Yanagi / Yanagi-ba
This long, thin knife is the essential tool for Japanese sushi chefs. Created for slicing raw fish and seafood, the length and sharpness of the single bevel blade allow cooks to make one smooth pull to cleanly cut through delicate ingredients with very little force—resulting in perfect, glossy slices with no bruises, no rough surfaces. The yanagi is the fish slicer traditionally used in Japan’s Kansai region (Osaka and Kyoto). Besides raw fish, the yanagi is an ideal knife for carving roast beef, thinly slicing vegetables or portioning terrines and patés.
Takohiki / Takobiki
Thetakohiki is the fish-slicing knife like the yanagi, but a style that hails from Japan’s Kanto region (Tokyo ). The main difference is the takohiki’s squared head, which helps chefs deftly scoop up slices of sashimi and arrange thi on a plate. Like the yanagi , the length of the takohiki and the sharpness of its single bevel blade allow chefs to make one smooth pull to cleanly slice raw fish and seafood without bruising or producing rough surfaces.
The deba is a heavy knife for gutting and filleting fish, and rioving the scales of smaller fish. The sharpness and weight of its durable thick blade lets you glide the knife along fish bones to separate the fillets, as well as cut through fish heads, fish ribs, even poultry. The deba is also used by Japanese chefs to chop fish and shrimp into a paste. There are several styles of deba: The Ai-Deba is slightly narrower and thinner than a traditional deba. The Mioroshi Deba and Funayuki are knives that serve as both a deba and yanagi, and were originally designed to save fishermen from having to carry two different knives on their boats. The Yo-Deba literally means “Western deba” and has a double-bevel edge, making it ideal for cutting through lobster and crab shells.
The honesuki is a Japanese boning knife used to butcher meat and poultry. This knife does not have the flexibility of a typical Western boning knife but its sharp, pointed tip helps you ride the blade along bones, cartilage and joints to separate different cuts of meat. Although it has a single bevel, it is considered a Western style knife in Japan.
Torigarasuki / Garasuki
Similar to the honesuki, the garasuki is traditionally used to break down poultry, but can also be used to fabricate other meat. Although it has a single bevel, it is considered a Western style knife in Japan.
The usuba, whose name literally means “thin blade,” is the traditional Japanese knife for cutting vegetables. Its sharp and exceptionally thin edge lets chefs make precise cuts as well as slice through hard vegetables such as carrots. In Japan’s Kanto region (Tokyo), the usuba has a square tip, while in the Kansai region (Osaka and Kyoto), this knife comes with a rounded tip and is referred to as the kamagata usuba. Both styles cut in the same manner. The usuba is used for katsuramuki, a fundamental Japanese chefs’ technique to cut paper thin sheets of vegetables (like daikon). The usuba is also an ideal knife for fine dice, julienne and brunoise cuts.
The mukimono , with a pointed tip, is even thinner than a traditional usuba . It is used for peeling vegetables, as well as for intricate carving and cutting of vegetables and fruit for decorative purposes.
The kiritsuke is a cross between a yanagi and usuba . It is a multipurpose knife that can be used for meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.
The sushikiri literally means “sushi cutter”and is traditionally used to cut sushi rolls (makizushi) and pressed sushi (oshizushi) without crushing the rice. Its curved edge gives the knife more length than a straight edge, making it ideal for cutting tasks that require longer strokes.
Gyuto / Chef’s Knife
The gyuto, or chef’s knife, is the Japanese version of the classic Western chef’s knife. The difference is that the gyuto’s blade is thinner and holds a sharper edge. As a result, the gyuto is a more precise and versatile blade, and has become the preferred all-purpose knife in American restaurant kitchens. Use the gyuto for chopping, mincing and slicing meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.
Sujihiki / Slicing Knife
The sujihiki (or sujibiki) is a Japanese-style slicing knife with a thinner, sharper edge than Western versions. The long blade of the sujihiki is ideal for thinly carving cooked meats and slicing terrines and patés. It can also be used instead of a yanagi to slice raw fish.
The boning knife has a narrow, flexible blade with a pointed tip that is used for deboning meat and fish. This knife lets you scrap against joints to achieve maximum yield, as well as cut delicate flesh, like fish.
Paring / Petty Knife
The paring knife is a small multipurpose knife used to peel, cut, de-seed and tourné vegetables and fruit, as well as do other tasks like de-veining shrimp. This knife is an essential tool for bartenders who serve fresh fruit garnishes.
The Santoku is a cross between a Nakiri and Gyuto, originally intended for the home cook. It is a multipurpose knife that can be used for cutting meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.
The bread knife’s serrated edge lets you cut through bread without crushing it.
The double-bevel edged nakiri is used for slicing vegetables like the usuba, but is intended for the home cooks.