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What are Japanese steak knives called?

Japanese steak knives are high-quality knives designed for cutting meat, particularly steak. These knives are typically made from high-grade stainless steel or Damascus steel, which is a type of steel that is layered and folded to create a beautiful and strong blade.

Japanese steak knives feature a sharp and thin blade that allows for clean and precise cuts through meat, without tearing or shredding it. They may also have a serrated edge to help slice through tougher cuts of meat.

In addition to their functionality, Japanese steak knives are often appreciated for their aesthetic beauty. They may feature unique and elegant designs on the blade, and often have a sleek and minimalist handle made from high-quality materials such as wood or resin.

Overall, Japanese steak knives are a popular choice for those who appreciate high-quality knives and want to enhance their dining experience when enjoying a delicious steak.

What is a Japanese steak knife called?

Japanese steak knives are often referred to simply as “steak knives” in Japan. However, they may also be called “gyuto steak knives,” with “gyuto” referring to the type of Japanese chef’s knife that the steak knife is based on. In some cases, they may also be referred to as “hankotsu” knives, which are specifically designed for cutting meat.

What is a Japanese steak knife used for?

A Japanese steak knife is primarily used for cutting meat, particularly steak. It is designed to provide a clean and precise cut through the meat, without tearing or shredding it. The sharp and thin blade of a Japanese steak knife is ideal for slicing through even the toughest cuts of meat, such as sirloin or ribeye.

In addition to steak, Japanese steak knives can also be used for other meats, such as lamb or pork. They may also be used for other foods that require a sharp and precise cutting edge, such as fruits, vegetables, or bread.

What is the best size Japanese steak knives?

The best size for Japanese steak knives largely depends on personal preference, as well as the size of the steak or other meat being cut. Generally speaking, Japanese steak knives range in blade length from around 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) up to 9 inches (23 cm) or longer.

For most home cooks, a blade length of around 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) is typically sufficient for cutting through a variety of steak sizes. However, professional chefs or those who frequently cook larger cuts of meat may prefer a longer blade length for greater versatility.

Ultimately, the best size for a Japanese steak knife will depend on individual needs and preferences. It is recommended to try out a few different sizes before making a purchase to determine which size feels most comfortable and effective for your specific use case.

Benefits of using Japanese steak knives

There are several benefits to using Japanese steak knives, including:

  • Sharpness: Japanese steak knives are known for their sharpness and precision. They are typically made of high-quality steel that is honed to a razor-like edge, making them ideal for cutting through steak and other meats with ease.
  • Durability: Japanese steak knives are often made with high-quality materials and are designed to last for many years with proper care. They are typically resistant to rust and corrosion, and the blades maintain their sharpness over time.
  • Comfort: Many Japanese steak knives are designed with ergonomic handles that are comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time. This can reduce hand fatigue and make the cutting process more efficient.
  • Aesthetics: Japanese steak knives often feature beautiful designs and patterns on the blades, making them visually appealing as well as functional.
  • Versatility: While Japanese steak knives are primarily used for cutting through meat, they can also be used for a variety of other tasks in the kitchen, such as slicing vegetables or bread. This makes them a versatile tool to have in your kitchen.

What is the difference between a chef knife and a steak knife?

The main difference between a chef knife and a steak knife is their design and intended use. Chef knives are multipurpose knives designed for slicing, chopping, and dicing a variety of ingredients, including vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. They typically have a longer blade and are heavier, providing more leverage for cutting through tougher ingredients.

On the other hand, steak knives are designed specifically for cutting through steaks and other meat dishes. They typically have a shorter blade and a sharper edge, which allows for precision cuts without damaging the meat. Steak knives also often have a serrated edge, which helps to grip the meat and cut through tougher textures.

Overall, chef knives are more versatile and can be used for a wide range of tasks in the kitchen, while steak knives are designed for a specific purpose and are ideal for enjoying a delicious steak or other meat dishes.

How to use Japanese steak knives safely

Using Japanese steak knives safely is similar to using any other type of knife. Here are some tips:

  1. Hold the knife by the handle: Always hold the knife by the handle, not the blade.
  2. Cut away from your body: When cutting your food, make sure to cut away from your body to avoid accidents.
  3. Keep your fingers away from the blade: Be sure to keep your fingers away from the blade when cutting your food. Use a fork to hold your food in place, and use the knife to cut.
  4. Cut with a sawing motion: Use a sawing motion when cutting through meat, rather than pressing down on the blade.
  5. Keep the knife sharp: A dull knife can be dangerous, so keep your knife sharp to ensure clean cuts and safe use.
  6. Store the knife safely: When not in use, store the knife in a knife block or sheath to prevent accidents.

Factors to consider when choosing the best Japanese steak knives

When choosing the best Japanese steak knives, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Blade Material: Japanese steak knives are typically made from high-quality steel, such as VG-10 or AUS-10. These materials are durable and resist rust and corrosion.
  2. Blade Design: The blade design is also important. The best Japanese steak knives have a sharp, serrated edge that can easily cut through meat without tearing it apart.
  3. Handle Material: The handle material should be comfortable to hold and provide a secure grip. Look for materials like wood, micarta, or synthetic materials like G-10.
  4. Blade Length: The blade length should be long enough to handle most cuts of meat, but not so long that it’s difficult to control.
  5. Brand Reputation: Look for brands that are known for their quality, such as Shun, Miyabi, and Tojiro.
  6. Price: Japanese steak knives can range in price from under $50 to over $200 per knife. Consider your budget and choose a knife that offers the best value for your money.
  7. Set or Individual: Decide whether you want to purchase a set of Japanese steak knives or individual knives. A set can be more cost-effective, but you may not need all the knives included.
  8. Maintenance: Consider how easy the knives are to maintain. Some Japanese steak knives require special care, such as hand-washing and oiling, while others are dishwasher-safe.

