What’s the best nakiri knife?
In this detailed buying guide, I take a look at some of the top nakiri knives on the market today. I also cover some useful facts that will help you in your buying decision.
If you’re interesting in getting a great Japanese vegetable knife for yourself, then read on for:
- What is a nakiri knife used for
- Nakiri knife recommendations
- Factors to consider when buying
- Differences with usuba and santoku
- How to use a nakiri
Let’s get started!
What is a nakiri knife used for?
A nakiri is a Japanese knife type specifically designed for cutting vegetables. It features a double-bevel blade edge (i.e. Western style).
Its blade profile is rectangular with no curve or pointed tip. The flat blade edge helps you cut cleanly through vegetables (i.e. no more accordion cuts). The thinner blade also allows you to make more precise vegetable cuts than a typical chef’s knife (i.e. gyuto) or santoku. Nakiri knives are typically lighter than a chef’s knife, so will help you finish your vegetable prep work in a breeze.
Despite looking like a meat cleaver, a nakiri is not really appropriate for chopping/butchering tough meats or fish. The thinner, lightweight blade is more likely to chip or deform if you use it for cutting tough objects.
The name “nakiri” (菜切り) literally translates to vegetable cutter. (菜 means vegetable, 切り means to cut).
Now, onto the recommendations:
Best Nakiri Knife on Amazon: Top Picks
In case you’re in a rush, here’s my top three nakiri picks that are easily purchasable online (via Amazon).
(The Chef Dojo receives a small commission if you decided to purchase through Amazon. It helps to support the website )
Best Nakiri Knife comparison table
Here’s a complete table of all my nakiri choices available on Amazon. I have weeded out the fake Japanese knives, so you don’t have to. I have also sorted them by general price range:
- Premium ($200+)
- Standard ($100 – $200)
- Budget (under $100)
Scroll down for more a more detailed description of each knife.
|Yoshihiro Kurouchi Nakiri||Carbon (Blue Steel #2)||Traditional||6.5" / 165mm||$225||Purchase|
|Yoshihiro Hayate Nakiri||Stainless (ZDP-189)||Traditional||7" / 180mm||$700||Purchase|
|Miyabi Birchwood Nakiri||Stainless (SG-2)||Traditional||6.5" / 165mm||$300||Purchase|
|Tojiro DP Damascus Nakiri||Stainless (VG-10)||Western||7" / 180mm||$150||Purchase|
|Yoshihiro 46 Layer Damascus Nakiri||Stainless (VG-10)||Traditional||6.5" / 165mm||$170||Purchase|
|Shun Classic Nakiri||Stainless (VG-MAX)||Traditional||6.5" / 165mm||$170||Purchase|
|Global Vegetable Knife||Stainless (CROMOVA 18)||Western||7" / 180mm||$155||Purchase|
|Tojiro A-1 Nakiri||Stainless (VG-10)||Western||6.5" / 165mm||$36||Purchase|
|MAC Japanese Series||Stainless (MV)||Traditional||6.5" / 165mm||$85||Purchase|
|KAI Seki Magoroku Waktake||Stainless (MV)||Western||6.5" / 165mm||$25||Purchase|
Premium choices ($200+)
If money is not a concern, then here are a couple nakiri knives to consider:
BEST Premium Choice:
Yoshihiro Kurouchi Blue Steel Nakiri (6.5” / 165mm)
- High end Blue Steel #2 core (HRC 62-63)
- Stainless cladding for easier maintenance
- Professional level performance
- Looks great
- Nothing really; high-carbon edge requires more care
This is a great professional-level nakiri knife from Yoshihiro brand. The blade is made with a core of Blue Steel #2 (i.e. aogami #2), with a hardness rating of around HRC 62-63. This provides the knife with awesome cutting performance and excellent edge retention.
The high-carbon core is cladded with stainless steel for better durability and easier overall maintenance (except for the cutting edge). This helps give the knife the best of both worlds — cutting performance of blue steel with the easy maintenance of stainless steel.
This cladded blade design also gives the knife a very cool, unique aesthetic. The traditional style, octagonal, rosewood handle further adds to the beauty of this knife.
