If you spend any time in a kitchen, you already know that a quality knife is essential. It will make cooking easier and more enjoyable. A high-quality knife should not only be sharp and durable but it should be balanced with a secure grip.
In this review, I’ll take an in-depth look at the Sakai Kyuba Vegetable Knife –Nakiri knife from Oishya.
Before I get into this review, I want to make a full disclosure. A few months ago, I was contacted by one of the founders of this company. She believes in the quality of her products, so she asked me if I could do a review on one of her knives. In exchange for this review, she would send me a knife at no charge. I told her I would review the knife if she were okay with the following conditions:
- I would take 1-2 months to test the knife to check its quality
- I would be completely honest in my review and include any negative points I found during my testing.
She agreed, so I started using the knife as soon as I received it.
About the Company Oishya
Oishya is a company based in London that was started by two women, Kamilia and Anna. Kamila ordered a custom-engraved knife from a Japanese blacksmith to give her partner as a gift. Seeing how much her partner loved the knife and how happy it made him, she decided she wanted others to feel this joy too.
They believed in creating the best quality product they could. This led them to travel to Japan to develop relationships with reputable suppliers. They faced many challenges, as this was a business usually dominated by men, and they had to overcome the language and culture barrier. Their perseverance paid off, and they were able to find a skilled blacksmith in Osaka, Japan, that would create the quality knives they dreamt about.
To add more uniqueness to their product, they also found European artisans to create beautiful maple burl handles for their blades.
About the Sakai Kyuba Vegetable Knife – Nakiri Knife
For the rest of the review, I will refer to this Sakai Kyuba vegetable knife as “Nakiri.”
There are many types of Japanese knives, each designed with a specific task in mind. The kanji for the Nakiri is 菜切り, which literally translates to “vegetable cutter.” As the name implies, it’s a knife suited for chopping and slicing vegetables. It also does a great job at more delicate cuts, like dicing or mincing.
I also use it for soft proteins to slice things like chicken, beef, or pork. This knife is not meant to cut hard items like bones.
Nakiri knives are characterized by their thin, rectangular-shaped blade. The blades have a double bevel edged, which makes them best suited for chopping. The double bevel also makes this knife suitable for either left or right-handed cooks.
First Impressions: The Look and Feel of the Nakiri
This Nakiri knife comes in a beautiful wooden box. The box is so lovely that you’ll definitely want to keep it. Upon opening the box, I found the Nakiri safely nestled inside.
I was very impressed by how beautiful it was. The blade is stunning, and the wooden handle both looks and feels great. When I first picked it up, I was surprised at how light it was. Even though it was lighter than I expected, after washing it and using it, the knife feels very strong and durable.
This knife came with a card that tells you a little about the custom of giving knives in Japan and provides some information about the knife.
Each knife is handmade by expert blacksmiths in Sakai, Japan, an area known for producing quality blades. It takes more than 3 months to create just one of these knives from Oishya!
The wooden handle is not only unique, but also provides a secure grip. It is made from European maple burl that has been dried for two years. What’s even more impressive than this is that the collar of the knife is made from oak bog wood that is 2,500-5,000 years old. Yes, you read that right.
Overall Impression: The Nakiri from Oishya is a gorgeous, stylish knife that is sturdy but lightweight. The wooden handle is an art piece in itself. The knife feels very balanced and has a very sharp blade.
Testing the Knife
I love to cook. I cook at home virtually every day. I love cooking so much that I even considered being a chef. I have worked in restaurants as a cook before, but I much prefer cooking at home, where I have the freedom to make whatever I want (and no bosses to watch over me).
To get a good feel for the Nakiri knife, I have used it almost daily for over 2 months. I have been using it to chop, dice, and mince vegetables and fruits, as well as to slice raw proteins. I also use it to cut cooked proteins like steaks, tonkatsu and fried (boneless) chicken.
During my experimentation, I compared the ease of use of the Nakiri with other knives. I also kept track of its durability by seeing how quickly the blade would dull and what effects honing had on it.
Cutting With the Nakiri
I usually use a 三徳 (santoku), an “all-purpose” Japanese knife for cutting, slicing, and mincing vegetables, fruits, and thin cuts of protein. I also use a 出刃 (deba) for cutting bigger pieces of protein and filleting whole fish. Because I’m so used to these types of knives, the Nakiri took some time to get used to.
However, from the very first use, I could feel that the Nakiri blade was sharp, and made nice, clean cuts. The more I used this knife, the more I fell in love with it.
It makes cutting hard vegetables like carrots and daikon a breeze. I even used it on foods like potatoes and sweet potatoes, which can be challenging to cut through. The Nakiri knife had no problems cutting through any of these. I also used it to cut tricky textures like bell peppers, eggplants, and ginger. Again, no problems with these at all.
However, you have to keep in mind that this blade was designed more for chopping with straight cuts.
Because of this, some things might be slightly more challenging to cut. For me, finely slicing green onions (which is often used in Japanese cuisine). Another was kabocha (Japanese pumpkin). Again, this is not due to the quality of the knife but rather its design.
While the Nakiri is perfect for chopping, knives like the gyuto are more suited for “rocking” cuts. A “rocking” motion is where you put the tip of the blade against the cutting board and rock the heel part of the blade up and down. You can do this with this Nakiri knife, but it is not made for this.
Chopping a bunch of green onions at once (using a standard up and down motion of the knife) is easy to cut with the Nakiri. However, I usually cut only a few stalks at a time, which would be easier to cut with the “rocking back and forth” method. This is just me being nitpicky, but I thought I should provide an example of which cutting techniques work best with the Nakiri knife.
