Last Updated Jan 2020 – Tojiro chef knives earn high marks from many knife experts and professional chefs around the world. They’re not the best knives on the market by any means, but what they lack in raw excellence they make up for in value. Tojiro’s knives are incredibly affordable, especially when you consider their high-quality steel, excellent edge retention, and crazy sharp blades. This makes them a very good choice for anyone who wants to try out a high-end Japanese chef’s knife on a budget.
With that said, this knife will not compete with fine offerings from brands like Yoshihiro, Shun, or even Dalstrong. Our detailed reviews will focus on both the upsides and downsides of choosing a Tojiro DP knife over an option from another brand. You’ll learn everything that you need to know in order to decide whether or not a Tojiro chef’s knife is right for your kitchen.
Japanese Chef’s Knife: The Superior Choice?
This Tojiro gyuto is a wonderful tool, especially for its price. I know I’ve alluded to this before, but let me say it outright: I think it’s very, very difficult to find a finer Japanese-style blade made from stain-resistant steel at a lower price than this Tojiro DP gyuto.
So should you rush out and buy one immediately?
No, not necessarily.
The most important thing to consider (and despite what internet bloggers might say, you really should spend some time considering this) is whether or not you want a Japanese-style chef’s knife at all. While a gyuto might be a bit harder and sharper than a Western-style chef’s knife, that also makes it more brittle and harder to care for in some situations. The design of the blade is also a bit different in a few key ways, meaning you might have to adjust some of your favorite cutting techniques to get the most out of this blade.
Now, this is NOT a single-bevel blade that can only be used right-handed. It’s got a normal European-style double bevel that allows for easy use in either hand. What it does have, however, is a Japanese-style tip that inhibits certain types of slicing and chopping motions. The tip of this blade is angled in such a way that you can’t get the knife very high off the cutting board before the blade gets in your way. You can certainly use the point of the knife as a pivot, sure, but this technique has a non-trivial chance of chipping or breaking your knife.
Remember when I said that Japanese-style knives are more brittle?
This is a good example of how that can get in the way.
The other big issue has to do with edge maintenance. If you’re used to honing and sharpening your knives at home, you might have some problems with the harder steel of this knife. You’ll need a slightly different set of tools (and possibly techniques) to keep the edge on this knife sharp at home. It’s about 60 HRC, meaning it’s pretty high up on the hardness scale. 60 isn’t too hard for home equipment to sharpen by any means, but it is far too hard for some entry-level sharpening kits to handle.
So what are the upsides?
Well, for one, this Tojiro knife holds an edge really, really well. You can get away with much longer periods of time in between sharpening sessions. In other words, this knife is perfect if you just want to get it sharpened at the local cutlery store once every year or two. It’ll stay crazy sharp for all of the months in between with very little effort on your part. An occasional stropping session helps, of course, but it’s definitely not necessary for casual kitchen use.
The other upside has to do with the edge itself. Tojiro puts a grind of between 9 to 12 degrees per side on their knives, for a total angle of less than 24 degrees. This is a LOT sharper than your typical Western knife, where an 18-degree-per-side grind is considered to be unusually sharp. Let me put it like this: a recently sharpened Wusthof will cut through vegetables like butter, and this Tojiro comes out of the box with a grind that’s nearly twice as sharp. This means you’ll absolutely sail through boring food prep with practically no effort whatsoever.
Both the edge and the fantastic edge retention are aided by the high-quality stainless steel that’s used in the blade. The DP knives are made with a hard cutting core of VG-10 with a slightly softer, more stain-resistant stainless layer on the outside. VG-10 is one of the finest types of stain-resistant steel when it comes to knife blades and is used as the cutting core of many much more expensive knives from other brands.
As far as “fit and finish” goes, this cheap Tojiro is somewhat lacking. Users often report that the spine is somewhat unfinished and benefits greatly with a few minutes of attention from some sandpaper. While the blade is quite resistant to corrosion, it can easily be scuffed with the rough side of a sponge, meaning you’ll have to be careful while you clean it.
Finally, the balance and overall design is noticeably lacking when compared to luxury knives from other brands. You won’t have any problems with performance when you choose this Tojiro, but you may find it less fun to use than a more expensive knife.
Overall, I think I have to echo what pretty much every top knife reviewer says about this knife: it’s incredible for the price, but lackluster overall. If you’re looking for a high-quality Japanese knife that’s made from great steel without spending a lot of money, this Tojiro DP chef’s knife is a solid choice. If you’ve got a bit more room in your budget, however, I think you’ll find a more expensive knife from a brand like Shun or Yoshihiro to be a better choice.
Tojiro DP: Damascus Designs for Darn Good Prices
Damascus patterns are getting more and more popular. This Tojiro DP Damascus knife is a great option for someone who wants to pick up a beautiful knife that doesn’t cost quite as much as something from Shun. Unlike the non-Damascus Tojiro DP gyuto above, however, this knife is somewhat less appealing due to its higher cost. The intricate 37-layer Damascus design takes time and expertise to make, so it jacks up the price of the knife quite a bit.
Other than the Damascus exterior of this knife, it’s quite similar to the Tojiro gyuto above. You’ll find the same 60 HRC VG-10 steel core, meaning this knife holds its edge for a very long time. It comes with the same crazy sharp factory grind, and it even has the same tip geometry that makes it ill-suited for certain types of slicing and chopping motions.
