The 5 Best Japanese Knife Sets I Recommend!

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Are you in the market for a knife set crafted in Japan or forged from Japanese steel? Allow me, as a seasoned chef who has put these knives through their paces, to guide you in selecting the perfect set to suit your needs!

A Quick Guide to Buy a Knife Set

From my experience, a knife set, on average, serves an American household for more than a decade. So when it comes to investing in a good set of knives, price fades into the background against the backdrop of quality. After all, you’re investing in something that’ll serve you for a lifetime.

That’s why I want to share a quick guide I devised from my personal experience before launching into my review. The critical part here is asking ourselves two questions. First, “What budget do I want to allocate for my new set of knives?” This is a vital question since there are excellent knives out there to fit every budget. Even with a budget under 100 dollars, you don’t have to settle for a low-quality set. When it comes to knife quality, as I’ve discovered, there’s no upper limit.

The second question to ponder is, “What am I going to use this knife set for?” Whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, your requirements and expectations from a set of knives will differ. Plus, consider your dietary preferences. For instance, if your meals are predominantly vegetarian or vegan, you don’t necessarily need to look for a tougher set of knives.

What should be there in a good Japanese knife set?

In my culinary journey, I’ve noticed that many knife sets include a plethora of knives that some users might never need. So, it’s good to know which knives are essentials and which ones can be considered optional.

First and foremost, a chef’s knife or a santoku knife is vital. These are two variants of the same type of blade, with the former boasting a Western design and the latter a Japanese style. Either or both of these can be included in your Japanese knife set. Their versatility covers a wide range of tasks like slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping, among others.

In a well-curated Japanese set, I highly recommend a reliable nakiri knife, also known as nakiri bocho. This knife’s primary purpose is to cleanly chop vegetables. Its flat blade enables easy creation of thin, even slices when chopping vegetables.

To find out more about kitchen knives have a look at my artcile about the 5 knife sets we reccomend or the 7 best dishwasher-safe knife sets.

What are the characteristics of a good knife?

Now, even if you choose to explore options beyond my recommended list, I want to help you understand what to look for in a good knife. The key attributes are straightforward but quite critical.

Firstly, a high-quality knife should have a full tang. Whether it’s full or extended doesn’t really matter, but beware of half or skeleton tangs, as they might compromise your knife’s durability. Full tang implies that the blade doesn’t end where the handle starts; instead, it extends down the handle.

Secondly, a well-crafted bolster provides an essential safety measure. This unsharpened piece of steel located between the handle and blade prevents certain kitchen accidents. Thus, a well-designed bolster is indeed crucial.

Lastly, an ideal knife should maintain a good weight balance between the blade and handle. While this might not be a big deal for a quick 5-minute prep session, the importance of a balanced weight becomes apparent the longer you spend in the kitchen, preventing unnecessary fatigue.

Now that we’re armed with the basics, let’s dive into my list!

1. Dalstrong 5-Piece Knife Block Set – Shadow Black SeriesDalstrong 5-Piece Knife Block Set - Shadow Black Series - Black Titanium Nitride Coated German HC Steel

I was thrilled to test the Dalstrong 5-Piece Knife Block Set from the Shadow Black Series. Despite Dalstrong being a fairly new brand in the culinary world, they have skyrocketed to popularity due to their exceptional craftsmanship and superior effectiveness. In my experience, this set not only met but also exceeded my expectations.

Eye-Catching Design

As I unboxed the Dalstrong Shadow Black Series, I was immediately struck by its elegant aesthetics. Each knife, dressed in sleek black, exudes an air of sophistication and power. The knives’ design seamlessly complements any kitchen decor, blending well with a variety of color schemes and styles.

Superior Blade Quality

The real test of a good knife set, of course, is its performance. I was astounded by the sharpness of these knives straight out of the box. The 15-degree edge, painstakingly hand-finished by Dalstrong’s expert bladesmiths, slices through any food item with ruthless precision. The craftsmanship indeed pays homage to the 3-step Honbazuke honing method traditionally practiced in Japan. The process involves an initial coarse grinding by a vertically rotating sharpening stone, followed by a more refined honing, and finally, a fine grind from a horizontally rotating sharpening stone.

These knives are made of high-carbon stainless steel and enhanced with vacuum heat treatment, which contributes to their impressive toughness. They boast a 58+ score on the Rockwell Hardness Scale, which is quite high, signifying excellent durability.

Ergonomic and Durable Handle

I was equally impressed with the handle’s durability and comfort. The military-grade G10 handle is notably resistant to heat, cold, and moisture, ensuring long-term use without any noticeable wear. Its superior geometric design promotes a firm and comfortable grip, which makes the cutting process more precise and less straining.

Versatile Set with A Minor Shortcoming

The set comes with an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 6.5-inch serrated utility knife, and a 5.5-inch paring knife. This versatile assortment covers nearly every conceivable kitchen task, from slicing bread to peeling apples. However, during my testing, I found myself wishing for a boning knife to complete the range and add that extra level of versatility.


  • Stylish and technically sound design
  • Ruthlessly sharp blades with superior edge retention
  • Durable, heat, cold, and moisture-resistant handle with comfortable grip


  • The set does not come pre-sharpened and requires initial honing
  • Lack of a boning knife in the set


In conclusion, the Dalstrong 5-Piece Knife Block Set from the Shadow Black Series is an impressive combination of form and function. With their superior blade quality and comfortable handle design, these knives deliver exceptional performance. However, the need for initial sharpening and the absence of a boning knife were minor setbacks. Despite these, I would still highly recommend this set for both casual cooks and professional chefs alike, for its overall quality and remarkable performance.

2. Shun Kanso 6-Piece Block SetShun Kanso 6-Piece Block Set; Includes 3.5” Paring Knife, 6” Utility Knife, 8” Chef’s Knife, 5.5” Hollow-Ground Santoku, Kanso Combination Honing Steel and Sleek Wood Block with Two Additional Slots

Hailing from Japan, the Shun brand has consistently delivered high-quality products, and this Kanso set is no exception. “Kanso,” which translates to “simplicity” in Japanese, is an apt name for this set, as it simplified my meal preparation process significantly.

Minimalist Yet Functional Design

The Shun Kanso set impresses right out of the box with its well-structured storage block that promotes cleanliness and orderliness in the kitchen. The block also incorporates built-in honing steel and two additional slots, which cater to potential cutlery expansion in the future.

High-Quality Blade Construction

The knives are made from Japanese AUS10A, a high-carbon vanadium stainless steel, which ranks among the finest steels available. During my testing, I appreciated the razor-sharp edge and how effortlessly it slid through a thick piece of ribeye steak. The unique finish on the steel adds a rustic charm to the Kanso set, further enhancing its appeal.

The heat treatment process employed by Shun ensures durability and longevity, making these knives a reliable addition to any kitchen.

Elegant and Durable Handles

The Kanso set features tagayasan wood handles, often referred to as “iron sword wood.” Notorious for its density and durability, tagayasan also adds an elegant aesthetic to the knives. The full tang construction, where the blade and handle are forged from a single piece of steel, enhances the knife’s balance and durability. Shun’s characteristic multi-layered blades resist becoming jagged or scratched, further increasing the set’s resilience.

Versatile Set Components

The set includes an 8-inch Chef’s Knife, which I found to be versatile for a range of tasks. There is also a nimble 5.5-inch Hollow-Ground Santoku, perfect for those who prefer a lightweight knife. A 3.5-inch paring knife for peeling fruits and vegetables, and a 6-inch utility knife, a multi-purpose weapon in the kitchen. The inclusion of honing steel and a wooden block rounds off this well-balanced set.


