Japanese kitchen knives have become very popular among both professional and amateur chefs around the world. Their extremely sharp, thin and light blades make food preparation easier and more enjoyable. How to choose the best Japanese kitchen knife? Which knife is best for you depends on many different factors: your skill level, the style (traditional - single blade or double blade), what you will be cutting with it, and how much money you are willing to spend, as well as other preferences. You can choose between different types that are designed to prepare a specific type of food (e.g. fish, vegetables) or you can choose to buy Japanese knives that are designed to prepare several types of food. In this buying guide you will find the main factors to consider before buying Japanese kitchen knives.

Japanese knives vary in steel and, consequently, in price. Some knives are made of high carbon steel (i.e. blue steel or white steel), are harder, and can therefore retain their sharp edge for longer. These knives require proper maintenance and regular sharpening. For this reason, high carbon steel knives are recommended only for professionals and usually have a higher price due to the material.

Japanese knives made from stainless steel alloy are more durable, easier to maintain and rust-resistant. The downside is that these knives keep their edge for less time - like knives made of high carbon steel - and are therefore not the best knives for professional use. They are primarily intended for everyday domestic use. This will give your kitchen a high-quality knife that you will enjoy preparing food with.

Style of the blade

Japanese knives are either double-bladed (like the Western style knives we all have at home) or single-bladed (the traditional Japanese style). Single-bladed knives (blade on one side only) are generally aimed at professional chefs, as they can be used to make very precise cuts, or have very specific uses (e.g. a sushi knife). The feel of using a single-bladed knife is very different, but it takes a lot of practice to get used to it. If you are not a professional chef, we recommend you start with a double-bladed knife as it is easier to use.

Knife type

For each style of blade (i.e. Western/European traditional) there are many types of knife. Many of these knife types have a dedicated use (vegetables only, fish, carving, etc.), but there are two Japanese knives that are intended for general use - the Gyuto (Japanese chef's knife) and the Santoku. Both knives have Western-style blades (double-edged) and are known as multi-purpose knives, as they can be used for vegetables, meat or fish.

For beginners who have never used a Japanese knife before, we recommend starting with a Gyuto or Santoku knife and then progressing to discover Japanese quality knives. Gyuto knives usually have longer blades (20 to 25cm) than Santoku (15 to 18cm). If you generally work in smaller spaces, then it is a good idea to consider a Santoku knife.

Handle type

The last thing to consider is the type of handle. Japanese knives can be fitted with a handle like European knives (Western style) or a traditional Japanese handle. The western handle is heavier, with a molded grip, the user feels more secure, and at the same time they are better suited for slicing raw ingredients. Traditional Japanese handles are cylindrical, lighter and always made of wood. Traditional Japanese-style handles may seem awkward and different to those who have never used them, but they provide a more delicate touch and control once you get used to the feel. In the end, the type of handle you choose depends on your personal preference.

After buying and using the first knife that impresses you, you will be eager to discover other Japanese knives suitable for vegetables, fish, meat, steaks and sushi. Meaning that food is significantly less damaged and retains most of its juiciness when cut with Japanese knives, all of which will enrich the preparation and flavor of the food itself.  Cutting meat or fish is easier, the cuts are clean and smooth, and you are guaranteed to enjoy your food preparation.

Spice up your cooking adventures with a Japanese knife!