How to clean Japanese steak knives

Here are some steps for cleaning an offset serrated knife:

  1. Rinse the blade: Rinse the blade under warm water to remove any debris or food particles.
  2. Use dish soap: Add a small amount of dish soap to a sponge or cloth and gently scrub the blade and handle of the knife.
  3. Rinse again: Rinse the knife thoroughly under warm water to remove any soap residue.
  4. Dry the knife: Use a clean, dry cloth to dry the blade and handle of the knife.
  5. Store the knife: Once the knife is clean and dry, store it in a safe place, such as a knife block or in a designated drawer.

It’s important to note that you should never put an offset serrated knife in the dishwasher, as the harsh detergents and high temperatures can damage the blade and handle of the knife. By following these steps, you can keep your offset serrated knife clean and in good condition for years to come.

How to sharpen Japanese steak knives

Unlike traditional Japanese knives, steak knives typically do not require sharpening as frequently. However, if you find that your Japanese steak knives have become dull over time, here are some steps you can follow to sharpen them:

  1. Determine the angle: Check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the angle of the blade edge. Japanese steak knives usually have a 15- to 20-degree angle.
  2. Choose a sharpening tool: You can use a sharpening stone, honing steel or electric sharpener. A sharpening stone is the most traditional and effective method, but it requires some practice to master.
  3. Prepare the sharpening surface: If you are using a sharpening stone, wet it with water and place it on a flat, stable surface.
  4. Sharpen the blade: Hold the knife at the correct angle and draw the blade across the sharpening surface in a sweeping motion, starting from the base of the blade and moving towards the tip. Repeat this process on the other side of the blade until the edge is sharpened.
  5. Hone the blade: If you have a honing steel, use it to straighten and smooth out the blade edge. Hold the steel at a slightly steeper angle than the blade and draw the blade across the steel in a sweeping motion.
  6. Test the sharpness: Test the sharpness of the blade by cutting a piece of paper or a tomato. If the blade cuts smoothly without squishing or tearing, it is sharp.

Remember to always handle your Japanese steak knives with care and use a cutting board to avoid dulling the blade quickly.

How to maintain Japanese steak knives properly

To maintain Japanese steak knives properly, follow these steps:

  1. Hand wash: Always hand wash your Japanese steak knives with warm soapy water after each use. Do not soak them in water or put them in the dishwasher, as this can cause damage to the blade.
  2. Dry immediately: Dry the knives with a soft cloth or towel immediately after washing to prevent rusting.
  3. Store properly: Store your Japanese steak knives in a knife block or sheath to prevent them from coming into contact with other objects that could damage the blade.
  4. Sharpen regularly: Regular sharpening will keep the knives in good condition and help prevent damage to the blade. Use a sharpening stone or honing rod to sharpen the blades.
  5. Oil the blade: After sharpening, you can apply a small amount of food-safe mineral oil to the blade to protect it from rusting.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that your Japanese steak knives stay in good condition and last for many years.

Troubleshooting about Japanese steak knives

There are not many troubleshooting issues that can arise with Japanese steak knives, as they are relatively simple tools. However, here are a few common issues and solutions:

  • Dullness: If the blade is becoming dull, it may be time to sharpen it using a sharpening stone or a honing steel.
  • Rust: If the blade is not properly cleaned and dried after use, it may develop rust. To remove rust, gently scrub the affected area with a mixture of baking soda and water or a rust eraser.
  • Loose handle: If the handle becomes loose, it can be tightened using a screwdriver. If the handle is beyond repair, it may be necessary to replace the knife.

Japanese steak knives - FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Japanese steak knives:

Q: What are Japanese steak knives made of?

A: Japanese steak knives can be made of various materials such as high-carbon steel, stainless steel, or a combination of steel and other materials. Some Japanese steak knives may also have a Damascus or layered steel blade.

Q: Can Japanese steak knives be sharpened?

A: Yes, Japanese steak knives can be sharpened using a sharpening stone or a sharpening rod specifically designed for Japanese knives.

Q: How should I care for my Japanese steak knives?

A: To care for your Japanese steak knives, it is recommended to hand wash them with warm soapy water and dry them immediately. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh detergents that can damage the blade. Store them in a knife block or on a magnetic knife holder to prevent the blades from dulling or chipping.

Q: Are Japanese steak knives dishwasher safe?

A: While some Japanese steak knives may be labeled as dishwasher safe, it is generally recommended to hand wash them to prolong their lifespan and prevent damage to the blade. The harsh detergents and high heat of the dishwasher can cause the blade to dull or chip over time.

Q: How many steak knives come in a set?

A: The number of steak knives in a set can vary depending on the brand and model. Typically, Japanese steak knife sets come in sets of four, six, or eight, but some sets may contain more or fewer knives.


In conclusion, Japanese steak knives are excellent tools for slicing through meat, offering precision, balance, and durability. They come in a variety of sizes and designs, and are made from high-quality materials that provide sharpness, longevity, and resistance to rust and stains. When choosing a Japanese steak knife, it’s important to consider factors such as blade material, handle design, size, and overall style.

Proper care and maintenance of the knives are essential for ensuring their longevity and performance. With their exceptional quality and craftsmanship, Japanese steak knives are a great investment for any home cook or professional chef looking to elevate their meat-cutting game.

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