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A sharp knife set is essential for professional chefs and passionate home cooks alike. For many, a set of knives is an investment: ahigh quality setit can last a lifetime.
Japanese knives have earned a stellar reputation for sharpness, precision, and quality. The Ultimate Japanese Knife Set includes a variety of sharp and versatile knives for everyday culinary tasks. Read on to learn more about the qualities of the best Japanese knife sets, and explore some of the best options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL:Shun Classic 6-Piece Slim Knife Set
- VICE CHAMPION: Imarku Japanese knife set, 16 pieces
- BEST EARNING FOR THE DOLLAR: Kepeak 5 Piece Kitchen Knife Set
- UPGRADE OPTION: Dalstrong Knife Set Block—Shogun Elite Set Series
- VERSATILE TABLE: Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Forged Series 19 Pieces
- MORE DURABLE: Ikasu Global 7-Piece Knife Set
- ALSO CONSIDER: Yatoshi 7 Piece Knife Set — Professional Kitchen Knife Set
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Japanese Knife Set
A delicious meal begins with the preparation of the ingredients, which often requires chopping or dicing them. A sharp, balanced and versatile knife set makes preparation easy, whether it's slicing tomatoes or boning poultry. When choosing a Japanese knife set, consider the types of knives and their materials, durability, size, weight, versatility, and any included accessories.
types of knife
Japanese knives come in a wide variety of knife types, each designed for a different purpose. Below are some of the types of knives buyers can expect to see in a set:
- gyuto:This larger knife is equivalent to a European chef's knife and is a common knife for cutting meat or vegetables. With a slightly curved blade, you can cut with a chopping or rocking motion.
- Santoku:Slightly smaller in size and with a shorter point than a Gyuto knife, a Santoku knife is another all-purpose knife, but it generally cuts with a chopping motion. The Santoku is excellent for cutting vegetables, meat and fish.
- Sujihiki:These knives are similar to European choppers, but generally have a thinner blade that allows for more precise cutting. They are ideal for filleting or chopping meat.
- Honesuki:An Honesuki knife is the Japanese version of a boning knife, designed for boning and preparing poultry.
- I confess:This robust knife has a rectangular shape with a straight blade. The blade is popular for slicing vegetables and chopping hard items like squash and melon.
- used:Another type of vegetable knife, this traditional model has a very fine, sharp blade for precisely cutting vegetables to create very thin or decorative cuts.
- Little:Similar to a paring knife, this smaller knife is ideal for slicing small fruits and vegetables, and for delicate chopping jobs like cutting fragile vegetables and herbs.
- Yanagiba:Most popularly used for slicing blocks of fish, this angled knife is often used to prepare sashimi and nigiri sushi, as it allows for clean, smooth cuts in one long drawing motion.
- He must:With a thick spine and sturdy design, this knife is used for gutting, filleting, and preparing fish.
Quality and Durability
When purchasing a set of Japanese knives, there are a few features that can contribute to quality and durability, such as the tang, sharpness, material, and manufacturing process.
- Spike:High-quality knives are made from a single piece of steel that runs all the way to the handle for added stability. The section of steel that extends to the handle is called the "tang". Full tang knives have a piece of steel that runs the entire length of the handle, while partial tang knives extend part way into the handle. A full tang blade tends to be stronger and more durable.
- Ponta:On a double bevel blade, the cutting edge tapers symmetrically on each side. Single bevel blades taper to one side only. Single bevel blades typically have a narrower cutting angle, which helps them make very precise and fine cuts. Many Western knives have a double bevel blade, while traditional Japanese knives have a single bevel blade. However, when it comes to newer Japanese knives, options are available in single and double bevel blades. Double bevel blades are easier for the average home cook to use.
- Material:Common materials include carbon steel, stainless steel, and high carbon stainless steel. Carbon steel is a hard material that is easier to re-sharpen. However, it is prone to rust, tarnish, or chip without proper care, which involves carefully cleaning and drying the blade after each use. Traditional Japanese knives are made from a type of carbon steel called "hagane." Because carbon steel is more difficult to maintain, modern home knives are often made from other types of steel. Stainless steel is an easy-care blade material that is resistant to rust and tarnishing. The material is less brittle than carbon steel and requires less maintenance. Another popular material for modern Japanese-style knives is high carbon stainless steel. As the name suggests, this type of stainless steel has a higher carbon content than regular stainless steel. This higher carbon content provides many of the benefits of carbon steel, such as its ability to keep the blade sharp, but makes the blade less prone to rust or tarnish.
- Forged x Stamped:Knife blades are made using a forging or stamping process. To make forged blades, a bar of alloy steel is heated and hammered into a knife shape. Forged knives tend to be heavier and have a ridge (the thickness of the steel between the blade and the handle). On the other hand, stamped sheets are cut or stamped directly from a sheet of steel. These knives often feel lighter and are often unsupported. Forged knives tend to have a better reputation when it comes to quality, but some well-made stamped knives now rival forged knives in quality.
