Best Sushi Knife: 8 Yanagiba Knives for Sushi and Sashimi

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I've tested eight of the best sushi knives on the market and found the Imarku Professional 10-Inch Sushi Knife to be my top pick. You can find it on Amazon or direct with the manufacturer.

For your information: When you buy through links on Clan Kitchen, we may earn a commission.

Sushi is a delicious, healthy, and fun dish, but it can be expensive to buy it at restaurants. That’s why preparing sushi at home is a great way to experience this popular Japanese dish.

But to do that, you not only need the know-how; you need the best sushi knife.

I like the Imarku Professional 10-Inch Sushi Knife because it performs well and has high-quality materials while still affordable.

But you may want to splurge on a high-end brand with a stellar reputation, or perhaps you’re a beginner sushi chef and want something budget-friendly. Or maybe you’re left-handed and need a knife handle that accommodates that.

Rest assured that whatever your preferences are, there are sushi knives to meet them. I’ve broken down the pros and cons of several good sushi knives, as well as included a buying guide to give you the best information.

Here is the list of all the knives I’ve reviewed:

Which will be the best knife for cutting sushi in your kitchen? Keep reading to find out more.

Best Sushi Knives: Product Reviews

Best Sushi Knife

Imarku Professional Sashimi Knife, 10 Inches: Best Overall

This Imarku sushi knife has a razor-sharp edge that is mirror polished to 12-15 degrees. The single bevel allows users to slice sashimi and prepare sushi with ease. The blade consists of German high-carbon stainless steel.

The ergonomic, dark pakkawood handle is designed for comfort and stability. Customers raved about this sushi knife: They liked the weight and balance and loved the sharpness.

It’s full tang, meaning the metal of the blade extends all the way into the handle, improving durability and balance, as well as being a sign of good quality. 

This knife is at a solid mid-range price point, so you can get a good sushi knife without breaking the bank.

One of the only complaints? Some were disappointed that these knives are made in China, not Japan.

Pros

  • Razor-sharp
  • Comfortable handle
  • Good balance
  • Affordable
  • Full Tang

Cons

  • Made in China

To help you shop around I’ve found the product page with the manufacturer who also sell this knife direct:

DALSTRONG Phantom Yanagiba Knife, 9.5 Inches: Overall Runner-Up

DALSTRONG, a Canadian company, burst onto the knife scene as recently as 2014, but their reputation for beautiful design and premium quality has made this brand popular among chefs and home cooks.

This DALSTRONG 9.5-inch (240mm) Phantom Yanagiba has a blade construction of Japanese high-carbon steel that has been nitrogen cooled for extra hardness. The single bevel has a sharp blade angle of 13-15 degrees, which is well-suited to precise cuts.

This sushi knife has a D-shaped handle of Spanish pakkawood for beauty and comfort. The knife is full tang and precision-forged for durability.

User reviews were positive regarding this DALSTRONG knife. They liked the performance, especially out of the box. Some people thought the bevel was short, and a couple noticed a secondary bevel that made cuts more difficult.

Overall, though, people were pleased with the performance of this sushi knife.

Pros

  • Japanese steel blade
  • Comfortable grip
  • Superior edge retention
  • Includes sheath

Cons

  • Some complaints regarding bevel

DALSTRONG Yanagiba 10.5-Inch Sushi Knife, Shadow Black Series: Best for Lefthanders

This DALSTRONG Sushi Knife is from the Shadow Black series, a sleek line featuring exceptional grip and cutting ability. 

The midnight-black fiber-resin military-grade G10 handle is heat and water-resistant, and its geometric shape is designed to fit in the palm of your hand.

Even though this is not technically a left-handed sushi knife, left-handed users report they were able to use this knife comfortably.

This sushi knife features a very sharp edge, with a blade angle of 15 degrees. The blade is cooled with liquid nitrogen and has a titanium nitride non-reflective coating. The coating reduces sticking and adds corrosion resistance while giving the blade a bold look.

Fair warning, some people had issues with the coating falling off while honing the blade.

While this particular knife is not the most expensive out there, it’s also not as affordable as other options. You’ll want a somewhat flexible budget to purchase this DALSTRONG sushi knife.

