Many of you may wonder which would win in an all-out Kiritsuke vs. Chef knife comparison, so we’re here to give you a detailed breakdown. Of course, the conventional Western Chef’s knife is the traditional knife of choice for the modern-day cook, but the Kiritsuke knife has its roots steeped in tradition, having stood the test of time for many generations.
To truly understand these two knives’ differences, we must dive deep into their histories, outstanding features, and evolution over time. But, most importantly, how each one caters to the unique needs of the people.
What is Kiritsuke knife?
The Kiritsuke knife is a traditional-style Japanese kitchen knife built with a stainless steel blade and a Pakkawood handle. It has an angled tip, a straight, thin blade, and a razor-sharp edge.
Kiritsuke knives are hybrids made to take on the characteristics of the Japanese Usuba vegetable knife and the Yanagiba sushi knife. These specialize in chopping vegetables and slicing fish.
Sharpness and hardness are the fundamentals of Japanese knives. A combination believed to be optimum to avoid a dull edge from manifesting.
For the most part, the Kiritsuke is a single bevel knife as the delicate art of cutting fish for Japanese cuisine dishes. However, it typically requires a greater level of chef skills and precision.
To make things easier for home cooks, there are also Kiritsuke knives that are double-beveled. However, all Kiritsuke blades are incredibly sharp at about 10-15 degrees per side.
The blade is made of high-carbon stainless steel. It is usually made of Japanese super steels such as AUS-10, VG-MAX, or SG02. These are hardened to about 60HRC on the Rockwell Hardness Scale.
Related: Top 5 Best Sushi Knife and Sashimi Knife
What is Chef knife?
The Chef knife is one of the most common kitchen knives of the modern day, encompassing multi-purpose facets that tackle all of the essential kitchen tasks. Like a Japanese Santoku knife, the Western chef knife features a straight blade length of about 8-12-inches and sharpened to about 15-degree blade angles per side.
The high carbon steel blade is hardened to about 58 HRC on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. This makes it a well-balanced knife in terms of strength and flexibility.
Western chef knives intentionally harden their steel to slightly lower levels than Japanese knives to optimize long-lasting durability and edge retention. This allows the blade’s particles to become more flexible than before.
One of the defining aspects of the Western chef knives is the handle which places a significant emphasis on ergonomics and durability. In addition, unlike traditional Japanese chef knives, the Western Chef’s knife uses a synthetic material, often made of polyoxymethylene, which is an excellent material for resisting rust and corrosion.
These handles also come with finger safety locks that are great for securing your pinky. They also feature stylish rivets in single, double, or triple rivet designs.
Related: Best Chef Knife Under $100: The Top 10 Chef Knives and Top 10 Best Chef Knives Under $200
How are they different?
The immediate difference between these two knives is their origins. The Chef’s knife is made with Western craftsmanship practices, while the Kiritsuke is a traditional-style Japanese knife.
Some stand-out features of each of these knives are the handles. The Chef’s knife uses synthetic riveted handles, while the Kiritsuke, uses wood handles. Typically, this means woods like Pakkawood and Tagayasan.
The Chef knife uses a broader blade and a double-beveled construction that emphasizes ease of use for the everyday homeowner. Contrastingly, the Kiritsuke is a razer-sharp single-bevel knife with a long, thin blade ideal for slicing raw fish.
Companies sharpen most Japanese knives to about 60 HRC on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. This gives them a more rigid blade than the average kitchen knife. Comparatively, the Western knife is typically hardened to about 58 HRC. This encompasses a balance between strength, sharpness, and edge retention.
On that note, companies usually sharpen Western Chef’s knife to about 15-degree blade angles per side. The Kiritsuke has a sharper edge of up to 10 degrees per side.
The Japanese Kiritsuke knife has a single bevel edge and a sharp blade. This is great for precision slicing fish and rock-chopping vegetables. It’s the perfect knife for home cooks and professional chefs preparing Japanese cuisine.
