Best Sushi Knives
- The Ronin Series 10.5" Yanagiba & Sushi Knife - Single Bevel Sushi Blade
- The Frost Fire Series 6.5" Nakiri Knife
- Gladiator Series 7" Santoku Knife
- Quantum 1 Series 7" Nakiri & Vegetable Knife
- The Ronin Series 6" Deba Knife - Single Bevel Blade
- Phantom Series 9.5'' Yanagiba Slicer
- Shadow Black Series 8.5" Kiritsuke Chef Knife
- Crusader Series 8.5" Kiritsuke Chef Knife
- Omega Series 7" Nakiri Knife
- Phantom Series Nakiri 6" Vegetable Knife
- Shogun Series X 6" Nakiri Knife
- The Frost Fire Series 7" Santoku Knife
- Quantum 1 Series 8.5" Kiritsuke Chef Knife
- Crusader Series 7" Nakiri
- Gladiator Series 10.5" Yanagiba Knife
What We’ll Cover In This Article :
- The Benefits Of Owning A Good Sushi Knife
- Why Do You Need A Sushi Knife?
- Different Types Of Sushi Knives
- What To Look For In A Sushi Knife
- Best Sushi Knives To Buy
- Frequently Asked Questions About Sushi Knives
1. The Benefits Of Owning A Good Sushi Knife
What is it about sushi that is so alluring? Is it the delicious combination of ingredients? Is it the wildly adventurous textural hodgepodge that comes in every piece? Or is it the beautiful, artful presentation of it? Most likely, it is a combination of these things, and I’m a big fan.
But for as much as I’ve been a sushi fanatic throughout the course of my life, for the longest time I was absolutely terrified of the thought of actually making it myself. Sushi, to me, was an absolute foreign art form, something that only highly-trained individuals could even attempt to make. I thought, if I tried, I would end up creating an absolute monstrosity. Or worse, inflicting serious bodily harm.
Little did I know that making my own sushi, though it does present a number of challenges for the uninitiated, is not some unachievable dream. All it takes is a little bit of preparation, the right ingredients, and... crucially... the right tools.
2. Why do you need a sushi knife?
Sure, you could attempt to make sushi using the knives you already have in your kitchen -- your chef’s knife, your paring knife, what have you. But when we’re talking about something as delicate as sushi, and something that requires such precise cuts such as sashimi, you’re inevitably going to end up with a lot of unsightly tearing. Maybe even a lot of waste.
Japanese knives are highly task-specific. There are knives, like the Yanagiba knife, which are meant primarily for sashimi slicing. There are others, like the Nakiri, which are meant specifically for vegetables. Having the correct tool for each task will ensure the best possible results. (But don’t worry, there are some all-purpose sushi knives too -- we’ll get into those in a moment.)
Okay. So why do you need a good sushi knife?
“Okay,” you might be thinking, “I see the value in using a Japanese sushi knife to make sushi. But why should I bother getting a fancy, expensive one? Can’t I just pick a cheap one up for a few bucks?”
Well, the answer to that is yes. You could pick one up for a few bucks. But that’s not really the smart thing to do when it comes to knives -- not just sushi knives, but all kinds of knives. Buying an inexpensive knife sounds appealing in the short term, but it will eventually lead to an expensive vicious cycle of continuously wearing out or damaging cheap blades and then finding yourself buying more cheap blades to replace them.
Not only that, but you’ll find yourself struggling to use these inefficient blades. Imagine trying to slice through sashimi with a cheap knife. You’ll end up with a messy, unappealing end result. Nobody wants that. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that using a cheap, dull blade is a safety hazard..
Cooking anything -- let alone something as precise and beautiful as sushi -- should be a relaxing process. It should be something you look forward to, not something you have to trawl tiredly through. This is why I always advocate for getting the best tools available -- because it will make those tasks feel so much easier, so more pleasurable, and so much less time-consuming.
Simply put, you need the right tools for the job (such as, for example, a good cutting board). A good Japanese knife won’t just make things easier and more pleasurable for you as you cook, but will also result in a better product for whomever you’re serving it to. Let’s talk about how.
Benefits of a good sushi knife
- Sushi knives that are specifically engineered for slicing vegetables and fish will result in a much better, more visually appealing end product.
