Choosing the Best Sushi Knife for Preparing Delectable Japanese Dishes

If you love eating fresh salmon sashimi or spicy tuna rolls (like I do), then I am quite sure you wonder how exactly do sashimi and sushi chefs create precise and perfect slices of fish that flawlessly melts in the mouth. You know, the key to getting a perfectly sliced sashimi is having the best sashimi or sushi knife.

If you really want to create your own version of sashimi at sushi at home and buy your very own sushi knife but do not here to start, then you are very lucky! Because I’m about to give you the best guide to buying the perfect sushi and sashimi knife for your needs!

What is a Sushi knife?

First, let me give you a definition of what sushi and sashimi knives are. Sashimi and sushi knives are traditional Japanese kitchen knife used for cooking in Japanese households and restaurants. These knives have several varieties and are usually made using the traditional blacksmithing techniques of the Japanese culture.

Sashimi and sushi knives are particularly sharp which are hand-crafted for a very specific task and comes with specific instructions to maintain and handle.

The History of Sushi Knives

Sashimi and sushi knives handcrafting techniques dated back to over a 14th century ago. Most techniques even go back as far as one thousand years ago. In the 19th century where the modernization Japan starts, it became illegal to carry Samurai swords. Because of this most sword craftsmen turned their business into sushi knife crafting.

Like every form of art in Japan, accumulated experience and knowledge for over a hundred of years are passed down to apprentices from their masters. Very specific procedures and rules are put in place and trade secrets are passed on— and the creation of sashimi and sushi knives is no exception.

Sakai City, Japan is the only region renowned in the world because of their metal work. Since 500 A. D., Sakai City has been known for their metal crafts and works. This is when one of the emperors of Japan died and a temple built in his name was decreed. Many years after his death, the temple was complete and a lot of blacksmiths settled permanently around Sakai. Because all the best blacksmiths in Japan resided in one place, it is no question that Sakai became really popular for their work. From swords and then Portuguese-introduced rifles to sashimi and sushi knives, Sakai until this day is famous for their highest quality metal works.

Types of Sushi Knives

There are many different types knives that are used in the sushi industry, but some are very rare and only accessories. The types of sushi knives listed below, however, are considered the most essential for sushi and sashimi making.

  • Deba

It is the sushi knife closest to a meat cleaver, which is great for cutting through cartilage and bones of fish. Deba is a curved, small Japanese carving knife particularly designed to remove fish heads and fillet fish. It comes in various sizes with 4 inches start up to 12 inches long. Normally strong, thick and one-sided beveled, its blades are designed with an obtuse angle at the heel’s back making it really easy to remove a head’s fish in one swing. The rest of the blade is used to lie against the fish bones to remove fillet.

While Deba is not really a necessary item for sushi chef at home, professional sushi chefs do spend more to money for this knife because they use so much time for preparing the whole fish in sushi dishes. At home, most of the time you probably bought your fish frozen and in blocks, so removing the head and filleting is highly unlikely. However, on such occasions when you might need to do the process, a standard chef knife you might have at your home might do the work as long as it is sharp and long.

  • Usuba

Usuba is the ideal vegetable knife for peeling and fine cutting. This Japanese-style vegetable knife has a straight and thin blade edge, sharpened on the right side. The one side sharpening in knives is called Kataba.

Usuba knives with depression on the blade’s flat side are said to be of more quality. An Usuba Kataba style sushi knife can cut thinner slices possible than with Ryoba (a double-edged blade). Although, Ryoba style sushi knives can make it easier to do straight cuts.

  • Yanagiba

It is the standard sushi knife good for cutting sushi and sashimi rolls. Preparing sashimi and sushi in Japan is a really serious business. Meat slices should be sharp, shiny and smooth when viewed under the microscope. This requirement and precision cutting can only be accomplished with Yanagiba.

Yanagiba is a single bevel(typically on the right side), super thin and long sushi knife specifically used in preparing sushi and sashimi. Left-hand versions of Yanagiba (beveled on the left side) can be bought, however, they are much more expensive.

It is designed to be pulled in a single direction, its goal is to sever the cut in a single swift motion from the heel of the knife to the tip. There is no pushing action required because this might ruin the meat’s smooth cut surface and could tear it.

The blade’s thinness makes the knife to be pulled with only a little force that helps in the cutting action. Some knives with higher quality have a slight depression at the back or the flat side of the knife to prevent the meat from sticking and be removed easily. There is no “best” size for Yanagiba and its length varies from 8-12 inches. It is because it is a matter of preference. Keep in mind that the longer it is, the harder it is to use.