In contrast, the Western Chef’s knife is an all-purpose knife. Some typical uses of the Chef’s knife include cutting meats, poultry, fish, mincing vegetables, fruits, and even bread.
The Chef’s knife can achieve a wider array of cutting tasks by diving a little deeper into their usages. This angled-tip heavyweight knife is built for fine-chopping vegetables, usually done through a rocking motion.
The Japanese-style Kiritsuke knife uses a straighter edge. It has a sharper, thinner, pointed tip that excels in slicing fillet fish and vegetables. Particularly longer veggies such as bok choy, celery, and cucumbers (1).
Related: 9 Best Self Sharpening Knife Sets Reviewed
How are they similar?
One of the similarities between the Kiritsuke and Chef’s knives is that they are both designed to chop vegetables. They both have flat blades and long lengths of at least 8-inches. In addition, both knives feature double bevel designs in their collections, which are made in stamped and forged full tang blades.
Furthermore, you can use these knives to cut vegetables and fish, regardless of their variations in results.
These knives are similar in that they can perform more than one task and tackle various vegetable and fish ingredients. In addition, both knives are relatively easy to use among Japanese and Western kitchen knife brands.
The Kiritsuke and the Western Chef knife typically use high carbon steel for their high chromium blades for exceptional resistance to rust and corrosion.
In terms of price, both knives can be purchased at almost any price point, depending on the brand reputation, quality, and warranties included. However, there is a higher demand for all-purpose knives like the Western Chef knife. You may find a slightly wider range of price points than with the Kiritsuke, though both knives cater to all budgets.
Also, the Kiritsuke and the Chef’s knife can be bought as individual items or as part of a package knife set bundle as preferred.
There is ever-expanding innovation in both Western and Eastern culinary. From this exchange of influences, we can start to see some overlapping features manifesting between modern Kiritsuke and Chef knives. One example is the availability of many different handle materials and design styles across both knives.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see Western Chef’s knives take on a Pakkawood or Tagayasan D-shaped wooden handle. Likewise, seeing a Kiritsuke knife with a synthetic triple riveted Western-style handle is normal.
What’s better about Kiritsuke?
Even though the Chef’s knife performs a bigger variety of tasks than its Japanese counterpart. The Kiritsuke claims victory in its specialization in precise slicing tasks. Moreover, unlike the Chef’s knife, they build the Kiritsuke with a single bevel edge that encourages expert application by professional head chefs and the everyday home cook.
This blade construction allows the user to achieve cleaner cuts for delicate sushi ingredients such as salmon sashimi, avocados, and seaweed paper.
Generally, the Kiritsuke knife is more lightweight than the Chef’s knife due to its thinner blade and sharper edge. This makes it easier for the user to tackle long, tedious cutting tasks.
The straighter blade and slightly longer length also make the Kiritsuke more suitable for uniform cuts. This makes it perfect for restaurant environments where they must uphold dish consistency in quantity and quality.
The sharp pointed tip of the Kiritsuke also makes it superior in dealing with delicate herbs and spices. This includes garlic, chili, or coriander, allowing you to create the perfect garnishes for your recipes.
What’s better about Chef knife?
The Chef knife is the all-purpose bad boy of the modern culinary world. It has been rising in popularity since its development in Europe in the 18th Century. What’s amazing is its ability to conquer various kitchen tasks easily. It excels in slicing, dicing, and chopping anything from meats to fruits, vegetables, and even bread.
Its double bevel design, wide blade, curved tip, and ergonomic Western-style handle make it one of the most versatile knives for home cooking.
Due to its multiple facets of use, the Chef knife is top-rated among those on a budget. This is because the Chef knife takes on many different characteristics of specialist knives without too much compromise.
Furthermore, they harden Chef knives to a more balanced level of 58 HRC compared to the Kiritsuke. This is usually at 60 HRC or higher, making the blade more resistant to chips and cracks.
Who should get Kiritsuke and why?