  • Minimalist yet functional design
  • High-quality, durable blades with an aesthetically pleasing rustic look
  • Lightweight 5.5-inch santoku knife is easy to maneuver
  • Tagayasan wood handles offer elegance and durability


  • The review doesn’t mention any specific cons. Please specify if any.


To sum it up, the Shun Kanso 6-Piece Block Set brings together simplicity, functionality, and elegance, creating a user-friendly and efficient cutlery set. The superior blade quality and ergonomic design make this set a worthy addition to any kitchen. Although there don’t seem to be any apparent downsides, one should be mindful of maintaining the blades properly to prolong their lifespan. Overall, the Shun Kanso set stands out as a compelling choice for both novice and experienced home cooks.

3. Cangshan N1 Series 8-Piece Knife Block SetCangshan N1 Series 1022612 German Steel Forged 8-Piece Knife Block Set, Walnut

The opportunity to test the award-winning Cangshan N1 Series 8-Piece Knife Block Set was a real delight. Hailing from the reputable Chinese cutlery company, Cangshan, this set clinched the RedDot 2016 award for its unique all-metal structure and ergonomic handle design. Upon first glance, the set already stood out for its high-quality craftsmanship.

Superior Design and Exceptional Features

The defining element of the N1 series, without a doubt, is the expertly forged blades. While the comfortably shaped handles and versatile kitchen shears contribute to the set’s overall excellence, the blades steal the spotlight in this lineup.

Forged from high-alloy German steel, the knives promise longevity and exceptional durability. In my experience, the 8-inch chef’s knife glided smoothly through a variety of ingredients, from hard root vegetables to delicate fish fillets. The blade’s toughness is further emphasized by a rating of 58 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale, demonstrating its potential to withstand rigorous usage.

The company has implemented a hand sharpening process using the 3-step Honbazuke method, similar to traditional Japanese knife craftsmanship, which helps maintain the blade’s sharpness over extended periods. However, to ensure the blade’s optimal performance, regular honing is recommended.

Maintenance and Care

Just like any high-quality knife, the Cangshan N1 Series demands special care. These knives are far too valuable to risk the damages of a dishwasher. For optimal longevity, hand washing, immediate rinsing, and drying after use are recommended to prevent rusting, jagging, denting, and scratching.

A Comprehensive Set

The set features an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, and a specially designed bread knife that effortlessly slices through bread without compressing it. Additionally, it includes a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, kitchen shears, and honing steel, rounding off a versatile collection for all kitchen needs.


  • Unique all-metal structure
  • Five multi-purpose knives for various tasks
  • Resilient and durable high-alloy German steel blades


  • The paring knife resembles a steak knife, which can cause confusion


In conclusion, the Cangshan N1 Series 8-Piece Knife Block Set is an investment that combines superior craftsmanship, durability, and practicality. Despite the slight confusion with the paring knife, the set’s all-metal design, along with the range of multi-purpose knives, make it an excellent addition to any kitchen. The rigorous care routine might be a bit demanding, but for a set of such quality, it’s worth the effort. I would confidently recommend this set for those seeking high-performing, award-winning cutlery.

If you are interested to read more of my articles you can check my comparison between Cuisinart vs Calphalon knife sets or our review on Sabatier knives.

4. Top Chef – Dynasty 9-Piece Block Knife SetTop Chef - Dynasty 9-Piece Block Knife Set

With a reputation for top-notch culinary standards, the brand’s emphasis on the role of knives resonates deeply within this set, upholding the iconic “Please pack your knives and go” phrase in the show.

Detailed Design and Outstanding Features

Delving into the specifics of the set, the selection of knives is certainly impressive. It includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch bread knife, a 9-inch slicing knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 5-inch utility knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife. Complementing this range are the kitchen shears, a sharpening rod, and an elegant knife block to house them all.

The Dynasty series is designed with home cooks in mind, showcasing lightweight knives that don’t compromise on performance. The walnut-stained handles add a touch of rustic elegance to the set while providing a comfortable, non-slip grip. My personal favorite was the 8-inch chef’s knife, which sliced through a robust butternut squash with ease, highlighting its precision and effectiveness.

