Menkiri Knife: The Japanese Noodle Knife For Fresh Noodles
Those udon noodles in a soup or stir-fry have the perfect texture when cut into even strips. Are you wondering how they are cut up fresh for your dish?
The Menkiri knife is the best tool for this task.
The specially designed blade allows the chef to quickly and evenly slice through the noodles with one swift motion.
It’s the funky Japanese knife that doesn’t actually look like a knife!
A udon kiri knife, also called menkiri bocho or sobakiri, is a Japanese kitchen knife that has either a serrated or straight blade. It is used to quickly and cleanly slice through udon noodles without crushing or breaking them. The knife is held with a firm grip, and you use a rocking motion to cut the noodles.
Menkiri knives are a popular tool for home cooks who want to make their own homemade udon dishes.
This knife is also great for cutting up vegetables, proteins, and other ingredients that require thin slicing.
In this article, you’ll learn all about the menkiri noodle cutting knife, how it works and why it’s an important knife when making noodles.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is a menkiri knife?
- 2 Types of Menkiri
- 3 Features of the Menkiri noodle cutter
- 4 How do you use menkiri knife?
- 5 History of menkiri knife
- 6 Who uses menkiri knife?
- 7 Why is menkiri knife important in Japan?
- 8 Menkiri vs noodle cutter
- 9 Soba Kiri vs Udon Kiri
- 10 Final thoughts
What is a menkiri knife?
The menkiri knife is a Japanese noodle cutter which looks like a rectangular blade with a handle. It’s used for cutting handmade noodles, not those packaged factory-made noodles.
There are two models: one has a serrated edge which helps to cut through udon noodles evenly and quickly and the other a straight edge.
There’s nothing typical about the design of those blades.
The tip of the blade is solid, while the other has two prongs like the bottom of an H. The handle features an embedded prong.
The other prong has a sharpened edge that runs the length of the prong and the entire length of the blade’s sold side.
There is a single, long cutting edge at the very base of the blade.
All types of menkiri are designed to make clean, even cuts with a single motion.
The knife is held firmly in one hand as the other rocks the blade back and forth to slice through the noodles.
The udon and soba kiri are designed for the purpose of cutting up noodles and have been used for centuries in Japan.
The blade of the udon kiri, also known as the menkiri bocho, drops in to cover less than half the length of the handle, unlike the soba and kashi kiri knives.
The Kashi kiri has a shorter blade that only curves to meet the top of the handle, whereas the soba kiri has a longer blade that spans the entire length of the handle.
All of these knives fall under the category of ‘menkiri’ noodle cutter knives.
Soba and udon noodles are made by flattening and folding the dough into long rectangles, which are then cut with the menkiri bocho.
The menkiri bocho has a long, straight blade that is ideal for cutting noodles in this manner.
Noodles are typically cut using this heavy knife and a slight forward motion.
Because of its design, the menkiri is an indispensable tool for making noodles.
It has an extremely sharp knife with a blade that extends to the end of the handle so it can slice across the width of the dough.
Also, it has a blade that rests perfectly flat against the cutting board so this yields even thin strips.
The blade has to be perfectly straight and sharp for clean cuts.
Dough will not be properly cut if there is room between the blade and the cutting board, which can lead to a noodle that is too thick or too thin.
The noodle cutter has a design that prevents the food from sticking to the blade and makes it easy to clean after use.
Menkiri knives are generally made from high-quality stainless steel and come in various sizes.
The blades usually range from 18 to 27 centimeters in length, with the thicker blades being used for tougher ingredients such as daikon radish or carrots.
The blade has to be heavy because this ensures clean, even cuts and a sturdy grip. The handle should also be comfortable to use so it won’t slip when slicing through the dough.
By using a menkiri knife, you can cut perfectly even noodles that will cook evenly. You’ll also be able to create delicate cuts with accuracy and control.
Whether you’re new to cooking or a seasoned professional, this knife can help you make the perfect udon dish.
Types of Menkiri
Udon kiri うどん切
The udon kiri is a rectangular blade with a handle and has either a serrated or straight edge.
This knife is specifically designed to cut udon noodles in a single motion and is the most popular menkiri.
Soba kiri そば切
The soba kiri is similar to the udon kiri but has a shorter blade that curves slightly at the end.
This knife is used for cutting soba noodles, as well as other ingredients such as daikon radish or carrots.
Kashi kiri 橿切
The kashi kiri is a rectangular blade with an angled tip. This knife is used for cutting tougher ingredients such as daikon radish or carrots.
The blade is shorter than that of the udon and soba kiri knives, making it easier to maneuver. It’s used to cut noodles like udon and soba, or even ramen.
Features of the Menkiri noodle cutter
Menkiri knives are typically made from stainless steel or carbon steel, which makes them durable and easy to clean.
Some of the menkiri have a serrated edge, which helps to prevent sticking and provides a cleaner cut.
But most menkiri knives have a razor-sharp straight edge and it ensures smooth, clean cuts.
The blades range from 18 to 27 centimeters long, with thicker blades being used for tough ingredients such as daikon radish or carrots.
They come in a variety of sizes and can be used for both udon and soba noodles.
What’s interesting is that the menkiri is not like a cleaver, the blade has a concanve space near the handle, it’s not a fully rectangular blade.
The menkiri is designed with a long, rectangular and straight blade that is ideal for slicing through noodles.
The handle is usually made from wood, plastic, or metal, and is designed for a comfortable grip.
Most menkiri knives, like the VG0009 Blue Steel 7-Inch Menkiri from Shun, have a San Mai blade which means the blade is made from a core of hard steel and then wrapped in softer steel.
This makes it incredibly sharp and durable.
How do you use menkiri knife?
To use a menkiri knife, you should first make sure the blade is sharp and clean. Then, place the dough or noodles on a cutting board and hold the knife in one hand.
With the other hand, press down on the blade and move it back and forth in a rocking motion. This will help to create thin, even slices.
The secret to making even noodle cuts is to make sure the blade is completely flat against the chopping board.
If there is room between the blade and the board, this can lead to uneven noodle slices.
Once you’re done cutting, clean your knife immediately with hot, soapy water and a soft cloth.
This will ensure that the blade remains sharp for future use. The blade has to be completely dried to prevent rust.
History of menkiri knife
The menkiri knife has a long history in Japan and was first used in the Edo period (1603-1868).
It is believed to have been invented by sword makers who had begun making kitchen knives.
Since noodles were always an important part of Japanese cuisine, a blade was needed to cut them into even slices.
The menkiri knife was designed with a long, rectangular blade that could effectively slice through noodles in one smooth motion.
Over the years, the menkiri knife has become an indispensable tool for making udon and soba noodles.
Today, the menkiri is still one of the most popular knives for cutting noodles in Japan
Who uses menkiri knife?
Menkiri knives are a popular tool among professional chefs and home cooks alike.
It is a great kitchen tool for anyone who wants to make perfectly even noodles or delicate cuts with accuracy and control.
Most Japanese restaurants that serve authentic, fresh udon and soba dishes use this knife to ensure they get the perfect cuts.
The menkiri is also commonly found in home kitchens, as it makes cutting noodles and ingredients a lot easier.
Why is menkiri knife important in Japan?
The menkiri is an important tool in Japanese cuisine because it allows cooks to make perfect, even cuts of noodles and other ingredients.
Noodles are a major culinary element in Japanese cuisine, and having the right tool to cut them accurately is important.
The menkiri knife helps to bring out the full flavor of the ingredients, as well as make sure each bite is uniform in size.
It also ensures the texture of the noodles is exactly as desired.
This knife is a popular kitchen tool in Japan, as it is essential for making the perfect noodle dishes.
Menkiri vs noodle cutter
The Western noodle cutter or noodle lattice roller is completely different from the Japanese Menkiri knife.
The Menkiri is a type of Japanese knife specifically designed for cutting soba noodles.
It has a flat blade with a sharp edge, making it ideal for cutting thin strips of dough. It is a knife designed with precision, control and accuracy in mind.
On the other hand, the Western noodle cutter is a tool used to cut noodles into uniform shapes and sizes.
It is made of metal and has a lattice roller that is used to roll the dough over in order to cut noodles into desired shapes.
The noodle cutter does not provide the same precision and accuracy as a Menkiri knife, but it is still useful.
Noodle cutters are more general-purpose tools used for cutting noodles of all shapes and sizes.
They have a curved blade with a serrated edge, allowing them to cut through thicker doughs, usually pasta.
Soba Kiri vs Udon Kiri
These are both types of menkiri noodle cutting knives.
Soba kiri is a type of Japanese knife specifically designed for cutting soba noodles.
It has a flat blade with a sharp edge, making it ideal for cutting thin strips of dough.
Udon kiri, on the other hand, is a type of Japanese knife specifically designed for cutting udon noodles.
It has a curved blade with a serrated edge, allowing it to cut through thicker doughs.
Both knives are designed to make precise and uniform cuts, but the shape of the blade makes them better suited for different types of noodles.
Menkiri knives are an essential tool in Japanese cooking.
They have a uniquely designed blade that makes them ideal for cutting noodles into thin, uniform slices.
These knives are incredibly sharp and durable, making them perfect for professional chefs or home cooks alike.
With a good menkiri knife, anyone can make soba or udon noodles at home for a delicious and authentic meal.
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.