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A knife is the most important tool of any chef. If you do a lot of Japanese cooking or do fine cutting, Japanese knives will be the most suitable option. Japanese craftsmen have been tinkering with steel for centuries. They are famous for making the best swords, chisels, saws, wood planes, and knives. They combine traditional generations-old knowledge and technology to produce high-quality knives.
These knives are thinner and sharper with hard bevels that keep their edge intact for life. The world’s top chefs go gaga for these knives; you’ll not find a single chef who doesn’t own at least one Japanese knife. Most Japanese knives consist of stainless steel. Forging is the most important step in the making of Japanese knives.
Knives come in two styles: single bevel and double bevel. Traditional Japanese knives have a single bevel, while Western-style knives have a double bevel. There are three types of Japanese knives, namely Gyuto, Santoku, and Nakiri. Although Gyuto translates to “beef sword,” it is used to cut vegetables, fish, and meat. Santoku is also an all-purpose knife. However, Nakiri is ideal for cutting vegetables.
Knives can be expensive, but you can find some really great knives for under $100. Below, we have listed some of the best Japanese knives that will cost you $100 or less.
Best Budget Japanese Knives Under $100
5. FANTECK Gyuto Chef Knife
This beautifully crafted Japanese knife is not just sharp; its design and build make it last longer. Each side of the knife has been sharpened by hand to 10 to 15 degrees, giving the knife razor-like sharpness. VG10 Damascus steel forms this knife’s construction, which has carbon for hardness, chromium for stainlessness, molybdenum and vanadium for corrosion resistance, and cobalt for extra hardness. The ergonomic Pakkawood handle has an acrylic rim. This stylish handle gives the knife a very superior look. You can use this 8-inch knife to slice, mince, and chop fruits, veggies, fish, and meat.
With its 62+ Rockwell hardness, this knife can cut through thick and hard foods without making you utilize extra strength or weight. The 67 layers of Damascus steel keep the knife sharp for very long. The steel molded with vacuum heating and nitrogen cooling keeps the knife fresh, stain-free, and sharp. It comes with a mini sharpener, an elegant knife box, and a knife sheath. You can keep it for yourself or gift it to your friends or family with culinary skills.
- Comes in a fancy box with a knife sharpener
- Very sharp
- Made to last for a long time
- Ergonomic handle with acrylic is heat resistant
- The swirling design on the blade gives the knife a unique look
- You may need to use the sharpener more often
- A bit heavy for small hands
VG10 Damascus Steel Blade: The blade of this knife consists of VG10 Damascus steel. It keeps the knife sharp and hard. This is the quality of the best Japanese knives.
4. Tojiro DP Gyuto Knife
This knife is made of VG10 material and has stainless steel cladding, which adds to the knife’s aesthetics. It has a hardness of Rockwell 60. If you want it for home use, you can use it for several months before needing the sharpener. The core material has impressive stainless steel properties, so you will not have to worry about rusting. There is a slight flex in the knife, so don’t use it for frozen cheese, bones, ice, hard chocolate, etc.
The knife’s blade has a knuckle clearance with a slight curve to the end, so you can rock with it when you are cutting. The knife balances at the bolster. The handle is comfortable to hold and has three rivets, and it doesn’t slip from your hand. The curved bolster makes sure that your grip is secure. The wooden handle is full tang and laminated. It has a distal spine taper. The finishing on the knife is smooth; there is no protrusion anywhere.
This double bevel knife is thin, light, and razor-sharp. It is very suitable for home cooks. It is on the short side, which is good news for people with small hands and most home cooks. Professional cooks can also use it. Although it is dishwasher safe, you should still avoid putting it in the dishwasher. The edge of the blade may get damaged.
- Very light (only weighs 4.5 ounces)
- Rust-resistant blade
- Ergonomic wooden handle
- Suitable for home and professional cooks
- The knuckle clearance could have been a bit more generous
- May require a knife sharpener after a while
60 Rockwell Hardness: This knife has a very hard blade with 60 Rockwell hardness. It will stay sharp for a long time.
3. Shun Sora Chef’s Knife
The blade of this 8-inch chef knife is very sharp. It has a 16-degree cutting angle. It uses composite blade technology and consists of VG10 San Mai wrapped in Japanese stainless steel. The extra layer of stainless steel on each side gives it support and protection. This also means that this knife is durable and will stay sharp for a long time. It is stain resistant. You will not see other high carbon blades so thin, stiff, and sharp. The handle is thick with a reasonable non-slip surface; however, its plastic build is a bit of a letdown. Still, it is good as far as plastic handles go.
