Japanese kitchen knives have a certain prestige to them in Western kitchens, and if you are looking to enjoy pro-level cooking yourself, it might be time to look into a quality Japanese kitchen knife set. Some argue that the best Japanese chef knives use blue or white steel and need to slice off a hunk of your budget to be worth it, but we disagree. Our team tested the super-affordable Happy Sales three-piece Japanese knife set against the best-selling Yoshihiro three-piece set and found that the Happy Sales set performed just as well, and is available at a very affordable price. While the Japanese cooking knives in the Yoshihiro set are pleasing to the eye, their hefty price can seem daunting if you are just looking for a reliable set of knives. Ready to get chopping? Let’s compare these two knife sets!
The Yoshihiro Japanese Sushi Chef Kasumi Set comes with a Yanagi, Usuba, and Deba knife with saya (covers). However, the Usuba is harder to use than the more useful alternative, the Nakiri, that the Happy Sales set offers. The rippling steel and soft iron are luxurious but not stain resistant or dishwasher safe, and since the knives are all single bevel, you can only use them with your right hand--and custom-made left-handed knives are even more expensive. At their premium price, the Yoshihiro Japanese chef knife set is an elegant gift (for someone you really, really like), but doesn't offer the best value for the typical chef, compared to less expensive sets.
The Happy Sales HSKN-3KN01 Set comes with a Yanagi, Nakiri, and Santoku knife. These are all comparable to the knives offered by the Yoshihiro set, plus the Nakiri is easier to use than the Usuba. The Nakiri and Santoku are both double beveled so that you can use them with either hand. Plus, their high carbon stainless steel blades are stain resistant and dishwasher safe! The Happy Sales set offers some of the best Japanese kitchen knives to start your culinary adventures with due to the set’s versatility and low price. If you want to expand your knife collection without breaking open your piggy bank, we recommend the Happy Sales Japanese knife set.
The Yoshihiro knife set comes with a 10.7 inch Yanagiba or “Yanagi” knife. Also called a sashimi knife, it can be used for most cutting and slicing tasks as well as for cutting fish.
The Happy Sales knife set comes with an eight inch Yanagi knife. The shorter length makes the Happy Sales Yanagi easier to handle, which is ideal for people new to Japanese knives.
The Yoshihiro set comes with a 7.7 inch Usuba knife. The Usuba is a vegetable slicing and chopping knife with a delicate edge that requires skillful sharpening and skillful handling. It is not ideal for everyday kitchen tasks or volume processing and is more decorative than it is useful. In the unlikely event that you are a professional Japanese chef, the Usuba is probably unintimidating, but it is overall a less useful knife than the Nakiri.
The Happy Sales set comes with a 6.5 inch Nakiri knife. A Nakiri knife is much easier to sharpen than an Usuba due to its stronger edge. It also tends to be lighter and lower-priced than Usuba knives while being a much more useful all-around cutting and slicing tool in the kitchen. It is easier to use for volume processing like cutting leafy greens for salads or root vegetables for soups. We prefer the Nakiri workhorse to the Usuba.
The Yoshihiro set comes with a seven inch Deba knife. A Deba is usually for filleting and cutting fish and other meats, though some mistakenly use it as an all-purpose cleaver. This thick blade is single-bevel and made for right-handed use, so left-handed users tend to struggle with it.
The Happy Sales set does not have a Deba knife. In its place, it offers the Santoku, which is a slightly thinner knife that we found to be just as versatile as the Deba knife. The Happy Sales’ Santoku knife also has a double-bevel, so you can easily use it with either hand.
The Yoshihiro set does not have a Santoku knife. We were surprised that it was missing from the set due to its popularity and its usefulness. The Deba knife the Yoshihiro set offers instead is limited to right-handed users, as mentioned above.
The Happy Sales set has a 6.5-inch double-bevel Santoku knife. This is a very popular Japanese kitchen knife, a hybrid between a traditional slicing knife and a cleaver. You can use it for a range of chopping and slicing tasks around the kitchen.
The Yoshihiro set is made from high carbon blue or white steel with a coating of soft iron along the blade edge for increased durability in that region. The waves created by the border between the metals is pleasing to the eye, but more of an artistic preference than an indicator of strength.
The Happy Sales set uses high carbon stainless steel. The high carbon content prevents the metal from being brittle while maintaining its hardness, and the alloys used to create the stainless steel mean this set does not require special cleaning and remain lightweight for ease of use.
The Yoshihiro set is not stain resistant, which is a downside of using non-alloy metals and makes these knives harder to care for. This also makes using them more daunting to novices and more suitable as decorative knives than ones you would use every day.
The Happy Sales set is stain resistant thanks to its stainless steel construction, so they require less prep and TLC to shine. We liked that we did not have to worry as much about how we used and cleaned the Happy Sales set compared to the Yoshihiro set.
The Yoshihiro knives have magnolia wood handles with water buffalo horn bolsters. These materials make the set more aesthetically pleasing, but they are part of the reason for the big price jump and make them harder to clean.
The Happy Sales set uses handles made from traditional dense Japanese hardwood with hard plastic bolsters. These knives are more sensible than they are pretty, while also being durable, which makes them a great budget choice.
The Yoshihiro knives must be hand washed, so they take more time to care for. If you want a set of knives to show off for special occasions, the Yoshihiro knife set is certainly impressive. However, the set lacks convenience for everyday use.
The Happy Sales knives are dishwasher safe, which comes in handy if you intend to use them daily. We value the consumer-friendliness of these knives for their simplicity, and an ideal choice if you like to dishwash your knives occasionally for full sanitation.
The Yoshihiro set is designed for right handed use only because all of the knives in the set are beveled only on one side. Left-handed chefs are out of luck with this set, and custom-made knives with the bevel on the opposite side are expensive.
The Happy Sales set’s Yanagi shear is right handed only, but the other knives in the set are beveled on both sides and can be used with your right or left hand. This also makes their learning curve less steep since it is easier to get straight cuts with a double bevel.
The Yoshihiro set is best sharpened by a whetstone, either by yourself or outsourced to a professional. Most electric knife sharpeners are not made for the single bevels and unique angles of Japanese knives.
The Happy Sales knife set also recommends using a whetstone to sharpen the blades or a professional service. A whetstone might pay for itself pretty quickly depending on how much you use your knives.