Japan is home to some of the most iconic chef knives in the World. None more so than the Japanese gyuto knife. Sleek, elegant, and completely reliable, it’s the knife of choice for many Japanese chefs and home cooks. In this post, we learn more about this incredible Japanese knife and what to consider before buying one.
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Types Of Japanese Chef Knives
Japanese chef knives are sharper, harder, and thinner. In addition, Japanese knife makers lean towards specialization and task-specific designs. As a result, many professional chefs like Japanese knives.
There are several types of Japanese knives, which include:
- Gyuto: The gyuto is an all-purpose chef knife.
- Santoku: The santoku, a common Japanese chef knife, is lightweight thus ideal for repetitive slicing motions.
- Yanagi: The Yanagi’s long blade allows it to precisely cut larger fish and longer slices, making it great for sushi.
- Sujihiki: The Sujihiki has a steep angle, making it ideal for filleting fish and carving other kinds of meat, including poultry.
- Deba: The Deba has a thick blade and spine, with a gentle curve, hence considered a butcher’s knife.
- Pankiri: The Pankiri has serrated edges and is great for slicing bread.
- Usuba: This knife is single-edged and sharp enough to cut different varieties of Japanese vegetables.
Best Gyuto Knives For Home Chefs
What Is A Japanese Gyuto Knife?
Amber and I have been in love with Japanese food since our first trip to Japan 10 years ago. In addition to the food, the tools used to prepare food we find mesmerizing. Walking around the famous Japanese fish markets, we’ve seen knives bigger than some people. Kind of. Watching sushi chefs slice fresh fish with gorgeous knives is something every food lover should experience.
These experiences led us to purchase our own gyuto and nakiri knives. Now when we want to cook Japanese food at home, we are equipped with the right tools. It’s strange to say, but we love our gyuto knives.
The word gyuto means beef sword in Japanese. A gyuto knife is one of the best Japanese kitchen knives and is commonly used to cut meat.
The Gyuto knife is the Japanese version of the European chef knife. The multi-purpose knife is regarded as one and if not, the best Japanese chef’s knives that must not be missing in your kitchen and knives collection.
The gyuto knife’s purpose is specifically for cutting and chopping food items like meats, vegetables, or fruits. Translated into English, Gyuto means cow sword which I feel is a petty illustration of what the knife can be used for.
Though the knife might not all be Japanese, it is a mix of the Japanese Nakiri knife and a blend of the classic European chef knife. Choosing the best budget gyuto knife can be difficult as there are many considerations. That said, spending a little bit more for a cutting edge knife is recommended. The knife will be made from better materials and last longer.
You can use the Japanese gyuto knife to cut nearly everything. It is suitable for all kinds of foods; meats, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, you can use this Japanese chef knife to disjoint meat, slice, dice, and chop. The Japanese gyuto knife is longer than most knives.
Best Gyuto Knives For Japanese Cooking
The Yoshihiro knife is versatile, thus ideal for chopping, slicing, and dicing fresh produce. In addition, you can use it to carve a roast chicken. A mahogany wood handle makes the knife well-balanced and ergonomic.
Three-layer construction with a VG-10 stainless steel center core offers exceptional durability, sharpness, and edge retention. The outer steel has 16 layers of hammered steel, which gives the chef’s knife a stylish but functional design. The texture also reduces friction and prevents food from sticking onto the blade. The blade is also easy to sharpen.
The Misono knife is made of Swedish stain-resistant steel, which gives it long-lasting edge retention. The chef’s knife has a riveted nickel silver bolster that enhances durability and balances weight between the handle and blade.
However, the stain-resistant steel does not prevent the chef’s knife from rusting. You should ensure that your blade is always clean and dry.
Though a Misono knife is a typical Western knife, its blade is significantly thinner. As a result, always use sharpening stones because sharpening machines and honing steels may result in chipping.
Master artisans make this Yoshihiro knife by forging high-carbon Aus-8 stainless steel. Ice hardening then draws out the hardness and makes it more resilient for consistent performance. This chef’s knife is ideal for chefs who prefer a lightweight, razor-sharp, thin, and double-edged blade.
