The Best Sushi Knives

The best Japanese sushi knives.
The best Japanese sushi knives.

Choosing a high-quality sushi knife might seem simple enough until you go out and see the enormous amount of options available. In this beginner’s guide to choosing sushi knives, we will cover the different types, the various materials and review some of the best ones out there.

Topics Covered

  • Types of sushi knives
    • The deba knife
    • The yanagiba knife
  • High carbon vs stainless steel
  • The best Japanese sushi knives
    • The Dalstrong chef knife
    • The Yoshihiro Aonamiuchi blue steel #1
    • The Yoshihiro Shiroko carbon steel deba sushi knife
    • The Honmamonh Azumasyusaku Deba sushi knife
  • How to take care of your knife

Types of sushi knives

Professional Japanese chefs have different types of sushi knives in their collection, with each one designed for completing a specific task. A beginner chef, like yourself, will not need such an extensive collection when first starting out.

The two types of sushi knives a beginner should start with are the Deba and Yanagiba knives. Here we will explain the function and characteristics of each.

The deba sushi knife

The primary function of a deba knife is to cut up and fillet an entire fish. The deba can be recognized by its shorter blade (4 to 6 inches in length), and it’s considerably wider and thicker than the yanagiba blade.

The yanagiba sashimi knife

Yanagiba knives are ideally suited for precision slicing, which is essential in Japanese cuisine because the presentation is everything. A yanagiba is easily recognizable by its much thinner and longer 8 to 9-inch blade.

Also, the blade is flat on one side while the other side runs at an angle. It is to ensure that food doesn’t stick to the edge and also helps with cutting delicate, soft ingredients.

High carbon or stainless steel?

When the time comes to buy a Japanese sushi knife, you will have two options – high carbon steel or stainless steel. Each comes with its pros and cons, which we will discuss in the next section.

Sushi knives are traditionally made from high carbon steel because no matter the quality of a stainless steel version, they will not be able to compete with the durability, sharpness, and ease of sharpening of a high carbon knife.

The only advantage a stainless steel sushi knife will have over a carbon steel one is that it will never rust, and its extra hardness will help prevent it from chipping. This is something to take into consideration when choosing a sushi knife.

The best Japanese sushi knives

The price of sushi knives varies greatly. High-end knives used by top sushi chefs can easily cost thousands of dollars each, but as a beginner, the ones sitting at the $100 to $300 range will be more than ideal.

Dalstrong sushi chef knife

This shogun series sushi chef knife from Dalstrong with its razor-sharp, carbon steel blade is perfectly balanced in hand and comes with a lifetime guarantee against any defects.

About the blade: The 2.2mm thick yanagiba blade is made from premium carbon steel that has been nitrogen cooled. It has incredible corrosion resistance, is flexible, is razor-sharp, and has been hand-finished to a mirror polish. The blade consists of 66 folded layers of carbon steel and is coated with a highly effective non-stick solvent.

About the handle: The handle is carefully shaped to fit perfectly and comfortably in your hand. It’s made with G-10 military-grade technology, which means that it has lifelong durability.

This high-quality Dalstrong sushi knife with a lifetime guarantee weighs 0.54 lb.

Yoshihiro Aonamiuchi blue steel #1 sushi knife

The Yoshihiro Aonamiuchi blue steel knife is genuinely unique and sits a little bit above the $300 beginner sushi knife price range but is well worth the price.

The high carbon steel knife has been carefully handcrafted in Japan by master artisans by using ancient and traditional methods. An experienced chef will appreciate this because it allows the blade to effortlessly slice through even the most sensitive of ingredients while doing the absolute minimum damage to the cellular structure.

Yoshihiro Shiroko carbon steel deba sushi knife

The knife is sturdy, and you can feel it just by holding it. The 180mm long high carbon blade is accompanied by a beautiful light brown magnolia handle that fits comfortably in your hand.

Honmamonh Azumasyusaku Deba sushi knife

This Honmamonh Azumasyusaku deba style knife has been handmade in Japan by highly skilled and experienced Tosa Craftsmen as per centuries of tradition.

The super sharp 180mm blade is made from Aogami steel and is double-edged, so it’s a perfect fit for both left and right-hand chefs.

How to take care of your sushi knife

You have invested a considerable amount of money on a high-quality sushi knife that has been made in Japan. It would, therefore, make sense to take good care of it so that the blade will remain razor-sharp for longer and perhaps even last a lifetime. Here we have laid out some proper maintenance and care tips for your knife.

Never drop it: Whether the blade is made from high carbon or stainless steel – never drop it. Yes, these blades are exceptionally strong and durable, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t chip when dropped.

Use each knife for its intended purpose: The two types of sushi knives mentioned on this page are the deba and yanagiba because they are the most important for chefs. Each is designed for particular purposes, and as a chef, you should strictly use each for its purpose. Use the deba for butchering and filleting. More importantly, only use it on fish bones and no other types of bones. The yanagiba is intended for soft ingredients such as fish, vegetables, etc. Never use any of the two on frozen food, bones other than fish bones or nuts.

Washing your knife: Preparing food is hard work, and one might, therefore, be tempted to throw everything in the dishwasher at the end of the day. This is perfectly fine, but not when it comes to your sushi knives. They should instead be carefully washed by hand.

Keep the blade dry: Your knife may be stainless steel, rust, and corrosion resistant, but you should still keep it dry at all times. This is especially important if using it on acidic food items. Carefully wipe the blade dry with a cloth after getting it wet.

Always use the sheath: Every knife mentioned on this list comes with a sheath to protect the blade. When not in use, always keep it clean inside the sheath. This will ensure that it stays protected when not in use.

Oil the blade: Oiling your blade from time to time helps preserve it and keeps it looking new for longer. You can use this oil here.

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Have you ever wanted to know how sushi differs from sashimi? Find out here.

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As with most things in Japan, presentation is everything. So why not serve your sushi in these exquisite plates?