Japanese knife sets often include knives of different lengths, depending on the types of knives included. Differentkitchen knifethe lengths are suitable for different food preparation tasks.
For example, a small, short knife (similar to a paring knife) is excellent for cutting delicate items or making small decorative cuts. On the other hand, a Sujihiki (resembling a slicer) has a long blade that is ideal for slicing meat, as it can create long, smooth strokes.
Depending on the knife set, a variety of knife lengths may be included. Users should consider choosing a game that better covers their daily food preparation habits.
The ideal handle material depends on personal preference. Common handle materials include wood, plastic, and stainless steel.
The wooden handles have a soft grip and an attractive appearance. However, since wood is a porous material, these handles can harbor bacteria. These handles can also crack or warp from exposure to water, so they should be hand washed. They also benefit from an occasional polish to maintain their attractive shine.
Plastic handles are less porous and don't absorb germs, but they can become brittle or crack over time. These straps tend to be lighter and may feel too light for some users. Plastic handles can come in a variety of attractive colors and patterns.
Stainless steel is durable and hygienic, but it can feel slippery. The presence of notches can help make a handle more secure to use. Stainless steel handles tend to make the knife heavier.
When it comes to handle design, western knives typically have a bolster and tang with a riveted handle. These handles are usually smaller but heavier, putting more weight on the handle of the knife. They can be made from a variety of non-porous materials, such as plastics, steel, or seasoned wood.
Traditional Japanese knife handles often have a hidden tang without rivets, giving them a sleek appearance. Compared to Western-style knife handles, they tend to have a larger, lighter cylindrical handle, usually made of wood. The lighter handle means the weight distribution is shifted towards the blade.
Weight and Balance
For many serious chefs and home cooks, the weight and balance of a knife is an important feature. Factors such as the point of the knife, distal taper, and support can affect the weight and balance of the knife.
A full tang, where the metal runs the entire length of the handle, will make the knife heavier. The thicker distal taper (the blade tapers as it approaches the handle) and the presence of a stand will also result in a heavier knife. Each of these features helps balance a knife and makes it more enjoyable to use. Since these features are usually closer to the handle, they can create a heavier handle, affecting balance. Knives without these features often have a lighter handle and a heavier blade.
Japanese knives are usually lighter than Western knives and are balanced towards the blade. Western knives are heavier and have a more neutral balance. The ideal weight and balance will depend on personal preference.
One benefit of purchasing a knife set is that it will include a variety of versatile knives for different culinary needs. A Japanese knife set with three to five knives may suffice for a beginning cook or everyday cook, but those who spend a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen may want to consider a knife set with more pieces.
All-in-one knives like Gyuto and Santoku are common in Japanese knife sets because they work well for cutting common foods like vegetables and meats. A smaller knife, such as a cleaver, is also very useful for cutting fruit or small chopping jobs that don't require a larger knife.
Style and Accessories
Most Japanese knife sets are fairly understated in style, with a classic look and neutral colors. Materials like silver and stainless steel blades, black plastic, or natural wood handles give them a clean look that should suit most kitchens.
Knife sets can include a variety of useful accessories. Many knife sets include aknife blockto safely store knives and prevent damage to the blade. Scissors are another useful tool that can come with larger sets.
Some knife sets include sharpening rods for maintaining the knives. These steel rods help realign a knife's sharp edge.
Our top picks
A high-quality Japanese knife set will live up to its reputation for sharp blades and balanced handles for precise cutting. The following top picks are versatile and sharp Japanese knife sets to help make food preparation easy and enjoyable.
Shun Classic 6-Piece Slim Knife Set
Handcrafted in Seki, Japan, this knife set brings Japanese craftsmanship to residential kitchens. This six-piece set from Shun includes three knives, a pair of scissors, and a sharpening steel. This simple set allows the home cook to handle a variety of food preparation tasks, as well as maintain the knife set.
The blades are made from Shun's proprietary VG-MAX steel layered with Damascus stainless steel on top. The steel layers add durability and stain resistance, as well as give the blade its wavy pattern. To keep the knife's edge sharp, a 9-inch steel is included. All the pieces store in the included knife block.
Each double-beveled blade is sharp for safe slicing and dicing. Black pakkawood handles are smooth to the touch and resistant to moisture for elegant durability.
- types of knife: 3.5-inch paring, 7-inch Santoku, 8-inch chef
- Materials: Stainless steel blade and pakkawood handle
- Accessories: Kitchen scissors, steel sharpener and knife block
- elegant set
- Includes sharpening tool and scissors.
