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Types of Japanese Knives

Myriad of different types of kitchen knives can often be overwhelming. Let’s break down the main differences between each of the main types.

Whether you’re a homemade cook, an amateur chef or a pro, we all need a good set of knives in the kitchen.

For many chefs it’s what defines them, and Japanese kitchen knives are possibly as good as they do. Working with the right blade will ensure superior accuracy and maintain the integrity of the ingredients you are working with.

Japanese kitchen knives are increasingly popular with Western chefs, and it’s not surprising given their rich history and reputation for quality, sharpness and precision craftsmanship in general.

At Chefs Edge we specialize in high-performance Japanese kitchen knives made by some of Japan’s most talented blacksmiths. We only pursue kitchen knives of the highest quality and the best craftsmanship, and provide them to them at the best possible price, while striving to offer the best possible customer service.

If you’re considering Japanese knives for your kitchen, it’s important to first understand the different types, to help you decide what’s right for you. The types of kitchen knives you need will ultimately depend on your level and style of cooking, and the techniques you’ll require from your knife.

Gyuto

If you’ve never had a Japanese kitchen knife before, the Gyuto, which means “Meat Knife” is the most versatile option to start your collection and obsession! One of the most commonly used knives in the kitchen, the Gyuto can cover most kitchen tasks.

It is similar to the classic knife of a Western style chef, except that it is usually lighter and thinner. The Gytuo is typically between 18cm-27cm in length, depending on the task required. It has a long heel curve and is ideal for rocking chair cuts and precision work such as chopping, fine vegetable preparation and cutting meat.

Santoku

If you’re looking for another good all-rounder, a Santoku knife is your next best option after the Gyuto. This smaller multipurpose knife has a flatter leaf profile than the Gyuto, and is ideal for chopping and chopping vegetables, fish and meat.

The wider blade also helps to get ingredients off the board with ease. Santoku can vary from 13 cm to 18 cm in length, and has a slightly flatter edge than gyuto.

Bunka

A versatile blend of Santoku, Gyuto and Nakiri, the Bunka is smaller and thinner than Gyuto and Santoku, with a much taller blade, and a ‘K-tip’ that allows for more specialized cutting tasks.

This general purpose knife is also ideal for cutting and cutting vegetables by push, and can handle delicate jobs like trimming and soaking with ease. (Also, they look absolutely fantastic, our favorite leaf shape with a lot!)

Should

For Western Chef’s, the Deba is the ultimate butcher’s knife next to the reliable meat cutter. Although the Deba is traditionally known for its uses in fish filleting, its structure deserves its use to cut through meat and poultry joints.

You’ll notice that an authentic Japanese Deba will have a single bezel edge, while the western version has a double bevel edge, making it also ideal in meat preparation.

The Deba has a thick spine, and is usually heavier than its Gyuto/Santoku counterparts. This extra weight helps to make the light work of cutting tasks heavier.

Nakiri

As the meaning of it suggests, the Nakiri knife is a vegetable knife. Made with a straight double-edged, tipless blade, it is perfect for cutting and chopping.

Nakiri Knife

You’ll find that this knife is everyone’s “ir” in most Japanese households. The flatter blade profile allows more of the cutting edge to be in contact with the plate.

Small

The Japanese version of a French petit knife, the Petty knife is the paring knife and utilitarian par excellence.

It is agile and perfect for small hand tasks for which the Gyuto or Santoku is too large, such as peeling and cutting small fruits, vegetables and herbs. The small length of the blade makes the sharpness a breeze compared to other types of knives.

Yanagiba

The original sushi knife! Traditionally used to cut sashimi, but these days it can also be used to cut meat. It is a long, thin blade up to 37 cm long, and is a single bezel, chisel earth edge. This ensures that meat falls aside and repeated cuts can be made to large pieces of meat in quick succession with excellent repeat ability.

Yanagiba Chef Knife

Other Types of Japanese Kitchen Knives

Chukabocho – the Japanese version of a cutter, is large and rectangular in shape and ideal for the preparation of large vegetables such as cabbage. The thin blade also means it can handle delicate tasks like trimming and chopping herbs. This cutter is not designed to be used as a meat cutter.

Pankiri – a serrated bread knife, is only used to cut bread and baked goods.

Usuba – a vegetable knife with a Kataba leaf. This knife is a little harder to use than a Nakiri, but its shape and sharpness ensure a clean and crisp cut every time.

Whether cutting or carving, you’ll find the perfect workhorse in the kitchen with a Japanese kitchen knife. If you need help deciding which knife will best suit your needs, contact the Chefs Edge team. Once you have a Japanese kitchen knife in your hands, you’ll never look back!

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