Whether you are a professional chef or simply cooking up gourmet meals at home, having a quality knife or two on hand is important. Japanese knives have the reputation of being the best of the best, and Miyabi and Yoshihiro are two big names to consider. But which should you choose?
If you’re in the market for a new knife or set of knives to up your game in the kitchen, read on to discover the pros and cons of the Miyabi and Yoshihiro brands.
Pros and Cons of Miyabi Knives
In the modern Japanese language, miyabi means elegance, refinement, or courtliness. It embodies the sensitive expression of beauty and rejects the idea of crudity and roughness. These qualities are highly valued and sought after in Japan, and the name reflects the spirit of Miyabi knives as well.
Since 2004, Miyabi has been a part of the Zwilling Group based in Germany, but its knives are actually manufactured in Seki, Japan. Combining finely tuned German engineering with centuries of Japanese craftsmanship results in beautiful products that function well in the kitchen.
The high quality of a Miyabi knife is evident in the care with which it’s manufactured. One single knife involves a 100-step process that takes 42 days to complete.
Pros of Miyabi Knives
The beauty and functionality of Miyabi knives are hard to beat. These knives are statement pieces that get the chef’s work done and look great doing it.
Made in Japan
Miyabi knives are designed and made in Japan by Japanese experts using authentic techniques.
Miyabi’s asymmetrical blades have an exceptionally sharp double bevel honed to the 9.5° to 12° edge angle found in traditional Japanese knives. Honbazuke, meaning true cutting edge, is Miyabi’s three-step honing process, completed by hand, to give their blades the extreme sharpness for which they’re known.
Along with their sharpness, the blades are thin and lightweight, a design that gives the user superior cutting performance.
Quality of Materials
The Miyabi brand uses three types of steel to give their knives the best cutting blade out there. These steels have different ratings (RC) on the Rockwell scale, which measures how hard or soft a steel is, and consequently, how well it holds an edge.
- SG2 steel: Evenly spaced carbides offer exceptional sharpness.
- VG10 steel: The complex make-up of this steel offers long-lasting edges.
- Special Formula steel: This blend provides hardness and resistance to corrosion.
Appearance and Ergonomic Design
In addition to being functional, a Miyabi knife is also beautiful by design. The dimples of Damascus steel on the blades are enhanced by smooth wood or wood-look handles.
Best of all, Miyabi knives just feel good in the hand-balanced and ergonomically designed to feel like an extension of the chef.
The Cons of Miyabi Knives
For a professional chef, there’s very little downside to a Miyabi knife. For the average home user, there are a couple of points to consider.
All of this quality in materials and craftsmanship comes at a price. A Miyabi knife resides in the upper stratosphere of the Japanese knife world. One knife can easily cost $300-$400 while knife blocks soar to $1200 plus. Purchasing a Miyabi knife is definitely an investment.
Ease of Use
If you’re not used to the asymmetrical nature of the blade, a Miyabi knife can be more difficult to use than a standard chef’s knife. Combined with its extreme sharpness, you’ll need to be very careful when using these knives. However, once you grow accustomed to a Miyabi knife's feel and cutting ability, you may never use another knife again.
The Pros and Cons of Yoshihiro Knives
Yoshihiro has been making knives for over 100 years. The techniques used to craft their cutlery began centuries ago as a way to make quality swords. Gradually the need for knives became greater than the need for swords, and today’s artisans blend ancient traditions with modern craftsmanship.
The company’s philosophy is Ichigo Ichie which means “every moment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Knowing that many chefs keep their knives for a lifetime, Yoshihiro’s commitment to their customers is to make excellent knives that will be used and treasured for years.
The Pros of Yoshihiro Knives
Giving customers the chance everyday for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to use a Yoshihiro knife is what keeps the company going and keeps the customers coming back.
Made in Japan
Although the brand is currently based in Beverly Hills, California, the Yoshihiro website states that the knives are proudly made in Japan. For over 100 years, the company’s knives were primarily sold in Japan. In 2008 they expanded their reach internationally with an online store.
Quality of Materials
Yoshihiro knives are made from a variety of high-quality steels using methods traditionally used in Japanese sword-making.
Multiple Blade Options
Yoshihiro knows that one knife blade doesn’t fit all. For that reason, the brand offers both single- and double-beveled knives. In a nutshell, the combination of blade choice and types of steel can be summarized into four categories:
- Double bevel stainless steel
- Single bevel stainless steel
- Double bevel high carbon steel
- Single bevel high carbon steel
Although not exactly cheap, Yoshihiro knives do come in a range of prices. From the super high-end professional chef investment pieces to more affordable options for everyday home cooks, there is a price point that will appeal to everyone.
Yoshihiro offers those who invest in a Japanese knife or knife set a few “above and beyond” options that reflect their commitment to excellent customer service.
- Blade sharpening
- Custom knives
- Custom engraving
The Cons of Yoshihiro Knives
Frankly, it’s difficult to come up with a con against Yoshihiro knives. The one mentioned here is barely a blip on the negative scale, but it is something to think about when you’re in the market for a Japanese knife.
It almost seems silly to mention this as a negative, but it can be for some people. A quick glance at the Yoshihiro website reveals almost too many knives to choose from. For those everyday home chefs who just want a good quality knife for the kitchen, it can be very overwhelming.
There are 22 different knife styles. When you combine that with a wide variety of steels and handle choices, one review came up with over 600 different knives. That’s a lot to filter through and narrow down.
Miyabi or Yoshihiro?
You really can’t go wrong with either of these Japanese knife brands. Both are made proudly in Japan by skilled craftsmen with traditional, time-honored techniques that produce a high-quality product.