1. The origin of Gyuto:
Gyuto knives are the Japanese version of the Western Chef’s knives. It's often called just "Gyuto". Let's learn all about one of the most popular Japanese kitchen knives.
Gyuto “牛刀” in Japanese means “cow sword”. Because the origin of the Gyuto is swords, with which Japanese cows used to fight each other? No, no, no.
The origin is Western Chef’s knives. We don’t know if they were German or French, or maybe both. They say they were imported to Japan at the beginning of the Meiji era (2nd half of the 19th century).
Before the Meiji era, Japan had sealed itself off for nearly two hundred years. Only a few fragments of the Western culture could come in. With the opening of the door to the world, the Western Chef’s knives came into Japan with the food culture.
Until then, it was not common to eat meats at Japanese tables. The main ingredients besides rice were various fishes and vegetables. So it was impressive to cook beef with a Chef’s knife for the Japanese who didn’t have customs to eat it.
Probably, that’s why they give the name Gyuto (cow sword). But come to think of it, it’s a strange name, isn’t it?
2. What is Gyuto?
As you can see from the origin, the Gyuto knives are the Japanese version of the Western Chef’s knives. Not to mention, Chef’s knives are convenient for cutting a chunk of beef. But as you know, they are not designed only for that.
You can use them for most of other main ingredients for the Western style meals. You can slice, dice, and mince with one knife. Gyuto can do exactly the same. They are multi-purpose knives intended to handle as many tasks as possible.
Gyuto’s blade length ranges typically from 7 inches (180mm) to more than 9.5 inches (240mm). They are double bevel and usually have Western style handles (【Fig.2】). The Gyuto having Japanese style handles are called “Wa Gyuto” (【Fig.3】).
【Fig.2】Gyuto with different blade length (from left to right 9.5, 8.3, 7 inches)
【Fig.3】Wa Gyuto (from left to right Octagonal handle 9.5, 8.3 inches, D-shape handle 8.3, 9.5 inches)
They have a slim profile with a tall heel. The blade edge is reasonably flat toward the heel. This is to make chopping easy by using this part. And it’s curved toward the tip. This is to make rock cutting easy with this part (see【Fig.4】). The sharp tip makes it easy to cut into hard foodstuff.
Many home cooks can handle most of daily jobs with one versatile knife like Gyuto. It’s one of the first knives you have to have in your kitchen.
3. Difference between Gyuto and Chef’s knife:
Now, let’s see if there’s any difference between the Gyuto and the Chef’s knife besides the names.
The Gyuto is a Japanese name. But it originated from the Western style multi-purpose knives. Japanese makers started to produce knives similar to the Western Chef’s knives. And call them “Gyuto”.
Now many Western and Chinese makers are producing what they call “Gyuto”. So, it’s not meaningful anymore to discuss differences between Gyuto and Chef’s knife in general.
If you search “Gyuto” in the Internet, you’ll find they’re used almost interchangeably.
You can say many things when you’re comparing a specific Gyuto and a specific Chef’s knife. But it’s getting confusing trying to compare Gyuto and Chef’s knives in general.
Let’s pay more attention to the knife's qualities rather than a label it carries.
This is my answer when asked the difference between Gyuto and Chef’s knife. I also often have a question about the difference between Gyuto and Santoku. I have some definite answers for this question. If you’re interested in, please click the link below.
If you’re interested in details of the Santoku knife, click the following link.
4. Gyuto conclusions:
Gyuto “牛刀” in Japanese means “cow sword”. The name is Japanese, but they are Western style multi-purpose kitchen knives. They are double bevel and usually have Western style handles.
You can handle most of foodstuff with one Gyuto knife. You can slice, dice, and mince with one knife. It is one of the first knives you have to have in your kitchen.
There’s no practical difference between Gyuto and Chef’s knife. There are some differences with the Santoku knife. If you’re interested in the difference, follow the link below.
5. Syosaku Gyuto knives:
Syosaku Japanese kitchen knives are handcrafted in Sakai Japan, where more than 90% of Japanese professional chef knives are produced. They are produced one at a time manually by highly skilled master artisans.
We have a range of Gyuto knives. You can pick your favorite from the link below.
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Japanese kitchen knife series 004: