
The G10 is also waterproof and impervious to chemicals, foods etc. The handle is polished and a unique mosaic nail is embedded into the handle to reinforce it and to give it another beautiful feature.
All Dragon Bone knives arrive in a presentation box with beautiful wrapping and a pouch.
Are Japanese or German Knives Better?
Both Germany and Japan are well known producers of chef knives. Japanese knives are often lighter and sharper than German knives. They are thinner and requite more maintenance. It's uncommon for them to break, but it's not unheard of.
Japanese knives are better for fine chopping of vegetables and delicate tasks such as slicing fish. Just think about sushi and sashimi, two delicacies of Japan, where chef's use these knives to prepare these dishes. Both dishes aren't cooked, so it's all about preparation and using sharp, thin knives makes the food taste better.
German knives are often cheaper, but they are more heavy due to their sturdy and thicker blades. They are well known for more demanding tasks such as cutting up a chicken.
Ultimately it's up you as the consumer to choose between Japanese or German knives.
What's The Best Japanese Knife?
The best Japanese knife is the best one that suits you. To help you choose the best Japanese knife, you should start by deciding why you;re buying one, what it will be used for and whether you're looking for maintenance-free, or you're prepared to look after your knife.
Professional chef's have different requirements compared with amateur home cooks. Pro's can use their knives for up to 30 hours per week, while home owners, might only use it 1-2 hours.
Japanese knives come with a double edge, while German or Western knives only have a single edge.
Home chef's should choose a Japanese knife that's easy to sharpen. Next look at the weight of the knife. Heavy knives will be problematic, especially with lots of chopping and slicing, so weight plays a big part in choosing a knife.
You'll also want to look at the handle. If you need something ergonomic then you can definitely find brands that offer something, like the XINZUO.
There's many different Japanese Chef Knife's out there, but which one is the best? We've looked at our top 5 picks above to suit every budget. You can spend up to $200 for a normal brand and up to $1,000 for premium brands.
What's your favourite brand? Be sure to leave a comment below.
Vicky is from Melbourne and studied overseas. She loves to write about health, wellness, fitness and student topics. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her drinking craft beers and hiking.