Kabocha, otherwise known as Japanese pumpkin, has a tough skin and firm meat on the inside. Japanese people usually cook pumpkin with the skin on, making “kabocha no nimono,” or pumpkin that has been simmered/stewed in a flavorful broth. However, if you try to remove the skin from something hard and round like this pumpkin, you may find it difficult to do with a Nakiri (any Nakiri, not just the Sakai Kyuba). This is due to the height and double bevel of the blade. It makes cutting thin slices on curved objects more challenging. You can use this Nakiri to do this: it’s just that other knives will make your life easier in these situations. However, cutting through tough vegetables like this is no problem at all.
Overall Thoughts: This Nakiri does a fantastic job of chopping and dicing fruits and vegetables and makes easy work of slicing soft proteins. It is ideally suited for the up and down chopping style of cuts. It is also lightweight and easy to use. The handle provides a very secure grip and is comfortable.
The Durability of the Nakiri’s Blade
No matter which knife you use, it will get dull with use. There are things that you should do to keep your knife sharp and in good condition. Here are a few things you should do to maintain your blade:
- Always hand wash your knife. Never use a dishwasher, as this can damage your blade.
- Always thoroughly dry your knife and handle as soon as you wash it.
- A honing rod can help to keep your knife sharp. Just remember that a honing rod does not sharpen your knife. It just helps to straighten the blade, making cutting easier. Just be sure to use a ceramic rod for the Nakiri, as a steel rod is too rough for this type of knife. Or better yet, sharpen it gently with a whetstone or have it professionally sharpened (see #4 below).
- Sharpen your knife regularly. A ceramic rod can only help to maintain a blade. No matter what you do, your knife will eventually need to be sharpened. You can either take it to a professional or buy a whetstone to do it yourself. Using a dull knife is not only difficult but also dangerous.
For this Nakiri knife, I purposely didn’t use a honing rod or sharpen it for nearly the whole 2 months I used it. This was to see how much the blade would dull with regular use.
Results: As expected, the blade did dull over the 2 months with heavy use. This happens to every single knife out there. However, I was pleased to see that the dulling was minimal. I tested the sharpness by cutting harder foods like carrots, softer foods like kiwi, and things like plastic wrap (to see if the wrap would cut or tear).
The blade cut just as well after two months as when I first received it. After two months, I used a honing rod, slightly improving the blade’s performance. I would still probably sharpen this knife with a whetstone every few months, but I think the blade held up very nicely.
Price: How Much Is The Nakiri Knife?
The Nakiri is listed as 400 USD on the Oishya website at the time of this writing. This is my only real negative about this product. At $400, this is an expensive knife. However, that is not the issue.
The real issue is being clear on what you are paying for. This is a quality knife that is also beautifully designed. You need to keep in mind that you are paying not only for the blade but also for its unique and eye-catching design.
If you don’t care about having a unique knife or fancy designs, then this knife wouldn’t be of much interest to you. You could get a plain knife with the same quality blade for less than $400 (with no unique designs).
However, if you are looking for a high-quality knife that is handmade in Japan AND has a unique design, then the knives from Oishya would be the perfect choice for you.
Special Discount for Readers of The True Japan
If you decide to purchase any of Oishya’s quality products, be sure to use our code for 20 GBP (around 24.00 USD at the time of this article) off your purchase price.
Oishya Discount Code: thetruejapan20
Is The Nakiri Knife Worth It?
Yes, I think this Nakiri knife is worth the money. This knife is handmade in Japan by experts and takes over 3 months to create. If that isn’t quality, I don’t know what is.
I absolutely love using this knife. I’m sure you’ll not only be impressed by its beauty but by how light and durable it is. It cuts any vegetables, fruits, and soft proteins with ease. I’m starting to use this knife more than my santoku.
I have the natural brown handle, which is the most “traditional” looking design. I like simple and traditional designs, so this one is perfect for me. However, there are also eye-catching colors like Mediterranean blue and olive green.
They also offer a lifetime guarantee. If your knife ever has a defect due to manufacturing or has any materials that will functionally impair the use of this knife, Oishya will repair or replace it for free. Their lifetime guarantee applies to this Nakiri knife and to their Sakai Kyuba knives range, wooden magnetic knife stand block, and wall-mounted magnetic wood knife rack. Their lifetime guarantee does not apply to natural wear and tear or damages due to misuse.
Using this knife makes me want to try their other line of knives. I can confidently say that if you are looking for a quality knife with beautiful designs, you’ll love these.
Pros Vs. Cons
- An excellent knife made with high-quality material
- Handmade by expert craftsmen in Japan and takes over 3 months to create
- Sharp, lightweight, and durable
- Beautiful and unique design
- Backed by a lifetime guarantee
Other Products From Oishya
In addition to the knife, I was also sent a magnetic knife stand and apron. Both of these products are great too.
The knife stand has strong magnets to keep your knives secure. I think that even an earthquake wouldn’t dislodge these knives from their magnetic hold. If you have never used a magnetic knife stand like this before, it will take some time to get used to taking the knife off. Overall, this is a wonderful product elegantly and conveniently stores your knives.
Their aprons are fantastic too. It is like most aprons in that you drape it over your neck and secure it at your waist. Both the neck and waist strap are adjustable. The difference is that the neck strap is threaded through a golden loop, which gets points for style. Unlike many aprons, which can run small, this apron would comfortably fit taller or bigger cooks. I don’t usually use an apron when I cook, but I started using this one. It feels like it can handle heavy use (i.e., big messes) and is comfortable to wear.
Overall Impression: Both the magnetic knife stand and apron are excellent products that are very well made. I think they are on the pricier side, but the quality of these products are definitely worth the price.