Japanese Steak Knives
When it comes to knife design (specifically for the kitchen + dinner table here, people!) the Japanese have cornered a market, or rather created a market, with their iconic and historical design and forging techniques. So much so that they are often considered the number one kitchen and steak knife market and manufacturer in the world (with Germany and the US jostling for the adjacent spots).
So, given our love of kitchen knives where on Kitchen Knife Review and our current research in to the best steak knives in the world (hot tip: you can check out our guide to the best steak knives over here), it seems highly appropriate that we spend some time talking about Japanese Steak Knives.
First up, though, you might want us to get to the good bit if you are in the buying mood. There are really only 2 names you need to know about: Shun + Global.
These are both historic powerhouse companies that, quite simply, make some of the most beautiful kitchen knives and cutlery in the world. They also come with a fairly steep price tag that will unfortunately put a lot of buyers off.
Our personal recommendation here is that, if you have the budget, you will want to be looking at the Shun steak knives - mainly because they combine the absolute highest quality with some incredible and creative design. They are not for everyone, but they are worth a look for everyone that's for sure.
What Makes Japanese Steak Knives Different
Well, the most obvious comment here is the design is such a remarkable feature and identifier of Japanese cutlery and kitchen knives.
However, behind their iconic designs and styles lies hundreds if not thousands of years of expertise in knife forging and crafting stemming from the feudal days of samurai swords in the days of bushido. As romantic and unlikely as this might sound, to think that a steak knife might have heritage in a samurai sword, a lot of the techniques for folding metal were perfected in Japan during these times and it has been carried over in tradition to the modern day. Granted there will be some loss of experience, and over time we may see this ancient art dying out all together in favour of machine produced equipment, but for the time being we can all appreciate and enjoy this little corner of the cutlery market.
Note that when it comes to Japanese cutlery, the sub category of steak knives is likely to be woefully under represented. Why? Well, the Japanese cuisine doesn't traditionally include steaks. What about Kobe beef you ask? Well, that's a fair point but the reality this is a very small sub-cuisine and is often so tender in itself that it doesn't require the west's version of a steak knife.
As such we only typically see japanese style kitchen knives from the likes of Shun and Global - and to be honest this is more catering for western markets than anything else. However, for the non serrated variety of knives the same steel folding and hardening techniques which is invested in the more traditional kitchen knives goes in to these steak knives.