Advantage of Sushi Knife

Japanese knives are basically built to be light and very sharp. This means that it is best for more precise work and delicate processes such as slicing raw seafood for sashimi and sushi. It can be really hard and requires a lot of practice but trust me, once you get the hang of it, it’s all worth it.

Moreover, unlike western style knives, sushi knives mostly have single bevels. Meaning, one side of the knife is flat and the other holds the cutting edge this ensures that the food will not stick to the knife and ruin the meat.

What are the things to consider when buying Sushi Knife?

  • Knife Grip

When buying sushi knife, taking a closer look at its grip is very important. You need to be comfortable when handling the knife. Otherwise, if you handle it and you feel like the grip is not that good then look for another one. This can help prevent mishandling or slipping of knife that can cut your hands.

  • Knife Brand

With so many brands of good Japanese knife available out there, make sure to read about the company and customers review first before buying. You can go directly to the manufacturer’s website and read reviews from clients or turn to Amazon and look for user reviews. By doing this, you can buy a high-quality sushi knife from only the trusted brands.

  • Knife Price

You should consider the price if you think of buying a sushi knife. Keep in mind that it does not necessarily need to be expensive for it to be of high quality. If this is your first time in buying sushi knives, then you do not want to go overboard and buy a knife worth $500 yet! You need to be realistic and only get what you can afford.

  • Knife Lengths and Designs

They come in various sizes and shapes. However, the most common ones include:

  • Sushikiri. Best for sushi rolls. Its curved blades are great for ingredients that need longer strokes.
  • Yanagi. Best for slicing raw fish. It is a thin and long knife that allows to simply pull smoothly through a fish with little force needed.
  • Santoku. Best for vegetables, fish, and meat. This multi-purpose knife is usually used by beginners and home cooks.
  • Gyuto. Best for vegetables, meat and fish. This Chef knife Japanese version is usually thinner and sharper than other Japanese knives.
  • Knife Steel Type

You can narrow down your options in choosing sushi knife by knowing what type of steel you want your knife is to be made of. Here are the 3 basic types of steel used in making Japanese knives:

  • Composite Steel. Have a sharper edge than stainless but is less prone to rusting. However, this type of steel can costly.
  • Stainless Steel. This type does not rust. However, it is not sharp unlike the other types of steel.
  • Carbon Steel. It is the sharpest of the three but it is prone to rust and requires the most maintenance. Meaning, if you choose a sushi knife with this type of steel, you will need to sharpen it often and be very diligent in washing and keeping the blades dry to avoid rusting.

Top 5 Pick for the Best Sushi Knife

Ever since the popularity of sushi and sashimi skyrocketed, more and more people wanted to create and prepare their own versions. And with that, the demand for good quality sushi knife continuously increases. To help you find the best sushi knife available, I have narrowed down 5 top picks for the best sushi knife you can choose from.

This 10 inches super sharp knife from Lucky cook is the perfect knife for cutting, slicing and filleting delicate food products like sushi rolls and raw fish without tearing or crushing its structure.  

It is a quality sushi knife with a very long asymmetric narrow blade that lets you fillet a whole fish in just a single or two swift movements. Its extremely sharp blade is made of stainless steel of the highest quality. It features a right side bevel that aids in separating the slices you have just made.

It also comes with a non-slip, good balance, naturally fitting wooden handle. It is so convenient and comfortable that you can slice a sushi produce that fills an entire bowl without getting tired. Moreover, its wooden handle design emphasizes natural materials simplicity and harmony.

What We Like

  • Very sharp
  • Cut straight down and can create a perfectly shaped sushi and sashimi
  • Design is very charming
  • Comfortable hand grips
  • Reasonable price
  • Comes in a very nice box

What We Don't Like

  • Can be hard to use for other people because of its length

This 13 inches multipurpose chef knife is suitable for chopping, cutting and slicing sashimi, sushi, vegetables, meats, chicken, fish and more. Its 8 inches stainless steel, non stick coated blade provides maximum edge retention and sharpness and its aerated blade design prevents the food from sticking to the knife for an excellent control.

Its nonstick coating makes it also easier to cut food into pieces. It is dishwasher safe making it easier to clean, however, it is recommended to hand wash. Its 5 inches long handle provides a comfortable and firm grip to avoid slipping while cutting.

What We Like

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Multipurpose
  • Razor sharp blades
  • Cheap price

What We Don't Like

  • Gets dull quickly without right maintenance
  • Blade is not strongly attached to the handle

This professional sashimi and sushi knife from soufull is made of Japanese surgical grade stainless steel. Meaning it is two times harder than the other brands of knives that reach 59 to 61 in the Rockwell Hardness Scale.

Its ergonomic D-shaped leather wooden handle is more balanced and durable because of it is Double Riveted Durable. Its high-quality razor-sharp blade gives maximum edge retention and sharpness that can slice through rice roll, sushi, sashimi and raw fish with zero effort.