- Maintain structural integrity of your sushi rolls by ensuring the correct ratios and distribution of ingredients.
- High carbon stainless steel blades with a sharp edge provides long-term durability and sharpness.
- Sturdy, ergonomic handles facilitate operating the knife for long periods of time.
- A variety of sizes, weights and blade styles allow you to pick the sushi knife that works best for you and your objectives.
Consequences of a bad sushi knife
- Sushi is all about precision; ingredients need to be sliced and arranged a certain way, and if you use the wrong knife you’ll end up with an inferior end product.
- It is commonly said that sushi is also an art form. Presentation is extremely important, and you need the right tools to make your sushi look good.
- Inexpensive blades won’t hold their edge for long, creating a safety hazard.
- Weak handles are uncomfortable and will come apart easily.
- If you buy a cheap, low-quality sushi knife you’ll find yourself buying another one very soon. A high-quality product will last much, much longer.
3. Different Types Of Sushi Knives
There are many types of Japanese sushi knives in the market, with their own unique idiosyncrasies and uses. For the purposes of this article we’ll take a look at a number of Japanese knives which can be used to prepare sushi. In the table below we’ve outlined some of their key characteristics.
Deba knives are the more traditional, single-bevel Japanese knives. They are hefty, featuring a thick spine which aids in uses such as fish or poultry butchery and filleting. There are various sizes depending on the piece of meat that is being broken down.
The kiritsuke knife is a traditional Japanese knife that features an angled tip. It is very versatile, and can be used as either a general all-purpose knife or more specifically as a sashimi knife. In many Japanese food restaurants, only the head chef is allowed to use them, so the single bevel edged Kiritsuke knife is often considered to be a symbol of expertise and status.
Nakiri knives are the double-edged, western-style equivalent of a single-edged Japanese usuba knife. Their straight blade makes them perfect for precision knife cuts for vegetables such as julienne, brunoise, allumette, etc. They also come in handy for cutting into hard-skinned produce such as pumpkins and squash.
Santoku means “three virtues” in Japanese. Here it’s referring to the knife’s ability to cut fish, meat and vegetables. Santoku knives are all-purpose knives, featuring a flatter body and can be used comfortably with an up-and-down chopping motion.
Yanagiba sushi knives are primarily used to slice boneless fish fillets for sashimi and sushi dishes, but they can also be used to fillet small to medium-sized fish. They are also often used for skinning fish. The narrow blade and acute edge angle make them perfect for effortlessly cutting through ingredients.
4. What To Look For In A Sushi Knife
Not all sushi knives are created equal. Not only are there different types of Japanese knives (see above) but there are also a variety of factors to consider for each one of them. Here we’ll talk about some of the criteria you should use when looking for a good sushi knife.
The blade is the most important part of the knife. You want to make sure whatever knife you buy is the right one for the job, and this also means the use of high-quality materials. Precision is key when it comes to sushi, so it makes no sense to buy a cheap product that is made of low quality materials. It won’t be durable and you’ll find yourself buying another in the near future.
Ideally, your sushi knife should be made of high carbon stainless steel. This will provide resistance to corrosion as well as any stains on the blade, and will make for a ruthlessly sharp blade edge. Of course, you still need to make sure to clean and dry the blade after use in order to avoid unnecessary corrosion from water.
You’ll find variations of this based on the type of Japanese knife you buy. Yanagiba knives, for example, will tend to be on the longer side, usually between 9” and 10.5”. Santokus and Nakiris tend to stay within the 6” and 7” range, with exceptions. Take stock of what you’ll be using your knife for, and decide on a length based on that.
Ergonomic handle design and high-grade handle materials
The part of the knife you’ll most directly interact with is the handle, so it’s important that it is both safe and comfortable to use. For this reason, you should look for handles that are ergonomically designed and use high-grade materials. A wooden handle is most common on Japanese knives.
Below, we’ll list our choices for best sushi knives, and we’ve made sure to lay out this criteria for you to make your selection.
5. Best Sushi Knives
This is one of the coolest-looking knives you will ever buy. And it’s not just looks -- this 10.5” Yanagiba and sushi knife from Dalstrong’s Ronin Series is a powerful tool for all manner of ultra precise cuts. An absolute slicing master.
