Best Japanese Cooking Knife Sets From Budget to Premium

Great kitchen knife sets for the home cook from Ginsu, Tojiro and Shun

Great Cooking Knife Sets from Japan For The Home Kitchen Cook From Cheap to Expensive

If you are a serious cook who is looking for a good Japanese cooking knife or set on a bit of a budget this post should be helpful. We will start with the more affordable Japanese cooking knives and save the more expensive knives and knife sets for the end of the article. Many of Japans Cutlery brands like Shun and Kyocera are household names, because they deliver amazing performance. A lot people believe that  good Japanese Chef knives or full knife sets are really, expensive, but there are  some excellent mid range knife brands like Tojiro and some great budget brands like Ginsu that deliver great value. If you are looking to get started with Japanese cutlery this guide will help you find what you need regardless of your budget.

Ginsu Gourmet Chikara 12 Piece Knife Set

The Ginsu Chikara 12 Piece Knife Set is a great budget Japanese cutlery set for home cooks.

 

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 3,5″ paring knife, one 5″ serrated utility knife, one 5″ utility knife, one 7″ santoku knife, one 8″inch Chef’s knife, four steak knives one pair of scissors, one honing rod and one bamboo storage block.
  • Weight – 7.5lbs
  • Size – 9.1″ x 6″ x 15

Pros

  • Lifetime Replacement Warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Forged not stamped
  • Includes a honing rod
  • The blades hold their edge extremely well for knives at this price point
  • Great looking block

Cons

  • Only 4 steak knives
  • Made in China

For home cooks seeking Japanese knives on a budget, check out the  Ginsu Chikara 12 Peice Knife Set. They have good balance, heft and feel nice when held. This is a great set for novice cooks who have never used a Japanese knife set before. The extremely low price means that there is little risk if you decide you do not like Eastern style knives. Although these knives are affordable, they extremely durable due in part to the fact that they are forged rather than stamped.

Ginsu’e budget knives and sets are made in China, but they use Japanese steel and the knives all sport a conventional Japanese design. However if you want a Japanese knife set that was actually made in Japan you will have to spend a bit more than $100 on a set.

 

 

Tojiro DP 8-Piece Slim Knife Block SetThe Tojiro Dp Kitchen Knife set is an axwcellent mid range cutlery set from Japan.

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 3,5″ paring knife, one 4″ paring knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 7″ santoku knife, one 8.25″inch Chef’s knife, one 8.5″ bread knife, one pair of kitchen shears, one honing rod and one Acacia wood block.
  • Weight – 7.5lbs
  • Size – 11″ x 3.5″ x 9

Pros

  • Lifetime Replacement Warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Forged not stamped
  • 3 Ply Clad Construction
  • Great edge retention
  • Triple Riveted
  • Rockwell hardness of 60

Cons

  • No steak knives
  • No honing rod

The Tojiro DP 8 piece set is one of the absolute best buys in the cutlery world. There are many sets that cost hundreds of dollars more than this one that do not come close to the Tojiro DP set from a quality and performance standpoint. One of the benefits of the DP series of knives is that they are a well designed hybrid consisting a Japanese style blade and a Western style handle. This East meets West combination has resulted in a line of knives that have become extremely popular with home cooks and professional chefs alike.

At it’s current sub $300 price point it is tough to find fault with the Tojiro DP set unless the lack of steak knives is a deal breaker. The set is relatively small, but that is a tradeoff I am happy to make to get this level of quality. Every knife in this set feels like it should be part of a much more expensive set including the kitchen shears which is extremely rare for a mid range knife set.

From an aesthetics standpoint the knives in the Tojiro DP set won’t turn any heads. This set is all about performance. Tojiro’s impressive forging technique for these knives has resulted in three ply clad blades with a tough VG-10 steel core. From a performance and durability standpoint this set is tough to beat. If you are looking for durability, performance and great looks check out the Tojiro DP Damascus 8-piece Slim Knife Block Set, but it costs $200 more. Ultimately if you are looking for a high performance Japanese kitchen knife set at a great price the Tojiro 8-piece block st is tough to beat.

 

Shun Classic 7 Piece Essential Kitchen Knife Block Set

The Essential Shun Classic kitchen knife set contains 4 Damascus steel knives and a pair of kitchen shears.

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 3,5″ paring knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 8″ chef knife, one 9″inch Chef’s knife, one 9″ bread knife, one pair of kitchen shears, one honing steel and one Acacia wood block.
  • Weight – 10.45lbs
  • Size – 18″ x 10″ x 6

Pros

  • Lifetime Replacement Warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Forged not stamped
  • Damascus Steel
  • Great edge retention
  • Pakkawood handles
  • Rockwell hardness of 61
  • Empty slots in the wood block

Cons

  • No steak knives
  • Relatively small set at this price point

The knives in the Shun Classic 7 piece Essential set are obviously a work of art from an aesthetic standpoint, but they also deliver in the performance department. It may seem like the $500 price point is a bit steep for a set that only contains 4 knives, but these are high end knives designed to last a lifetime or more.