This Japanese chef knife is complimented with a Japanese Wa-style octagonal handle. The knife effortlessly rocks back and forth with a curved blade, making it great for quick chopping. Furthermore, the handle is lightweight and ergonomically fits into the hand for easy use.
Miyabi knife strives for perfection by combining the artistry of Japanese craftsmanship with the best hardening technology. A VG10 super steel core makes the blade strong. An attractive 64-layer Damascus flower pattern protects the knife’s core.
As a result of culinary work, the Miyabi Birchwood features a striking Birch handle and blade. Ice hardening treatment makes the Cryodur blade exceptionally sharp and durable. Artisans use the historical Honbazuke method to hand-hone the Miyabi knife.
Masamoto knives use high-grade stain-resistance steel. This heavy-duty stainless steel makes the knives easy to maintain and rust-resistant compared to carbon steel knives. The handle has a moderate weight, which makes it easy to apply force and cut.
Masamoto is one of the best Japanese kitchen knives. It is a traditional multipurpose chef’s knife that can use for a wide range of cutting techniques. The knife is ideal for cutting beef, steak, pork, chicken, and fish for sushi. Despite its solid construction, make sure you only hand wash the Masamoto. Never put it or any other high-quality cutlery in the dishwasher.
What To Consider When Buying A Gyuto Knife
Choosing the best chef knife can be a challenge, especially when there are so many options to choose from. Here is a list of factors to put in mind when selecting the best Japanese gyuto knife.
Profile refers to how the knife appears from the side and could be a big rounded belly or a more gradual belly. The Gyuto knife differs from other knives in so many ways. The blade of this knife is lighter and thinner and is mostly longer than other Western chef knives, and the balance point of the knife happens to be a little forward around the tip.
Another basic distinctive feature of this knife as compared to other Western knives is, that the Gyuto is made with high carbon Japanese steel, unlike the Western knife made from softer stainless steel.
Understanding the different functions and makes of the knife will guide you in determining what size to go for when next you want to add to your knife collection.
The cross-section is the thickness or thinness of a knife’s edge. The Gyuto knife is made of high-carbon steel. Though there might be variations, most Gyuto knives are shaped with a Japanese handle to give the knife a more Asian feel.
More noticeably is the Damascus knife which is a good Gyuto knife is a Japanese handle with writing on both blades and handle. The knife has a double bevel which gives it its precision cutting edge.
The blade is thicker and starts to become convex as it gets to the edges. Typically, Gyuto knives with Japanese handles are lighter in weight compared to those equipped with a Western handle.
The design details put to work to produce the Gyuto knife makes it a perfect knife for all kitchen use, allowing chefs to fully utilize its function as a food cutting device.
Types Of Steel
Knifemakers use different types of steel, including, carbon steel which is reactive and will rust if left dirty or wet. Stainless steel is another type of steel that can withstand dirt for longer. And finally, powdered steel which is the harder steel used to make these knives, but is not too brittle.
Cladding is applying one material over another to provide a layer. Damascus Cladding consists of two layers of softer steel used on the knife to absorb shock. Korouchi Cladding is cladding with a rustic look to the knife.
Gyuto knife handles can be the wooden Japanese (wa handle), which is lighter with a heavy blade. Alternatively, they can be the Western style (yo handle), which is heavier and more balanced.
You should consider the length of your cutting board and purpose before buying a Japanese gyuto knife. The Gyuto knife is readily available in lengths of 180mm and 300mm respectively, and you might even spot some as long as 360mm.
The knife with sizes ranging between 180mm and 210mm are recommended for home use, while the ones with 240mm and 270mm are chosen by professional chefs.
Gyuto Knife Versus Santoku Knife
Chefs can use both the gyuto knife and santoku to perform most kitchen tasks. In addition, they are both made from a similar metal. However, these knives are different.
The gyuto has a belly for rocking and a piercing tip, making it a better all-purpose knife. Furthermore, a Santoku knife is cheaper than a gyuto knife.