Pros

  • High-carbon blade
  • Titanium nitride coating
  • Ambidextrous resin handle
  • Super Sharp
  • Fully Tang

Cons

  • Reports of coating coming off
  • Expensive

Keemake Sashimi Knife 10.5-Inch Yanagiba Knife: Best for Beginners

This Keemake Sashimi Knife has a blade length of 10.5 inches (268mm) and a knife blade made with high-quality Japanese high-carbon stainless steel.

Like any good sashimi knife, this model has a single bevel and a blade angle of 12-15 degrees, making it ideal for delicate and precise cuts.

The smooth rosewood handle is made for comfort and easy use. This sushi knife is designed for clean, even cuts.

Reviewers were able to successfully make sushi rolls, sashimi, and more. They said the Keemake was a balanced knife and easy to use.

The blade appears to be full tang (extending all the way into the handle), but it was hard to confirm this.

And since this knife is at an accessible price, it’s a great option for beginners and experienced sushi makers.

Pros

  • Japanese steel blade
  • Natural rose wood handle
  • Good for beginners
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Made in China

Yoshihiro Shiroko Sushi Knife: Best Splurge

Yoshihiro is a top name in Japanese knife making. Each Yoshihiro Shiroko knife is individually handcrafted by artisans in Japan, making them among the most popular Japanese knives.

Forged from high-carbon white steel #2, this quality knife offers excellent sharpness and great edge retention. The D-shaped Shitan rosewood handle is ergonomic and lightweight.

It’s a shame this knife is part tang (where the blade) doesn’t extend all the way into the handle, but I understand this is traditional for Japanese knives.

This sushi knife comes with a blade cover for safety when storing. Customers said this was a fantastic knife. They used their Yoshishiro sushi knives for making sushi rolls and slicing sashimi, among other cooking tasks. They were pleased with its performance and sharpness.

These sushi knives are some of the best in terms of craftsmanship and reputation, but you will pay accordingly. Expect to spend significantly more for this brand than others.

With that being said, this option is best for professional sushi chefs or experienced cooks. If this is your first foray into making sushi and sashimi, I would go with a more budget-friendly knife.

It’s also important to know how to care for high-carbon stainless steel. Some reviewers complained of rust, which can easily happen if you don’t know how to properly care for a high-carbon steel blade.

Watch this manufacturer video to learn more about this knife:

Pros

  • Handcrafted in Japan
  • Razor-sharp
  • Ergonomic handle
  • White steel #2 blade

Cons

  • Not for novices
  • Significantly more expensive
  • Part Tang

Mercer Culinary Asian Collection Sashimi Knife: Best Budget Pick

For those who want a sushi knife but can’t afford thehigher-endd brands, this Mercer Culinary Sushi Knife is for you. With a blade length of 10 inches (250mm), it can slice through any piece of sashimi with ease.

The blade of this sushi knife consists of German stainless steel that is rust-resistant. It has a single bevel edge and a traditional wood handle.

Customers were pleased with their Mercer sushi knives. They liked the ease of use and the price point. Some users said this knife isn’t quite as sharp as others, but they recommended honing the blade upon opening the box.

Others complained that the blade loses its edge quickly. Frequent sharpening will be necessary.

However, if you’re a beginner who wants to try your hand at a Japanese knife without a premium cost, this Mercer knife is a good pick.

Pros

  • German stainless steel blade
  • Wooden handle
  • Good for beginners
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Needs honing out of the box
  • Loses edge quickly
  • Part Tang

Lucky Cook 10-Inch Sushi and Sashimi Knife: Runner Up Best for Beginners

This Lucky Cook sushi and sashimi knife has a length of 10 inches (250mm). The slightly oval, non-slip wooden handle is comfortable to grip and use.

This is a right-handed asymmetrical blade with a single bevel. The blade construction is high-quality stainless steel. This Lucky Cook knife also comes with a convenient storage case.

User reviews were quite positive. They consistently said this knife was sharp and easy to use. Several recommended this knife for beginners or those who want a good bang for their buck. They had the most success with making sushi rolls.

But if you need a left-handed sushi knife, this is not it. This blade is made for right-handers. Also, don’t expect the same level of durability as you might find with a more expensive brand.

Still, if you’re a novice to making Japanese food, this knife might just do the trick.

