Japanese Chef Knives have developed from simple, heavy blades (like the Deba), to an intricate arsenal of knives which come in many well-thought-out forms used for specific tasks Deba, Gyuto and Chukabocho are the great classic trio, which are particularly useful for traditional Japanese cuisine.
We start our list with knives that are mainly used for Western - type cuisine and will dive deeper with more task - specific knives. The photo below shows various types of knives.
GYUTO (CHEF KNIFE)
Japanese version of the main kitchen knife (the knife of the chef) in Western style. A thinner blade is the major difference between a multi-purpose Japanese knife and its European version, a French or a German knife. Usually the Japanese version is made of harder steel and is double-bevel. There are European and Japanese handles with Gyuto knives, the latter known as wa-gyuto. Gyuto knives were originally designed to cut larger pieces of beef, which is where their name came from. The dimensions of Gyuto knives range between 150-390mm, but the most frequent ones are between 210-270mm long. The thickness of the blade is usually between 1.5-5mm.
There is a version of the Gyuto called a Kiritsuke, the difference between the two is the tip of the knife. The Gyuto has a point that meets towards the middle of the blade, whereas the Kiritsuke is much flatter across the bottom and front of the blade.
If you are a fan of Japanese culture, or want a truly unique knife for your kitchen, we recommend the Choppn' Kiritsuke. It is our first knife and our all time bestseller - and for good reason! It is a truly versatile Chef’s Knife due to its ability to Rock and Chop. Forged with 67 layers of Damascus steel and a VG10 Core this knife will be your best partner in the kitchen.
SANTOKU (MULTI PURPOSE)
Multi-purpose Japanese knife, it literally means a 'knife of three virtues' –it is used for vegetables, fish and meat. Santoku is also known as santuko in some parts of Europe. Its full name is santoku-bocho or bukabocho. The knife can have a Japanese or a European handle. The usual length ranges between 165-180mm, and it is almost always double-bevel.
BUNKA (MULTI PURPOSE)
With its typical functionality, the Bunka Bano-Bocho design is intended for versatile use in Western cuisine. It has a flexible profile that is wide enough at the handle, a gently designed belly of the blade suitable for making either long or short cuts, a flat back side of the blade, and a thin tip for precise work with food.
NAKIRI (VEGETABLE KNIFE)
A thin rectangular blade, similar to Usuba, designed to cut vegetables, only much thinner and mostly intended for home use. Nakiri translates to cut greens as a knife. The knife can have a Japanese or a European handle. The usual length ranges from 165-180 mm and is nearly always double-bevel.
PETTY (PAIRING / UTILITY KNIFE)
Petty knife, sometimes referred to as a paring or utility, is a smaller version of the Gyuto (Chef's knife) and is used for all kinds of sensitive tasks where a larger knife would be unfavorable. Small knives are used to peel, park, decorate, cut apple quarters cores, remove eyes from potatoes, etc. It's a knife that should be in the kitchen of everybody. Its usual length ranges from 120-150 mm.
Pairing knifes are the second most important knives found in any chefs arsenal.
If you are in the market for a Petty / Utility Knife we urge you to take a look at the 6" Petty Kiritsuke. This blade will compliment any Chef Knife you have in your arsenal
Traditional Japanese knife with a long, thin blade used to cut thin slices of raw fish-yes, sushi! Nowadays, because of its long, thin blade, it can also be used to cut large pieces of meat (especially steaks). Typical Yanagiba knives are between 240-360 mm long and can be used for various cooking tasks requiring precision, according to some chefs. A Japanese handle and a chisel ground blade with an extremely small angle are some of the distinctive features of Yanagiba knives. In Japan, the term "yanagiba" means "a willow," as the knife's blade looks like a willow leaf. Some similar blades are as follows:
Takobiki, which is used for the preparation of sashimi in areas surrounding Tokyo,
Fugubiki is a thinner, flatter version of Yanagiba used for the preparation of Fugu fish - the deadly blowfish, a Japanese specialty that can only be prepared to be eat in some way.
For rougher tasks, a heavy, classic Japanese knife. Originally designed to cut and filet fish and chicken. Deba knives are usually 165-210 mm long with a thickness of up to 9 mm. They are chisel ground and have a Japanese handle in general. While Deba knives look like they could cut the fish / meat bones, we shouldn't use them for that as the blade is still sensitive to chipping.
There are several types of Deba knives:
Hon-deba is the real deba, the heaviest and thickest version of the deba, Ko-deba is a smaller deba suitable for small fish, Kanisaki - deba is a special deba used to cut crabs and especially lobsters, Yo - deba is a deba with a European handle, Miroshi - deba is used for filleting fish ("miroshi" means "filleting" in Japanese) these types of deba knives are usually thinner and longer.
Cleaver represents the main kitchen knife's Chinese version. It was originally designed to cut vegetables with its thin, sharp blade, but it can be used for any cooking tasks. Cleaver in Japanese is called Chukabocho.
A thin rectangular blade designed for vegetable cutting. Usuba is a chisel ground compared to Nakiri and has a classic Japanese handle. For a classic Japanese knife for cutting vegetables, Azumagata usuba or Kakugata usuba ("kaku" means "square") are longer Japanese names. The shape of the blade tip, which can be rectangular or semicircular, is different from the Usuba knives. Kamagata usuba has a semicircular blade tip that originates in the region of Kansai.
To sum up, Usuba knives vary depending on their tips, which are useful to cut various types of vegetables.