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Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:26 pm

If you had to pick one knife, of course the Gyuto would be the one.
The nikiri might even be the worst first choice.

But for me, it's the best specialty knife I've ever used.

Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:57 am

Saying that there is no need for a Nakiri, is basically admitting that we choose to 'ignore' the very history that is Japanese knives. Even tho we like the Gyuto (which i do), there's no need for any of the other knives created in the past 150 years, in Japan?

Each individual is different. Apparently there's been a HUGE need for Nakiri's/Usuba's (sorry i know rick doesn't think they should be grouped together, but i think it's ok) in Japan for a long time. So now, we're asking, in the west, 150 years later, is there any need for this thing?

Hmm. ;)

- and it's not that i resonate with the profile of the knife, i just find that it's faster/better for chopping/dicing small vegetables.
Exactly what it's described as...
Last edited by desol on Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:09 am

I think a lot has to do with the environment it is used in. I cook at home and will often use a Nakiri, even if I have to slice down some steak or something because it is out and already dirty. I have the luxury of using multiple knives, too. I find most home cooks like Nakiri's and most pro's just want to bang it out with a gyuto. The quantity of food makes a huge difference, too and the longer gyuto can handle larger quantities at the same time. For home cooks, we aren't going thru boxes and bags of produce where we need the bigger knife. The first few gyuto's worked ok on veggies, but my Nakiri's out cut them on veggies, potatoes (less stiction and easier to cut,) etc because they were thinner behind the edge. I also find them more nimble due to the shorter length and I feel I have more control over them.

A Lighter, shorter and thinner Nakiri would seem like a good thing for a pro chef if they can have 2 knives with them. Plus it would make the gyuto edge last that much longer for other stuff. I have 3 nakiri's currently and sold a 4th recently, and I am looking at a few more. I use my gyuto often for veggies now that I thinned them like crazy, but when I switch to the Nakiri, I am reminded at how much I like them and how fun they can be!

Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:27 am

Agreed. But i don't think I'd separate it's usefulness based on the environment. I know a few chef's that use them regularly for prep,
and love them. It is what it is...

Ultimately tho, it's all about personal preference.

Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:00 am

While there's quite a bit of commentary in this thread about why "the Japanese invented the nakiri," there doesn't seem to be much actual knowledge.

In essence, a nakiri is just a section of a chef's knife. Because nakiri usually have a flatter profile than French profiled chef's, they are slightly more conducive to push cutting. But, not only are some chef's knives made with very flat profiles, once you get to mid-length knives (240 and longer), typically French profiles have long enough flat runs to efficiently push cut.

In short, he big differences between a nakiri and an appropriate chef's knife (used skilfully) do not lie in what a nakiri does better (nothing), but what a nakiri does poorly (flesh, point work, anything requiring length). But face it: Not everyone has the skills (mostly grip) to use a 10" gyuto comfortably, and a nakiri is somewhat easier to learn -- mostly because it's short.

As I understand it, the nakiri's historical role and raison d'etre in Japanese cooking was as a cheaper to make, easier-to-sharpen, needs-no-skills, housewife's version of the far more versatile usuba. As a matter of historical development take the (obvious) simile: As santoku is to gyuto, nakiri is to usuba. Now extend it just a bit on the basis that a santoku is a nakiri with a point, and you're left with: As santoku is to gyuto, nakiri is to usuba and gyuto.

If you prefer a nakiri over a chef's, good for you. Use them, love them, collect them all. If you're happy, I'm happy for you. I'm certainly not going to tell you that a nakiri is a bad thing.

But as a purely intellectual enterprise -- nothing personal, you understand -- if you want to tell me a nakiri is better for any ordinary kitchen task, I'd like to hear your reasoning along with some examples. References to the nakiri's Japanese origin and bare assertions that of superiority because it's "a vegetable specialist" aren't cutting it for me.


Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:42 am

Well, for one, my Nakiri's cut potatoes and sweet potatoes better and smoother than my gyutos. The only one that comes close is my Tanaka Sekiso gyuto. My Kikuichi carbon elite 240, artifex 210 and 240 and addict 2 in 52100 (even after thinning), Kanetsune AS 210, Tojiro ITK Kiritsuke are noticeably worse cutting those 2 foods than the Nakiri's. I am not prepping for 8 hours a day and I don't care that I don't have as good skills as others do. The nakiri's hands down beat out all of those other knives except the 1 Tanaka, but I notice the difference in sweet potatoes the most. I still need to pick up a laser gyuto to try, but with the knives I have, in those 2 foods, the Nakiri's win. I don't do much point work in my cutting anyway, and for chopping up an onion, mushrooms, potatoes for lunch for 1 person, I don't always need a big gyuto.

Yes a gyuto is a better all around knife, but for specific tasks and the way I cook and in small quantities, I don't always need a larger gyuto. Dicing up potatoes doesn't need a big long gyuto and cutting onions and mushrooms to go over steak doesn't go any faster for me if I use a gyuto vs a nakiri.

My first gyuto was the kikuichi elite carbon and it made me crazy when the potatoes stuck to the blade hard constantly. So I tried a nakiri with a nashiji finish and it just cut so much better and there was a lot less stiction.

Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:30 am

Well i mean, ok. If i could afford an Usuba I would try one out. Trust me, I'd love to give one a try. Nakiri Bocho have come a long way, from the Japanese housewives hands, imho. Are Takeda and all the other makers in Japan, making their Nakiri's out of AS for the modern housewife?

Either way, I've used both types of knives and with all things in mind...Usuba/Nakiri is a better, faster, more versatile vegetable knife, for me. I don't want to use a 210mm Gyuto for dealing with mass quantities of small vegetables...doesn't make sense. I want a small cleaver! But, it kinda seems like both those knives (Usuba/Nakiri) have been known for greens for quite some time now...

Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:29 pm

I love nakiris, and I almost bought one. But personally I prefer santoku over nakiri and guyto for my home use.

My next knife that I will buy is Fujiwara Nashiji 180mm Santoku


Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:58 pm

Taz -- Of course I won't argue the issue of whether your nakiri work better for you than your gyuto, if they do they do, and you're the only one who can judge.

You're not supplying a sensible reason for the nakiri's superiority. Which properties belonging to the nakiri and denied to the gyuto make the nakiri better?
  • Is it thinner?
  • Does it take a better edge?
  • Is the edge geometry different?
  • Is the grind geometry different?
  • Is it less prone to stiction?
  • Something (or some things) other?

I've used a few nakiri, and quite a few gyuto; and your examples don't work for me. What I found with vegetables that are very prone to sticking is that from a hardware standpoint, sharper is better, laser or near laser thinness is better than medium thickness, and a convex grind is better than a straight grain with thicker knives. And, in terms of skills, a consistent, straight up and down angle of attack is far better than allowing the knife to torque of steer from straight to biased. An argument that any of those things is particular to either type of knife cannot be supported; or, at least not as far as I can see.


Re: Nakiri - What's it really good for?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:37 pm

Let's go back to the original question..

Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:56 pm
Posts: 4
Simple question. With good skills and a gyuto, is there any reason at all for a nakiri?

The real answer before we had to hear about every other non relevant boast, is that of course there is.

People have different reasons and motivations for owning knives. The Nakiri clearly fulfills some of those things.

Just because you don't have a reason to own one one means little. They are well sold and well used.

If you want one one buy it and use it. If not, use what you prefer.

Just because you are required to hack up multiple cases of Kale (or whatever) with a 27cm Gyuto doesn't mean a 16.5cm nakiri is not right for a home cook to cut carrots for their salad this Tuesday and fulfills their desires more satisfactorily.
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