Top 7 Best Japanese Chef Knives For Under $200: Which One Would You Choose?

* This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.*

A quality chef knife is a must for anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen.

Whether you’re a professional chef or just a novice home cook, you’d know that a Japanese-style chef knife is one of the most useful tools you can have in the kitchen.

They are extremely sharp, can be used for a variety of tasks, and give you a whole lot of control when cutting.

And while there are some knives out there that cost upwards of $500, you don’t have to bust the bank to get a quality Japanese chef knife.

There are a lot of great choices out there that you can get for under $200, and we’ll be focusing on those choices in this article.

Below, we’ve compiled reviews of the best Japanese Chef knives for under $200, so keep reading to learn more.

Best Japanese Chef Knives Under $200 – Quick Comparison

* A Serious Contender *

DALSTRONG Chef Knife - 12" - Shogun Series - Damascus -...
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  • Unrivalled Performance: Ruthlessly sharp scalpel like edge is hand...
  • Dalstrong Power: An ultra sharp AUS-10V Japanese super steel cutting...

Related:

How to Buy Japanese Chef Knives For Under $200

There are a lot of options out there when looking for a Japanese chef knife on a budget, which can make choosing the right one tough.

But the search can be much easier if you know what to look for.

In this section, we’ll be explaining the key things that make a Japanese chef knife.

That way, you’ll have an easier time narrowing your choices down.

1. Damascus Steel

You’ll probably encounter this term a lot when looking for a chef knife.

This steel is common when it comes to Japanese chef knives, and it’s also responsible for the wavy patterns you see on the blade.

Damascus steel is harder, more durable, and can keep a sharper edge than normal high-carbon steel.

However, the difference isn’t as huge as knife companies will make it out to be.

It might be ideal to have this steel on a knife, but it’s far from a requirement for a good knife.

So make sure not to make the decision solely on the term “Damascus Steel”.

2. Tang

A full tang knife is one where the blade runs through to the handle.

This gives it more weight and a better overall balance as compared to a partial tang, where the blade doesn’t go all the way.

Generally, you’d want to get a full tang knife when looking for a quality chef knife.

And if you’re looking at knives in this price range, it should be a requirement.

3. Storage

A lot of knives in this price range will come with a sheath, and that is a big plus.

Proper storage and care for your knife are how you get it to last you years and years, and having a nice wooden sheath will be a great way to store it.

However, if you already have a proper place to store your knife after use, then this becomes less of a requirement.

4. Feel

This is the most important aspect of a knife, that’s why it’s highly recommended to try a knife out before buying it.

If you get the opportunity to, when shopping for knives, try to hold it and mimic your grip and cutting style.

That way, you’ll get a general idea of how it feels to use it.

After all, everyone has different tastes and preferences when it comes to knives, so it’s important to try it out first.

Reviews Of The Best Japanese Chef Knives For Under $200

KATSU (Best Overall)

KATSU Kiritsuke Chef Knife - Damascus - Japanese Kitchen...
  • Kiritsuke knives are the true multipurpose knives in Japanese cutlery,...
  • A traditional Japanese convex grind (Hamaguri-ba) damascus blade that...
  • Handcrafted octagonal ebony wood handle with buffalo horn bolster is...

Kicking off our list is a great Kiritsuke from KATSU.

A Kiritsuke knife is a staple in any Japanese kitchen and can be used for a wide variety of cutting tasks.

This specific model is made with a Japanese convex grind on the blade, which is one of the best grinds you can get on a blade.

This results in a very sharp edge that you won’t need to sharpen too often, especially when paired with the Damascus steel that was used in constructing the blade.

Considering the price of it, it’s about expected for it to be full tang, which offers a great balance when you’re cutting or slicing.

Another great feature of this model is the handle, which is handcrafted with Ebony wood.

Having a wooden handle gives it a more elegant and premium look, and the octagonal shape allows it to fall in your hand very nicely.