If you are looking for a premium, professional-level nakiri, then this Yoshihiro Kurouchi is an excellent choice. It retails for around $225.
Yoshihiro Hayate ZDP-189 Nakiri (7″ / 180mm)
- High-end ZDP-189 powdered steel (HRC 66-67)
- Looks beautiful
If you’re looking to blow some money, check out this nakiri.
It is made with high-end ZDP-189 powdered stainless steel, which is considered a “super” steel developed by Hitachi metals. The steel has insane hardness rating of HRC 66-67 which means it will retain a sharp edge for a very, very long time. It also means that it will be very difficult to sharpen when it ever does dull.
Overall, the knife is beautiful, including the ebony wood, octagonal style handle.
Costing nearly $700, this seems more like a collector’s knife, then one you would use in day-to-day cooking. If you have the money to buy this, then please let me know how it is.
Miyabi Birchwood SG2 Nakiri Knife (6.5″ / 165mm)
- Excellent stainless steel (SG-2)
- Looks nice
- Reputable brand
- Slightly curved blade profile (can be good or bad depending on preferences)
Miyabi is a popular knife brand that is made in Japan, but from a German kitchen company called Zwilling. It’s a bit confusing. Basically, the German company has and office / production center specifically set up in Japan to make their Miyabi line of knives.
This particular knife uses the excellent SG-2 powdered steel. It has a hardness rating of HRC 63. It has excellent edge retention and cutting performance, though may be difficult to sharpen for beginners.
The blade profile is a bit more curved than a very traditional nakiri. This may be preferred by people who like to rock chop. If you are looking for a completely flat blade edge like a traditional nakiri, then you probably will not like this design choice.
The handle is also sort of a mix between traditional Japanese and Western style handles. It is made of birchwood, with a traditional D-shape form. The way the handle is attached to the blade is more Western style.
Overall, this is an excellent and well balanced nakiri that is a fusion between Western and Japanese designs. If you don’t mind the nearly $300 price tag, then it is a great choice.
Standard/mid-level choices ($100 – $200)
These are the knives that most people would consider. They offer a good balance between quality materials and aesthetics, with moderate pricing.
BEST Standard/Mid-Level Knife:
Tojiro DP Damascus Nakiri Knife (7” / 180mm)
- Good VG-10 stainless steel (HRC 60)
- Durable design
- Very reputable brand
- Basic appearance
Tojiro is known for its high quality, wallet-friendly Japanese knives. This nakiri is no exception. The blade is made with a VG-10 stainless steel, cladded with softer stainless steel for easier maintenance. The VG-10 steel edge has a hardness rating of HRC 60, and can take a very sharp edge.
The knife is strong, durable, and designed for everyday usage in commercial kitchens. This includes the handle, which is a very basic, but durable black laminated wood.
The no-nonsense design is also probably the knife’s only downside; it is not that pretty to look at.
If you don’t care about looks, and just want a quality nakiri you can use daily, then this Tojiro DP Damascus is a great choice. It currently retails for around $150.
Yoshihiro VG-10 46 Layer Damascus Nakiri (6.5” / 165mm)
- Good VG-10 stainless steel (HRC 60)
- Comes with blade cover (i.e. saya)
- Looks great
- Nothing really
Here is another good knife from Yoshihiro brand. This damascus style nakiri also uses VG-10 stainless steel like the Tojiro DP above. It has hardness rating of HRC 60, and offers great cutting performance while being easy to maintain.
The traditional Japanese style handle is made of lightweight Ambrosia wood and looks great.
Overall this a great entry to mid-level nakiri to have in your home kitchen. It also comes with a blade cover to protect your knife when it’s not in use. The blade is 165mm (6.5 inches).
It currently retails for about $170. Check the price below:
For a similar knife with Western handle, check out this Yoshihiro here: link
Shun Classic Nakiri Knife (6.5” / 165mm)
- Good stainless steel (VG-MAX)
- Quality construction
- Reputable brand/company
- A bit heavier than other nakiris
Shun is a popular Japanese knife brand made by Kai Group. The Classic Nakiri uses Shun’s proprietary “VG-MAX” stainless steel. It is like an upgraded version of VG-10 steel. It is slightly harder (HRC 61), which means better edge retention, but also slightly more difficult to sharpen when needed.