- Precision forged from a single piece of ultra premium Japanese high-carbon AUS-10V steel.
- The “Liquid-Kusari” pattern on the blade not only makes this one of the most visually striking knives in this collection, it also aids in minimizing drag and stuck on food.
- Hand-finished in the Honbazuke 3-step method, resulting in a mirror-polished edge at a staggeringly acute 10 degrees.
- Features a traditional octagon shaped handle, which is made of a combination of military grade, non-porous G10 Garolite, and beautiful Red Rosewood.
- This Yanagiba knife is thick and heavy, as its heft aids in its use as a slicer.
- If you’re looking for a 10.5” Yanagiba knife that is a little more conservative in its visual presentation, check out the Gladiator Series 10.5" Yanagiba Knife.
We start off strong with this stylish nakiri knife. Part of Dalstrong’s Frost Fire Series, a collection of light-weight, razor-sharp stainless steel knives with an icy cold look. Not only do they look absolutely stunning, but they are absolute powerhouses when it comes to performance.
- Beautiful “frosted” look thanks to a precision-based sandblast finish.
- Engineered with a 7-layer high-carbon stainless steel with added cobalt and expert heat-treatment.
- Extremely sharp, at a 16-18° degree angle per side.
- Slender, ergonomic white-resin handle with a beautiful honeycomb finish. Feels great, looks great.
- The “frosted” look might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
- Some home cooks might prefer a slightly longer blade.
Santoku knives need to be versatile, covering a variety of uses such as slicing, dicing and mincing. This entry in Dalstrong’s Gladiator Series is a fantastic example of a strong Santoku knife, featuring incredible construction and functionality.
- Precision forged, ultra sharp, wear resistant, single-piece, high carbon German ThyssenKrupp Steel.
- The blade is hand sharpened to 16-18° per side, hitting the perfect balance between sharpness and resilience.
- Features a tapered design for hardness and flexibility.
- Military grade, highly durable G10 handle.
- This all-purpose Santoku is a bit on the heavier side.
Nakiri knives need to be sharp and precise for the types of cuts they’ll be doing. This stunning knife from Dalstrong’s Quantum 1 Series not only works like a dream, it also looks incredible, which is no small thing.
- Precision forged, ultra sharp, wear resistant, single-piece, high carbon American BD1N-VX steel.
- Designed with the incredible “Nova Prime” blade pattern, which not only looks great, it also reduces drag and increases efficiency.
- Fiber-resin military grade G10 & Carbon Fibre Hybrid ergonomic handle.
- Extremely comfortable to use and easy to clean.
- As this is mainly a vegetable knife, it’s not the most versatile. If you’re looking for more of an all-purpose knife, look into Santokus.
- This high-quality Nakiri knife is in the upper end of the price range represented in this list.
If you’re anything like me, you want a knife that not only handles great, but also looks fantastic. This is a great example of that. From Dalstrong’s acclaimed Ronin Series, this 6” Deba knife packs a lot of power as well as great looks. The ultimate Japanese fish butchering knife.
- The Shinogi surface of the knife runs along the flat surface of the blade to the edge, allowing for a narrow, razor-like profile.
- The blade is precision forged from a single piece of ultra premium Japanese high-carbon AUS-10V steel.
- Absolutely gorgeous “Liquid-Kusari” pattern on the blade, which not only looks amazing but also minimizes drag on food, maximizing your slicing efficiency.
- Traditional octagon-shaped handle, made of G10 Garolite and Red Rosewood.
- Deba knives are traditionally on the heavier side, featuring a thick spine.
- If you prefer a cleaner, less busy design, the “Liquid-Kusari” pattern on the blade may not be to your liking.
The Phantom Series yanagiba is a sashimi slicing master. Featuring a long, narrow blade that ensures paper-thin slices of fish (and other meats), this ultra-sharp blade sails through fibres in the flesh without tearing or pulling. The blade is thicker than standard kitchen knives to provide heft, rigidity and push the sliced piece away from the fish or body of meat.
