8 Best Japanese Knife Sets Reviewed: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Are you in search of the best Japanese knife set?
After reviewing several options, I have found the best value set that includes 5 knives and a wooden storage block.
In addition, I will provide insight on key factors to consider when purchasing a Japanese knife set to ensure an informed decision.
Let’s have a quick overview of the top choices. I’ll go deeper into each of these after that:
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What to Consider When Buying a Japanese Knife Set
- 2 Top 8 Best Japanese Knife Sets Reviewed
- 3 Conclusion
What to Consider When Buying a Japanese Knife Set
Blade Material and Design
The blade is the most crucial part of any knife, and when it comes to Japanese knives, the material and design of the blade are essential factors to consider. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Japanese knives are usually made of high-carbon steel, which is harder and can hold a sharper edge longer than stainless steel.
- However, high-carbon steel is more susceptible to rust and staining, so it requires more maintenance and care.
- Stainless steel is a good option for those who want a knife that is easier to maintain, but it may not hold an edge as well as high-carbon steel.
- Blades with a higher carbon content contain more carbon, which helps improve the hardness of the blade.
- Adding chrome to the steel can help prevent rust and staining.
- Look for blades that are solid and have a full tang, which means the blade extends into the handle for added stability and balance.
- The shape of the blade is also important. Japanese knives usually have a thinner, sharper blade that is great for slicing and chopping vegetables and other foods.
Handle Material and Comfort
The handle of a knife is just as important as the blade. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a handle:
- Japanese knives usually have a wooden handle, often made of denser woods like pakkawood or spruce.
- Wooden handles are comfortable to hold and provide a nice grip, but they require more maintenance and care to protect them from moisture and cracking.
- Some knives have handles made of other materials like plastic or metal, which can be easier to maintain but may not feel as nice in your hand.
- The handle should feel comfortable in your hand and provide a good grip, even when wet.
- Look for a handle with a flat or slightly curved shape that allows for a comfortable grip and easy control.
- Some handles may have tiny indentations or carved designs that add to the aesthetic appeal of the knife, but these are not necessary for the knife’s performance.
Size and Variety
When it comes to Japanese knife sets, there is a wide variety of sizes and types of knives to choose from. Here are some things to consider:
- Think about what types of foods you will be cutting and what tasks you need your knives to perform. Do you need a larger knife for chopping vegetables, or a smaller knife for more precise cuts?
- Consider the size of your hands and what feels comfortable for you to hold and use.
- Look for sets that offer a variety of knives, including a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife for bread and other foods.
- Keep in mind that a larger set with more knives may not necessarily be better if you don’t need or use all of the knives.
Storage and Maintenance
Proper storage and maintenance are crucial for keeping your Japanese knife set in good condition. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Store your knives in a solid, protective knife block or on a magnetic strip to prevent damage to the blades and to keep them out of reach of children.
- Avoid storing your knives in a drawer, as this can damage the blades and dull the edges.
- Regularly sharpen and hone your knives to keep them sharp and in good condition.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance, and always hand wash your knives and dry them thoroughly before storing them.
- Consider purchasing from a reputable retailer that offers a warranty or guarantee on their products.
Ultimately, the best Japanese knife set for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Consider the factors above, and let your own experiences and tastes guide you in making the right choice.
What Japanese knives do I need in a set?
The knives you need in a Japanese knife set can vary depending on your cooking preferences and the type of cuisine you prepare. However, here are some essential Japanese knives that are commonly found in a set:
- Gyuto (Chef’s Knife): This is the most versatile and essential knife in Japanese cuisine. It has a sharp, thin blade suitable for a wide range of tasks, including slicing, dicing, and chopping.
- Santoku: This knife is similar to a gyuto but has a shorter and wider blade. It excels at slicing, dicing, and mincing vegetables and is a popular all-purpose knife in Japanese kitchens.
- Nakiri: This knife is specifically designed for cutting vegetables. It has a straight-edge blade and a thin, rectangular shape, making it efficient for precise vegetable preparation.
- Petty (Utility Knife): This small knife is handy for delicate tasks that require precision, such as peeling fruits, trimming small vegetables, or intricate knife work.
- Deba: A deba knife is a traditional Japanese knife used primarily for butchering and filleting fish. It has a thick, heavy blade suitable for handling tough fish bones and cutting through fish with precision.
- Sujihiki (Slicing Knife): This long, narrow knife is designed for slicing cooked meats, roasts, and fish. Its thin, sharp blade ensures clean and precise slices.