The D-shaped handle is made out of black pakkawood, and is easy to handle. Overall, the knife looks pretty nice, and has that typical ‘Shun’ style. If you want
One downside is that the knife is a bit heavier than most other nakiris. It weighs about 215g (7.5oz). Compare this to the Tojiro (175g / 6.1 oz), or Yoshihiro (187g / 6.6oz).
The knife currently retails for around $170.
For same knife with lighter colored handle, check out this Shun: Link
For slightly cooler looking (and more expensive) version check out the Shun Premiere Nakiri
Global Vegetable Knife (7” / 180mm)
- Super sharp edge angle
- Quality construction
- Reputable brand/company
- Softer steel (may be good or bad depending on user)
- Handle may feel weird
- Heavy (272 g)
Global is a well known Japanese knife brand that sells in major retailers around the world. Their knives all use a propriety stainless steel called “CROMOVA 18”. It is basically an MV (molybdenum vanadium) steel. It is a bit on the softer side compared to most other Japanese knives (HRC 56-58). This means it will require sharpening more frequently, but will also be less prone to chipping. If you treat your knives roughly, then it may a better choice.
Global knives are unique in that the handle and blade are all made from one piece of steel. The handle can feel a bit weird for some people. One upside is that this makes it easier to clean.
This Global nakiri is also quite heavy (272g / 9.6 oz). It is the heaviest of all the knives on the list. It will be more tiring to use, but useful if you want some more heft in your blade.
It currently retails for around $155.
Budget (under $100)
Spending over $100 on a vegetable knife is a lot of money. If you’re on a tighter budget, or just want to try a nakiri for the first time, here are some great options for you:
Tojiro A-1 Nakiri (6.5” / 165mm)
- Super cheap
- Good VG-10 Stainless Steel
- Reputable brand
- No bolster; less sturdy than DP version
The A-1 line is Tojiro’s even more budget friendly alternative to the more popular DP or DP Damascus line.
The blade actually uses the same steel construction (cladded VG-10 stainless steel) as the more expensive DP line. The main difference is how the blade is attached to the handle. This A-1 line has no bolster at all. This gives it a less durable, stable feeling.
This is probably why Tojiro states that the A-1 is only meant for home use, while the DP line can be used in commercial kitchens.
If you are just looking for a simple nakiri to use at home once in awhile, then this is a great choice. After all, it only costs about $36 (at time of writing). Check out the current price below:
MAC Japanese Series Vegetable Cleaver (6.5 inch / 165mm)
- Thin, super sharp blade
- Very lightweight
- Reputable brand
- A bit too delicate
MAC is a popular Japanese knife brand known for their lightweight, super thin and sharp blades. Their blades are made with a rust-resistant Molybdenum Vanadium Steel with a hardness rating of HRC 57-61.
This nakiri is very lightweight at just 5.8 ounces (164 g). It makes it very easy to handle. Those that like to have some extra “oomf” in their knife may find it too light. In any case, it is not meant for cutting harder veggies like squash, etc.
The handle is a basic pakkawood that is functional, but nothing to write home about. The knife current retails for around $85. It is not super cheap compared to other budget knives, but also not too expensive.
KAI Seki Magoroku Wakatake Nakiri (6.5″ / 165mm)
- Crazy cheap
- Dishwasher safe
- Reputable budget brand
- Cheap steel/materials
Kai is the same company behind the “Shun” brand of Japanese knives (featured in Standard section above). Their Seki Magoroku is another one of their brand lines which has many budget friendly knives.
The Wakatake nakiri has a blade made with a basic Molybdenum Valadium (MV) stainless steel. It is rust-resistant and easy to clean. Similar to the Tojiro A-1, the basic handle is attached to the blade with no bolster. This helps reduce weight and also cost, but at the expense of durability. The handle itself is made of a simple heat-resistant resin material.
One upside of these cheaper materials is that you can wash it in the dishwasher.
This is by far the cheapest knife on this list, with a price of only $25. If you just want to test out a nakiri knife, and not worry about care/maintenance, then it’s a great choice.