The blades are made of Damascus stainless steel is layered over Shun’s impressive VG-10 steel, and the results are a well balanced, lightweight blades that are a joy to use. The classic D shaped handles are made of ebony pakkawood which is widely respected for it’s durability.  The block that ships with this set includes several empty slots which is a practice I wish more cutlery companies would adopt. It is really nice to have the option to add to your set as your home cooking needs change.

While this Shun set is certainly impressive,  I personally would not choose it over the Tojiro set mentioned above, because to me it just isn’t worth the extra 200 bucks. However, I am far from a professional chef or even  a great home cook, so my needs may be far different from yours, and the Shun Classic 7 Piece Essential Cutlery set is definitely an excellent product.

 

Summaries of the Knife Brands In This Article

If you are new to Japanese cutlery you may not know about the companies mentioned in this article. While most of us have heard of famous Western cutlery companies like J.A. Henckels or Wusthoff, many people have never heard of Shun, Tojiro or even Ginsu. With that in mind I figured it would be a good idea to give a quick summery of the Japanese cutlery companies whose products are highlighted in this post.

About Ginsu Knives

Ginsu knives are well respected as a budget Japanese knife company that delivers quality knies.

Ginsu is probably the most famous Japanese knife company thanks to their iconic infomercials of the 80’s and 90’s. Obvious hyperbole aside this fame is well deserved. They have been manufacturing quality budget knives for over 90 years. For many Japanese knife fans Ginsu made it possible to test the waters of Japanese cutlery without spening a lot of money. In spite of their budget reputation, Ginsu makes some respectable high end sets like the Ginsu Chikara Signature Series. Ginsu  makes a lot of great sets that allow home cooks to jump into the Japanese cutlery world without spending a  lot of money.

About Tojiro Knives

Tojiro knives are a great mid range option for cooking.

Our personal favorite Japanese knife company here at Nothing But Knives is Tojiro, because they are a great compromise between quality and price. While they are arguably not on the same quality level as Shun they certainly offer very impressive knives at great prices. You will always get more than you paid for when you buy a Tojiro knife. This is especially true of their F-737 bread knife. It is a relatively cheap bread knife at $22, but it cuts as well as many of the $100 bread knives. If you are looking for a small good quality set the DP Deluxe 3 Piece Starter set is well priced high performance Japanese cutlery kit.

Tojiro offers a huge variety of cutlery that includes both traditional Japanese style knives like their Shippu Black DP Damascus Series and Western style Japanese knives like their DP Cobalt Alloy Steel Series. Tojiro is obviously better at making knives than they are at naming them. If you are just considering making the jump to Japanese cutlery you may want to start out with one knife and the popular Tojiro DP Gyutou 8.2 inch Chef’s knife is a good option. It is a Japanese style knife with a Western style contoured handle, and it is a relatively inexpensive way to test the waters of Japanese cutlery.

 

About Shun KnivesShun DMS284 Classic Knife Set which includes a 4 inch paring knife and an 8 inch chef's knife

Shun Knives are known for their beauty and sharpness light weight and incredible balance. Shun knives offers a variety of different product lines that vary in quality and price. The top of the line Shun product line is their Reserve knives which are expensive, but the offer unmatched quality and craftsmanship that includes a SG2 stainless steel core and 32 layers on each side (64 total)  of nickel silver/stainless steel using the Damascus ladder design. This labor intensive technique gives the Reserve and Classic series knives their  distinctive looking blades as you can see in the picture above. Shun’s Classic series knives are similar to the Reserve series in many ways, but lack the contoured handle designs and they use a VG-Max stainless steel core rather than the VG2 stainless steel. The classic series Shun knives have a D shaped handle that many people prefer to contoured especially if they are used to using Japanese knives.

 

 

Shun Reserve 6 inch Chef's Knife

Shun sells knives individually or in sets. Many people like to build their own set of Shun knives, and they usually start with a Chef’s knife like the one pictures above. All of Shun kitchen cutlery set blocks ship with empty slots that allow you to customize your collection. If you would like to learn more about Shun’s sets check out our blog on the best high end kitchen knife sets.

 

 

 

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2018-08-05T22:39:13+00:00

About the Author:

Picture taker and occasional blog writer who spends his time outdoors trying to break tactical, bushcraft and hunting knives and his time indoors trying to break kitchen knives.
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