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Everybody knows of the Chef knife, its the go to knife of a Chef. But what about eastern side of things. In Asia, they use different knives. From the Chinese Butcher knife to the Japanese Santoku. The blade profile and design is vastly different from you standard western knife. To get you better acquainted, I compiled a list of some of the Best Asian Knives available today. Since they serve different function, you should get one that best suits your needs.
What is an Asian Knife?
Its a generic term, any knife that originate from Asian can be called Asian Knive. While the Chinese Butcher Knife has the most notoriety, knife collector geek out over the Japanese knife. Perhaps the most popular asian knive today is the Santoku. This is mostly due to Celebrity Chef Rachel Ray claiming her love for it.
Different Between Asian and Standard Knife
There are many difference and that depends on the type of knife and its purpose. For example, the Chinese Cleaver is a all purpose knife. Its designed to cut, slice, scoop, break and flatten. Where the closest western equivalent is the Chef Knife. Comparing the two profile, the Chinese Cleaver looks like a Hulk of a Knife. While the Western knife looks light and nimble.
But if you look deeper into this, the Japanese have a even lighter and more nimble one, the Gyuto. Its a blend between a standard Japanese knife and a Western knife. The main difference is that the blade is thinner and its lighter. So when you chop, it glides through food instead of wedging between it.
Asian Knife Brand
Because of the connotation that Chinese Brands have, they arent really well known. In fact, one of the most commonly used knife among Chinese American Chef is a American one. Dexter Russel makes a excellent Chinese Cleaver that my parents and many other Chef have. There is also another well known one by the name of CCK. Their butcher knife uses carbon steel with a slight distal taper. However, I dont think it can take as much abuse as a stainless steel model.
When you look into the Japanese side of things, the knives brand start to increase. Brands like Shun, Mac Pro, Tojrio, Konosuke, Masamoto, Misono, Takeda are all excellent brands. There are even specialty brand that hand make their knives to order. These speciality shop have usually been in business for hundreds of years. But they just dont advertise outside of Japan.
Best Asian Knife Style
Since there are many variation of these knife, I have compiled a list of the different style and the best in each category. Since these knives specialize in different task, choose one that best suits you.
Dexter S5198 8″ x 3-1/4″ Chinese Chefs Knife with Wooden Handle (Best Chinese Butcher Knife)
This knife can be found in Chinese restaurant all over America. These knives are affordable and durable. Its balanced well, relatively light and comfortable. Since these are designed to take the abuse of a professional kitchen you can use it like a real chef. For example, smash garlic or breaking chicken bone is a breeze with this. Get this if you want a taste of the Chinese butcher knife.
Mac Knife Professional 8 Inch Hollow Edge Chef Knife (Best Japanese Gyuto)
Mac is a manufacturer of Japanese kitchen knife. They are not associated with the Apple Brand, but a company all in its own. This model has a slight belly to let you both rock and tap chop. Its grantin edge also means that food sticks less when chopping. Its also light and well balanced, as a result it cause the least amount of fatigue. Also when you chop, it glides through it quickly.
Misono Molybdenum Yo-Deba 6.4(16.5cm) – Right (Best Fish Knife)
A Deba Knife is a large knife designed to bone fish. Its sharp blade lets you easily guide and fillet a knife. Misono makes a good version, its smaller than most deba knife and it uses stainless steel to resist rust. The Bevel is finished with a 70/30 making it easier to glide through. So when you sharpen it, keep that in mind.
Global G-48-7 inch, 18cm Santoku Hollow Ground Knife, 7″ (Best Santoku Knife)
Santoku is popularized by Rachel Ray. This model by Global is longer than most other with half a inch longer. While this might seem minute, you really notice the difference. This means you can cut a wider variety of food. Like the other model, it uses a stainless steel construction to resist rust and corrosion. Just be aware, the metal handle can be slippery.
Wusthof Classic 7″ Nakiri Knife (Best Nakiri)
The Nakiri is the original Santoku. Instead of a rounded tip, this is square. People use this most for vegetables but it usually comes in 6.5 inch. This model by Wusthof comes in at 7 inch. So even though its German, I prefer it because of the extra length. The grantin edge also helps as well.
There are many Asian Knives on the market. This article only contain some of the most popular one. There are other such as the Honesuki for boning, for the Vegetable cleaver which is pretty much a nakiri. The most versatile is the Chinese Cleaver or the Gyuto. However, for the novice chef, a Nakiri/Santoku might be a better choice. For fileting a fish, a deba knife glides through bones and makes perfectly straight cut.
Looking for Japanese Knives? Check out our article on the Best Japanese Knife Set.