For an upgraded version, check out the KAI PRO Wasabi
Other Non-Amazon Options
If you’re not a fan of Amazon, there are plenty of great Japanese knife stores you can nakiri knives buy from. Here are a few places to consider:
- Yoshihiro’s nakiri selection: Link
- Hocho-knife.com nakiri selection: Link
- Knifewear’s nakiri selection: Link
- Chefknivestogo’s nakiri selection: Link
- Japanese Knife Imports’ nakiris: Link
Factors to consider
When buying a nakiri, or any other knife type, here are a few factors you should consider:
- Steel type: Do you want a stainless steel, or high-carbon? Most nakiri knives for home use are made with stainless steel as it is easier to maintain. High carbon steel types like Blue Steel are known for better cutting performance.
- Handle style: Japanese style or Western style? Traditional Japanese style handles are lighter, which makes it easier to maneuver and control the knife. Some people do not like the cylindrical shape, though. Western handles are typically grip shaped, with a heavier and sturdier feel.
- Blade Size: Nakiri blade sizes commonly range from around 5 inches (127mm) – 7 inches (178mm). The most common size is 6.5 inch (165mm). There is not a huge difference, but it is still something to consider.
- Brand / maker: I always recommend buying from a reputable Japanese brand or shop. This is especially true if you are buying online; it is hard to tell just from photos of the quality of knife you are getting. There are many low quality sellers out there on Amazon, Ebay, etc. Buying a reputable Japanese brand gives you some peace of mind of the quality knife you will get.
Nakiri Knife FAQ
Here are some other questions or thoughts that people usually have about nakiri knives.
Nakiri vs Usuba: What’s the difference?
Usuba (薄刃) is a traditional Japanese vegetable knife. It is very similar to a nakiri, except that it features a single-bevel blade. Nakiri knives have double-bevel blades.
A thinner, sharper single bevel blade is designed to cut quicker, and more precisely compared to a double-bevel blades. The downside is that single-bevel knives are more difficult to use/control, as the knife will steer to one side when cutting. For this reason, typically only professional chefs will use a knife like an usuba. It is often used for preparing traditional Japanese cuisine (i.e. washoku), and advanced cutting techniques like Katsura-muki.
The nakiri knife actually evolved from the usuba, as the double bevel blade is easier to use for general households.
Nakiri vs Santoku: What’s the difference?
Santoku (三徳) is an all-around Japanese knife type that can be used for cutting vegetables, meat, or fish. A nakiri is typically only used for vegetables. It is not meant for cutting fish or meats.
Both nakiri and santoku are considered Western style Japanese knife types and have double-bevel blades.
A nakiri has a very rectangular blade profile and a flat/blunt tip. The almost completely flat blade edge makes it easier to chop cleanly chop through vegetables, as the entire edge will need to hit the cutting board. The slightly taller, uniform blade height also makes it easier to cut through larger ingredients like cabbage heads.
A santoku usually has a very slightly curved edge profile, and a pointed tip. The design is more versatile that a nakiri, as it can be used in a variety of cutting motions (push, pull, rock). The pointed tip allows the knife to better pierce ingredients like raw meats and fish.
The santoku technically evolved from nakiri, as Japanese diet shifted towards more meats, and households required a more suitable knife.
How to use a nakiri
A nakiri is used in a push-cut motion. It is difficult to use it in a rock-chop motion, as the blade usually has no curve. Here’s a basic video and walkthrough of a push-cut:
- Start with the front half of the blade touching the ingredient.
- Push the knife down and forwards towards the cutting board. The entire edge of the nakiri should be touching the board when you finish a cut.
- Lift the knife completely off the board, and repeat.
For a list of Japanese vegetable cutting techniques, check out this article.
If you want a knife specifically designed for quickly chopping vegetables, then a nakiri is great addition to your kitchen.
In this article, I highlighted some great nakiri knives that you can purchase online today. I also covered the differences between similar Japanese knife types (usuba, santoku), and the basic way to use a nakiri.
I hope this was a helpful guide for your buying decision.
Let me know in the comments below:
What knife did you buy? What do you think of using a nakiri vs other knife types?
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