This is a great pick for any chef or home cook as it’s well below the $200 mark and performs great in the kitchen.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9.5/10
  • Handling: 9.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 9/10

Pros:

  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • A handcrafted handle allows for a very comfortable grip
  • Damascus steel blade retains its edge very long
  • Comes with a wood sheath and storage box
  • Has a beautiful pattern on the blade

Cons:

  • Can’t be washed in a dishwasher

KYOKU Daimyo Series (2nd Runner-up)

-39% Sale
KYOKU Chef Knife - 8"- Shogun Series - Japanese VG10 Steel...
  • TOP-NOTCH VG-10 JAPANESE STEEL – Crafted with superior Japanese...
  • FUNCTIONAL & AESTHETIC DAMASCUS STEEL – The blade consists of...
  • ERGONOMIC G10 HANDLE: Highly impervious to heat and moisture, the...

it from KYOKU is one that can steal your eye instantly with its elegant look.

The first thing you’ll notice is probably the blade, which is constructed with 67 layers of Damascus steel which gives the blade the wave-like pattern.

But Damascus steel isn’t strictly aesthetic, the multiple layers also do a great job at keeping the edge of it sharp and protecting its core.

The core of the blade is made of VG-10 steel with a Rockwell hardness rating of 58, which is very tough, giving it a whole new level of durability.

The blade is full tang and measures 8” (excluding the handle) which gives good weight and balance when cutting, but KYOKU also made sure to make the blade light enough to be used for long-haul prep jobs in the kitchen.

The handle of it is made of G10 an incredibly tough fiberglass-like material.

It’s heat and cold resistant and has a smooth feel that makes holding it in your hand very comfortable.

It also has a well-placed bolster that gives you even more control when using the pinch grip.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9.5/10
  • Handling: 9/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 9/10

Pros:

  • Relatively affordable
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Made with Damascus Steel
  • Has a VG-10 core with a hardness rating of 58
  • Full tang

Cons:

  • The Damascus pattern could be more defined

Kizzaki Premium (Higher-end Choice for Professionals)

-25% Sale
Kizzaki Premium 8 inch AUS-10 Japanese Super Steel Chef...
  • 🔹 SUPERIOR CRAFTMANSHIP The Perfect Mix Between Japanese Kitchen...
  • 🔹 JAPANESE SUPER STEEL AUS-10 Steel (Steel Only Produced in Japan)...
  • 🔹 TRADITIONAL 8 ANGLE HANDLE >Due to its Ergonomic Diamond Grip 8...

This knife from Kizzaki is one that bridges the gap between a professional chef knife and one for the kitchen enthusiast. 

It is constructed with AUS-10 Japanese Super Steel, which is great at retaining its edge.

The blade also has a Damascus pattern on it, which when paired with the G10 8-angle handle, makes for a very nice-looking knife.

The traditional style construction of the handle also gives you a very good grip on it that can give you a lot of control while not stressing out your hand and wrist too much.

There’s a single rivet on the handle that is not only a testament to quality and balance but also adds to the professional look on it.

When you buy it, it comes with a magnetic gift box (which can also be used for storage), and acacia scabbard, and a microfiber cloth that can be used to wipe and shine it after cleaning.

Out of the box, some customers reported that it needed a bit of sharpening, but once that was done, they also reported that it held its edge for a long time before needing additional sharpening.

This is a great pick for those looking to upgrade and enhance their current knife collection.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9.5/10
  • Handling: 9/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Has a tsunami rose Damascus Pattern
  • Made of AUS-10 steel
  • The G10 handle feels very comfortable in the hands
  • Holds its edge for a long time

Cons:

  • May need to be sharpened out of the box

Miyabi Kaizen (Best Value for the Money)

Miyabi Kaizen Chef's Knife, Medium, Black with Red Accent
  • TRADITIONAL DESIGN - Authentic thin Japanese blade profile with...
  • HAND-HONED - Using the three-step Honbazuke process to a 9.5 to 12...
  • MIYABI KAIZEN SERIES - Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the...

In terms of chef knives under $200, it rests comfortably in the middle of the back.

It has a price that is just right for the quality of it, but this is a tool that can perform a $500 chef knife.

