The 10 Best Asian Knives
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Knives of Asian heritage differ significantly from their Western counterparts. Generally, they're crafted from thinner steel with a notably higher hardness rating, a more forward-oriented balance point and, often, a more traditionally-shaped handle. Here are some of the finest all-purpose and specialty options that come from a number of reputable manufacturers to suit a range of budgets. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 16, 2021:
Over the years we've dug deep in researching knives, both ordering them and testing them in professional kitchens and even traveling to Tokyo to peruse some of the world's most famous knife shops. For that reason, we're certain that our remaining selections are great choices. We did make one very important change today, though, starting with the removal of a slightly overrated Miyabi model. Instead of that one, we now strongly recommend the Tojiro TJF-694. This gorgeous blade sports a two-tone kuruochi finish and can get almost as sharp as any knife in the world. Its White #2 alloy is recommended for those who are relatively new to carbon steel, as it can reach nearly the sharpness level of Blue #1, but is slightly easier to sharpen and more resistant to chipping. That's the only change we've made this round.
July 23, 2020:
Knife making is an old and highly respected art, and as such, not much changes from year to year - especially when it comes to Asian knives. One important difference here is the addition of the Shi Ba Zi Zuo F208, an affordable Chinese cleaver that we used to replace the Shun cleaver. While Shun does make fine knives, they're significantly overpriced due to their popularity and sheer name recognition, and knives that are just as good and even better can be found for considerably less money. The Shi Ba Zi Zuo is one such great example.
This update also saw the elevation of the Mac Mighty Professional MTH-80 into the top slot. It's frequently recommended for casual, enthusiast, and professional cooks alike due to its resilient material, ease of sharpening, ideal size, and long lifespan. I've personally worked with high-end chefs who use this one as well as variants of the Misono Gyuto and Misono UX10 religiously.
We also want to take a moment to shout out to Mark Richmond at Chef Knives To Go. This is a premium gallery of high-end knives to choose from. The only difficult part of shopping here is the sheer volume of great choices to navigate; I found that I had to actually visit the famed Kappabashi commercial area of Tokyo and hold some of these high-end blades before I was willing to make a large investment, but in truth, if CKTG stocks it, you can be confident that it's a worthwhile selection.
It must also be noted that along with any of these high-end knives, you'll need your own honing rod and sharpening stone. For kitchen knives, it's very important to avoid the diamond-coated options of both, as they easily damage these sensitive edges by removing too much material. Stick to the honing rods that have at least a single prominent smooth sides, and get a whetstone that's wide and long enough to accommodate your knife's length, and then some.
March 15, 2019:
Knives are a very touchy subject to many chefs, and there are near-infinite different brands to choose from these days. A lot of brands today are mass-produced somewhat cheaply, and simply re-branded at the request of various different vendors. So, first of all, we want to assure you beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything on our list is from a reputable brand, that's been vetted by professionals across the country. In fact, if you stepped into the back of a Michelin-starred restaurant, it's quite likely that you'll find knives from one of these brands, and possibly even one of these exact models.
One thing you'll notice is that we didn't include a lot of the fancy-looking "Damascus" models. While it looks fantastic (and some good knives are only available with this pattern), it's not really the same as the Damascus of historic importance, whose technique is both lost to antiquity, and honestly, is probably exceeded by modern alloys and forging methods. With that said, our top choice, the Yoshihiro, does happen to be one of these heavily patterned designs, and frankly, it's one of the most true to traditional standards that you'll find. It's made of an extremely capable alloy known as VG-10, and undergoes the absolute finest of quality control processes. The same can be said of the Yoshihiro Yanagi. And while I would not personally recommend most Shun knives, their Classic Chinese Cleaver is a big exception; in this model, their proprietary, slightly altered version of the VG-10, plus their unique handle contour, really shine. Chinese cleavers are completely different beasts from traditional chef's knives, though, so beware.
For the more common, all-purpose variety in the mid-range, you've got the MAC Professional, the Misono Carbon, and the Misono UX10, each of which are truly fantastic knives that will make almost any cook happy. The MAC comes with tons of testimony from full-time chefs. The MX10 is a standard fixture on high-volume lines in big cities across the country. The Misono Carbon is a favorite due to the shockingly sharp edge it can take, and it is my personal favorite carbon-steel blade, but remember, it takes considerable attention to keep from oxidizing — it must be wiped off immediately, right before you set it down, every time. Misono's Hankotsu is a specialty blade that comes in handy very, very often if you work with large cuts of meat. The strength and taper of its blade will help get through the toughest joints and ligaments. On the budget side, the Masahiro Yanagi-ba is a surprisingly capable sushi knife, and the Tojiro DP is one of the most popular knives for students and beginners, while the Miyabi is somewhat of a crossover, and perfect for those who aren't yet comfortable with some of the other, feather-light models.
Chef Knives To Go Mark Richmond, sole owner and operator of CKTG, is known not only for his company's extensive list of mid-range and high-end blades, but also reasonable prices, vast knife-related knowledge, and even making his own highly worthwhile line of blades. This online store is one of the only places to source some premium knives without actually traveling to Japan. chefknivestogo.com
Chan Chi Kee There's a nearly endless list of quality knife manufacturers, but CCK is well known for their Chinese cleavers, which are often regarded as the best all-around Asian vegetable knives available. They have storefronts in Hong Kong and Canada and are willing to ship their products worldwide, although you might need someone to translate Chinese in order to decide which is right for you. chanchikee.com