What Knives Does Chef Morimoto Use?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 05/17/21 •  5 min read

Masaharu Morimoto, a former professional baseball catcher in Japan turned world-famous owner and head cook of Michelin-awarded Wasabi (and over a dozen others, FYI) and the Iron Chef, is one of the globe’s gourmet geniuses.

No one will disagree with that.

It’s understandable if you think that owning everything that he uses – from his choice of ingredients to his pots and pans – will help you make dishes as he does. If you’re serious about this, start by getting the knives he uses in his kitchen: the Deba, the Usuba Bocho, and the Yanagiba.

1. Deba

This is similar to the Western Chef’s style blade in the sense that it is so versatile and can be used for a lot of tasks in the kitchen.

But it is a marvel on its own because this can be used to debone chicken, prep fish, and even split crab claws.

Masaharu has two Debas of different sizes.

Related: Best chef knives for the money

2. Usuba Bocho

This knife, similar to the shape of a cleaver but is smaller and thinner, is specifically for cutting vegetables.

The extremely thin blade can crack through tough root crops like sweet potatoes but can make specialized cuts like thin sheets from cylindrical veggies like a carrot.

The Iron Chef often uses this because all Japanese dishes feature a side of vegetables.

3. Yanagiba

This is a long, narrow, and incredibly thin knife that is used to prepare fish for sashimi and nigiri.

Expert cooks usually have Yanagis that are sharpened on one side only because there’s a certain technique in slicing seafood for this dish.

This is a must-have in Masaharu’s kitchen since he serves sashimi and nigiri.

The Iron Chef owns over a hundred blades in his arsenal, but he admits that he doesn’t use all those often.

However, there is one thing that he does religiously: sharpen his blades.

Here is his very specific method:

• Gentle cleaning every after use.
When it comes to blades, handwashing trumps the dishwasher.

• Drying is a must.
Even the moisture from your fingertips can start rusting on steel.

• Religious sharpening and honing.
This hardworking kitchen pro ends his night by sharpening all the edges of his blade using traditional whetstones and then stores it (as will be explained below). He then hones it the next morning right before he uses it.

• Proper storage is necessary.
Usually, Japanese knives come in storage boxes but Masaharu decided to wrap every blade he owns in individual dry towels and then keep it in a cloth roll bag.

Masaharu has a line of knives specifically made based on his requirements and, naturally, named after him.

Zwilling’s Miyabi is the company that carries his products. Here are some of the best:

1. Fusion Morimoto Edition 8-Inch Chef’s

Although Masaharu uses all Japanese-style blades, he understands that the Chef’s variant is versatile in a common kitchen. And this is precisely why Miyabi has made this particular knife.

This is made of VG10 steel core and protected by 64 layers of soft CMV60 steel which gives that beautiful Damascus pattern.

Compared to the Western Chef’s variant, this is narrower with a very slightly curved belly and a thinner spine, making it perfect for a whole lot of slicing and dicing.

2. Red Morimoto Edition 7-Inch Hollow-Edged Santoku

This traditional Japanese knife is a favorite among professionals because of its ergonomic, forward-thinking design.

The wide vertical indentations that run above the sharp edge prevents food from sticking to the knife, making chopping board chores oh-so-easy. Miyabi also rounded off the spine and the heel to prevent accidental nicks.

Although this is made from German steel, this has been hand-honed using the Honbazuke process so it has a 9.5-degree sharpened edge.

3. Morimoto Red 600S Set of 7

This set comes with a 3.5” Paring, 5.5” Santoku (hollow-edged), 8” Chef’s, and 9.5” Serrated for Bread. It also includes Kitchen Shears, Sharpening Rod (9 inches), and a light-colored Wooden Block

Get a Miyabi Morimoto Edition Knife!

It’s hard to travel to Japan and look for knives forged by old bladesmiths who still stick to traditional methods.

And to be honest, it’s a bit difficult to maintain Japanese steel because it is high in Carbon.

Unless you’ve had experience maintaining one, you shouldn’t get the set that Masaharu uses.

Zwilling Miyabi’s Morimoto line of knives is the next best thing.

You would be glad to know that Miyabi is actually from Seki, is a historical city in Japan where katanas used to be made.

Zwilling, the German powerhouse, partnered with Miyabi to come up with knives that are made from high-quality modern-made materials but have been forged in the traditional Japanese way.

Masaharu Morimoto would not bother with anything that isn’t first-rate so, aside from the reputations established by the companies for themselves, you can be assured that anything from Zwilling and Miyabi is of high quality.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.