Pros

  • Comfortable red wood handle
  • Good for beginners
  • Inexpensive knife
  • Storage case included

Cons

  • Not for left-handers
  • Not as durable or sharp as high-end options
  • Part Tang

MASAMOTO 9.5-Inch Traditional Japanese Sushi Knife: Best Sujihiki

This MASAMOTO is technically a Sujihiki knife, but the blade styles of Yanagiba and Sujihiki knives are almost indistinguishably similar. The only noticeable difference is that this Japanese blade has a bevel on either side, versus the single bevel of a Yanagiba.

Each MASAMOTO knife is made in Tokyo, Japan, and features a high-grade stain-resistant steel called Hyper Molybdenum Vanadium. This steel is rust-resistant and easier to maintain than carbon steel knives.

With a length of 9.5 inches (240mm), you can easily slice boneless fish fillets and more. These sharp knives have a moderately weighted pakkawood handle with triple rivets for extra strength.

Customers liked how sharp this stainless steel knife was. They were happy with the weight and balance of this MASAMOTO knife. With a double-edge blade, be prepared for this knife to make rougher cuts than a single edge blade. But no user reviews complained of having that problem.

Pros

  • Made in Japan
  • Razor sharp
  • Well-balanced, lightweight
  • Double bevel
  • Ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Perhaps rougher cuts?
  • Likely part tang

Yanagiba Sushi Knife Buying Guide

What are Yanagiba Sushi Knives?

Literally translated, the word Yanagiba means “willow-leaf blade.” A Yanagiba knife is a slender, thin, extremely sharp knife used to slice fresh, raw fish. It is ideal for precise cuts. A Yanagiba knife is the same thing as a Japanese sushi knife or sashimi knife.

A Yanagiba is a single bevel knife, meaning its blade is only sharpened on one side. This type of blade maintains the shape of the fish and gives the sashimi a straight edge. That’s why Yanagiba knives make the best sashimi knives.

The blade length of Yanagiba sushi knives allows you to slice the fish with one stroke.

What to Look for in the Best Sushi Knife

Blade Material

When it comes to knife blades, the two most common materials are stainless steel and high-carbon steel. Carbon steel will yield a sharper, more durable blade.

But a carbon steel blade won’t hold its edge as long and is more susceptible to rust. So it’s essential to frequently sharpen your blade. Additionally, you’ll want to wash and thoroughly dry your knife after each use. You should never put a Yanagiba knife in the dishwasher. This can cause significant damage to the blade.

If you’re not planning to use your sushi knife immediately, applying a small amount of knife oil to the blade can help prevent rust and corrosion.

Blade Sharpness

The sharpness of a blade is usually described using the angle at which the blade is sharpened. A lower angle means a sharper edge and a more precise, delicate cut. For reference, an X-acto knife would be sharpened to an angle between 7-12 degrees, and a cleaver is sharpened to between 25-30 degrees.

Most Yanagiba blades are sharpened to an angle between 12-17 degrees, making these knives sharp and precise.

Blade Length

To properly slice fish, you need a blade long enough to allow you to cut in one long uninterrupted stroke. For that reason, you won’t find a sashimi knife under 6 inches (150 mm).

Nearly all sashimi knives are 7 to 12 inches (180mm – 300mm) long. This length allows you to pull through the fish, without the need to move the knife back and forth. A sawing motion could lead to uneven edges, which is a no-no for sashimi slicing.

Tang

Full tang knives have the blade’s metal extend all the way through the handle; for part tang, it extends only part way.

Tang used to be a good indicator of quality in European knives. Full tang European knives would have better balance and durability, but Japanese knives were always part tang.

Full Tang vs Part Tang

These days it can be a bit of a marketing gimmick. Sure full tang is probably an indicator of quality in non-Japanese knives, but it’s more important to look at usage. Is it actually more durable and better balanced?

Fortunately, that’s what I’m here for!

Bevel

The bevel refers to the surface that has been ground to a sharp edge. A single bevel means the knife is only sharp on one side. The back of the knife is concave and the blade is honed to a point on one side.

A double bevel, however, means the knife is sharp on both sides of the blade.

Most sushi knives are single bevel knives. The concave back edge reduces drag and prevents the fish from sticking to the blade. Single-bevel blades are also much sharper, so you won’t need to apply as much pressure. A sharper edge with less pressure translates to a cleaner cut.

Handle

You’ll find that the best sashimi knives have rounded wooden handles. Most brands feature a D-shaped handle or something that resembles a hexagon. This shape means you can comfortably use them for long periods of time.