The Damascus patterns on this knife are certainly beautiful, but they’re not quite as bold as the patterns you might expect if you’re used to knives from Dalstrong or Shun. Instead, they’re somewhat subtle and reserved, giving this knife a somewhat different aesthetic. It’s definitely not a bad thing – I personally think it looks better in many respects – but it might catch you off guard if you’re expecting extremely prominent patterns.
Of course, this is a pretty big black mark against this knife in many respects. The primary difference between this knife and the substantially cheaper knife above is the presence of Damascus patterns down each side.
If the patterns tend to be subtle, are they really worth paying extra for?
I’m definitely on the fence here – this is a very high-quality knife that’s still a decent bit cheaper than Damascus options from competing brands, but the increased price means it doesn’t have the incredible knife-per-dollar ratio as the plain gyuto above.
Overall, this blade is a great option if you want to purchase a high-quality Damascus clad Japanese blade for an incredibly affordable price. If you’re willing to spend just a few dollars more, however, you might find that you prefer both the aesthetics and the feel of something from a brand like Yoshihiro over this Tojiro DP Damascus.
The santoku knife is a mainstay in Japanese kitchens because of its incredible sharpness. Well-suited for chopping vegetables, this Tojiro DP santoku offers the same high-quality steel and multi-layer Damascus etching as the gyuto above.
Unfortunately, I think it’s in the same boat as far as price and performance go: it’s a great option that’s a bit less expensive than Damascus options from other brands, but I feel like the fit and finish are slightly worse. In other words, this knife is quite good for the price, but if you have room in your budget, spending a bit more money on a fancier knife might not be a bad idea.
Tojiro White Carbon Steel Santoku
Not only is this santoku far cheaper than the Damascus option above, it also earns my full recommendation with one very important caveat. This is not a stainless steel blade. Instead, it’s made from high-maintenance high-carbon steel, making it perfect for the discerning knife expert. The high-quality steel, subtle kasumi pattern along the blade, and simple handle make it a brilliant tool to add to your arsenal.
The downside, of course, is that high-carbon steel is quite difficult to maintain. This style of knife will rust in a matter of hours or minutes if you’re not careful. Experienced chefs often go through a process called developing a patina that involves carefully tarnishing the outside of the knife just the right amount to form a protective layer that helps prevent rust. Even with a patina, however, you’ll need to be careful when you cut certain foods with this knife and use special cleaning techniques to make it last.
So why should you consider this over a stainless steel blade?
Because of the edge. Stainless steel is pretty darn hard to get over 61 HRC or so. White carbon steel like the stuff in this blade is frequently treated to up to 63 HRC, which is a fair bit harder in practice. These blades can hold incredibly sharp edges with any sort of bevel that you like. If you want a 9 degree single bevel or some other ludicrously sharp custom edge, you’ll want a knife like this to put it on.
Generally speaking, if you’re not already sharpening your own knives and thinking about this stuff then you’re totally fine to skip this knife. If you are, however, it’s one of the cheapest ways to put an incredibly high-quality santoku knife in your kitchen.
Tojiro Knife Block
The theme with Tojiro seems to be high quality at a crazy good price. This 8-piece knife block is no different. The 60 HRC chef’s knife is joined by a santoku, a bread knife, a paring knife, a utility knife, and kitchen shears in a tasteful acacia block. It’s priced quite fairly, too, with a small savings over purchasing similar components individually.
The small problems that I have with Tojiro’s knives (the lackluster fit and finish, the somewhat limited tip design, and the slightly worse balance) seem to go away when you consider this set in aggregate.
It’s an incredibly cost-effective way to fill your kitchen with good knives. You get everything you need, including a santoku for rapid chopping and a paring knife for detailed work. While you might prefer the balance on your Wusthof, there’s nothing that says you can’t have both. Supplementing this well-rounded knife set with a fancy chef’s knife is a brilliant way to give you the very best of both worlds.
I want to be absolutely clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these knives. In fact, they blow most knives out of the water when it comes to quality, and they’re some of the sharpest blades you can find. My point here is that they’re simply very slightly worse than luxury options from top brands when it comes to balance, feel, and small workmanship details. As far as cutting, edge retention, and durability go, this Tojiro knife set can absolutely tangle with the best.
I would highly recommend this set to anyone who wants to quickly bolster their kitchen knife collection with a set of incredibly sharp Japanese knives. The Tojiro DP knife set is an absolute killer buy for the price and will give you a set of professional-quality tools in a convenient (and pretty) package.
Tojiro: Professional Knives at Budget Prices
Tojiro’s knives are more like race cars than luxury sedans. They offer incredible performance, with factory edge angles nearly twice as sharp as some European knives and high-quality steel that holds an edge for years with ease. They’re crazy cheap, too. This incredible performance doesn’t come with the same quality-of-life features that you find in other knives, however. If you want a crazy sharp Japanese knife at a steal of a price, Tojiro is definitely the knife to pick.
If you want a knife with incredible fit and finish, perfect balance, and a well-thought-out blade that never gets in its own way, you might want to look at a different brand.