- Handmade in Japan
- Handwash only
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Imarku Japanese knife set, 16 pieces
Made from high-carbon German stainless steel, this 16-piece knife set from Imarku is designed in the Japanese style to provide high-quality knives that even professional chefs can enjoy at home. The sturdy pakkawood handles are durable and feel elegant in the hand, while providing a great counterbalance to the blade.
The set also includes kitchen scissors and a sharpening steel, which are stored together with the knives in the elegant wooden block. Two chef's knives and a Santoku are the featured knives here, along with smaller slicing, paring, and utility knives. To complete the set, there are six steak knives that will impress your dinner guests.
To maximize longevity, users are advised to clean these knives by hand and avoid the dishwasher if possible.
- types of knives:8-inch chef, 8-inch slicer, 8-inch bun, 7-inch Santoku, 6-inch chef, 3.5-inch peeler, 5-inch utility, and six 5-inch steak knives
- Materials:Stainless steel blade and pakkawood handle
- Accessories:Kitchen scissors, a sharpening steel and a knife block
- elegant set
- Includes sharpening tool and scissors.
- High quality German steel.
- Handwash only
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Best bang for the buck
Kepeak 5 Piece Kitchen Knife Set
Designed with Damascus steel in mind, this five-piece knife set is made for everyday kitchen tasks. The set includes a chef's knife, two Santoku knives, a cleaver and a paring knife. Each knife is made with high carbon stainless steel, but not genuine Damascus steel. This limits their longevity compared to more expensive options, but allows buyers to start with a stylish set of knives at an affordable price.
The polished handle is made of smooth pakkawood, which features a sophisticated natural grain pattern. Although this set does not include a knife block, each knife comes with a protective sheath that helps keep the blade sharp.
- types of knives:3.5-inch slices, 5-inch Santoku, 7-inch Santoku, 7-inch blade, 8-inch chef
- Materials:high carbon stainless steel
- Accessories:Blade cover for each knife
- great aesthetic
- Suitable for most kitchen tasks.
- Not recommended for dishwasher.
- The included blade covers can be easily broken
- Not made with real Damascus steel.
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Dalstrong Knife Set Block—Shogun Elite Set Series
Made from AUS-10 steel, a strong grade of steel produced by Aichi Steel in Tokai, Japan, these precise Dalstrong knives work great in the kitchen. This set includes five knives: an 8-inch chef's knife, 7-inch Santoku knife, 6-inch utility knife, 8-inch bread knife, and 3.5-inch paring knife. All knives fit into the acacia wood knife block for storage.
Each knife has a steel core surrounded by 67 layers of high carbon stainless steel, providing strength and resistance to staining. The hammered blade finish gives each knife a wavy appearance that is both elegant and sophisticated, combining utility with aesthetics. These little notches not only look good, but they also prevent food from sticking to the blade while cutting.
Handles are made of G-10, a soft, non-porous, fiberglass-like material. The full tang design and triple-riveted handle provide even more durability for long-term use.
- types of knives:8-inch Bread, 8-inch Chef, 7-inch Santoku, 6-inch Utility, 3.5-inch Chips
- Materials:High carbon stainless steel blade, G-10 handle
- Accessories:acacia wood block
- Elegant hammered metal design
- Sleek and stylish knife block included
- Includes a blade for almost every need.
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Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Forged Series 19 Pieces
Serious home cooks need specialty knives for tasks like filleting fresh fish or boning poultry. For anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, consider this versatile 19-piece knife set from Ginsu.
This set includes the following: 8-inch Chef's Knife, 8-inch Slicer, 8-inch Bread Knife, 7-inch Santoku Knife, 6-inch Cleaver, 6-inch Boning Knife, 5-inch utility knife, one 3.5-inch paring knife, one sharpening rod, one set of kitchen shears, and eight 4.5-inch steak knives.
Each knife is made of razor sharp Japanese stainless steel. Handles are made of heat and water resistant black resin for a hygienic and smooth cutting grip. The knives come in a bamboo finished knife block ensuring safe and tidy storage.
- types of knives:8-inch chef, 8-inch slicer, 8-inch bread, 7-inch Santoku, 6-inch blade, 6-inch boning, 5-inch utility, 3.5-inch garnishes, and eight 4.5-inch steak knives inches.
- Materials:Stainless steel blade with resin handles
- Accessories:Bamboo block, kitchen scissors, sharpening steel.
- Full set of steak knives included
- relatively affordable
- Feel well balanced in hand.
- The block of wood may seem quite fragile.
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Ikasu Global 7-Piece Knife Set
Instead of making a separate blade and handle, these Global steel knives are made from a single piece of steel. This design eliminates the possibility of breakage between the blade and the handle. Each knife is handcrafted in Niigata, Japan using Global's exclusive CROMOVA 18 stainless steel, which is tempered, hardened and polished into a fine blade.
