Japanese Chef Knives
Japanese chef knives are in my opinion, the best knives in the world. A lot of tradition, skill and mastery goes into the manufacturing of knives in Japan. While there are many brands, types and styles of Japanese knives to choose from, what is the best Japanese chef knives for home cooks and chefs alike?
Kasumi knives, who are a part of the rich history and tradition of Japan’s knife capital, Seki-shi, or Seki City, are a fantastic company that produce lifetime counterparts for your home or work kitchen. Here is the checklist you should know about a quality knife and why I have chosen Kasumi.
Disclosure: we were not paid for this article, however, Kasumi did provide us with one of their excellent knives.
What to look for in a Japanese chef knife:
Stainless Steel vs Carbon Steel
For the typical home cook, a stainless steel Japanese knife is recommended over a carbon steel knife. Carbon steel has a tendency to rust when they aren’t thoroughly dried, or if food is left on them. For this reason, carbon steel knives require a lot more care and vigilance than stainless steel. Carbon steel knives stay sharp longer. Both of these materials are better than ceramic knives, which can’t really be sharpened.
The main cutting blade of Kasumi knives is made of V Gold No. 10 high carbon stainless steel that has been developed especially for knives. This means you get the best of a super sharp cutting edge with the protection of the stainless steel. Each Kasumi knife features 32 folded layers of fine stainless steel. The stunning visual effect is immediately discernible on the blade.
One of the main factors for sharpness is steel hardness. Japanese knives are harder, which gives them a few advantages over softer knives. The harder the steel, the more narrow of an edge it can sustain, thus Japanese knives typically have a 15 (or less)-degree angle, rather than a 20-degree angle. The hardness also allows the knife to hold a sharp edge longer. The softer blade of other knives have a tendency to bend or fold over slightly with use, requiring more frequent honing and sharpening. Needing to sharpen the knife more often will eventually lead to a shorter life span for your knives. It’s ideal to use a whetstone to sharpen Japanese knives, but there are a few electric knife sharpeners that are made for Asian knives.
With Kasumi knives, the blades are hardened to Rockwell C59 60 degrees (which is good and hard) and therefore keep a sharper cutting edge longer than any other knives.
Here is an article to learn more about the Rockwell Hardness Test.
Cladding refers to a knife that has been wrapped. For instance, the core of the knife is carbon steel, which has been wrapped in another metal like stainless steel. These are easier to take care of than a full carbon steel knife. Many Japanese knives are clad in a style called Damascus (or Suminagashi), which adds a swirl design to the outside of the knife. The cladding doesn’t necessarily offer any benefit, but you do want to be aware of the layers and the type of steel used.
Both sides of the main cutting blade of the Kasumi knives have a fine Damascus stainless steel pattern from its cladding. The Kasumi pattern that you see on both sides of the knives is the result of the repeated folding and forging of fine stainless steel into multiple layers.
Cost may or may not be a factor for you, depending on how much you are willing to spend. Japanese chef’s knives can soar up to over $1000.
Kasumi knives are a fraction of this price, averaging around $200 and are every bit a high-end Japanese chef’s knife that will last for a lifetime.
The tang refers to the way the blade is attached to the handle. You’ll hear this said as either full tang or push tang. A full tang means the knife blade runs the full length of the handle. This can sometimes indicate better quality because it’s possible that the blade may come loose from the handle on a knife with a push tang.
Kasumi knives are made with a full tang construction which means they will last a long, long time.
The handles of Japanese knives are often made of wood which won’t become slippery when wet, as many of the other knives with plastic fitted handles will. The wood is fine-grained and porous to hold its shape and improve grip. The general shapes are chestnut (frequently called “D”) and octagon, with a tapering to be slightly larger at the tail end.
Each Kasumi knife has a laminated pakka wood handle secured with stainless steel rivets.
Did you know that the handles of a Kasumi knife take at least 3 months to make?
Most other knives have a symmetrical bevel, meaning they are sharpened on both sides of the blade. Japanese knives tend only to be sharp on one side of the blade. The single bevel gives it the ability to be sharper. The edge on a Japanese knife is often 15-degrees or less, while other styles of non-Japanese knives rarely go below an 18-degree edge..
Kasumi Knives are bevelled at a 15-degree angle which gives them a superior sharpness.
Where is it made?
Seki, Japan, the cutlery capital, is situated in the centre of the Japanese Archipelago. The history of the cutlery in Seki dates back 780 years. Swordsmiths first appeared in Seki in the early 1200s. The industry’s founder was drawn to the area by its natural resources which included good quality earth for tempering blades, pinewood charcoal, fresh water, and proximity to two major rivers.
Seki was an ideal region for swordsmiths. The method used for tempering swords in those days was unique to Japan. Swords from Seki were such good quality and had such high artistic value that Seki became famous for its swords. During the 1300s to the 1500s, the number of swordsmiths exceeded three hundred and Seki were renowned as excellent swords that neither bent nor broke. During the civil wars from the late 1400s to early 1500s, Seki swords were favoured by the Samurai warriors. Therefore Seki prospered and became Japan’s most famous sword manufacturing centre. This traditional Japanese technique of sword making has been handed down from generation to generation to the present day. These techniques continue to be used to produce Kasumi knives which explains their excellent cutting ability and hardness.
Kasumi knives are made of 32 layers of folded steel and it is made using V-Gold No. 10 High Carbon stainless steel. Providing high quality at an affordable price and most importantly, they are made in Japan, with a Lifetime Warranty. I highly recommend you go to your local knife shop and feel the difference a quality Japanese knife makes! For more info on Kasumi Knives, follow the links below.
Did You Know….
Kasumi means ‘mist’ in Japanese, which is why the blades have the misty or hazy pattern uniquely crafted into each blade.