- Yanagiba (Sashimi Knife): If you frequently prepare sashimi or sushi, a yanagiba is a must. It has a long, single-edged blade that allows for precise slicing of raw fish into thin, delicate pieces.
- Usuba: The usuba knife is a traditional Japanese vegetable knife with a wide, thin blade. It is used for precise vegetable cuts, such as making thin slices or creating decorative garnishes.
These are some of the essential Japanese knives commonly found in a set. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose a set that includes these knives or select individual knives to build your collection.
Are they really from Japan?
There is a huge problem in the Japanese knife market because most of these companies produce their knives in China. Because the word Japanese knife is not a protected quality stamp, they only refer to “Japanese style” and not to made in that country.
Handcrafted knifes from Japan are only produced there in small shops and there are only a few large retailers that sell Japanese made knives worldwide.
But even the “traditional” Kai company founded in Seki City, Japan’s ancient sword and knifemaking center, now makes their more affordable knives in China.
A single Nenohi knife, for example, is over $200, so you can see how a complete set would definitely break the bank.
The good news is that the “Japanese-style” knives in this list are actually good, even if they just copy the Japanese style of knife making in China.
Outsourcing to China has been a practice that has been done by American companies and Japanese ones, but the names on these sets can be very deceptive.
The only knife set made in Japan on this list is the one from Shun, and it’s also the highest in price. Although most people will go for a more affordable option, I wanted to give you the opportunity to look at the quality of a real Japanese made knife brand as well.
Top 8 Best Japanese Knife Sets Reviewed
Imarku 16-Piece High Carbon Steel Set
- Innovative design with ergonomic handles
- Durable and sharp high-carbon stainless steel blades
- Not dishwasher safe
- Manufactured in China (may be a concern for some)
As a proud owner of the Imarku 16-Piece Professional Japanese Kitchen Knife Set, I can confidently say that this knife set has exceeded my expectations.
The innovative dark red design adds a touch of sophistication to my kitchen, and the ergonomic handles provide exceptional comfort and grip during meal prep.
One of the standout features of this knife set is the impressive durability and sharpness of the blades. Crafted from German high-carbon stainless steel, these knives are resistant to rust and breakage. With an angle of 13°-15°, the blades are razor-sharp, making precise cuts and effortless slicing a breeze.
The knife holder’s perforated bottom allows moisture to dissipate, ensuring a hygienic storage space for the knives. However, it is essential to note that these knives are not dishwasher safe. To prolong their lifespan, I recommend wiping them dry after cleaning with a damp cloth or sponge.
This complete kitchen knife set includes a knife sharpening rod, a knife block, and 9 different types of knives, such as a Chef knife, Santoku knife, Paring knife, Utility knife, Slicing knife, Bread knife, kitchen Shear, and Steak knives. It truly has everything you need for your cooking needs.
I have gifted this knife set to friends and family members on multiple occasions, and it has always been well-received. The 3-month refund and lifetime free replacement warranty also provide peace of mind for both the gift-giver and the recipient.
In conclusion, the Imarku 16-Piece Professional Japanese Kitchen Knife Set is a fantastic investment for any home cook or professional chef. The innovative design, durable and sharp blades, and comprehensive selection of knives make this set a must-have addition to any kitchen.
SANDEWILY 3-Piece Chef Knife Set
- Ultra-sharp, high-quality blades
- Comfortable, ergonomic Pakkawood handles
- Requires careful handling due to extreme sharpness
- Hand washing recommended for longevity
This 3-piece set includes an 8-inch chef knife, a 7.5-inch cutting knife, and a 5-inch paring knife, making it versatile and perfect for all my cutting, dicing, slicing, and chopping needs.
The first thing I noticed about these knives was how incredibly sharp they are. Made from high-quality German high carbon stainless steel, the blades boast a hardness of HRC56±2 and are carefully sharpened to an 8-12 degree angle per side. This level of sharpness allows for precise cuts and effortless slicing through meats, fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. However, be cautious when handling these knives, as their extreme sharpness can lead to accidental cuts if not used carefully.
The Pakkawood handles are not only visually appealing but also provide excellent grip strength and comfort. The ergonomic design reduces fatigue during long-term use, allowing for better control and precision. Additionally, each knife comes with a sheath to protect the blade and your fingers when not in use.
One of the standout features of this knife set is its stain resistance and ease of cleaning. The food-grade metallic paint and laminated polishing prevent rust, corrosion, and adhesion, ensuring that these knives maintain their beautiful luster even after prolonged use. Although hand washing is recommended for longevity, I’ve found that these knives are easy to clean and maintain.
The SANDEWILY Kitchen Knife Set comes in an elegant gift box, making it an ideal present for various occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and holidays. The full-tang construction and high-quality materials ensure that these knives are durable and long-lasting, perfect for both home and restaurant kitchens.
I recently got my hands on the Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set, and I must say, it has been a game-changer in my kitchen. The set includes:
- 3.5-inch Paring Knife
- 7-inch Santoku Knife
- 8-inch Chef’s Knife
- 9-inch Combination Honing Steel
- Shun Multi-purpose Kitchen Shears
- 8-slot Slim Design Dark Wood Knife Block
One of the standout features of these knives is the VG-MAX cutting core with 34-layers (each side) and stainless Damascus cladding. This not only gives the knives a beautiful appearance but also provides exceptional sharpness and edge retention. With a Rockwell Hardness of 60-61, these knives are built to last.
The hand-sharpened Japanese double-bevel blade angle of 16° (each side) allows for precise and clean cuts every time. I’ve found that slicing through vegetables, meats, and even delicate fish is a breeze with these knives.
The D-shaped PakkaWood handle is another impressive aspect of this set. It’s strong, durable, and resists moisture, making it perfect for use in a busy kitchen. The ergonomic design of the handle ensures a comfortable grip, reducing hand fatigue during extended use.
Handcrafted in Seki, Japan, the craftsmanship and attention to detail in these knives are evident. To maintain their beauty and performance, it’s essential to hand wash them with gentle dish soap and dry them immediately.
In my tests, the Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set has proven to be an invaluable addition to my kitchen. The combination of exceptional sharpness, durability, and beautiful design make this set a must-have for anyone serious about their culinary endeavors.
Simple Song Premium Gyuto Santoku Nakiri Petty
- High corrosion resistance stainless steel
- Versatile 4-piece knife set
- Gyuto knife designed for right-handed users only
- Made in China, not Japan
The high-quality 420HC stainless steel blades are not only razor-sharp but also highly resistant to corrosion, making them perfect for handling various kitchen tasks.
The 4-piece knife set includes a Gyuto, Santoku, Nakiri, and Petty knife, each designed for specific tasks. The Gyuto is perfect for handling heavy-duty tasks, while the Santoku is an all-purpose knife that can handle fish, meat, and vegetables with ease. The Nakiri is excellent for precision cuts on vegetables, and the Petty knife is ideal for delicate tasks such as skinning small fruits and herbs.
One of the standout features of this knife set is the full-tang traditional rosewood handle. Not only does it provide a comfortable grip, but it also ensures the blade’s durability and balance. The rosewood material is strong and heavy, maintaining a polished appearance even after extensive use.
As a right-handed user, I found the Gyuto knife’s single bevel design to be perfect for my needs. However, left-handed users may find it less convenient. On the other hand, the Santoku, Nakiri, and Petty knives are double-beveled, making them suitable for both left and right-handed users.
While the knife set is designed and developed in the USA, it is made in China, which may be a concern for some. However, I found the quality and performance of the knives to be top-notch, regardless of their manufacturing origin.
The set includes a variety of knives for different tasks, such as an 8-inch chef knife, two Santoku knives, a utility knife, and a paring knife. It also comes with a pair of scissors and a block to store the knives.
The high-carbon Cr17 stainless steel blades are incredibly sharp and durable, with a Rockwell Hardness Scale rating of 57-58. This makes them twice as hard as other knives in their class, which typically have a carbon content of around 0.3%. The beautiful waved pattern on the blades adds a touch of elegance to the set.
One of the standout features of these knives is the ergonomically shaped handle. Made from Pakka Wood, the handle is soft and comfortable to grip, ensuring ease of movement while using the knives. The balance between the handle and the thin blade is just right, making it a pleasure to use these knives for various tasks in the kitchen.
However, there are a couple of drawbacks to this set. Firstly, they are made in China, not Japan, which may be a concern for some buyers. Additionally, the knives are not dishwasher safe due to the real wood handles, which can warp if exposed to the high heat and moisture in a dishwasher.
Despite these cons, I have been extremely satisfied with the performance of my Yatoshi knife set. The ultra-sharp blades have made food preparation a breeze, and the comfortable handles ensure that my hands don’t tire even after extended use. Plus, the lifetime warranty and return policy offered by the company give me peace of mind knowing that I can get a replacement if any issues arise.
FINDKING Dynasty Series
- Razor-sharp high carbon steel blade
- Beautiful and comfortable African rosewood handle
- Not suitable for cutting frozen products
- Edge guard not yet available
The professional Japanese chef knife set, made from high carbon steel, is perfect for slicing, dicing, and chopping a variety of foods, including meats, fruits, and vegetables.
The African rosewood octagonal handle is not only visually stunning but also provides excellent stability and comfort during use. This allows for precise and efficient cuts, making food prep an enjoyable task once again.
The balance point of the knife runs from the heel to the spine, ensuring a comfortable grip and less strain on the hands during use.
The double bevel santoku knife, along with the chef’s knife, vegetable knife, and utility knife, make this set versatile and suitable for a wide range of kitchen tasks. The kiritsuki is a new addition to the set, and there is also a slicer available.
The knives are designed to showcase the beauty of eastern chef’s knives while focusing on comfort and efficiency for everyday use.
These knives are made from a single piece of steel, with a triangular-shaped tang inserted into the handle. The blade is forged with two additional layers of steel, creating a durable and sharp 3-layer steel knife. The recommended whetstone for maintaining the sharpness of these knives is a 1000/6000 grit stone.
One downside to these knives is that they are not suitable for cutting frozen products, as this may damage the knife’s edge. Additionally, an edge guard for these knives is not yet available, but it is expected to be released soon.
GladiatorsGuild G26 Damascus Steel Set
- Unique, hand-forged Damascus steel
- Versatile 7-piece set with a chopper/cleaver
- High vulnerability to rust
- Made in Pakistan, which may raise concerns about quality
This 7-piece set, complete with a chopper/cleaver, is not only visually stunning but also highly functional.
The hand-forged Damascus steel is a true testament to the craftsmanship that goes into creating these knives. With 176 layers of steel, the blades are incredibly sharp and durable. However, it’s important to note that this type of steel is highly vulnerable to rust. To maintain the knives’ pristine condition, I make sure to clean them with a cloth and apply vegetable oil after each use. I also avoid letting them stay wet for long periods and store them oiled at all times.
One of the standout features of this set is the versatility it offers. From kitchen tasks to outdoor activities like camping and hunting, these knives have proven to be reliable companions. The included leather roll case with a 7-pocket sheath is perfect for carrying the knives safely and conveniently during outdoor excursions.
When it comes to sharpening the knives, I’ve found that using a wet stone is the most effective method. This ensures that the blades remain sharp and ready for any task at hand.
Despite being made in Pakistan, which may raise concerns about quality for some, I can attest to the durability and performance of these knives. They are full tang, providing excellent balance and control during use.
However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential for rust, as mentioned by another user who experienced this issue. Proper care and maintenance are crucial to preserving the beauty and functionality of these knives.
SENKEN Tsunami Collection
- Incredibly sharp and durable 67-layer Damascus steel
- Beautiful and unique blue resin & natural wood handle design
- Hidden tang may not be preferred by some users
- Not explicitly dishwasher safe, hand washing recommended
The Tsunami Collection is not only visually stunning but also offers exceptional performance in the kitchen.
The 67-layer folded Damascus steel, masterfully forged from premium Japanese VG-10 steel, provides extreme sturdiness and a razor-sharp cutting edge.
I’ve found that these knives hold their sharpness incredibly well, even after extensive use. The complete 7-piece collection includes all the essential knives needed in the kitchen, making it a versatile and valuable addition to my culinary arsenal.
One of the standout features of this knife set is the one-of-a-kind blue resin and natural wood handle design. Not only does it add a gorgeous accent to my kitchen, but it also provides a comfortable grip during use. The hidden tang, with the steel embedded into the handle material, creates a seamless transition between blade and handle, allowing the brilliant resin and natural wood to truly shine.
Each knife in the Tsunami Collection boasts a 15° cutting angle, which I’ve found to be superior to the typical 25° edge angle found in most Western knives. The difference is noticeable from the very first cut, as these knives allow for extremely thin slicing and impeccable chopping with minimal effort.
While the knives are safe in most dishwashers, I would recommend hand washing them to ensure their longevity. Additionally, the manufacturer offers a 2-year warranty, which speaks to the confidence they have in the quality of their product.
The best Japanese knife set is the Yatoshi 5 Knife Block Set for its high-quality knives and affordable price. You can’t go wrong with this set for all your cutting needs. I hope this guide has helped you make the right choice. So don’t wait any longer and buy one today!
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.