The Nakiri is double bevelled and quite thin - used primarily for veggie prep work.
The usuba is single beveled, and rather thick at the spine.
Dwight was correct - it was a nakiri. BUT using a nakiri on a steel cooking surface is NOT a good idea. Using an usuba would be an even worse idea.
As Rick mentions, usubas are rather specialized and NOT for a Western kitchen - best for specific veggie prep tasks in a Japanese kitchen - katsurumuki or the making of sheets typically of diakon or finely chopping veggies from the ends of veggies of low height. A disaster to use slicing a melon or cutting a carrot in half for instance.
While usubas are fun, they shouldn't be what you start out with.
You will find vendors who confuse the term, so there's an understandable confusion.
Finally IF you get an usuba - get a good one!! A cheap usuba is a curse and something you would only wish on someone you really don't like.
Usuba requires a different technique (to be able to do straight cuts/so blade doesnt get stuck to your board) aka more commitment but will get sharper than a nakiri, if you just want a reg feeling knife with a square shape get a nakiri
I love Nakiri's!! I have 3 and a custom one ordered. The ones I have range from $50 to $150 and they all have carbon cores and perform about the same. Look at the Tojiro Shirogami or Tanaka Kurouchi for $50; they take a really stupidly sharp edge and work really nicely!
Thanks guys. I am looking at getting a Nakiri or two. Noticed "Usuba's" and how similar they looked. Albeit, with one visible difference (shinogi line) on the "front". And now I know they are usually single-bevel (or always)
But, who knows...might pick up a usuba some day for the hell of it...or not...
There was a discussion on one of the other knife forums about the Nakiri/Usuba and the Usuba can be more of a general use knife and for high volumes of cutting, but the single edge takes a bit more getting used it. It gets a much thinner/sharper edge, but may be more prone to chipping. The Tanaka Nakiri I have is stupidly thin! Most Nakiri's will have a bevel from the spine down to 3/3 the way to the edge, then have a second bevel to the edge, then a very tiny edge bevel. So Kurouchi Nakiri's will often have a bevel line, too, so it's easy to get confused!
Single bevel edges are prone to chipping? Even cutting/slicing "recommended" items (e.g. vegetables)?
And back to Nakiri's...I'm noticing on CKTG many of the photos have the Kanji on the left. Is this done on purpose? Or did the makers just happen to only send over photos of knives made for lefties? (noticed this with gyutos too actually).
The single bevels are incredibly thin...much more so than the gyuto's and stuff most people are used to. With a single bevel, the back is concave and the bevel that you see goes straight into the edge; the big bevel IS the EDGE bevel. The back of the knife is laid flat on the stone and stropped lightly on the finest stone to remove the burr. My Deba has a crazy thin edge and it's over 1/4" thick at the spine! There is very little metal behind the edge of a single bevel knife when it's sharpened properly. If you know how to use it, you're fine, but I would be very careful with one!!