4 Things to Know Before You Buy a Nakiri

If you’re considering buying one of these Japanese knives—and we think you should—here are some things to know.

Published June 8, 2021.

We fell in love with the nakiri during our most recent testing

Traditionally one of the most important knives found in Japanese home kitchens, the nakiri bōchō, or nakiri, has a rectangular blade with a relatively straight edge and a blunted tip that easily slices, dices, and chops vegetables, which form the backbone of Japanese cuisine. At its best, it’s ultrasharp and agile, elegant and incredibly capable.

We tested 12 models and loved using the majority of them. (Our favorites were the Masamoto Sohonten Wa-Nakiri, the Sakai Kikumori 165mm Nakiri - Aogami 2 - Nashiji, and the Masutani VG1 Nakiri 165mm, all pictured above.) If you’re interested in trying one for yourself—and we think you should—here are some things to know.

1. It’s not a cleaver. Its rectangular blade may look like a cleaver’s, but it’s not meant for tough tasks such as hacking up chicken parts or breaking down dense squash or pumpkin. Like all Japanese knives, the nakiri’s blade is very thin, hard, and brittle, so if you do anything too abusive, you can chip the edge—or worse. For similar reasons, avoid using it to cut bone-in proteins or frozen food!

2. It’s for so much more than vegetables. While the nakiri was traditionally used to slice and chop vegetables, it turns out that as long as you steer clear of the tasks mentioned above, you can use a nakiri to cut pretty much everything else. We used ours not only on peppers, greens, and onions but also on thick steaks.

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3. You cut differently with one. Japanese knives have relatively straight edges. As a result, you can’t rock through a cut from tip to heel, the way you might with a Western-style chef’s knife. Instead, chop in an up-and-down motion.

4. The blade cuts and transports. In addition to being razor-sharp and capable, that rectangular blade has another advantage: You can use it to gently scoop up any food you’ve just cooked and transfer it to a prep bowl or cooking vessel. Double duty! Just don’t drag the blade on the cutting board more than you need to, or you’ll dull it.

If you do purchase one of our favorite nakiri, we hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!

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