This knife is usable for all the tasks that a standard chef knife would want it for, which means that it is an all-purpose knife. Since this knife has less curve than Western knives, it makes contact with the board along its whole length. This means that more of your food is cut at each slice. This double bevel blade has a gentle roll-off at the tip compared to some Western-style knives. This means that you don’t need to lift it as much for it to be effective. It is not dishwasher-safe, and you should clean it with warm water after use. It comes with a generous warranty of 10 years. They also offer free sharpening of your knife for life.
- Thin and sharp blade
- Made with excellent material
- Good weight, not too heavy or light
- Backed by a 10-year warranty
- Stays sharp for a long time
- Plastic handle
- Not a single piece knife
10-Year Warranty: This knife comes with a 10-year warranty. The manufacturer also offers free knife sharpening for as long as you own it.
2. Fuji Narihira Chef’s Knife
When it comes to high quality but affordable knives, this one is among the best. It comes in various blade sizes, and all fall under the $100 bracket. The brand of this knife belongs to the same manufacturer who makes Tojiro. They are famous for making good entry-level Japanese knives. This knife looks identical to Tojiro, but there is a difference in the blade material and construction. It has pressed, mono-steel construction. The blade uses vanadium and molybdenum (MV) stainless steel. This steel and construction method is slightly cheaper, which is why it costs less than Tojiro.
The MV stainless steel is a bit softer, so you’d need to sharpen the knife more often. However, it comes sharp right out of the box, so you don’t need to worry about sharpening it right away. Another reason for them being cheap is that they are made in China and sent to Japan for a final quality check. Overall, this is a good Gyuto knife, and if you are on a budget, this might be the one for you.
- Durable construction
- Sharp out of the box
- Very budget-friendly
- Durable black micarta handle
- Great customer service
- Steel is a bit soft
- Not really made in Japan
Very Sharp: This blade is very sharp out of the box. However, you may have to sharpen it once in a while after using it.
1. Mac Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife
Japanese knife makers always try to present their customers with exciting new designs, sizes, and shapes. This knife consists of high-quality material and praiseworthy Japanese forging techniques. Mac is among the reputable Japanese knife makers. They make good knives with eye-catching designs that are also very reasonably priced.
This knife is made with high carbon stainless steel. The high carbon content makes sure that your blade lasts for a while. It is very thin with only 2 mm thickness. The blade is resistant to rust with good edge retention. This extra sharp knife will provide you impressive cutting experience. The hollow design on the edge of the blade gives it a unique look. It has a full-tang Pakkawood handle, which is comfortable to hold and has three stainless steel rivets. It is not dishwasher-safe, and even if it were, we’d recommend you to wash it with hands. Best of all, it is genuinely made in Japan.
- The thin blade is very sharp
- Has good edge retention
- The handle is very comfortable to hold
- Durable knife
- Made in Japan
- The warranty doesn’t cover blade chipping
- Packaging could be better
Very Thin Blade: The blade of this knife is very thin, which means that it is very sharp, and the high carbon build means that it will stay like that.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What size knife is suitable for home cooks?
Many professional cooks wield a 12-inch knife. But for home cooks, we’d recommend a knife with a 7-8-inch blade. Your normal kitchen counters and home cutting boards will not allow you to utilize those large knives. Also, you might have a hard time handling such long knives.
2. What tang knife should I get?
There are knives with various tangs. But generally speaking, full-tang knives are the strongest. That is because most of the steel is used in the handle of the knife, so it would be less likely to bend or break. It is also easy to find balance with full-tang knives. However, they are a bit heavier.
3. What is the difference between German and Japanese knives of Western-style?
Japanese knives consist of hard steel and are generally thinner and lighter. These characteristics make Japanese knives very precise, sharp, and nimble. Hardened steel means that you wouldn’t need to sharpen the knife as much. Most Japanese knives are ideal for fine cutting.
German knives tend to have thicker and heavier blades. This means that they last longer. They will be able to take harsh use and abuse without breaking.
4. What is Rockwell hardness?
Rockwell hardness (HRC) tells you the hardness of steel in numbers. Lower HRC means that the steel is softer and vice versa. You can easily sharpen knives with low HRC, but they don’t hold the sharpness. The opposite is true for knives with high HRC. They stay sharp for a long time, but it will be hard to sharpen them if the edges get brittle.
5. What should I not cut with Japanese knives?
Japanese knives have thin blades. While this ensures that your knife will be sharp, it also means that your knife will be a bit fragile. So, you should refrain from cutting bones, ice, seeds, and other hard things with these knives. It may damage the blade.
Japanese knives are a bit costlier than other knives, so $100 is not a big budget for these knives. Japanese knives are characterized by thinness, sharpness, and light weight. In this article, we have listed the five best Japanese knives under $100. All of these knives are of high quality and very sharp. They are ideal for fulfilling your kitchen needs. They do have their pros and cons, and you can choose whichever one suits you best.