Getting Your First Japanese Kitchen Knife Set? Read This First

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If you’ve been on the hunt for a new kitchen knife set, there’s a chance you’ve come across Japanese kitchen knives. These blades are highly favored among chefs across the globe, known for their beautiful design, ease of use, and the high quality of Japanese steel.

A reliable kitchen knife set is essential for just about any kitchen task. Read on to learn all about what makes these knives great, and some of the best Japanese knife sets you can buy today.

Is it Worth Buying a Japanese Knife?

Yes, according to Joanna Rosenberg of Zwilling J.A. Henckels Japanese have always valued sharpness over durability. German knives are built to last, unlike Japanese blades, which are delicate and razor-sharp. German (and other Western-style) knives are typically heavier and made of ‘tougher’ but ‘softer’ steel.

Japanese Knife Set Reviews

Those looking to invest in the best Japanese knife set will find themselves happy with any of the choices on our list:

1. Best Overall Japanese Knife Set: DFITO Kitchen Chef Knife Set

dfito kitchen chef knife set

Buy: DFITO Kitchen Chef Knife Set on Amazon

Those looking to invest in a knife set that covers all the bases will love this one from DFITO. This knife set comes with 10 Japanese kitchen knives, including a Chef knife, bread knife, cleaver knife, paring knife, boning knife, and different variations of the classic Santoku knife.

We love that unlike other knife sets on the market, this collection is truly multipurpose. There is a wide range of ingredients and cooking styles that these knives work well for. Thanks to this high level of versatility, this set is a great starter set for new cooks, or those looking to invest in their first set of knives.

These knives are all fitted with an ultra-sharp edge (as shown in this handy video here), made with high carbon stainless steel that is corrosion and rust-resistant. With proper care, a set like this can last a lifetime, making it a worthwhile purchase.

Video Credit: YouTube

2. Best Luxury Japanese Knife Set: JunYuJiangChen Kitchen Damascus Knife Set

junyujiangchen kitchen damascus knife set

Buy: JunYuJiangChen Kitchen Damascus Knife Set on Amazon

For the chef looking to spend a little money, we can’t recommend this Japanese knife set enough! This knife set includes a chef’s knife, a nakiri knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, a santoku knife, a utility knife, and a boning knife. Each knife is made of Damascus steel, and the set comes with a beautiful walnut knife block for easy storage.

This knife set is definitely a splurge, but one that is well worth it! Those who want something truly beautiful will find this set a standout. These knives are stunning, with carefully forged steel blades set in a gorgeous wooden handle adorned with flower rivets. We also love the design of the wooden block holder, which can hold this set, and any additional knives you may already own.

Those who have the money to spend will find a lot to enjoy about these luxurious knives! They are gorgeous without compromising quality, and the kind of set you can keep for years to come.

3. Best Japanese Knife Set for New Cooks: TUO Damascus Kitchen Knife Set

tuo damascus kitchen knife set

Buy: TUO Damascus Kitchen Knife Set on Amazon

If you’re a new cook and just getting into high-quality knives, we recommend this set from TUO. This knife set only comes with three knives (a chef knife, nakiri knife, and paring knife), which means they aren’t the best for those looking to invest in a full set.

However, the new cook who is used to using a Western knife or German knife and wants to see how a Japanese blade might differ will love this set. These three knives can cover a wide range of cooking tasks, making them a good choice for those who don’t want to buy a larger set.

The blades on these knives are made of high-quality Damascus steel, set into a handy ergonomic handle. Users note that TUO knives are high quality, and can handle cutting and slicing with ease. (Watch a TUO knife review here to see for yourself!) Best of all, this set comes in a gorgeous gift box, making this a great purchase if you want to give a gift to a cook in your life.

Video Credit: YouTube

4. Best Japanese Knife Set for Chefs: SS-1 Vetus Japanese Knife Set

ss 1 vetus japanese knife set

Buy: SS-1 Vetus Japanese Knife Set on Amazon

This Japanese chef knife set is perfect for a professional chef who needs to take their knives on the go! This set comes with 5 knives made of high quality stainless steel, set into a comfortable wood handle. All these knives can be stored in a convenient leather roll bag for easy transport to and from your kitchen.

Why do we like this knife set better than other related products? Unlike other sets, these knives were crafted with chefs in mind. The 5 different knives here (gyuto knife, bunka knife, nakiri knife, yanagiba knife, utility knife) can handle any task you got. Whether you’re slicing and cutting vegetables for prep, or making more intricate cuts on delicate meats like fish, there is a knife in this set to get the job done.

Many who buy this set end up pushing their previous western knife set aside in favor of these authentic, high quality Japanese blades. (Seriously- click here if you want to watch one of these knives in action.) If you’re a professional chef, this is definitely a set worth looking into.

Video Credit: YouTube

What to look for in a Japanese knife – Japanese Knife Set Buyers Guide

Before you purchase a Japanese knife set, there are a few thing you should keep in mind:

Types of Knives

The first thing you’ll want to review before buying any kind of Japanese knife are the kinds of Japanese knives out there. Some types of Japanese knives include:

Gyuto Knife: A gyuto knife is the Japanese equivalent to a Western chef knife. This is a great do-it-all kind of knife, able to handle cutting most meats and vegetables. It typically has a slightly curved blade, so you can cut using a rocking or chopping motion.

Santoku Knife: A santoku knife is a smaller version of the gyuto. It is also a great multi purpose knife, but its smaller size makes it more adept in some areas. Use a santoku for any ingredients cut with slicing, dicing, or chopping.

Nakiri Knife: A nakiri knife is mainly used for cutting vegetables, made easy with its distinct blade shape. A nakiri knife will be square in shape, with a blade that is not curved. The straight blade makes quick work of cutting and slicing fruits and vegetables.

Petty Knife: A petty knife is a smaller blade, only slightly larger than a western paring knife. These knives are used for more delicate work, like trimming, slicing, peeling, or making any decorative cuts on food.

Deba Knife: The deba knife is used best when fileting fish, or cutting other meats like beef and poultry. It has a distinct look, with the top of the blade in a curve, but a flat straight blade on the bottom.

Yanagiba Knife: A yanagiba knife is also a fileting knife, but is reserved for fish and fish alone. With a long, thin blade it’s suited to skinning fish, and making the delicate cuts needed for dishes like sushi and sashimi.

Knife Material

The next consideration to keep in mind is the material your knife is made of. When shopping for a high quality set you will likely encounter two types of knife materials: a stainless steel knife, and a carbon steel knife.

The biggest appeal of a stainless steel blade is that they can hold a sharp edge much longer than other materials. Stainless steel also has a slight flexibility to it when compared to carbon steel, which means they aren’t as likely to break and chip.

In comparison, carbon steel blades have better hardness and strength than stainless steel. However, they are much more prone to corrosion and damage, and a lack of flexibility means they can chip or break when used wrong.

At the end of the day, both materials are a good choice, and with proper care you can avoid potential future issues.

Knife Handle

You also need to take the knife handle material into consideration. The feel and weight of the handle in your hand will make using them comfortably, and keep you safe in the kitchen. Most handles will either be wood, plastic, or stainless steel.

Wood can be attractive, but its porous nature means it can hang onto bacteria. Water can also more easily damage it.

Plastic is not as delicate as wood, but it can become brittle and crack over time. Some users also find plastic too light.

Stainless steel is durable and nice in weight, but can definitely be slippery when wet. It’s best to find steel handles fitted with silicone or plastic, for safer handling.

In Conclusion

We hope our handy guide helps you select your dream Japanese knife set! Any of the contenders on our list will make great additions to any kitchen.

John Siracusa

Cooking, for me, has always been an "art" infused with traditions. My career was inspired by Hell's Kitchen, the West Side of Manhattan, which boasts one of N.Y. City's best independent restaurant communities, along with Gordon Ramsay's no-nonsense approach towards always being your best.

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