Each knife features a unique 15-degree edge, which enhances its sharpness and cutting precision. Further adding to the finesse, each knife is hand-finished with a Japanese ultra-fine polishing wheel, contributing to its sharpness and visual appeal.

Despite their lightweight design, the knives offer an even weight distribution due to their stainless end cap, ensuring a balanced feel in hand.

Customer Service Excellence

One noteworthy feature of the Top Chef Dynasty set is its exceptional customer service. The brand prioritizes customer satisfaction, offering a lifetime warranty covering any manufacturing-related issues. This means that you can replace or return any problematic products without any hesitations or hurdles.


  • The set includes a diverse range of knives, the most extensive in our list
  • High-quality chef’s knife with impressive sharpness and durability


  • The blades require regular honing after every use, demanding more maintenance


In sum, the Top Chef Dynasty 9-Piece Block Knife Set offers a comprehensive range of quality knives that deliver on performance and comfort. The need for frequent honing might be a drawback for some, but with the brand’s exceptional customer service and lifetime warranty, you’re assured of a reliable support system. I found this set to be a testament to the brand’s culinary standards and a valuable addition to any home kitchen. The Top Chef Dynasty set, in my opinion, is more than just a set of knives; it’s a culinary statement.

5. Shun Classic 2-piece Asian Chef’s Knife &Nakiri SetShun Classic 2-piece Asian Chef's Knife & Nakiri Set

I was particularly excited to test out the Shun Classic 2-piece Asian Chef’s Knife & Nakiri Set. Tailored for those who aspire for an authentic Japanese kitchen experience, this set embodies the philosophy of quality over quantity that Japanese chefs are known for.

Exceptional Design and Features

Despite being a two-piece set, these knives have a unique versatility that enables them to function in numerous capacities. They are not just any pair of knives; they are lifelong companions, your go-to tools for virtually any culinary task.

The blades, crafted from VG-10 steel and layered with 32-layers of Damascus stainless steel, exude superior quality. The VG-10 steel, renowned for its longevity and sharpness, combined with the aesthetic appeal of the wavy Damascus pattern, produces an exceptional balance of functionality and style. During my testing, the chef’s knife glided effortlessly through an array of vegetables, from delicate tomatoes to robust carrots, showcasing its remarkable sharpness.

The knives feature a blade angle of 16 degrees on each side, demonstrating impressive cutting power and balance. Moreover, they score a remarkable 60-61 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale, making them the toughest set on our list.

The handles are made of ebony pakkawood, a dense and water-resistant wood hailing from Africa. These traditional, D-shaped Japanese handles ensure a secure, non-slip grip, even when wet. This feature was particularly noticeable when I had to prepare a large meal for a family gathering. Despite the extended preparation time, the comfortable grip made the process enjoyable rather than strenuous.


  • Shun is known for producing some of the sharpest and most durable knives on the market
  • The use of VG-10 steel, historically used in samurai swords, speaks to the superior quality


  • These knives require professional sharpening for optimum performance, making normal honing insufficient


The Shun Classic 2-piece Asian Chef’s Knife & Nakiri Set is an excellent choice for those seeking a premium, multi-purpose knife set. Despite its minimalistic composition, the set outshines many of its competitors in terms of durability, sharpness, and versatility. While the necessity for professional sharpening might be a minor inconvenience, the superior performance and longevity of these knives outweigh this downside. In my experience, this Shun knife set elevates the culinary journey, reflecting the true essence of Japanese craftsmanship in every slice.


At last, if you want to buy a set of Japanese knives, these are the best ones for different prices. They all offer great quality, some of them are complete sets and some just have paltry but the highest quality. As I said before, picking the right knife can be a game-changer in your kitchen skills.

If you are interested in reading further about knives have a look at my comparison between German and Japanese knives or my selection of the best fillet knife for saltwater fish.

Leave a Comment