Japanese cooking knives?

everywhere I go I'm always hearing that the best chef's knives are Japanese. what makes them of superior quality? what are some of the best known brands and which knives (Japanese of otherwise) would you recommend? If anyone could point me towards a reputable source of information on the subject I would greatly appreciate it, thank you.

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  • Visor
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Japanese kitchen knives are superior to western kitchen knives in terms of cutting performance, edge holding and the steel used in them. Also, Japanese knives tend to be thinner and lighter compared to western counterparts, and yes, contrary to the popular belief, heavy knife doesn't cut for you, and doesn't gain you anything but repeated stress trauma ;)

    1) Japanese kitchen knives are harder on Rockwell Scale, 54-58HRC for western knives and 58-60HRC for lower end Japanese knives, 62-67HRC for High end.

    2) Higher hardness means two things, the edge stays sharper for longer time, and more importantly you can grind thinner edge, thus achieve higher cutting performance. To give you an idea, typical western kitchen knife has an edge around 45-50 deg. Average edge on Japanese kitchen knife is 30 or lower. The difference in cutting performance is dramatic.

    The best kitchen knives I have are ground to 8-12 deg. edges and I use them for weeks without any sharpening, just strop them on leather and that's it.

    At the same time, for an average western knife user/abuser that hardness is kind of disadvantage, because it makes the edge more brittle. Brittleness doesn't show up on pure cutting chores, but if you try to chop bones with your chef's knife or split open lobsters with is, then western knives will take that abuse better than their Japanese counterparts.

    However, doing those things with chef's knife is knife abuse, not knife use.

    So, to summarize, Japanese knives cut a lot better than typical western kitchen knives, plus they hold sharper edge for longer times.

    If you use proper knives for appropriate cutting/chopping tasks then Japanese cutlery is clearly superior.

    I've handled enough of both, western and Japanese kitchen knives to be convinced.

    For testing I've sharpened western kitchen knives to 30 deg. edges or less, and they dull much faster compared to Japanese counterparts hardened at 62-67HRC.

    Bunch of kitchen knives reviews here - http://www.zknives.com/knives/kitchen/ktknv/index....

    Western vs. Japanese kitchen knife schools here - http://www.zknives.com/knives/kitchen/misc/article...

    As for the brands, there are some reviewed here - http://www.zknives.com/knives/kitchen/misc/article...

    But, overall, I'd recommend not to focus on Shuns only, Akifusa, Yoshikane, Kumagoro, Misuno, they all offer better performance than Shuns, at comparable prices.

    Aritsugu, Masamoto, Watanabe are much better knives and prices aren't much higher than Shuns, if not the same on many occasions.

    Also, Santoku IS NOT a chef's knife. Chef's knife in Japanese cutlery is Gyuto, Santoku is a different knife.

    Gyuto means cow sword in Japanese, Santoku(aka Santuko) is "knife of three virtues".

    Gyuto is Japanised chef's knife, while Santoku is more typical Japanese knife.

    The problem with Santokus is that they never come longer than 180mm.

    Gyutos are anywhere from 180mm to 360mm. Whatever suites your preferences.

    Japanese kitchen cutlery terminology glossary here - http://www.zknives.com/knives/kitchen/misc/jpnktkn...

  • miah
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Not certain what you take into account "low priced", and I do not purchase knives in units, however this is my alternatives of character knives in a number of cost levels. $20 - $50: Kai Pure Komachi $30 - $one hundred: Fujiwara FKM sequence $one hundred - $three hundred: Hattori HD sequence I do not take into account any knife above $one hundred fifty "low priced", however Hattori knives are powerful. I desire I might have enough money extra of his stuff.

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