Not recommended for chopping, this single-edged sushi knife is great for slicing and cutting food. Weighing only 4.8 ounces and 12.8 inches long this sashimi and sushi knife is best suitable for professional sushi chefs and cooks.

What We Like

  • Extremely sharp
  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Reasonable price
  • Comes with a nice packaging
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Can get dull without proper maintenance

With a blade length of roughly eight inches, this Yanagiba Sashimi and sushi knife from Soufull that comes in a little gift box, ideal as a gift for a friend or relative. It has a D-shaped wooden handle and is right-handed.

Created from Japanese white high carbon steel, this sashimi and sushi knife can maintain its sharpness for a really long time. For increased durability and hardness, it also has vanadium and molybdenum and includes chromium for stain resistant properties.

Its razor sharp blade can slice through any fish type with zero pressure. Moreover, it is lightweight so it can suitable for beginners. It resists staining and corrosion that can be suitable for vegetables and other food ingredients.

What We Like

  • Extremely sharp
  • Stylish Damascus Pattern
  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Comes with a nice packaging

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

The Yanagiba Sushi Knife from Dalstrong is crafted to be elegant with perfectly balanced and razor sharp blades that bring exceptional performance. Its narrow, thin blade provides paper-thin slices of fish and sails through flesh fibers without pulling, tearing or ruining the delicate appearance.

Extremely sharp, the single bevel blade is crafted by master craftsmen to 13 to 15 degrees. It is also nitrogen cooled for enhanced corrosion resistance, flexibility, and hardness. The blade guarantees precise and swift cuts of meats without effort.

The handle made from velvety black Spanish Pakkawood is hand polished and laminated to guarantee a comfortable grip with great durability. Its traditional Japanese D-shaped wooden handle gives ultimate control for every cut.

What We Like

  • Extremely sharp
  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Lightweight
  • Magnificently well-crafted
  • Lifetime warranty against defect
  • Very easy to clean

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • Blades are really thick
  • Not suitable for filleting

Tips for Using and Maintaining your Sushi Knife

Before, I end this article; I would love to give you some bonus tips on properly using and caring for your sushi knife, in case you bought one.

  • SAFETY. Sushi Knife can be really sharp and thin. There are a lot of cooks at home, including myself, who had numerous minor accidents in the kitchen. We would want to avoid that, so for your safety, when holding the knife I would like to suggest that you use your thumb and index finger to hold the base of the blade. You can wrap your remaining three fingers around the knife’s handle and give you full control of it. Lastly, always follow the rule for every kind of knife— tuck your fingers in.
  • STORAGE. You need to have, and I repeat HAVE, a safe spot for your sushi knife. The exact safe place to put it is either in a box or in a drawer or cabinet. Or if you do not mind spending a little, you can invest in a magnetic wall rack or a mounted knife block. This is because it is one of the most sanitary and safe ways of storing knives.
  • CLEANING. Sushi Knife is mostly washed with soapy water. You then rinse it and use a towel to dry it. This is needed, particularly for carbon steel sushi knives because they are more prone to rusting when left wet.
  • SHARPENING. While sushi knives are really sharp, there are always dull moments. In case you need to sharpen your knife again, only use whetstone or water stone. Or much better, follow the instructions that your manufacturer gave you.
  • USING. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, use your sushi knife in cutting frozen foods for it may lead to a chip on your knife. Moreover, if you are cutting acidic foods like apples or lemons, try to wash or wipe your knife as often as possible.

The Final Judgment

Now, among the five sushi knife, I just mentioned, my best pick is the 10 inches Sashimi Sushi Knife by Luck Cook. Its super sharp and thin blade fits perfectly in making sushi and sashimi dishes. Moreover, its simplicity in terms of design and really comfortable and balanced handle is best for beginners. And if you are not convinced, check out the reviews for this product. You will not find any negative comments about it or whatsoever.

If you are really serious about buying yourself a great sushi knife then I hope you pick one from the list above. Furthermore, you will need a lot of research for this because these tools are not cheap.

Shifting from Western knife to Japanese knife requires thorough decision making. However, if you do invest in a Japanese knife, you will notice that your skills in preparing sashimi and sushi dishes, cutting and filleting will drastically improve. I certainly hope this article gave you a better understanding of Sushi Knife. If you want to share some thoughts, just add it to the comment section. I’d love to hear from you!

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Choosing the Best Sushi Knife for Preparing Delectable Japanese Dishes

Hey there, I'm Nancy, founder and editor in chief here at TOMYCook, and I’m absolutely in love with food and health blogs. I'm on a mission to share my insider cooking, food and health tips with all of you...

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