If you are looking for a great tool for chopping, slicing and dicing vegetables, the Nakiri knife has you covered. The Nakiri knife is a traditional Japanese vegetable knife. The translation of the name (nakiri bocho) means knife for cutting greens.
They are known for being quite tall from blade to the spine of the knife and are optimal for an up-and-down kind of motion. This translates to allowing you to scoop up ingredients into another container without any difficulty.
Table of Contents
Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Nakiri Knife
Blade Hardness Balance
The harder a steel is on the Rockwell scale–the factor that indicates how robust the material is based on indentation hardness of a material of a blade–the less of it that can be used. However there must be a balance between softness and hardness as the steel becomes more refined it also increases its chances of chipping which of course it is undesirable.
Because Nakiri Knives need to withstand some tougher ingredients for example roots like potatoes or carrots it is best that it isn’t as hard as a slicing knife would be, but as hard enough so it can get as sharp as possible without becoming too fragile.
Pakkawood handles are usually found in high end Japanese knives. They are incredibly durable and won’t harbor bacteria. It’s a wood/resin composite that creates a super durable and hard material. It is water resistant and it is engineered for daily usage so it can take quite a beating. It can appear in many shapes and it is quite common to see with charcoal black dyes but it can also be presented with a clear resin that allows to see more of the wood component of the knife handle.
Since you are likely to use a Nakiri knife quite often because of its high versatility, when dealing with everyday tasks it is important that the handle that you choose is comfortable in your hand and that has the same construction quality as the blade itself. The design is an added value to the overall experience of using high quality Nakiri knives or any Japanese knife in that matter.
As opposed to a chef or Guiotto knife design which are characteristic to be relatively long to be used for daily usage including slicing, tend to be larger in length and smaller from the edge of the blade to its spine to have less friction while slicing.
In contrast Nakiri knives are usually shorter in length so that it becomes really handy to say the least to be able to direct more cutting power to a smaller and flatter blade surface.
The result of concentrating your strength in less space is that you will have much higher chances of fully cutting ingredients with one cut. If you are chopping onions, you can be confident that you can process it into small pieces without much effort as it will require less passes to cut it into smaller pieces.
Best Nakiri Knife Reviews
The thing I like the most about this Shun Classic knife is its size. 6.5 inches is small enough to cut all ingredients that fit in a modest cutting board but also clean cuts everything I throw at it. Carrots, lettuce, meat, onions, you name it, they don’t stand a chance against it.
Its Handle is what sealed the deal for me for making it my favourite knife. The Shun Classic Nakiri knife has a solid grip made out of sublime dark ebony Pakkawood material that has proven to be really resilient to elements in my experience in the kitchen.
I had heard before that Shun made great knives on TV, not only on commercials but seeing what chefs with many, many years of experience were using but honestly I was still blown away because of how sharp and how much quality these pieces actually carry rather than simply looking good (which they also do anyway).
Having this kind of handle also means it is easier to maintain than the non-stainless counter parts. Although you can throw it in the dishwasher, if you have the luxury experience of owning this knife, I’d suggest hand washing it to extend its longevity.
Overall it feels like a very well balanced knife and truth be told, if you want to get started with a Nakiri knife, Shun blades will always be a great investment that will last you for many years.
It is 7 inches long which you may find comfortable if you have big hands like me and because it has a stainless steel G10 forged handle it feels more balanced towards the handle which gives it a robust feeling everytime I pick it up.
This adds some weight that it becomes handy when chopping somewhat hard ingredients like potatoes but at the same time the knife doesn’t feel heavy to the point that it is a drag to use it.
Because I usually cut more light elements like parsley and tomatoes rather than roots, I prefer light handles so I have more freedom to operate around the cutting board but it is still a great experience to cook with this knife.
Sharpness is incredible on this knife, it is no surprise since it has a 2mm thin blade and what is more it comes out of the box it is honed at 12 to 15 degree angle for maximum sharpness.
If you happen to need to cut some somewhat hard vegetables or other ingredients and want some extra weight feel on the knife, this is a great choice.
Softer steel might sound like it’s bad but in reality for Nakiri knives that are made for everyday usage, softer steel means they are less likely to break and so for that I find them suited for my needs. Especially if you don’t want to hone the knife that often.
It has a standard handle that is ergonomic by all means and one that would be usually found in more european kinds of knives with its swell meant to prevent your hand from slipping away. However, I prefer the Pakkawood material for handles as I grew used to it and I find it has a cleaner design as well.
Despite being 7 inches long it has a thickness of only 0.1mm. How does this knife get away with being so thin? Because of its softer steel. So it’s basically compensating softer and more flexible steel with thinner, and therefore easier to cut through ingredients.
What I really like about it is that it is really easy to maintain, as it features anti-corrosion, anti-rust treatments and it’s also stain resistant.
Overall the Paudin Nakiri Knife is a good option for advanced cooks or home users who are willing to upgrade their current knife or want to have a solid blade mainly for chopping.
The knife has hollow edges so that chopping things like vegetables is quite a smooth process as the small slices get pushed away from the blade and don’t get stuck on the blade in between every cut.
Its handle is comfortable because of its full bolster and finger guard. However because it is a Nakiri, I’d expected to have a more Japanese-style of grip, more similar to a Pakkawood kind of handle.
I’d recommend the Wusthof Classic Nakiri Knife if you are new to Nakiri knives since it will not take away too much time to keep it healthy and sharp, while having the hollow edges will give you a bit of help while chopping vegetables.
Its handle material is Pakkawood and it feels quite comfortable and easy to maneuver with the hand while making cuts.
It is magnetic so you can store it on a magnetic block which is always a nice feature to have.
I wished instead of this steel it would be rather some other stainless steel variant so I wouldn’t have to worry about the maintenance. I didn’t see any marks on it yet but it would be nice to know it can resist the elements of the environment in a better way.
If you are willing to take really good care of this knife it will pay you back by delivering clean cuts. Otherwise a stainless version of a Nakiri might be best suited for you, especially if you are new to high end knives and don’t want to spend much time with maintenance tasks.
Our Final Thoughts
For any price point the Shun Classic Nakiri Knife always will shine as its company has many years of experience developing these knives and perfecting them. Its smaller size makes it easier to concentrate the up-and-down movements much more efficient. Not to mention that is quite light for so much sharpness in one tool so you won’t get exhausted while using it on a regular basis.
If you are an experienced cook, chef or simply want to take cooking to the next level you may find the Shun Classic Nakiri Knife has a lot to offer not only in the short term but as a long term investment.
Sunnecko Nakiri Knife is a great choice as well as it feels a little bit more robust since it has a G10 steel handle that adds some extra weight. This might seem a bit heavier for users using it to cut light ingredients or it might actually favour you if you are cutting more western meals using roots like potatoes and carrots as less force would be needed to cut them.
Overall this knife is a great companion for users with bigger hands or planning to cut tougher ingredients.
Lastly the Paudin Nakiri Knife is another viable choice too. Although it doesn’t use Japanese steel and therefore may not be able to honed to get the sharpest blade and it doesn’t have a Pakkawood handle, as a first Nakiri blade for knife enthusiasts it definitively proved to have great value for the price since it is still very sharp and made with stainless steel.
What do you think about this selection of Nakiri Knives? Which one do you think it best suits you? Please let us know in the comments below!