How To Care For Your Gyuto Knife
The edge of a soft-steeled knife may bend when it hits the cutting board or a hard item. Honing realigns a knife’s edge. You should hone your soft steeled knife only when necessary. However, hard-steeled gyuto chef’s knives don’t bend and therefore don’t require honing.
You should sharpen your knife every one to three months, depending on its purpose. You should also follow the bevel and avoid going too low or too high. Using a marker at the bevel ensures that you are sharpening at the correct angle, especially for an asymmetrical knife.
Many people wonder if it’s ok to use an electric knife sharpener. Our personal preference is to sharpen by hand. We’ve never used an electric knife sharpener.
With hand sharpening, you are in more control. You determine the amount of pressure on the knife and the sharpening stone. With an electric sharpener, it might be quicker, but there’s no control.
Recommended Gyuto Knife Sharpeners
There are lots of high-quality gyuto knife sharpeners on the market. That said, selecting a knife sharpener comes down to personal preference. Many people, ourselves included, recommend using a Japanese whetstone. Japanese whetstones have a flat surface that makes it easier and more efficient to sharpen gyuto knives.
Here are some gyuto knife sharpeners we recommend.
Use mineral oil to oil a wooden handle, especially if the wood is raw or unfinished. Food-safe beeswax also helps keep the handle water-resistant.
A knife is an essential utensil in every kitchen. When purchasing a gyuto knife, you should therefore go for the best so that it gives you a delightful cutting, chopping, and slicing experience.
Tips For Maintenance and Cleaning A Gyuto Knife
Maintaining and cleaning a gyuto is essential. After all, owning a gyuto is an investment. There are a few dos and don’ts regarding maintaining a gyuto that are important to follow. Some of these dos and don’ts are a personal preference. Most though are widely accepted.
The biggest “do” is to only hand wash your gyuto. The steel type used to make these chef’s knives does not react well with dishwashers. Don’t ever put the knife in the dishwasher. Over time, the stress of using a dishwasher can weaken the handle.
When you hand wash, be extremely careful of the sharp edge of the blade. Believe me, you don’t want your hand or fingers rubbing up against the knife. Our personal preference is to use a thick sponge to give more protection between us and the blade.
Finally, when hand-drying your gyuto, let it sit out before putting it away. This ensures the blade and handle are fully dry.
Japanese Knife Sets
It wasn’t until Amber and I really got into cooking at home, that we realized the value of having great knives. In our travels, we’ve stayed (unfortunately) in many Airbnb’s with knives that couldn’t cut water. Thankfully, we’ve recently started using Hexclad knives.
Not only does Hexclad make some of the best cookware money can buy, but they also have knives. We have the Hexclad “The Essential 6pc Japanese Damascus Steel Knife Set.”
The Hexclad knife set includes an 8” Chef’s Knife, a Serrated Bread Knife, a 7” Santoku Knife, a 5” Utility Knife, a 3.5” Paring Knife, and a 9” Honing Steel. My personal favorite is the 7” Santoku Knife. It’s well-balanced in my hand and cuts smoothly and easily. Amber has been enjoying the 3.5” Paring Knife. She uses it for fruits and vegetables as well as prawns and herbs.
The Hexclad knives are made from 67 layers of Japanese Damascus steel. This makes them highly durable and long-lasting. Amber and I have been wondering if this is going to be the last knife set we own. You can buy this set direct from Hexclad here.
FAQs – Best Gyuto Knife
A gyuto knife is a vital tool for Japanese chefs. The knife is designed for cutting meat, fish, and vegetables. They are highly durable and can last a very long time if cared for properly.
This will come down to budget and how often you plan on using either. A santoku knife is less expensive compared to the gyuto. While both are reliable, the gyuto is more versatile and worth the investment.
Both knives are excellent for precision cutting. Gyuto knives have sharper tip compared to the santoku. Its profile is has a curved edge and turned down back.
There is no set rule for when or how often you should sharpen any knife, let alone a gyuto. That said, if you haven’t sharpened your knife in a while, do so. If you are going to be cooking a lot, sharpen it. If you see the knife isn’t performing as it should, guess what, sharpen it.