Nakiri vs Usuba Knife: Which Is Best for Chopping Vegetables?

A chef’s knife is one of the most essential tools you can find in a home or professional kitchen. It performs different cutting and chopping tasks. Nakiri and Usuba knives are some popular and reliable chef’s knives. They have identical construction and offer very similar functions that can make it difficult for you to make a satisfying choice.

Both Japanese knives, this article will pit Nakiri vs Usuba knife and help you pick the right option.

What is a Nakiri Chef Knife?

What is a Nakiri Chef Knife?

As we hinted earlier, the Nakiri is a traditional Japanese chef’s knife. With the meaning of the name, you can quickly tell what it does. ‘Na’ means leaf while the adjoining ‘kiri’ means to cut. If you’re a big lover of salads, soups, and vegetables, you will fancy the Nakiri knife.

The Nakiri knife, which usually measures 5-7 inches in length, boasts a straight blade and a flat front without tip. With its sharp, thick, and ultra-hard blade that does the job perfectly, this knife is similar to most Japanese-style knives. The edge boasts a double bevel (sharpened on both sides), making the tool ideal for both left-handed and right-handed users.

Also, the Nakiri knife is mainly used for chopping vegetables vertically. This function is easy thanks to the knife’s shape that allows extra room for your knuckles so that they do not get smashed.

While it’s very safe to argue that the Nakiri knife is a great all-around kitchen tool, it’s nowhere near the best for work around bones or heavy-duty cutting.

What is an Usuba Knife Used for?

What is an Usuba Knife Used for?

Usuba knife is another Japanese-style chef’s knife. It translates as thin blade – ‘usui’ is the Japanese translation of thin while ‘ba’ is derived from ‘ha’ (hamono), the Japanese translation of blade. This type of knife usually measures around 6 to 9 inches.

Unlike the Nakiri, which is typically a double-bevel knife, the Usuba is a single bevel blade (sharpened on one side). This means you’ll need to find a specific model that fits your hand, whether left or right. Moreover, this knife features a flat blade with a straight edge that allows smooth chopping accurate push-cutting on the board. You also get great control to deliver precise cuts.

We must note that the Usuba knife is not like the Nakiri knife that almost anyone can use. The Usuba requires some training to work just the way you want it. It’s no surprise that it’s usually found in commercial kitchens.

Nakiri vs Usuba Knife Features (Face to Face)

FeatureNakiri KnifeUsuba Knife
Length5-7 inches6-9 inches
Blade MaterialJapanese stainless steelJapanese stainless steel

Standout Features Between Nakiri vs Usuba Knife

Nakiri and Usuba knives are primarily designed for chopping vegetables. That’s their significant similarity, but they have some differences between them too. We will explain the notable differences below:

1. Bevel

The Nakiri and Usuba knives feature a different bevel style (the sharpened side of the blade). While the Nakiri knife boasts a double bevel, the Usuba knife boasts a single bevel. The implication is, you can easily use the Nakiri with a double bevel regardless of your preferred hand. It works well for both left and right-handers, making it a smart choice for family use.

The Usuba knife, on the other hand, works for either a right-handed or left-handed person due to its single bevel. That means if you’re right-handed and your partner is left-handed, one Usuba knife won’t be enough for you. The Nakiri knife is the smarter choice in this case, except you need professionalism the Usuba brings to the table.

2. Sharpening

The ease of sharpening is another feature that draws the Nakiri and Usuba knives apart. Of course, you need to sharpen your knife from time to time to deliver the best cuts. Nakiri knife can be sharpened easily with home-standard tools. But you’ll need a professional hand to sharpen the Usuba knife. If you want to avoid the stress of sharpening your knife at a high cost, you should settle for a Nakiri knife.

3. Decorative work

If you want beautiful decorations on your dish, the Usuba knife is the more brilliant and better choice. The top Japanese chefs use it to decorate their best dishes like the Miso Ramen, thanks to its impeccable precision.

4. Home or Professional use

Even though the Nakiri and Usuba knives primarily chop vegetables, they are of different grades. While the Nakiri is better suited for home use, the Usuba is better for professional use. Also, the former is very beginner-friendly and requires no training, while the latter requires some training to use.


As we have severally emphasized in this article, the Nakiri and Usuba knives have similarities and differences. We understand that their similar appearance may give you trouble making a choice. But after putting up Nakiri vs Usuba knife, their features make it relatively easy to choose the option that suits your needs and wants.

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