In Japanese the word Gyuto translates to mean “cow sword” which we feel is pretty telling of the kind of kitchen knife we’re working with. Gyutos, meant originally for slicing meat (beef in particular), have evolved with their sharp edge to be the multipurpose knife you absolutely need in your collection.
Think of Gyutos as the swords of the kitchen: made for slaying, slicing, and chopping just about anything. Essentially, a Gyuto knife is the Japanese knife equivalent of a Western Chef’s knife (like this one here).
Here’s What We’ll Learn
- What is a Gyuto Knife?
- What Are the Key Differences Between a Gyuto and Western Chef Knife?
- What Are Some Key Similarities?
- How Do We Sharpen Each Blade?
- Three Top Dalstrong Chef’s Knives You Need
- Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding the differences in the functionality and make of knives helps you determine what to invest in next. For example, what exactly is a Gyuto Knife and is this something you need in your kitchen?
The answer to that question is most likely yes. We love a good Gyuto Knife because they can be used for just about anything. But what are the differences and similarities of a Japanese Gyuto and a Western Chef knife?
Knowing what kind of steel the knife is made from can help us determine what type of knife it is. It also helps us understand how to sharpen and maintain our blades so that they can last long into our lifetimes.
Let’s find out some pros and cons of the chef’s knives available and answer some frequently asked questions around Japanese Gyuto knives.
1. What is a Gyuto Knife?
A Gyuto Knife is a Japanese kitchen knife made for all different styles of cutting from meat to vegetables to tiny pieces of garlic. Think of this knife as a Western Chef’s knife equivalent, but perhaps slightly more sleek with its stainless steel Japanese blade.
They tend to have a pointed tip with an ultra sharp edge and are perfect for that rocking back and forth type of mincing. They are a cutting board’s best friend and an absolute kitchen necessity if you’re looking for a knife that looks beyond sleek and pretty much does it all.
2. What Are the Key Differences Between a Gyuto and Western Chef Knife?
Key Difference 1: The Blade’s Steel
The main difference between a Gyuto and a Western Chef Knife is the type of stainless steel used to craft each knife type. A traditional Japanese knife is made with high carbon Japanese steel, like the type of steel used to make this Santoku knife for example. The damascus gyuto chefs knife is another popular choice in Japan. On the other hand, a Western Chef’s Knife can often incorporate a slightly softer steel type.
Japanese steel creates a super sharp edge that is better for edge retention, allows for a more precise cutting, and generally is known to withstand the test of time more so than other types of high carbon steel. In other words, other types of carbon steel can tend to dull quicker than say a Japanese made knife.
Much like Gyuto knives, a Santoku knife or Usuba knife are great examples of the Japanese crafted stainless steel. This type of stainless steel originated in the Japanese city of Seki. We’ve come to expect this incredibly durable steel from any top of the line chef knife.
Interestingly, a classic Western style Chef Knife may utilize steel from a variety of places in, you guessed it, more western areas of the world. Think, for example, of a German stainless steel. While practical, often slightly more cost effective, and overall great, there often tends to be a higher prestige given to Japanese steel.
Key Difference 2: The Blade’s Build
Aside from the slightly different stainless steel blades, the Japanese Gyuto has a different blade than a typical Western Chef’s Knife. First of all, a Gyuto’s balance point is generally further up on the blade’s edge than a Western Chef’s Knife. This provides the chef slightly more agility and precision as they work their magic on the cutting board.
Additionally, the blade of a Gyuto tends to be slightly lighter and thinner, though not necessarily a longer blade, than your average Western Chef’s Knife. This makes dicing and chopping those very tiny vegetable pieces all the more reason to select your Gyuto over any other choice of kitchen knives.
There’s also the question of the double bevel versus single bevel blade. Japanese made knives tend to be single bevel, meaning the angle of the edge is formed on one side only in order to maintain their sharpness. It’s often said a Western Chef Knife is known to be double bevel, however this isn’t always the case.
3. What Are Some Key Similarities?
I’m going to be really honest and tell you that at Dalstrong we don’t distinguish between the two so sharply. The core steel of our knives is what differentiates the Western Chef Knife from a Gyuto knife, but otherwise they are incredibly similar and both are loved by Japanese chefs and Western chefs alike.
Our Gyuto knives can be found by browsing the “Chef’s Knives” found in either the Shogun Series or our Phantom Series. If it’s not Japanese steel, like the Shadow Black Series 8” Chef Knife, then we consider that particular knife a Western Chef’s Knife instead of a Gyuto.
Both Western Chef’s Knives and Gyutos are incredibly useful in the kitchen. Far more multifunctional than say a cleaver or bread knife, both of these knives can tackle a wide range of cuts. Whether you need to chop vegetables or a thick slab of meat, you really can’t go wrong having either one of these on hand in your kitchen.
I’d highly recommend having either a Western Chef’s Knife or a Gyuto in your kitchen. They are particularly useful in the event that you want to shake up your cutting style, as they work well with a variety of cutting techniques.
