Best Nakiri Knife – How To Find The Best Japanese Vegetable Knife

The Japanese nakiri knife is unlike any other chef’s knife in the World. Its distinctive square shape is often confused for a meat cleaver. But this is no cleaver. In this post, we examine this artisan-designed specialty knife and why a Japanese nakiri knife is a must for any home cook.

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What Is A Nakiri Knife

A nakiri knife is a Japanese vegetable knife. A wide, symmetrical, and straight flat-edged blade characterizes the nakiri vegetable knife. The knife is also thin and easy to use, making it the perfect Japanese vegetable cleaver.

The shape of the blade allows you to cut your vegetables in a straight up and down movement. The up and down motion will enable you to chop tender vegetables efficiently and quickly. Alternatively, you can use the forward and back motion without rocking the knife.

The flat edge lets the Japanese nakiri knife have complete contact with the cutting board, which results in cleaner cuts. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your knife not cutting through the entire vegetable, which is common with curved blade knives.

The blade of a nakiri knife has more steel at the front, which gives it heft and forward balance. You can also use the wide blade to pick up chopped vegetables and transfer them into a pan or bowl. Nakiri is definitely one of the best Japanese kitchen knives.

What Is Katsura-Muki

Katsura-muki is complex but one of the essential Japanese knife skills. Young chefs in Japan take a lot of time and practice to learn this technique. The technique requires a special thin and flat knife specifically made for this purpose.

Katsura-muki is the art of peeling daikon, also known as white radish, to make a garnish for sashimi dishes. The first step is to cut the tips and peel the outer skin. The daikon should be approximately five to six inches in length.

Then slice the daikon by holding the knife with the right hand and using the left hand to guide the daikon under the thumb. Make sure that the daikon’s sheet is so thin that you can see through it, but don’t break the sheet.

Best Nakiri Knives

Shun Premier Nakiri Knife 

The shun premier nakiri knife features layered Damascus steel with a hand-hammered finish known as tsuchime in Japanese. The hand-hammered finish prevents food from sticking onto the blade and eliminates drag when cutting, making this the best Japanese nakiri knife.

A premium Pakkawood handle fits comfortably into the palm, allowing for a comfortable and secure grip. The blade is thin, thus perfect for cutting vegetables. The blade is heat-treated and ensures that this Japanese vegetable knife is long-lasting.

The shun is handcrafted in Japan, ensuring that it maintains its ancient tradition. Each piece of this nakiri vegetable knife undergoes at least 100 steps to complete.

Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Usuba Vegetable Chef Knife 

The Yoshihiro features a 46 layer VG-10 hammered Damascus stainless steel blade. The blade is symmetrically double-edged and 6.3 inches in length. Both the outer Damascus steel and the VG-10 steel core are stain-resistant.

It has an HRC level, hardness level that exceeds that of most stainless steel knives. The hardness allows the blade to be thinner and sharper; hence chefs can subject it to any nakiri knife use.

This nakiri knife has a traditional Japanese octagonal handle with a double bolster. The handle is handmade from natural Shitan Rosewood.

Wusthof Nakiri Knife 

The Wusthof nakiri knife is forged from high carbon stainless steel that is tempered to 58 degrees HRC. Furthermore, the knives’ blades are sharper with twice the edge retention of previous models.

The knife’s blade is thinner compared to the traditional Japanese vegetable cleaver. It also features a long and straight 10 degrees cutting edge. Artisans craft the edge with consistently spaced vertical indentions. The indentions prevent food from sticking onto the blade by creating tiny air pockets between the food and the blade.

The knife has a synthetic polypropylene handle that is resistant to heat, impact, discoloration, and fading.

KYOKU Daimyo Series Damascus Nakiri Knife 

The Kyoku has a VG-10 Japanese Damascus steel core with an HRC 58-60 hardness. Additionally, the cutting core is cryogenically treated, cobalt-infused, and ultra-sharp. The Kyoku nakiri knife boasts incredible edge retention and unrivaled performance.

The knife is well balanced and ergonomic. The straight blade ensures that you cut with ease by relieving finger pains and fatigue from a long period of chopping or slicing. The Kyoku perfectly blends comfort with performance.

The knife features a durable, triple-riveted G10 handle that is meticulously constructed. In addition, the handle goes through a special treatment that makes it resistant to moisture, heat, and cold.

Japanese Nakiri Knife
The Famed Japanese Nakiri Knife

What To Consider When Buying A Nakiri Knife 

Here are a few factors that will help you choose the best nakiri knife.

Blade Construction

One essential factor to consider when choosing a nakiri knife is the material used to construct the blade. Artisans use stainless steel to make most modern knives. However, there are two types of stainless steel:

  • Low carbon steel, which is softer and needs frequent sharpening. In addition, low carbon dulls the blade quicker.
  • High carbon steel holds its edge longer, is easy to sharpen, and requires less maintenance.


A good handle should be not only durable but also comfortable and easy to use. A knife with an ergonomic handle that fits the curves of your palm is ideal. The handle should also allow for a firm grip. A slippery grip could lead to injuries.


The best Japanese nakiri knife will not be cheap as the price is always an indication of quality. However, price is always a consideration when purchasing any item. You should always find the perfect balance between price and quality.

Blade Finish

The blade finish is also an essential factor, especially when choosing a nakiri vegetable knife. Vegetables tend to stick to the blade. However, many nakiri knives have a hammered finish, known as tsuchime in Japanese. The hammered finish reduces the drug and prevents food from sticking onto the blade.

When it comes to chopping vegetables for Japanese recipes, a nakiri knife is the ultimate chopping machine. You should therefore pay close consideration when it comes to choosing this essential knife. 

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