A debate that has been going on for ages in the culinary world concerns two iconic kitchen knives: the Gyuto and the chef’s knife.
While both of these blades are generally designed to serve the same purpose, chefs will usually prefer one over the other.
But what is the difference between the two?
Gyuto’s and chef knives share a lot of the same qualities.
They boast roughly the same shape and spotting the difference between a thick double-beveled gyuto and a standard Western chef knife.
And while they do share some characteristics, there is also a slight difference in the details that can give one a slight edge over the other and vice versa.
In this article, we’ll be taking a close look at both gyuto knives and chef knives so you can figure out what sets them apart from each other and also decide which would be the better option for your kitchen.
Read on to learn more.
History Of The Gyuto
The gyuto has a fairly unique history.
They came about as a response to the Western demand for quality chef knives and the dying market for weapons like swords.
While the name is Japanese, the gyuto is actually inspired by the Western chef knives used for a bunch of different tasks in the kitchen.
In the past, Japanese bladesmiths were known for their incredibly strong and sharp blades that they would attach to weapons used in battle.
But as times changed, these bladesmiths used their skills and knowledge for a different purpose: to make kitchen knives.
So while gyuto knives will share the same general shape and use of a traditional Western chef knife, it still has qualities that remain uniquely Japanese.
But more on that later.
History Of The Western Chef’s Knife
The history of the chef’s knife is pretty intricate and complicated.
History has seen many cultures and regions develop their own version of the chef’s knife independently since just about every culture has its unique culinary practices.
However, the modern Western chef’s knife can be traced back to 1773, when Peter Henkel began what would later become the dominant knife brand seen in most kitchens worldwide.
The knives made by Henkel in Solingen, Germany, are known for being heavy, tough, and very sharp.
This allowed it to be used for almost all kitchen cutting and slicing tasks.
The Japanese-style chef knife known as a gyuto was actually created as a response to these Western blades.
And while it might seem like they have fairly different histories, they do share similar beginnings.
Solingen, the city in Germany known today for making high-quality chef knives, was actually originally a city known for producing swords, just like with Japanese bladesmiths in Asia.
Gyuto Vs. Western Chef’s Knives – What’s The Difference?
One of the primary differences between a Gyuto and a Western chef knife is the edge.
This is incidentally also one of the most important features of any blade.
A Western chef’s knife will typically be sharpened to an angle of roughly 17-20 degrees on both sides.
This is called a double-beveled edge, as it is sharpened to the same angle on both sides.
With this edge, users can slice and cut with the knife regardless of which hand they use.
On the flip side, a gyuto will typically be sharpened to an edge of 15-17 degrees, but only on one side.
This is called a single-beveled edge, generally the sharper option of the two, but it comes with a catch: it isn’t ambidextrous.
That means left-handed chefs and cooks will have to get knives sharpened for left-hand use and vice versa.
However, there are also many modern gyuto’s that are double beveled, meaning they are ambidextrous.
So, if you’re looking for a sharper knife out of the two, then it’s recommended to go for a gyuto over a standard Western chef knife.
The next characteristic of these blades that we’ll be comparing is the steel used on the blades.
All knife brands and models will use different steel, so comparing the steel used by these two knives can be pretty tough.
Generally speaking, a gyuto will be made using harder steel than Western chef knives.
The steel used in a gyuto is generally high in carbon and very hard, which gives it much better edge retention.
And since these blades are sharpened to such a fine angle of 15 degrees, that’s a huge factor since re-sharpening these blades can be tough, especially if it’s your first time.
However, the downside of this is that these knives will be a bit more brittle and susceptible to chips and cracks than Western chef knives, so make sure to take excellent care of your gyuto if you choose to get one for your kitchen.
Western chef’s knives will use softer steel than a gyuto most of the time, which means the edge retention won’t be as good, but they will be more durable and withstand more abuse than a gyuto.
With all that being said, it’s important to remember that different brands and different models will use different steel.
So, it’s best practice to always research the specifications of a knife before buying.
Another main difference between these two blades is the profile of the blade.
With a Western chef’s knife, the edge will slightly curve from the tip to the base.
This allows you to slice and cut without lifting the knife instead of using a rocking motion to get the job done.
On the other hand, Japanese gyuto knives will have a relatively straight edge.
This means that you will not be able to utilize a rocking motion when slicing and instead will have to use an up and down motion.
Each of these techniques has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and usually, it boils down to a matter of preference that can differ from chef to chef.
A gyuto will typically have a traditional Japanese-style handle, typically made of wood but also synthetic materials.
These handles have an octagonal shape, while the end of the handle (closest to the blade) will have a wrap called a “kakumaki,” which is smooth and usually added for extra comfort.
Octagonal handles are also made to be lighter than Western ones, making them more comfortable to use for certain people.
Western chef knives utilize traditional smooth oval handles, usually made from wood, plastic, and synthetic materials.
Again, some chefs will find octagonal handles more comfortable, while others prefer oval ones.
It’s all up to one’s personal preference, so if you have the opportunity to try both, you should take it so that you can decide which one suits your style better.
As mentioned earlier, both of these knives are made for the same purposes.
They are designed to be an all-around tool chef can use to slice meat, vegetables, fruits, and just about any ingredients in the kitchen.
Which Is The Best Pick For My Kitchen?
When figuring out which chef knife you should pick for your kitchen, you should first consider your own cooking and cutting styles.
If you prefer a rocking motion, then a Western model would be your best bet, while for those who prefer picking the knife up and going up and down, a Japanese knife would be a good pick for you.
Western knives aren’t as sharp as Japanese ones, but they are also generally more durable.
Since both knives have their own pros and cons, it’s always best to understand your own needs in the kitchen before figuring out which one suits your style the best.
The gyuto and the chef’s knife are generally the same, although they differ slightly when looking at the details.
They are both designed as all-around workhorses for the kitchen, and a quality blade can make a huge difference whether you’re a professional chef or home cook.
So now that you know what their differences are exactly, the only thing left to do is choose which one suits your style the best!
Last Updated on July 19, 2021 by Andy Wang