This seven-piece set includes six knives and a stylish bamboo and acrylic knife block. Knives include a 3-inch paring knife, 4.5-inch utility knife, 5-inch chef's knife, 5.5-inch vegetable knife, 8-inch chef's knife, and bread knife 8 inches. .5 inches.
The knives have a hollow molded handle that is filled with just the right amount of sand for optimum balance. Each handle has a ridged grip, providing a comfortable, non-slip surface.
- types of knives:3-inch peeler, 4.5-inch utility, 5-inch chef, 5.5-inch vegetable, 8-inch chef, 8.5-inch pan
- Materials:Stainless steel blade and handle
- Accessories:Bamboo block with transparent side
- modern aesthetic
- Robust 1-piece construction
- Enough knives for most tasks
- All-metal construction may be subject to rust.
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Yatoshi 7 Piece Knife Set — Professional Kitchen Knife Set
A beautiful and elegant knife set not only makes food preparation easier, but also looks great on the kitchen counter. Made from high carbon steel and with a dark brown pakkawood handle, these knives look as elegant as they come.
This set includes an 8-inch Chef's Knife, 7-inch Santoku Knife, 5-inch Santoku Knife, 8-inch Bread Knife, 8-inch Slicing Knife, 5-inch Utility Knife, and Paring Knife. 8 inches. kitchen knife. A block is not included in this set, so users can invest in their preferred storage method.
Each high carbon stainless steel blade is durable and razor sharp. The knives are resistant to corrosion, rust and tarnishing and are finished with a striking wave pattern. For comfortable cutting, the knives have a smooth pakkawood handle, giving them a traditional Japanese knife look and offering a secure, lightweight grip.
- types of knives:8-inch Chef, 7-inch Santoku, 8-inch Slice, 8-inch Bread, 5-inch Santoku, 5-inch Utility, 8-inch Sides
- Materials:High carbon steel blade with pakkawood handle
- Elegant dark wood handle.
- ergonomic shape
- Does not include blocks or blade guards.
- imitation of japanese knives
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Buyers looking for a great set of knives can hardly go wrong with theShun japanese faca set, which includes a knife to cover most kitchen tasks, as well as a stylish block of wood, kitchen shears and a sharpening steel.
Those on a tighter budget, but who would also like to try a fancy knife set, might want to consider the five-piece set.Kepeak Japanese knife set, which has a more affordable price. Please note that this set does not include a block or blade guards, which must be purchased separately.
How We Picked the Best Japanese Knife Sets
In putting together our top picks for the best Japanese knife sets, we look at a variety of products on the market and do our research to make sure our recommendations are from reputable brands.
We've also made sure to provide buyers with premium knife options, at a premium price point, while also offering cheaper options for those just starting out in the kitchen. Keep in mind that our top picks on the lower end of the budget are not genuine Damascus steel knives from Japan, but more affordable Western-style Japanese knife alternatives that provide a similar Japanese knife style and aesthetic.
That being said, all the other options on our list are from the most reputable Japanese knife craftsmen, including the renowned Shun brand. While most of the knife sets we recommend include accessories like kitchen shears, sharpening steels, and blocks of wood or blade covers, some options are just the knives. For these options, users can choose to purchase their preferred storage method.
A good set of knives is a worthwhile investment in the kitchen. A well-crafted set of knives can make all the difference when chopping, slicing, and dicing food. Before choosing a Japanese knife set, consider the following frequently asked questions and answers below.
Q. What is a Japanese style knife?
Japanese-style knives are food preparation knives inspired by traditional Japanese knife and knife-making techniques.
Q. Do Japanese knives have single or double bevel blades?
It depends on the knife. Traditional Japanese knives have single-bevel blades, while modern Japanese knives can have single-bevel or double-bevel blades.
Q. Can I put Japanese knives in the dishwasher?
No, Japanese knives are best washed by hand to prevent damage.
Q. How often do I need to sharpen Japanese knives?
Since it depends on the frequency of use, it is better to sharpen Japanese knives when they start to become dull; it is easier to make a relatively sharp knife exceptionally sharp again than it is to sharpen a dull knife. If you're having trouble cutting a delicate fruit like a tomato, it's a sign that your knife is dulling and needs sharpening.sharp.
Q. How long do the knife sets last?
A well-maintained, high-quality knife set has the potential to last many decades and create recipes to last a lifetime.
Q. How do I sharpen Japanese knives?
A whetstone is the recommended method of sharpening Japanese knives. It is typically a stone with two different grit sizes on each side that users submerge in water and slide the knife back and forth to sharpen the edges.
Q. Does a sharp steel sharpen Japanese knives?
A sharp steel is not used to sharpen knives. Used to retain the sharp edge of a knife between sharpenings.