In this compilation of best Japanese kitchen knives reviews, you’ll learn about five of the best such knives currently available. These knives aren’t necessarily considered top end or professional. Yet they should satisfy most chefs for casual or light usage and please home cooks in everyday handling.
These stainless steel Ginsu knives have symmetrical, serrated edges. The tangs are riveted in three places and extend all through the length of the handle for sturdiness. Furthermore, the blades come with a limited lifetime warranty. For a 14-piece set it only costs about $30.
- Extremely sharp – they also retain that sharpness very well
- Suitable for both right- and left-handed users
- Need care to prevent them from rusting
Ginsu makes some very nice bargain knives and this set is no exception. For around $30, you will get an 8in slicer, an 8in chef’s knife, a 7in Santoku knife, a 3.5in paring knife, a 5.5in boning knife, a 5in utility knife, six 4.5in steak knives, shears and a wooden storage block. These knives are very sharp due to Ginsu’s symmetrical serrated design, which ensures they stay sharp for a long time to come. But like most knives, they aren’t exempt from rust: you need to always hand-wash and hand-dry them if you’re to avoid stains and corrosion over time.
The knives in this 8-piece set sport full tangs set in traditionally-shaped Japanese handles: cylindrical and smooth, crafted out of resin that is heat-resistant and water-resistant. All are fully-forged and come with a storage block. The set includes a 3.5in paring knife, a 5in serrated knife, a 5in utility knife, a 7in Santoku knife, an 8in chef’s knife, a honing rod and kitchen shears.
- Fully forged (as opposed to being stamped)
- Very good looking
- Excellent performance for the price
- The storage block is advertised as bamboo, but actually just has a bamboo veneer with wood underneath
The second Ginsu set to make this list, this is actually a little pricier than the earlier 14-piece set. That said, it’s also of much better quality. It looks like a set that could cost up to $500, is fantastically sharp, comes with a great honing rod, and also handles beautifully. Considering they’re available for just a little over $60, these knives are a definite steal.
Available in a variety of colors that extend all the way to the blade, the Pure Komachi knives also offer workmanlike edges on their steel. They are easy to clean and corrosion-resistant due to their color coatings and boast ergonomically designed handles. They are also lightweight for dexterous handling. One chef’s knife costs about $10.
- Beautiful, bright colors
- Feels great in the hand
- Very sharp
- Can’t be used to chop anything frozen or through bone
Distributed by Kai, the Pure Komachi knife series was originally all made in Japan. Production has since moved to China, though, but these are still largely the same knives with bright colors that have fooled many into thinking them ceramic. And they still have wickedly sharp edges. They won’t be good for those who need to cut up bones and frozen meat often, though—you still need a cleaver for that—but in most other matters, they’re fantastic. The coating is great, besides being good-looking, and you can buy different colors to remind you which ones to use for particular foods (to avoid cross-contamination). The coating also makes them highly corrosion-resistant. Add to that a very low price and you have a great knife for the average consumer on your hands.
This Santoku knife has a 6.5in blade of stainless steel. The steel has been honed to a razor edge and is set in a raw wooden handle. This particular knife costs about $11.
- Light in the hand
- Wood on the handle could be better
This Santoku knife is a great value if you’re in the market for a chef’s knife and can only afford to pay something around $10. Well-honed, balanced, and not bad-looking, this knife could easily become your go-to around the kitchen. It might feel a little too light for some people, but for a Santoku, it actually weighs fine—these knives are more focused on being sharp than heavy. The only issue is the wood: it could be better or at least be treated and finished, but if you don’t mind oiling it up yourself, it should be all right.
This Shun knife sports a precision-forged stainless steel blade with a razor-sharp, scalloped edge. The knife is layered multiple times with stainless steel to give it a damascened look, as well as to reduce the possibility of rust. It is set in a sturdy Pakkawood handle. This knife comes with a lifetime warranty and costs about $100.
- Lifetime warranty
- High-quality steel
- Excellent build
- Has a little more curve to the blade’s shape than traditional Santoku knives
The priciest item on the list, it’s also undoubtedly the one with the most quality. With a high carbon VG-10 steel core and 16 added layers of Damascus-pattern stainless steel on top, this is not a knife you can accuse of having been made cheaply, and it shows just from looking at it. Performance-wise, it’s impeccable as well, with exquisite balance and a very comfy handle. It’s also still made in Seki, Japan, so there’s no doubting its authenticity as a Japanese blade.
The best buy here is based on your needs. Do you want a knife set? Get the 8-piece from Ginsu—it’s actually better quality for just a little more than the other knife set on this list. Then again, if you absolutely can’t pay $60 for the set, you can go with the cheaper option. On the other hand, if a single chef’s knife is what you really want, the best option is easily the Shun with its exceptional craftsmanship. Buyers on a budget will have to settle for either of the other two knives, which are actually excellent knives too if just slightly less well-made than the Shun.