Have you ever used a real Japanese chef knife? With a little practice, you can handle one of these fine pieces of steel art like a conductor directing with a wand. You haven’t enjoyed slicing or chopping until you’ve worked with one of these babies. We examined hundreds of them, and narrowing the field was no easy job. But it was fun. Let’s get to it. Settle back and figure out which one of our top ten is the best Japanese chef knives for you.

Our Top Recommended Japanese Chef’s Knives

Shun Classic Chef’s Knife with VG-MAX Cutting Core

Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife with VG-MAX Cutting Core and Ebony PakkaWood Handle; All-Purpose Blade for a Full Range of Cutting Tasks with Curved Blade for Easy Cuts; Cutlery Handcrafted in Japan
  • Our Rating:
  • Size: 8 Inch

    Handle: Ebony PakkaWood Handle

    Blade Material: VG-MAX steel is a formula exclusive

    Item Weight: 7.13 ounces
  • The Shun Classic VG Max is made with a special steel formulation that will stand up to rust practically forever.

    That hard steel will also hold an edge through weeks of normal use. It is good enough for professional cooks, but easy enough to use for any home cook.

    Unfortunately, it’s made especially for right-handed people. Lefties can use it, but righties will really love the special handle design.

DALSTRONG Santoku Knife - Shogun Series

DALSTRONG Santoku Knife - Shogun Series - Damascus - Japanese AUS-10V Super Steel 67 Layers - Vacuum Treated - 7" (180mm)
  • Our Rating:
  • Size: 7 Inch

    Handle: Military grade G10 handle for life-long durability

    Blade Material: AUS-10V Japanese super steel

    Item Weight: 8.4 ounces
  • Dalstrong’s Shogun Series Santoku knife is great for slicing because of its somewhat flexible blade and really sharp bevel.

    It’ll handle all kinds of chopping, mincing and other tasks you’d normally do with a chef’s knife, but its strengths truly shine through when making thin, precise slices.

Tojiro DP Gyutou Japanese Chefs Knife

Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm)
  • Our Rating:
  • Size: 8.2 Inch

    Handle: Reinforced Laminated Material

    Blade Material: Cobalt Alloy Steel (VG10)

    Item Weight: 8.4 ounces
  • Beginners will love the Tojiro DP Gyutou chef’s knife for its forgiving blade sharpness and heft.

    Everyone else will love it for its affordability. Tojiro used a less expensive steel for the blade and a cheaper plastic for the handle, but they made a good, dependable knife for less than $100.

10 Best Japanese Chef Knives for the Money:

Here are the ten best, with all of their cool features and awesome designs.

Design And Usability

The blade has a great all-purpose design which makes it useful for all kinds of food preparation. This versatility and its durability makes it the best Japanese chef’s knife with an 8″ blade for the home kitchen.

We like the special raised “D” embossment on the handle. You’ll like it too, if you’re right-handed. This knife is made for righties, and there is no left-handed option.

Quality And Performance

It’s blade is made of 69 layers of the specially formulated steel. That gives the blade a very fine grain. The blade blank is then heat treated for amazing hardness.

It’s that hardness that allows the blade to keep a razor’s edge for so long between sharpenings.

The slightly curved blade is made for slicing. It works great for rocking as well, but not quite as well as a knife with a more curved blade.

Pros

  • Very hard blade
  • Holds an edge for weeks of daily use
  • Very corrosion-resistant
  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Designed for right-handed chefs

Design And Usability

WIth such a finely angled blade, we made sure there weren’t excessive complaints about chipping. The blade is strong enough to hold up through normal use, but you have to understand that normal use for this kind of knife means avoiding hard things, like bones and fruit pits.

The design itself makes it very comfortable to hold and work with. It’s best for slicing, due to the blade’s sharpness and its straighter profile.

Quality And Performance

We vote this the best Damascus Japanese chef’s knife.

The blade’s mild flexibility is great for cutting filets. But it’s not so flexible that you can’t use it for all other slicing as well.

As with all other Santoku knives, its made with chopping and mincing in mind. It excels in these areas, but it’s not as good for rocking through food as traditional chef’s knives.

Pros

  • Hard, slightly flexible blade
  • Very sharp edge
  • Ergonomic, durable handle
  • Great for slicing, chopping and mincing
  • Rounded sheepsfoot blade tip is safer than regular chef’s knives

Cons

  • Not ideal for the rocking method of chopping
  • Cannot be sharpened with most sharpeners, due to the sharp angle. It would be best to learn how to hand-sharpen

Design And Usability

This knife is designed to be affordable and practical in the home kitchen. That usability and durability, combined with the nice price, makes it the best Japanese chef’s knife under $100. The handle isn’t the most comfortable, but any size hands can use it for extended periods without fatigue.

Even though the blade isn’t made with expensive steel, it is easy to sharpen. You can use an electric or handheld sharpener with fine results. We think this would be a great first Japanese chef’s knife for anyone on a budget.

Quality And Performance

You can do it all with this one. That’s the advantage of non-specialized design. It’s even better for rocking than the Shun VG Max Classic and the Dalstrong Santoku.

Another advantage is that the blade isn’t so sharp. It’s good for a beginner who doesn’t yet understand the importance of avoiding hard pieces of food, like bones.

It can be sharpened thousands of times to keep that nice, all-purpose edge.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to sharpen
  • All-purpose

Cons

  • Not as sharp as other Japanese chef’s knives
  • The blade isn’t as resistance to rust, either

Design And Usability

The basic design of the blade is very similar to the Shun Classic’s, so it offers the same all-around practicality.

The Premier has a few key differences that make it better for chopping: It’s an inch shorter, has a quicker taper and has a hammered finish to prevent sticking. It’s the best chopper in this Japanese chef’s knife review.

Quality And Performance

We’ve never seen such an involved blade manufacturing process. The blade is made of 69 layers of steel. This makes it incredibly strong. And it stays sharp for weeks of constant use in a couple of professional kitchens that we know about.

It’s made for chopping, but it slices very well too.

Pros

  • Very strong
  • Perfect taper for rocking
  • Excellent edge retention
  • Very resistant to corrosion

Cons

  • The only thing that keeps this from being the best all-around chef’s knife is the taper that makes it such a good chopper also makes it less than ideal as a slicer

Design And Usability

This knife is a bit longer than most, 8-½”, which is good for carving large roasts and whole birds. The taper is just right for all cooking tasks, but it would take some practice to chop with such a long knife. The mahogany feels good in the hand. It’s smooth and contoured very well.

Quality And Performance

Damascus steel is known for its resistance to rust. It will hold up for many years, even when neglected a bit. You should still handwash it, though.

This is probably the best knife for making perfect slices of meat. But it’s tapered well enough for rocking and chopping, too.

If you want a professional Japanese chef’s knife, and don’t mind putting in some practice to get used to that extra length, this may be perfect for you.

Pros

  • Excellent rust-resistance
  • Great for slicing meat
  • Beautiful mahogany handle

Cons

  • That extra length may take some getting used to

Design And Usability

This one has a thin blade and a sharp bevel. That means it’s really good for precision work, like making thin slices of just about anything, but it isn’t the best for carving.

You can mince like a pro with the gently tapered blade. Most of the taper is toward the tip, so you may need some practice to get used to doing the actual chopping pretty close to the heel of the blade. Once you get the hang of it, this is a great Japanese chef’s knife.

Quality And Performance

Those 100 layers of steel are very strong. It’ll hold an edge. But you’ll need some skill when you actually do have to sharpen it if you want to maintain that acute bevel.

You can always have it professionally sharpened. Or you can invest in a good knife sharpening kit and check out some YouTube videos on the subject.

Pros

  • Very strong blade
  • Stands up to corrosion well
  • Razor sharp

Cons

  • This is among the most expensive Japanese chef’s knives we’ve seen

Design And Usability

Here’s a good Japanese chef’s knife for the beginner. It has a thick handle for a solid grip. That’s important while you’re learning the craft. The weight helps too. You really need to feel some heft in your hand when you’re getting used to using this kind of knife.

The blade has a nice taper that starts about halfway up the blade. Even a novice can chop consistently and efficiently with such a blade.

Quality And Performance

The high-carbon steel of the blade isn’t the most resistant to rust or bending, but this knife was made to be affordable for everyone. It won’t rust for many years if you handwash and dry it soon after each use.

You can perform any cooking task with this one. Some pros even like it as a carving knife. They don’t want to risk dinging the edge of the expensive knives they use for mincing and slicing.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Tough

Cons

  • Not the best steel

Design And Usability

This one is also good for the beginner, but it’s a step up from the Mac that we reviewed above.

The taper here is much longer, and the blade is thinner. But you have a more obtuse bevel on the blade, so you can carve, chop and do anything else with it. You can really get a feel for using a Japanese chef’s knife by using this one.

It’s lighter than the Mac, too. Weight is one thing you’ll find different between this type of knife and regular chef’s knives.

Quality And Performance

You have to take really good care of high-carbon steel. It will corrode if it’s not kept clean and dry. Keep a good edge on the blade, and it will make you happy. This has a full-length 8” blade, so it will do it all. Isn’t that the point of a chef’s knife?

Pros

  • Good for beginners and intermediate-level chefs
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to sharpen

Cons

  • Not quite at the pro level
  • It takes special attention to cleaning, drying and storage if you want this knife to last a lifetime

Design And Usability

At first, this knife looked like the average, run of the mill chef’s knife to us. So what makes it Japanese?

Well, we took a closer look at the blade. That taper, with most of the curve being near the tip, makes it a fantastic chopper. If you’re just learning, you’ll like the smoothness you’ll feel when you rock the blade through veggies. If you’re a pro, you’ll love the speed.

It weighs seven ounces. That’s heavy enough to actually feel something in your hand. But that’s also light enough for precision slicing.

Quality And Performance

It’s not the best for carving, but you can breeze through all kinds of prep work with it. And all it takes is a few swipes with a sharpening steel to polish the edge. This is a quality Japanese chef’s knife that’s just as at home in a pro kitchen as it will be in yours.

Pros

  • Nice blade taper
  • Durable handle

Cons

  • Those big rivets in the handle may rust if you’re not careful to keep the handle dry

Design And Usability

OK, so we snuck in a 10” knife. But we love this one. And that extra length can come in useful for carving.

It does have a very sharp blade, which can be dented at the edge if you’re not careful, but the hardness of these steel is very forgiving. Just make sure you have a good sharpening steel to take care of the occasional ding.

Quality And Performance

Take care of this knife, and it will last forever. We recommend storing this knife on a magnetic knife holder. That way, you have some air circulation to keep it dry and free of rust.

Long knives like these are ideal for chopping, but you can do it with some practice. Even a novice can carve with these ten inches.

Pros

  • Nice long blade can come in useful
  • Sharp edge
  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Those extra two inches can be a little too much for some

Conclusion

In the first section, we gave a nod to our top three picks. The Shun VG Max is the best all-around 8” chef’s knife for beginners and pros. The Dalstrong chef’s knife is great for anyone who does a lot of slicing. Tojiro’s Santoku knife is a good affordable option for the masses who need a great chef’s knife under $100.

You’re really going to enjoy the way these knives work. Their sharpness, lightness and ease of use put them many levels above ordinary chef’s cutlery.

Are you ready for the step up? Do it. Pick the one that you think is the best Japanese chef’s knife. We’ve done all the research for you