It’s made by Miyabi, a very respected brand when it comes to Japanese knives.

It is made with 65-layers of Damascus steel, which is where it gets its flower-like Damascus pattern.

The core of the bladed is made of VG-10 Super Steel, which makes this a very durable knife to have.

It is hand-honed using the Honbazuke process, which is a traditional 3-step technique for sharpening knives.

This results in an edge that’s anywhere from 9.5 to 12 degrees.

This gives it a very sharp edge right out of the box.

it has a Micarta handle with a mosaic pin in the middle, which gives it a very classic Japanese chef knife look.

If you’ve been on the hunt for a very well-crafted, traditional-looking Japanese chef knife, this one might be your best pick under $200. 

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 8.5/10
  • Handling: 8.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Hand-honed
  • Has a flower Damascus pattern
  • Has a core of VG-10 Super Steel
  • Full tang

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with a scabbard 

Yoshihiro (Most Versatile)

-16% Sale
Yoshihiro VG-10 46 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese...
  • The VG-10 Hammered Damascus Series has been a perennial best seller,...
  • [[TRADITIONAL GYUTO STYLE] The most versatile and essential of all...
  • The Gyuto is a Japanese chefs knife with a curved blade that smoothly...

This is a premium knife that comes at a premium price.

It is a Gyuto knife, which is known as the most versatile knife you can find in the kitchen.

It’s a standard 8.25” chef knife that is slightly curved, allowing you to rock back and forth while chopping which can make a huge difference in the kitchen.

it is made with 46 layers of steel hammered in the Damascus tradition and also has a VG 10 core, which gives it durability that’s hard to match at this price range.

The handle is a traditional wooden Japanese handle with an octagonal shape that has a very natural feel in the hands.

This is a knife that is handcrafted by expert artisans that comes from a brand known for its close attention to quality and detail.

Since this is such a quality product, proper maintenance is an absolute must.

This is not a dishwasher-safe knife and needs to be washed immediately if you used acidic ingredients.

While that does take some effort, it’s well worth it.

It cuts incredibly well, has a classic Japanese chef knife look, and is so versatile that it can be the only knife you use in the kitchen.

A great pick for professionals looking for a quality, handcrafted Gyuto.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 8.5/10
  • Handling: 9.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Very high-quality
  • Traditional-style Gyuto
  • Damascus steel with a VG-10 core
  • Comes with a wooden sheath
  • Can be used for a wide variety of tasks

Cons:

  • More expensive than other knives on this list

Shun Classic (Best for Brand Recognition)

-9% Sale
Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife with VG-MAX Cutting Core...
  • VG-MAX steel is a formula exclusive to Shun with extra tungsten for a...
  • Handle is ebony PakkaWood; PakkaWood is a hardwood infused with resin...
  • For proper slicing, push the knife forward and down while cutting...

If you ask any knife connoisseur for recommendations for a Japanese chef knife, chances are the Shun brand will be mentioned.

This is a very respected brand for knives, and the Shun Classic is a great example of why.

It’s constructed with VG Max Steel, which is an alloy exclusive to the Shun brand which is more resistant to corrosion, has a sharper edge, and more strength.

It has a very sharp edge that can rival more expensive models right out of the box and is a dream to use in the kitchen.

This is also in part due to the Pakkawood handle, with a slight ridge to fit the natural curl of the fingers when cutting.

The classic is one of the brand’s premier chef knives and would be a great pick for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile blade to use in the kitchen.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9/10
  • Handling: 9/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Very sharp
  • Beautifully designed
  • Full tang
  • Pakkawood handle
  • Light, thin and razor-sharp

Cons:

  • Not the most durable knife on the market

Traditional (Budget Choice)

Traditional Japanese Professional Gyuto Kitchen Chefs Knife...
  • HIGH QUALITY STAINLESS STEEL: Our 420HC stainless steel blades are...
  • SINGLE BEVEL KNIFE EDGE: Traditional Japanese knives in the hands of...
  • FULL-TANG TRADITIONAL ROSEWOOD HANDLE: We wanted the handle of our...