- 9.5” precision forged blade with premium Japanese AUS-8 at 58 HRC
- High levels of chromium (Cr) added to steel for stain resistance
- Traditional Japanese single-bevel edge
- Full tang for incredible robustness and quality
- Ice-tempered blade ensures excellent resilience and superior edge retention
- Ruthlessly sharp scalpel like edge is hand finished to a mirror polish within a staggering 13-15°
- This is a 9.5” Yanagiba knife, which might be a bit too long for some home cooks.
- It serves its purpose extremely well as a sushi slicer, but is not exactly the most versatile knife.
Another sleek, stylish entry in Dalstrong’s Shadow Black Series. I love its futuristic design and colors. With a razor-sharp high-carbon stainless steel blade, at 58+ Rockwell, it is as powerful as it looks. And the unique handle geometry, inspired by the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter, snugs perfectly into your palm.
- Menacing but elegant, sophisticated, futuristic look thanks to its black non-reflective titanium-nitride coating.
- Hand sharpened to 16-18° per side.
- Ergonomic handle shape makes this great knife fun and comfortable to operate.
- As a Kiritsuke knife, it is highly versatile.
- The titanium cover does require a little bit of extra care when it comes to sharpening the steel.
- The Shadow Black Series’s distinctive look may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Crusader Series is a fantastic product line by Dalstrong that emphasizes functionality with a minimalistic, less-is-more approach to its visual presentation. If you’re not one for fancy, visually busy designs, this 8.5” Kiritsuke chef knife will be right up your alley.
- Precision forged, ultra-sharp, wear resistant, single-piece high carbon German stainless steel.
- Its edge is painstakingly hand sharpened to 16-18 degrees per side.
- Its blade seamlessly transitions into a high-chromium stainless steel handle, leaving virtually no room for debris. Hygienic and efficient.
- As with all Kiritsuke knives, this one’s extremely versatile and can be applied to a number of kitchen challenges.
- Great value at a very accessible price.
- Some folks might find the less-is-more approach to visual presentation a little plain.
On the other side of the visual presentation spectrum we have this stunning 7” Nakiri knife from Dalstrong’s Omega Series. An absolute powerhouse when it comes to vegetable cutting that not only handles great, it also looks incredible, with a distinctive pattern on the blade.
- Scalpel-like sharpness at a staggering 8-12°degree angle per side makes this Nakiri knife great for precision cuts.
- Made of BD1N American forged hyper steel, with an added vacuum treatment.
- “LiquidMetal” pattern on the blade; looks incredible, and minimizes drag on food while maximizing your slicing efficiency.
- Military grade G10 ergonomic handle, highly impervious to heat, cold and moisture.
- The “LiquidMetal” pattern on the blade might be a little too showy for some folks; in that case, we’d advise you to look into Dalstrong’s Crusader Series.
- The handle might be a little thick for some home cooks.
Another sleek and elegant entry in Dalstrong’s Phantom Series, this excellent 6” Nakiri knife is a powerhouse tool that will aid in cutting all manner of produce.
- Precision forged blade with premium Japanese AUS-8 stainless steel.
- Perfectly balanced with the right amount of weight for the toughest jobs.
- Scalpel-like blade, hand finished to a mirror polish to 13-15° per side.
- Great quality laminated Spanish pakkawood handle.
- This 6” Nakiri is a little bit on the lighter side.
- Its clean and elegant presentation might be a bit plain for some.
Here we have another 6” Nakiri, a sleek and powerful entry in Dalstrong’s acclaimed Shogun series. This knife features a powerful high-carbon stainless steel blade, an ultra-premium G10 handle, and the beautiful Tsunami Rose blade pattern. It looks incredible and it works like an absolute dream.
- Precision forged from a single piece of 66-layered damascus high-carbon stainless steel cladding.
- Sharpened to a staggering 8 -12°degree angle per side.
- Tapered bolster provides a natural and comfortable pinch grip.
- Featuring the Shogun Series Tsunami Rose pattern, this is another absolutely gorgeous knife that will definitely get people talking.
- This premium product is an investment. You get what you pay for, which means it’s in the higher end of the price range.
- This knife is on the heavier side for a Nakiri knife.
Here we have yet another entry in the Forest Fire Series, this time around a 7” Santoku knife. This series is characterized by its handsome, icy-cold design. Great looks and fantastic functionality.
