Admit it, you’ve been down the internet rabbit hole and watched sushi or sashimi making videos before. There is something so satisfying about how sushi chefs cut up their ingredients, right? You might have even gone the extra mile and dined at an “omakase” style restaurant where they cut up and serve your food right in front of you. What do these sushi chefs have in common that lets them create amazing food? Their custom Japanese kitchen knives of course!
Handmade Japanese Knives vs. Western Knives
Cooks worth their weight in food are well aware that custom chef knives are just as important as fresh ingredients. If you have ever watched a cooking series on television before, you probably know that the cooks are given their knife kits at the beginning of the show. All these buzz around knives shows how important they are in cooking great food.
However, does the knifemaker make a difference? Chefs will tell you that it definitely does. Like almost everything the Japanese do, knife making is an art that evolved from tradition and centuries of practice. Today, Japanese knife makers still run individual shops while staying in a collective space with other knife makers.
Way back then, these collectives created knives distinct from their Western counterparts. Western knives have double-sided bevels which makes the knife ambidextrous—meaning it can be used on either hand—while Japanese knives traditionally have chiseled bevels that make the knife either right or left handed. This is why professional chefs especially choose custom made kitchen knives.
However, many Japanese knife makers today are forging more inclusive blades. They make efforts to introduce the traditional craftsmanship to other people and create knives for everyone, no matter which hand they use.
Another point of comparison between the two knife making practices is the steel used. In Western knives, the steels used are softer which makes the knife more flexible and less likely to break a point. Japanese knives are the opposite because they are made from harder steel that is more prone to breakage but keeps an edge for longer.
If you’re passionate about cooking, consider buying a Japanese knife—they’re more than worth it. Don’t know which to pick? Here are our recommended knives that you should add to your kitchen essentials:
Global Chef Knife
Your modern kitchen needs a modern knife. The Global Chef Knife is perfect if you are looking for remarkable Japanese chef knives for sale. From its carbon edge to its stainless steel handle, this knife is placing Japanese knife making on the global stage.
Unlike the traditional Japanese custom made chef knives with a chiseled edge, the Global Knife has a straightedge bevel. This makes it more dynamic and allows the use of both right and left hands.
Another notable feature of the Global Chef Knife that separates it from other knives in the market is the stainless steel handle; the designers created a knife that has continuity from the blade to the handle. The knife, having no joints, resonates heavily with the minimalist style.
The handle is not only for show, though. Along the entirety of it are indented circles that give the cook a better grip. And because Global Knife doesn’t have wood handles that usually keep the knife balanced, sand—in ratio with the weight of the blade—is put into the hollow handle. When the cook uses the knife, it’ll always have the right weight because the sand can move and adjust to how the blade is positioned.
All of these characteristics just show how great the Global Chef Knife is. If you’re looking for a modern-looking and good quality knife for your minimalist kitchen, the Global Chef Knife might be the one for you.
Sakai Takayuki Gyutou Knife
When you think of the word “Japanese”, most likely a samurai or a ninja will cross your mind. Well, ninjas aren’t only famous for their hiding skills, they are also famous for their blades. Blacksmiths in Sakai have been making their swords for a thousand years. In fact, when you ask where to find blades in Japan, they’ll probably point you to the Sakai District.
Sakai Takayuki is a household name in Japanese knives. Among their signature pieces are the Gyutou knives. These beautiful knives are forged by hand from 45 layers of Damascus steel encased in a magnolia handle. If you have any doubts about how sharp it is, just remember that the makers of this knife made swords a long time ago. Those videos of swords halving bamboo in one swing? Well, those sword makers also create these knives.
There is not much to say about the Sakai Takayuki knives because it leaves chefs speechless. The blade is sharp and holds an edge for a long time, the knife is beautiful, and it’s features are equally as thoughtful, like a magnolia handle that is waterproof to prevent rust. Hands down, one of the best knives you’ll ever see in your life.
Shun Classic Chef’s Knife
Another Japanese knife that has movement as smooth as the ocean is the Shun Classic Chef Knife. This beauty is made with more than 60 layers of Damascus steel that is hammered by hand to create the waves on the blade surface.
The blade has more of a clip point curved upward at the tip to make it easy for mincing and slicing ingredients quickly. Shun is the Japanese word for the exact moment ingredients taste the best. The brand pays homage to this with their original knife to cut food at their “shun” precisely.
Pakkawood infused with resin is the material used for the handle. It gives the handle protection from water that could invite rust from the root of the knife. The knife is lighter because of the wood handle as well, compared to western knives. Overall, the Shun Classic Chef Knife is the knife to have when you are just beginning to practice your cutting skills.
DALSTRONG Phantom Series Chef Knife
The last knife on our list is the Dalstrong Phantom Series Knife. This blade has a no-nonsense look for strong cooks. If you are searching for a knife that can keep up with you, this is probably it.
This knife has a drop point sharp-angled design that clearly means business. The blade is made out of carbon steel tempered in ice to ensure quality and a sharp edge. It is then cradled in a Pakkawood handle to finish its polished look.
It may be last on our list, but it’s by no means the least special. That’s why it should make your list of knives too.
Final Thoughts on Custom Japanese Kitchen Knives
These are only a few noteworthy knives to introduce you to the Japanese knife making culture. There are so many more Japanese custom kitchen knives out there waiting to be discovered, but these four are a great way to learn about the custom cooking knives of Japan.
Japanese knife making is an art and a part of the country’s culture. It is interesting to study how quality Japanese knives are made. If you are a passionate home cook or a budding chef, or you just really love cooking, a custom chef’s knife is something you should check out.