This model is the best pick for those looking to save money and is willing to sacrifice a bit of quality.

Since it is so affordable, it won’t be as premium as the other models on this list, but it does offer a lot for its price.

It’s made of high carbon stainless steel, which is arguably the best material for knives as it retains its edge and can be razor-sharp.

It has a Rockwell Hardness rating of 55, which is fairly tough, especially considering the price range.

It’s full tang with a single rivet, giving a lot of balance and control when cutting.

It may not be the most premium model out there, but it is a great Gyuto that can be used for just about anything in the kitchen.

And the best part about it is you won’t have to bust the bank getting it.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 8.5/10
  • Handling: 8/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Full-tang
  • Very sharp
  • Great balance when cutting
  • Can be used for a lot of different tasks

Cons:

  • Not as high-quality as other models on this list

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FAQ’s

1. What Are The Best Japanese Chef’s Knives?

This will all depend on your tastes and preferences, but typically knife experts will point to brands like Shun or Miyabi.

This is because of the great reputation these brands have.

If you get a Shun or Miyabi knife, whether it be their entry-level models or their most premium blade, you can rest assured that you will be getting top quality knives.

2. Why Are Japanese Chef Knives So Expensive?

Japanese knives are made with very close attention to detail.

Commonly, these knives will be either hand-crafted or hand-honed to ensure the highest quality and sharpest edges.

They are also made of very high-quality materials that hold their edge for longer, and these knives also have handles crafted to near-perfection.

Aside from that, Japanese chef knives are known for being workhorses in the kitchen that can last a cook a whole career, so it’s well worth the investment.

3. Are German Or Japanese Knives Better?

This will depend on your needs in the kitchen.

German-style chef knives are typically heavier and can be used for tougher jobs like cutting around the bone.

Japanese-style chef knives are thinner, sharper, and have a rounded blade which allows for more precision and faster workflow.

Some chefs and cooks will find the German-style knives more comfortable while others prefer Japanese-style knives, it will all depend on what tasks you’ll be using the knives for.

4. What Knives Do Japanese Chefs Use?

There are a lot of very specific knives that chefs use in a professional kitchen.

But the most common knives you’ll find Japanese chefs using are the Gyotu and the Santoku.

Both of these knives can be used for a variety of tasks in the kitchen and save the cook the trouble of rifling through a series of knives before every task.

5. What Are Japanese Knives Best For?

Japanese knives can be used for almost all kitchen tasks.

However, they are at their best when the knives are used for precision jobs where you need a lot of control, sharpness, and speed.

These knives are engineered to give you all of that at the same time, which is why they are a staple in the kitchen.

6. Why Are Japanese Knives So Sharp?

Japanese knives are typically crafted using traditional Japanese sharpening methods.

These methods have been used for centuries and have stood the test of time.

There are multiple methods out there that are used, but these are the ones that artisans have been using for a long time, and they consistently result in very sharp blades.

7. What Knife Steel Holds The Sharpest Edge?

High-carbon stainless steel is the best material for knives.

It is very durable and can hold a very sharp edge for a long time.

It is typically the material used in high-quality chef knives and is what you should be looking out for when shopping for blades.

Conclusion

When buying a Japanese chef knife, the sub-$200 price range is a great place to look.

While you won’t be getting the most premium models out there, you’ll find some incredibly well-made blades in this range.

Based on our research, we’ve found that the Kizzaki Premium Chef Knife is the best pick for most chefs.

It features a Damascus steel construction, a very sharp edge, and a beautifully designed handle.

If you really want an executive chef’s knife, then we recommend the KATSU Kiritsuke.

It may be one of the harder blades for chefs to use, but its incredibly sharp edge, sturdy build, and striking design make this model a great choice for many chefs.

And for those on a tight budget, the KYOKU Daimyo Series Chef Knife is one of the best Japanese blades you can get on a budget.

Further reading:

How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives – Cook’s Illustrated

How to Keep a Knife Sharp | Epicurious

Last Updated on October 11, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.