- Made of 7-layer high-carbon, high-chromium 10CR15MOV steel, with added cobalt and heat treatment.
- Features a sandblast finish for a "frosted" look, which not only looks awesome but also enhances non-stick properties.
- Premium-quality white resin handle enclosed in aluminum mesh, with the Forest Fire Series’s trademark honeycomb finish.
- Full tang for maximum robustness.
- The “frosted” look might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The knives in Dalstrong’s Quantum 1 Series are meticulously crafted and proudly engineered for exceptional performance, and this 8.5” Kiritsuke chef knife is no exception. In many restaurants in Japan, Kiritsuke knives are only handled by the lead chef as a sign of seniority and skill.
- Precision forged, ultra sharp, wear resistant, single-piece, high carbon American BD1N-VX steel.
- Uniquely designed with the supremely cool-looking “Nova Prime” blade pattern.
- Fiber-resin military grade G10 and carbon fibre hybrid ergonomic handle.
- Hand sharpened to 8-12° per side.
- This hefty blade packs a wallop, and thus requires a bit of finessing.
- This premium Kiritsuke knife is also in the upper end of the price range represented in this list.
This fantastic 7” Nakiri knife from the Crusader Series offers durability, functionality and minimalist style, all at a very accessible price point. Sail through precision cuts with ease.
- This elegant all-steel knife offers a “less-is-more” approach. A minimalist aesthetic with unobtrusive beauty.
- Precision forged, ultra-sharp, wear resistant, single-piece high carbon steel.
- Its blade seamlessly transitions into a high-chromium stainless steel handle. Hygienic design leaves virtually no room for debris.
- Ergonomic handle shape offers maximum comfort, grip and maneuverability.
- Some folks might find the less-is-more approach to visual presentation a little plain. If you’re looking for a flashier design, check out the Omega Series 7" Nakiri Knife.
This 10.5” Yanagiba sushi knife from the Gladiator Series is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to slicing boneless fish fillets for sashimi and sushi dishes. The length on this extremely sharp blade will come in especially handy for ultra-thin, ultra-precise sashimi slicing.
- Precision forged, ultra sharp, wear resistant, single-piece, high carbon German ThyssenKrupp steel.
- Hand sharpened to 16-18° per side, providing extreme sharpness and durability.
- Extremely durable military grade G10 handle.
- Fantastic value for the price
- Some home cooks might be looking for a bit of a flashier design.
- You might find the blade a little long for some uses.
6. Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most versatile Japanese knife?
Of the knives listed above, the Kiritsuke knife is the most versatile. It can be used as an all-purpose knife. However, the fact that it’s three knives in one also means that there are a few functional compromises, which makes it a somewhat challenging knife to use (this is why, in Japanese kitchens, it is only handled by the head chef).
A good alternative is the Santoku knife, which is very versatile (its name translates to “three virtues”) without being difficult to handle.
How many Japanese knives do I need?
Japanese knives are very task-specific. Most sushi chefs will have a wide variety of knives. But if we had to boil it down to just three, it would be the Yanagiba, Deba and Nakiri knives. The Yanagiba knife is great for precision cuts for sashimi, the Deba is great for fish butchery and filleting, and the Nakiri is perfect for vegetables.
What is the best sushi knife on a budget?
On the list above you’ll find a number of great Japanese knives at several price points. When it comes to sheer functionality and looks, our pick for the best sushi knife on a budget is the Gladiator Series 10.5" Yanagiba Knife.
What is the best recipe for sushi?
Of course, what good is a sushi knife if you don’t know how to make sushi? Worry not, we wrote a whole explainer around that very topic which you can find right here.
What is the best knife for left handed cooks?
Due to their asymmetrical construction, most Japanese knives are not interchangeable between lefties and righties. Be aware of this if you’re a left handed cook. Thankfully, there are a number of good left handed knives available.
How do you sharpen a sushi knife?
Sharpening any knife is important. Not only will it help your knife work better on your food, but it will make it easier and safer to use. And when it comes to sushi knives, especially types like Yanagiba knives which are designed for precision cuts, this is especially important.
Always follow proper usage, storage, and sharpening steps. For information on how to sharpen a knife, check out our thorough explainer.
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Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.