The only drawback? If you’re left-handed, you’ll have to find one that’s specifically made for lefties. There are a few ambidextrous handles on the market, as well.

Machi

The machi refers to the gap between the end of the handle and the start of the blade. The machi gives you clearance between your hand and the fish you are cutting, but some sushi chefs prefer not to have one. It all boils down to personal preference.

Other Types of Traditional Japanese Knives

For those unfamiliar with Japanese knives, it can be confusing to know which knife to use for which task. In addition to the Yanagiba knife, there are other common Japanese knives that might come in a sushi knife set. Read a brief breakdown of these knives to understand their differences.

Sujihiki Knife

The Sujihiki knife is very similar to the Yanagiba sushi knife. Both of these knives have a long, slender blade and similar shape. The main difference is the bevel. A Sujihiki has a double bevel, whereas a Yanagiba has a single bevel. The Sujihiki is also thinner, lighter, and slightly more flexible.

Nakiri Knife

The Nakiri knife, also called the Usuba, is best for slicing vegetables. The Nakiri’s rectangular, straight blade makes it great for dicing, mincing, and slicing. The Nakiri knife is not suited for slicing fish.

Deba Knife

The Deba knife is traditionally used to clean and fillet fish. This knife is also great for separating and dressing down poultry or other meat with small bones. The knife’s blade tapers significantly toward the tip and has a heftier feel to it. Despite its cleaver-like toughness, I wouldn’t recommend this blade for large bones or heavier jobs.

Santoku Knife

The Santoku knife is an all-purpose, versatile knife used for cutting vegetables or fish. It is sharp on both sides of the blade and has a heavier design than other Japanese knives. Santoku knives more closely resemble Western-style knives, such as the Chef’s knife.

The Santoku is a popular choice for those who are new to cooking Japanese food, but it’s not the best option for sushi or sashimi.

What’s the Difference Between Sushi and Sashimi?

Sushi refers to a dish prepared with vinegar rice, oftentimes with fish and/or vegetables. The fish can be cooked or raw. While sushi often includes fish, the word sushi means “sour.” The vinegar rice is the star of the show.

Sushi

Sashimi, on the other hand, means “pierced.” Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish or another type of meat. Sashimi is most often salmon or tuna, but can also be mackerel, shrimp, scallops, or yellowtail. It is eaten without accompaniments in order for the flavor of the fish to shine.

Nigiri is a small mound of rice served underneath sashimi. Maki is rolled sushi, where the ingredients are rolled in vinegar rice and seaweed and then sliced into bite-size pieces.

Whether you’re a professional sushi chef or a novice home cook, having a sharp, precise knife is essential to making any of these traditional Japanese dishes.

How Do You Sharpen a Sushi Knife?

In order to get paper-thin slices, you need an ultra-sharp blade. Sharpening a Yanagiba knife before each use will help you get the most out of your knife.

Because Japanese sushi knives are almost always single-bevel, you should only sharpen on one side. To sharpen a Yanagiba knife, you need a whetstone. First, dip the whetstone into some water. Place the stone on a damp towel to stabilize it.

Next, position the knife on the whetstone at an angle of 10-15 degrees. The tip of the blade should be away from you. Draw the edge of the knife backward and forward at an angle of 10-15 degrees.

It’s best to sharpen the tip of the knife first, then move to the middle part, then the lower part.

Several knife reviews recommended honing the blade right out of the box. This recommendation was consistent across brands and blades.

Watch this short Yoshihiro video on how to sharpen a single-edge knife:

How to Use a Yanagiba Knife

Fish meat is soft and delicate, so it’s important to use the Yanagiba correctly to avoid breaking the meat or losing its delicate flavor. To slice with a Yanagiba sashimi knife, pull the knife toward you. Avoid using a pushing or sawing motion, like you might use with Western knives.

The Best Sushi Knife: Which Is It?

If you can afford it, the Yoshihiro traditional Japanese knife is simply unmatched. But it can be cost-prohibitive.

For those that want an outstanding sushi knife at an accessible price point, the Imarku Professional 10-Inch Sushi Knife is the best sushi knife for you. It has quality materials and excellent performance, and the reviews were glowing. 

If you want to shop around, check out the Imarku sushi knife with the manufacturer: