Food & Drink

What is the best Japanese chef knife?

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 1st, 2016 10:55 pm
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[OP]
Member
Apr 24, 2013
214 posts
255 upvotes
Toronto

What is the best Japanese chef knife?

Hi all,

I'm heading to Tokyo for vacation soon and plan on buying a very nice Japanese knife. I've researched a few different brands and am wondering which one is the best bang for the buck?

So far I am looking at:

Shun classic/premier 8"
Misono UX10 8.2",
Masamoto VG (western stainless steel)
Masamoto KS (Japanese carbon)
Miyabi sg2

I do prefer the yo "D" shapes handles over the western style. Also since I don't plan on going back to Tokyo for a while, I want this knife to last me a very long time with minimal maintenance.

Please let me know your thoughts and if I should consider any other brand. Thank you.
30 replies
Member
User avatar
Apr 17, 2010
202 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
I have two Shun knives, and I think they are fantastic. (Haven't tried any of the others listed.)
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Jan 16, 2015
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Cochrane, AB
Depends on what you are trying to cut? A whole tuna?
[OP]
Member
Apr 24, 2013
214 posts
255 upvotes
Toronto
JoeStale wrote:
Jan 19th, 2016 12:27 am
Depends on what you are trying to cut? A whole tuna?
daily use - meat (no bones), veggies (lots of chopping), fruits, etc.
I am looking primarily at Chef 8" knives and may consider a smaller Sundoku Knife for the fiancee
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pleebent wrote:
Jan 19th, 2016 7:16 am
daily use - meat (no bones), veggies (lots of chopping), fruits, etc.
I am looking primarily at Chef 8" knives and may consider a smaller Sundoku Knife for the fiancee
I have a set of Shun classics I've been using for 12 years, love them. I just realized how long I've had them for.

My coworker got this, it's a pretty good deal for what you get. http://www.williamsfoodequipment.com/sh ... -tdms2200k

Here's the classic knife http://www.williamsfoodequipment.com/sh ... ife-dm0706
[OP]
Member
Apr 24, 2013
214 posts
255 upvotes
Toronto
Albin wrote:
Jan 19th, 2016 1:30 pm
I have a set of Shun classics I've been using for 12 years, love them. I just realized how long I've had them for.

My coworker got this, it's a pretty good deal for what you get. http://www.williamsfoodequipment.com/sh ... -tdms2200k

Here's the classic knife http://www.williamsfoodequipment.com/sh ... ife-dm0706
Wow what a beautiful knife :)
Member
Jan 22, 2013
215 posts
50 upvotes
Toronto
Shigefusa knives are legendary. Carbon steel as hard as a diamond made by a craftsman of 50+ years. Just sold a nakiri, and cut myself horribly while packaging it up. Hard to find.

A pure carbon steel blade is not a toy and needs care to keep it in shape. You can get it supremely sharp but it will oxidize easily. Consider getting wetstones if you go down this path. It's easier to employ a blade which is alloyed to prevent staining but maintains good performance.

Kiritsukis are aesthetically gorgeous and sort of resemble swords.

http://houseofknives.ca/shun-blue-kiritsuke-8-vg0014/

But for the layperson I'd just get a 6 inch chef's knife or santoku preferably made of carbon steel, but failing that, a global or shun is a reasonable piece. The steel hiromoto knives with an exposed carbon edge are a great combo of functional performance and ease of use.

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Hiromoto.html

I have an 8 inch Hiro chef's knife which is comparatively inexpensive but which has the exposed carbon steel. Excellent performer and easy to take care of. My main go-to blade. But you may want a prettier item such as the damascus blades offered by Shun et. al. Note that Shun is not a "real" japanese blade. If you get into it you will discover the truly coveted blades. The misono you mentioned is good.

Check out:

http://www.epicedge.com
Deal Addict
Feb 13, 2007
1169 posts
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I was in Japan last year and picked up a Shigeharu knife, made (and engraved with my name) by the man himself. 8" santoku. A western handle was available, but I figured why would I get that as this is partly a souvenir?

However, his store is in Kyoto, not Tokyo, so if you're only in the one city, I believe you're out of luck.

I wouldn't bother with Shun. Not that I have any issue with them (I have a set I use regularly), but they're easily available in Canada, and mass-produced, not necessarily representative of the history of knife-making in Japan.

Your profile says in your Toronto. Swing by Knife if you can (on Dundas W, across from Trinity Bellwoods park), and take a look at their selection, ask some questions, hold a few in your hands and see what you like.
[OP]
Member
Apr 24, 2013
214 posts
255 upvotes
Toronto
Astin wrote:
Jan 21st, 2016 3:21 am
I was in Japan last year and picked up a Shigeharu knife, made (and engraved with my name) by the man himself. 8" santoku. A western handle was available, but I figured why would I get that as this is partly a souvenir?

However, his store is in Kyoto, not Tokyo, so if you're only in the one city, I believe you're out of luck.

I wouldn't bother with Shun. Not that I have any issue with them (I have a set I use regularly), but they're easily available in Canada, and mass-produced, not necessarily representative of the history of knife-making in Japan.

Your profile says in your Toronto. Swing by Knife if you can (on Dundas W, across from Trinity Bellwoods park), and take a look at their selection, ask some questions, hold a few in your hands and see what you like.
Awesome, I am fairly close to trinity bell woods and had no idea this store existed!!
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Mar 7, 2006
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Milton
nanobu wrote:
Jan 19th, 2016 11:03 pm
Shigefusa knives are legendary. Carbon steel as hard as a diamond made by a craftsman of 50+ years. Just sold a nakiri, and cut myself horribly while packaging it up. Hard to find.

A pure carbon steel blade is not a toy and needs care to keep it in shape. You can get it supremely sharp but it will oxidize easily. Consider getting wetstones if you go down this path. It's easier to employ a blade which is alloyed to prevent staining but maintains good performance.

Kiritsukis are aesthetically gorgeous and sort of resemble swords.

http://houseofknives.ca/shun-blue-kiritsuke-8-vg0014/

But for the layperson I'd just get a 6 inch chef's knife or santoku preferably made of carbon steel, but failing that, a global or shun is a reasonable piece. The steel hiromoto knives with an exposed carbon edge are a great combo of functional performance and ease of use.

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Hiromoto.html

I have an 8 inch Hiro chef's knife which is comparatively inexpensive but which has the exposed carbon steel. Excellent performer and easy to take care of. My main go-to blade. But you may want a prettier item such as the damascus blades offered by Shun et. al. Note that Shun is not a "real" japanese blade. If you get into it you will discover the truly coveted blades. The misono you mentioned is good.

Check out:

http://www.epicedge.com
Shun is usually overpriced for what you are getting, but they are good knives.

Hiromoto is very good. I got a buddy one of these. The balance is perfect. His is a VG10 so it does not hold its edge well. Note that Nagao has retired, so consider all of his knives now as limited edition.

First decide if you are going for carbon steel or stainless steel. The former needs a lot of care and work for a better edge.

Member
Jan 22, 2013
215 posts
50 upvotes
Toronto
That's too bad about the hiromoto. I thought I did notice a big price jump on japanesechefsknives.com

The SS blades with exposed carbon edge are excellent, though my stupid roommate used it to pry apart frozen steaks and broke the tip. Anyone know if the guy at Knife will reshape a blade?
Deal Addict
Feb 13, 2007
1169 posts
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My shigeharu is a carbon core with stainless on either side (think a carbon steel sandwich). Gives it good weight (at least for me), protects the blade, and just leaves the carbon edge exposed. The trick is to have a towel handy when using carbon steel - whenever you're going to put it down, wipe it off. Then when you're done, wash it and dry it immediately.
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Feb 13, 2007
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nanobu wrote:
Jan 21st, 2016 5:25 pm
Anyone know if the guy at Knife will reshape a blade?
He should, depending on severity. I think one of my Shuns lost a tip a couple years ago and he handled it.
Member
Jan 22, 2013
215 posts
50 upvotes
Toronto
Astin wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2016 1:40 am
He should, depending on severity. I think one of my Shuns lost a tip a couple years ago and he handled it.
What did he charge?
Sr. Member
Jan 10, 2009
765 posts
301 upvotes
Toronto
Go to Kappabashi in Tokyo and go around the knife stores there. Find a knife that speaks to you and feels good in your hands. It's easy for everyone to say "this is the best Japanese knife" or that one is, but it's all individual preference. Feel them, look at them, you'll find one that calls to you and get that one.

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