Every knife set starts with a chef's knife (multi purpose knife), also called a French knife in the west or Gyuto in Japan. People often ask for a santoku, as it’s a name they’ve heard before but I find them a bit small for use as a multipurpose knife as they generally come in a 165mm or 180mm size. They are far too small for cabbage or watermelons, and those large onions from the farmer’s market, for example. I've always thought a 210mm gyuto is the best knife for home-sized jobs. If you are a chef I’d suggest a 240mm or 270mm but that’s a different story, as chefs demand more and a larger knife makes turning 100kg of potatoes into hash browns a much easier task.
These are my top 5 recommendations for the best chef knives for home cooks:
This is easily one of our most popular knives for folks looking to dip their toes in the water, without breaking the bank. The Hocho Kobo gets you started with an ultra-light, then knives that feels like a laser out of the box. They're nice and rugged, and the semi-stainless steel is easier to care for than a lot of the really traditional high-carbon steels. I love the clean, modern look of these knives.
Want a stunning knife that cuts like a dream and is easy to take care of? This is for you. This knife is the easiest to sharpen of the bunch and looks awesome, the tradeoff is it will need to be sharpened a bit more often. I love how these knives feel and I think they are great for home use.
I love Nigara knives. They look great if you're gonna be on TV and great when cooking for friends. Yoshizawa-san is a super talented young blacksmith who combines ancient forging techniques with high-tech steels that stay sharp longer than most. This knife is super fun to use when cooking by yourself, but even more fun when someone is watching you cook. We all get dressed to impress on special occasions, why not have a knife for those occasions as well?
This is my number one gyuto at home. The sharpness this knife is capable of and how incredibly long it stays sharp blows my mind. The first time I used it I was in love. The finger notch at the end of the blade is brilliance, if you put your first or middle finger there and grip the blade, you will be holding a knife like a chef and know what true perfect balance feels like. I get that it's pricey, but so is a Ferrari.
Takamura-san makes some of the most insanely sharp knives I've ever used, and his blades are handmade despite looking so flawless. If you want the absolute best bang for your buck, this is the way to go. These knives are also easy to maintain and sharpen, a win-win if you ask me!
Sometimes size matters.
This blog is all about how the 210mm gyuto is a great home knife, but I know some people love to rock a larger knife. One challenge is that they can be a bit heavy for some home users. Professional chefs love a longer knife, sometimes as long as 300mm, because the extra blade makes big jobs easier. Extra length makes a bigger fulcrum and you need less force to cut….or something sciency like that. If that sounds like you, these are my recommendations for longer knives that are still nicely balanced.
This line is easily a favourite among young chefs, home cooks, and Knifewear staff. Fujimoto Nashiji knives are made with high-performance carbon steel, clad in a protective layer of softer stainless steel. This means they cut like crazy, but require a lot less care than a full carbon-steel knife. The best of both worlds! The team of craftspeople who make them are each an expert in a different step of the process, meaning you get a crazy good knives for a very reasonable price. If you want to experience Lexus performance on a Toyota budget, grab yourself a Fujimoto.
Masashi-san is easily one of my favourite blacksmiths. He's a genius, an insanely hard worker, and a great guy. His knives really speak for themselves; they're gorgeous, feel fantastic to handle, and cut like a legendary sword. If we're talking about knives you can show off to friends and family, it doesn't get any better than this.
And finally, heres a pick of what I'm using at home right now. You can always have one more knife.