Kai Nakiri Knife
Last updated date: November 2, 2019
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We looked at the top Nakiri Knives and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Nakiri Knife you should buy.
Update as September 12, 2021:
Checkout The Best Nakiri Knife for a detailed review of all the top nakiri knives.
In our analysis of 32 expert reviews, the Kai Nakiri Knife placed 12th when we looked at the top 13 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
From The Manufacturer
The perfect knife for effortlessly chopping vegetables, the Wasabi Black Nakiri knife will made quick work of all your vegetable prep. Many of the Wasabi line of knives are made in the traditional Japanese blade styling (such as the Nakiri, Deba, and Yanigiba shapes). Each knife features unsurpassed cutting performance due to the Daido 1K6 high-carbon, stainless which maintains superior edge retention. Although it has a traditional blade-style (shape), it is paired with a uniquely modern handle material, polypropylene blended with bamboo powder, and impregnated with an antibacterial agent for super clean food preparation.
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Our Expert Consultant
Julie Chernoff is a long-time member of Les Dames d’Escoffier (past president of the Chicago Chapter, and current co-chair of the LDEI Legacy Awards Committee), the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Chernoff is the dining editor of Better, a lifestyle website and print magazine. Her journalism started in the test kitchens of Weight Watchers Magazine. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. She has spent the last few decades styling, photographing, teaching, developing recipes, editing, thinking and writing about food.
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An Overview On Nakiri Knives
You don’t have to be a chef to benefit from using a professional-quality knife. In fact, even occasional home cooks can take their dishes to the next level by collecting an assortment of top-notch kitchen knives, such as a good nakiri knife.
A nakiri knife, also known as a nakiri bōchō or usuba bōchō, is a Japanese-style knife created for chopping vegetables. The thin blades are especially useful when precision is important. For instance, if you hope to slice even harder fruits or vegetables in a uniform thickness, a nakiri knife is the ideal kitchen tool. It is an effective knife for mincing, slicing, dicing or chopping most varieties of produce efficiently and consistently.
An added benefit of owning a dedicated vegetable knife such as a nakiri is that you eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination that could occur when a knife is used to slice raw meat and then accidentally utilized for chopping vegetables without a thorough cleaning first.
It is similar in appearance to a meat cleaver, with a straight blade and squared-off tip. This design allows the knife to easily cut straight down through vegetables to the cutting board or surface without the need to push, pull or “saw” horizontally through the ingredient.
A nakiri knife might have a traditional Japanese handle or a European handle. Japanese knife handles are often made of wood, which requires a bit more maintenance than a metal handle. For instance, like other wooden kitchen utensils, a wood-handled knife will need occasional oiling and special cleaning.
In addition, European knives usually have what is called a full tang, while Japanese-style knives have a hidden or partial tang, which pertains to the steel of the blade in the handle. A full tang blade runs throughout the handle and is made in the same shape as the handle. You can see the steel of the blade from any angle of the handle. A hidden tang is smaller than the handle material. The handle wraps around the tang so the metal of the blade is not visible. Some people find hidden or partially hidden tang handles easier to grip and manipulate.
The blade on a nakiri knife is quite thin and typically ranges between 165-180mm and the blades are almost always beveled on both sides.
Because of its tall, symmetrically sharpened, razor-thin blade, the knives slice through vegetables with such ease. You do not need to rock the blade or worry about smashing delicate produce, as the blade glides through smoothly and evenly.
“Given its straight edge, the Nakiri is not meant to replace the rocking motion of the Western Chef’s knife,” says Julie Chernoff, dining editor of Better, a lifestyle website and print magazine, and our in-house kitchen tool expert. “You can chop fluidly with the Nakiri without rocking. It’s known for making clean cuts, and won’t damage or smoosh the veggies.”
A nakiri can be more gentle on the user than other knives, as well. Not only will you easily avoid rapping your knuckles on the cutting board using a nakiri knife to chop veggies, but you will also find yourself slicing and dicing like a pro because these knives are so easy to use.
The Nakiri Knife Buying Guide
- When using a nakiri knife, only cut in an up and down motion. Avoid trying to slice vegetables horizontally with the knife. Keeping your fingers bent like claws and touching your knuckles lightly to the blade, glide the knife up and down in a straight and even cut. The knife will chop through the vegetables onto the cutting board without extra force.
- As with any kitchen knife, clean a nakiri knife promptly after using it. If you will be cutting more vegetables later, wipe the knife with a clean kitchen towel before setting it aside.
- Only cut fresh produce with your nakiri knife. Avoid trying to cut frozen vegetables, as this could damage or dull the blade.
- Although the design of a nakiri knife greatly reduces the chance of injuries, it is still important to use it properly and take care when slicing with it. Along with keeping your fingers curled under and using your knuckles as a guide, make sure your grip is comfortable but firm. Check the sharpness of the blade often, as a dull blade requires more pressure to use, which can lead to accidents.
- Choose a good quality chopping board and always cut with the board on a flat surface.
- Hold the knife in your dominant hand with your thumb on one side, your index finger on the top of the blade and your remaining three fingers on the handle for a firm grip and precise control will give a firm gripping as well as precise control.
- Like with other sharp knives, you want to make sure that you are comfortable with the grip so that you can maintain control, says Chernoff. “Look for ergonomically designed handles that fit nicely in your hand.”
- One of the factors to consider when shopping for a nakiri knife is the material. For instance, high-carbon steel knives stay sharper longer than stainless steel knives do. While they still require sharpening at least once a year, they easily retain a desirable razor-sharp slicing ability. It is also important to note that carbon steel knives are more brittle and prone to rusting than their stainless counterparts are. However, you can avoid breaking, rusting and staining by washing your knife by hand (knives really don’t belong in the dishwasher), drying it promptly and treating it with care.
- Rubbing a light coat of mineral oil on your nakiri knife is one more step you can take when you are done using it. This provides a protective layer to prevent it from rusting.
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