Both of these knife types are also highly precise, allowing the chef to control the movement of the sharp blade, for those tricky to make smaller cuts.
4. How Do We Sharpen Each Blade?
As knife aficionados in the making, I’m sure you are well aware of the importance of knife maintenance. There’s truly nothing sadder to see than a knife with a dull blade. Luckily both a Western Chef’s Knife and a Gyuto are known for maintaining that sharp edge we all want.
In the event, however, that it’s time for a tuneup you should keep two things in mind. First, how useful and necessary it is to have a good whetstone (also known as a sharpening stone) in your kitchen arsenal. Secondly, how to properly sharpen a knife.
The long and short of it is that you need to:
- Place the whetstone on a flat surface and find the optimal angle based on your particular knife style. (Keep the same angle throughout the sharpening process)
- Hold the handle with your preferred hand and use your thumb to apply pressure on the spine of the knife.
- With your other hand use three or four fingers to put pressure on the cutting edge.
- Begin with the heel of the blade and work your way up to the tip.
- Slide the knife blade forward along the whetstone, away from your body. Lift the blade when you reach the edge of the stone and begin again.
But it is important to note that a Japanese knife will require a slightly different angle than a Western knife, so keep that in mind when it’s time to sharpen.
5. Three Top Dalstrong Chef’s Knives You Need
For this particular section it’s important to note that I’ll be covering three of Dalstrong’s best Chef’s Knives that also happen to be made of Japanese steel. So if you’ve been following along up until this point you’ll notice that, yes, they are indeed Gyuto knives as well.
Forged from a single piece of ice tempered steel, this blade is ideal for an agile, maneuverable cut. Elegant with a classic black pakkawood handle, this is a staple of the kitchen.
- The blade of this knife is slightly more narrow than the average Chef Knife, enabling more precise, small mincing if needed.
- The price point on this versatile knife is absolutely fantastic and hard to beat.
- This knife is full tang, meaning it is well balanced. That combined with its sharpness makes this knife ready for anything.
- While we love the price point, it is not as luxurious of a cut as say this menacing blade.
- If you’re the kind of chef who loves a larger blade, the 8” blade on this knife may be too small for your necessities.
- While the look is classic, those of us more adventurous in the kitchen may be seeking a style that’s a bit more playful.
This knife is ideal for the thinnest slicing and dicing required in the kitchen. Made with a combination of top of the line stainless steel, with a razor sharp blade, this knife is the king of versatile cuts.
- The Japanese super steel core is made for the ultimate performance in the kitchen, with incredible sharpness that is ready to tackle whatever fruit, vegetable, or protein is on hand.
- It is rust and corrosion resistant, meaning built to last.
- Its handle is unique and likely to create conversation as you slice and dice.
- The army green handle, though incredibly fun, is not everyone’s taste. If you prefer a more classic look consider the same knife with a glacier white handle.
- Again, if you’re in need of a larger blade this 8” Chef’s Knife may not be sufficient. We recommend checking out the Kiritsuke 9.5” Chef’s Knife.
This is the type of knife that is an absolute beast on any cutting board. Screamingly sharp and made with super steel with extra high carbon levels, the edge retention on this baby is out of this world.
- The handle is made of G-10 Garolite, meaning its military grade strength and non-porous material is heat resistant and moisture proof.
- The 66-layers of high-carbon stainless steel cladding means this knife is strong, durable, and will look great for years to come.
- The blade on this knife is significantly larger than most Chef’s Knives so if you’re in the market for extra knuckle room you can’t go wrong.
- This blade is an absolute menace, but it also costs a pretty penny. If you’re looking for a cheaper option consider the first option above.
- With 10.25” you can slice and dice to your heart’s content, but for some that size is too much and will prefer something smaller.
- While the look is beyond sleek, those with a more playful idea of kitchen utensils may prefer another knife.
6. Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Gyuto knife used for?
Originally it was made to cut meat! But it’s an incredibly versatile knife that can cut vegetables, fruits, proteins, and more!
Is a Gyuto a chef knife?
Yes and no! If it is made from Japanese steel, it is indeed Gyuto and a chef knife. However, there are many other types of Chef’s Knives that we would not consider to be Gyuto knives.
What is a Kiritsuke used for?
While you can use this Japanese knife for just about anything it is traditionally a fantastic knife for slicing fish. That said, I’d say you couldn’t go wrong slicing up a larger vegetable with one of these guys.
If you were to recommend one knife only for your kitchen what would it be?
I would strongly recommend a Gyuto knife (or a Western Chef’s Knife) because they are by far one of the most versatile knives you can have in your kitchen. They are well balanced, incredibly sharp tools that will allow you to slice just about anything.
You can also check in with our Expert Knife Finder Quiz and get specific recommendations based on your needs.
Written by Monique NicholasBased in Vancouver, Monique enjoys jumping into bodies of water, sending postcards, and adding lemon to every single one of her dishes.