Japanese knives or western knives, a careful and detailed review

by Rajib Rashed freelancer

I am a domestic cook, cooking is my hobby, but also a passion, which implies implicit dedication to preparing dishes and my particular way of expressing and transmitting affection with elaborations to loved ones. I have had some professional incursion of little importance and in an altruistic way. Being domestic does not imply being mediocre in terms of kitchen quality, nor in the choice of necessary utensils. I think we should take care of these details.


Cooking is passion, enjoyment of the palate, health, and quality of life. And the main tool of the cook is his personal set of knives that he will use daily. A well-cared prestige steel could be said to last for many years, so in practice the punctual economic effort, spread over time, makes much more sense.

I usually observe that in my friends' house, and I think that in the common denominator of many homes, they manage with “Chinese” or promotional knives that the newspaper gives away, and sometimes they even use cutting boards… For them a Buying around a hundred euros on average per knife is very difficult to explain. Whoever wants to buy a good knife will find reasons, whoever does not want will find excuses, it is a matter of giving the necessary value. A medium-sized knife requires some skill and technique, so if it is customary to cook "freehand", that is, without a cutting board, with a sprig it would be enough ... These are the most common problems of holding ineffective knives: -With a cheap knife you can suffer the unspeakable to make any cut. The cook is stressed due to slow work, even more so if the fires are on. Cooking is not enjoyed.  In addition to slowing down the work a lot, it does not guarantee any clean cut, the genre is crushed rather than cut (imagine a fish tartar), even a slice of village bread is difficult and irregular. Too much force is exerted, which added to imprecision, makes cuts in the hands and unwanted wounds much more feasible. Despite being freshly sharpened, the life of the edge is very limited, which means that it has to be roughed too frequently, too much time to be reconditioned, and premature wear of the steel. Taking it to a professional is almost as expensive as the knife itself. My game so far was a forged range of Arcos and three mid-range Japanese knives, a chef's knife reaching up to 30cm of blade, he was not barefoot at all:

Having a whim with our tool is essential to keep it in good condition as long as possible. If you want a knife to hit bones, put it in the dishwasher, sharpen it with a drill stone, and other dirty things ... well, it's enough to think about it. Quality knives require care: Wash with lukewarm water, pass the sponge and not the scouring pad, respect the specific use of the knife (the bread knife, for bread), do not leave them to soak for many hours, sharpen with stone and settle the edge with the honing steel once in a while is almost enough.
Professional emptying and sharpening is preferred only when essential, if ever possible, so the owner can enjoy proper maintenance using water stone and the honing steel, so some expertise and knowledge are essential. Taking care of the steel, the time between sharpening must be extended more than six months.
It is necessary to repair and grind 400 grit stones, from 1,000 to 3,000 grit sharpening, and settling with grains up to 12,000, they are useful to choose, although, with a combined stone of 400/1000 grit, and a steel (diamond is very aggressive), much progress can already be made.


The reasons for each choice depend on many factors and tastes, all respectable. Size of the knife and lever arm, weight, robustness, precision of cut, anatomical sensation and comfort of the handle, fatigue during hours of use ... and of course, the dishes that are executed are not the same as a grill, a vegetarian restaurant , a tapas bar, or a place that serves sashimi (raw fish).

Professional chefs have many knives and choose different brands and models, but they usually have a preference for two or three of them, and without thinking they usually choose the same ones from their assortment, discarding part of their game. I personally have a couple of almost unworn knives, which is a financial mistake.

Generally, German forged knives, type Arcos pro, Wusthof, Zwiling, etc., are very robust, powerful, apparent, with good weight and blade thickness and great packaging, however after hours of work with them they can be heavy, Coarse, uncomfortable, and cause blisters. Then a lighter and more agile knife, precisely cut, without excessive impact on the table, with a comfortable grip that requires less force to block the wrist, and also less effort of the lever so that the hand travel is minimal. This is where I think the virtues of Japanese knives come to the fore, and some users dispense with that "mighty impact" of the traditional forged knife to surrender to the smooth feel, agility, and precision of an apparently less powerful, thinner blade knife. , but more effective and pleasant to prolonged use.

Taking the Santoku model (three virtues: chopping, cutting, filleting), with an 18 cm leaf as the absolute comfort, present in European games, as a reference, I verified that its versatility was based on its studied design. Santoku is based on a wide but thin blade, double bevel (V) and very sharp, which gives it less weight, agility of execution and most importantly, an almost straight edge, without a belly, causing less rise of the fist and less need for arm movement, maximizing cutter lever movement. This straight edge design, in which the upper part of the blade descends towards the point, is characteristic of many current Japanese knife brands, and I think it is its maximum virtue.


Traditional Japanese knives are very specific according to the genre to be cut. They use the Yanagiba, Deba, Santoku and Nakiri in different sizes and usually have a wooden handle.

As romantic and puristic as it may be, working with different versions of the traditional Japanese knife, hollowed out and bevelled on one side of the blade, is not so easy. Internal emptying and chamfering direct the knife, and when attempting a precise perpendicular cut the cut tends to shift to the left (right-handed mode), so it behaves "differently" from classic sharp knives on both sides. In fact, left-handed versions are made.
The Deba model has a curved edge blade design, so it loses the privilege of the straight edge of the santoku (all terrain), the Yanagiba model is relegated to filleting fish and making sashimi, and the Usuba (vegetable ax) forces a good dexterity and increased cutting effort by forcing the tip of the knife away from the board.


However, the Japanese, knowledgeable of the market and aware of the difficulty of using their traditional knives, manufacture double-bevel (V-edge) blade knives but applying more traditional designs, treatments and identity marks. The compositions and hardnesses of the steel are different, the most famous are VG 5, VG 10, white carbon steel, blue carbon steel, ZDP 189 steel, etc., which is reflected in the grain, hardness, edge duration, and penetrating power. Sometimes they are made by hand with a single steel (Honyaki), with folded blades (Damascus), two types of steel in three layers (san mai), hammered finish (tsuchime), classic oriental handle (Wa), etc. And they complete their range with lace, medium, chef of various sizes, santoku and yanagiba among others ...

On the contrary, in certain cases it is more oxidizable than ordinary steel, so it requires more attention and care to moisture, wash after use and in white and blue steel, oil if it is to be left unused for several days. The blade, being thinner, harder and sharper, is more prone to splitting than to bending, and in very hard work (pumpkins) or frozen, its use is not recommended. In these last sections, the European forged knife wins by a landslide, it must be recognized.

Sponsor Ads

About Rajib Rashed Junior   freelancer

4 connections, 0 recommendations, 12 honor points.
Joined APSense since, June 26th, 2020, From Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Created on Jun 26th 2020 09:44. Viewed 562 times.


No comment, be the first to comment.
Please sign in before you comment.