When I first started working in kitchens over a decade ago, I was fortunate enough to have a chef that taught me knife skills almost exclusively using a nakiri. Chopping, peeling, pull & push cutting, taking the eyes out of a potato, Chef Sung could do it all with her nakiri! This of course made me long for one of my own, but at the time they were quite hard to find around town.
Along came Knifewear and immediately thereafter, my first handmade Japanese nakiri. Though my collection has grown considerably, t’s still one of the top used knives in my home all these years later. During my time in the shop I’ve drooled over many varieties of nakiri and tested out many different lines. Below is a listing with myTop 5 Nakiris, suitable for both seasoned culinary professionals and first-time knife buyers alike!
This blade from Haruyuki is quite possibly the very best nakiri to get started with, especially if you're new to the world of Japanese kitchen knives. Haruyuki makes reliable, affordable blades using super consistent machine forging techniques, combined with a very hands-on process of grinding, sharpening, polishing and handling the blades. The Kokuto is a sturdy option, a little more rugged than your average handmade knife, yet mind-blowingly thanks to Ginsan stainless steel which behaves a lot like traditional carbon steel, but doesn't rust.
Fujimoto knives are the best of everything: high-performance, low maintenance, hand made and affordable! These blades are forged by a team of masters, each with a specialized skill ranging from forging, to sharpening, to handling and inspecting the knives. While this keeps costs down, it also ensures that the knives are super-consistent and that each craftsman is incredibly proficient in his part of the job.
As a bonus, the high-carbon steel blade is clad in stainless steel! While the edge itself can rust, the rest of the knife is super easy to maintain so one only has to ensure that the very edge is kept dry, rather than the whole blade.
If you've been learning about Japanese knives for any amount of time, you've likely heard the slang term "laser beam". This guy is the very definition of that term; a knife with a super thin edge, so thin that it slips through dense veggies, and you barely notice. As if that weren't enough, this blade is made from SG2 powder steel, a stainless steel so hard it keeps an edge nearly twice as long as an entry-level Japanese knife.
Oh, and did I mention this knife is super sexy? Just look at it! The reverse bunka tip, the sleek hammered blade, the tapered Canadian Walnut handle... I'm starting to drool just typing this, so we're gonna move on to my next pick.
Speaking of stunning knives.... Masashi Yamamoto isn't one of the oldest blacksmiths, but he is one of the smartest, and by far most talented. Masashi-san is incredibly cerebral in his approach to knife making, constantly experimenting and finding ways to make his blades perform better. In this case, the result is this incredible Kuroshu nakiri. As a result of his insane talent and genius, masashi-san is able to get the SLD steel in this knife much harder than it usually gets, meaning it performs like the Blazen Ryu above, way more rugged. Add to that a damascus blade with that burned kurouchi look and a designer handle, and you've got yourself a recipe to take my money.
Hands down, this knife is the crowd favourite, among both staff and customers. The blade is made of Super Blue Carbon Steel, the king of knife steels. This stuff stays sharp longer than other high-carbon steels, but doesn't rust as easily and doesn't chip as easily. The icing on the cake is the stainless cladding on the knife, which makes the face of the blade maintenance free. Crazy sharp, great to look at - what's not to love?
If you ask me, everyone needs a nakiri in their collection. The function of these blades cannot be beat, especially if you eat lots of veggies or have an especially large mountain of prep ahead of you. Whichever you choose, you're sure to treasure it for decades!