Despite their naming conventions, I would argue the Kiritsuke knife is more suited to professional chefs than the Chef’s knife (ironic, I know). But, there is a good reason for that. For successful restaurants, it is important for chefs not to compromise on the quality of their dishes in terms of taste and aesthetic presentation.
As such, a single bevel knife like the Kiritsuke allows a chef to achieve precise cuts. In addition, the flat edge enables uniform results in said cuts.
By no means is the Kiritsuke an exclusive “chef’s only” knife. In fact, it was designed for use by Japanese household cooks, combining the capabilities of a sushi knife and vegetable cleaver. Hence, it is a knife that could be used by just about anyone. However, it would be most beneficial to those looking to make those cleaner cuts on delicate ingredients.
The Kiritsuke knife would best suit any homeowner on any budget who incorporates plenty of fish and vegetables in their cooking.
Who should get Chef knife and why?
The Chef knife is the ultimate multi-purpose tool that would benefit any home cook looking to save on a full-on knife set. The double-bevel design encourages simplicity and predictability in one’s cutting tasks, making it highly suitable for beginners and seasoned cooks.
If your kitchen tasks prompt you to cut vegetables, meats, or bread, then the Chef knife is your versatile tool of choice.
Unlike other knives, Chef knives come with curved blades. These encourage flexibility and maneuverability in cooking, allowing you to tackle complex recipes with many different ingredients. It’s also a great tool if you require different cuts of a piece of meat, for example, making beef strips and diced beef for separate dishes.
The Chef knife suits anyone looking to tackle a wide variety of ingredients for recipes that are big on taste, but loose on presentation.
Kiritsuke vs. Chef Knife Features
The blade length of both these knives is fairly similar, with the Kiritsuke typically coming in at a slightly longer length than the Chef knife. You’ll also find the Kiritsuke to be sharper and harder than the Chef’s knife, featuring a single bevel design that excels in delicate tasks and tedious, repetitive chopping work.
The Chef knife is built for balance and versatility. As such, it compromises on certain aspects such as sharpness and hardness to be a “jack of all trades” but a “master of none,” so to speak.
Regardless of the greater versatility of the Western Chef knife, the Japanese Kiritsuke blade remains superior for the ingredients it can cut.
Both brands feature handles made of all materials, including wood, synthetic, plastic, and steel. Traditional Chef knives would use synthetic rubbery textures for its handle as well as double or triple rivets. In contrast, traditional Kiritsuke knives would use D-shaped Pakkawood handles with no rivets.
You can purchase both knives with Western and Japanese-style handle designs and materials. As preferred, it gives you the best of both worlds in terms of ergonomics and aesthetics.
The Kiritsuke knife is sharper and harder than the Chef knife, but that does not equate to better durability. In truth, durability refers to how well a knife can maintain its edge without dulling, chipping, or cracking.
So while the Kiritsuke blade can power through thick ingredients, its stubborn edge runs a greater risk of chipping. In contrast, the Chef knife can bend in correspondence to the ingredient at hand.
Winner: Chef knife
Kiritsuke vs. Chef knife FAQ
What is a Kiritsuke knife used for?
The Kiritsuke knife combines a sushi sashimi knife and a vegetable cleaver. This allows you to prepare uniform, precise cuts perfect for Japanese cuisine. Typical uses include slicing fish, cutting vegetables, and dicing chicken breasts. It’s the perfect tool for Japanese-style dishes.
Is Kiritsuke difficult to use?
A traditional single-bevel Kiritsuke knife is slightly more difficult to use. There is a lower predictability to the cuts you get. As such, you must use an angled approach when cutting with it to ensure the sharpest part of the blade is in contact with the ingredient.
Which is better santoku or chef knife?
Chef and Santoku knives are multi-purpose culinary tools for slicing, dicing, and chopping meat and vegetables. The Santoku is a Japanese chef knife that encompasses the abilities of three specialist knives, including the Gyuto, Deba, and Nakiri. It is more suitable than the Western Chef knife for delicate tasks due to its sharper and thinner blade.