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What Is The Best Wok? (1) - Japanese Carbon Steel Woks & Frypans FAQs

What Is The Best Wok? (1) - Japanese Carbon Steel Woks & Frypans FAQs

Click here to see all Japanese carbon steel woks and frypans.

Carbon Steel Wok My Cookware

Which wok is the best? This has been the most common question we hear, so wish to introduce different types of woks in a series of articles. Throughout this blog, I will use the term wok, but it refers to both wok and frypan.

There is no single answer to this question. Some customers prefer to use non-stick woks and do not like to season cast iron cookware. Other customers may enjoy using a carbon steel wok and dislike a non-stick wok that can be easily scratched.

You have to consider your cooking habits as well as the size and weight of the cookware you desire. You should also decide how you wish to maintain your cookware

This article focuses on:

Japanese carbon steel woks & frypans

This first article will focus on Japanese carbon steel cookware only. The topic will be extended to clay, ceramic non-stick, and Teflon based non-stick in future articles.

The Japanese carbon steel wok is lightweight, strong and durable. The made-in-Japan quality and the long tradition of making carbon steel wok give customers confidence that the cookware is durable and safe. 

Below are some questions that customers often ask when choosing a carbon steel wok.

Does it have paint on it? Is there a coating on it? Is it going to stick?

In short, adding paint or a non-stick coating to a carbon steel wok is unnecessary and increases its cost in production without improving its durability. Manufacturers of carbon steel cookware would not do this.

When oil and the right amount of heat are used, a carbon steel will not stick. If you know how to handle the wok, you can make fried eggs and rice that will not stick. Our online recipes reflect that the carbon steel wok is capable of handling high-heat cooking processes, such as deep frying.

Carbon steel is not a non-stick cookware with non-stick coating. Customers should not expect it to perform exactly the same as a non-stick wok. In general, we suggest a Japanese carbon steel wok for customers with basic cooking skills.

Once the wok has been used, it will no longer look like new. The wok will have marks, scratches, and stains all over it. You may wash it as normal with normal detergent and a sponge. For stubborn stains, you can use Bakers Friend and cooper scrubber. Scratching carbon steel does not harm it.

Do not scratch too hard if the wok has not been nitrided. You can find more information about nitriding later in this article.

Oil seasoning is vital to prevent the rusting of carbon steel.

Oil seasoning is important to maintain a Japanese carbon steel wok

The first thing that users need to understand is that carbon steel needs to be seasoned frequently in order to prevent rusting.

Customers sometimes return products with rusty or pitted woks. The technicians of the Japanese manufacturer would find that the oil on the surface is insufficient.

Food should not be left in the wok for long periods of time. Consider it a tool for cooking, not for storing food. The wok should be thoroughly cleaned after use. Then season it with a full spoon of oil.

Japanese carbon steel woks require only a one-time seasoning for 5 minutes. A video was created to help customers better understand the instructions. Details can be found in our online user guide online

If you dislike the oil seasoning process, you might want to consider using cookware made of materials other than carbon steel.  

Nitriding vs. non-nitriding

To make carbon steel wok better, nitriding is an important process.

A wok with the nitriding process is more expensive than one without it. As a result of nitriding, carbon steel is strengthened and less likely to rust.

In the absence of nitriding, a layer of silicone is needed to prevent rusting after manufacturing. This layer will wash away after the first wash. You should not scratch a non-nitrided wok too hard. When scratched too hard, the protective layer can come off the wok, which may require the user to re-season the wok. It is normal for a non-nitrided wok to have protective layers come off. If you do not want black residue then you should purchase nitrided brands.

Both nitriding and non-nitriding woks must be seasoned every time after use. Note that a nitrided wok is less likely to rust, but it does not mean that it will never rust. Seasoning carbon steel cookware with oil is important.

A nitrided wok generally outperformed a unitrided one. It does not mean unitried wok is not good, especially if you are working on a budget. Take care of the wok as described in our user guide. Your wok will last for many years. Generally, carbon steel wok last for about 10 years. (We have another article on the misconception of non-nitrided woks and frypans.)

Nitrided woks are available from River Light, Pearl Life, Yoshikwa and Tsubame. Unitrided woks are available from Takumi and Wahei Freiz

What is the difference between different brands?

Japanese brands of carbon steel woks

These Japanese carbon steel brands, including River Light, Pearl Life, Yoshikawa, Tsubame, Takumi and Wahei Freiz, use similar materials. They are held to strict standards in Japan.

In terms of customer feedback, River Light is the best brand among them. As the first company to enter the international market, River Light focuses solely on carbon steel cookware. Its price is slightly higher than that of other brands of the same size. 

Based on customer feedback, here are the rankings:

  1. Tsubame
  2. River Light
  3. Pearl Life
  4. Yoshikawa
  5. Wahei Friez
  6. Takumi

There may be slight variations in the manufacturing process, so there may be different colors (darker or lighter), weights, or textures. It is true that nitrided woks and fry pans are stronger and more durable. The depth, width, bottom diameter, and top diameter are listed on our website.


Japanse carbon steel woks are durable

That is an excellent question. A wok costs as little as $40. Is it worth it to choose a Japanese wok with prices ranging from $120 to $280?

The answer lies in the confidence one has in made-in-Japan cookware. This is especially true when it comes to iron cookware. Japan is known for its focus on iron quality and the safety of its products, which gives customers the confidence to buy such products.

The making of carbon steel woks has been passed down through the centuries in Japan. In addition, all of these woks are lightweight, since they were designed for Japanese use. If you have wrist problems or are unable to handle heavy cookware, this feature is extremely useful. 

For customers who are looking for a lighter weight wok, here's another tip.

One of the lightest woks on the market is Japanese-made pure titanium wok. A 30cm wok weighs as little as 0.8kg. Titanium will not rust. The wok needs to be seasoned once only and not repeatedly after cooking. However, pure titanium conducts heat rapidly. We must control the heat carefully when using the wok.

We hope that our wide selection will enable you to find your perfect wok.


Overall, we find Japanese carbon steel cookware lightweight, durable, and reliable. Many customers enjoy using the durable cookware daily. However, no product is 100% suitable for everyone. Carbon steel cookware must be properly seasoned and maintained. In case you are not comfortable with the seasoning process, you might want to check out our next article on non-stick cookware.

If you have any follow-up questions, you can email us at or use the chat box in the right lower corner of the page. Our friendly team will respond as soon as possible.

Click here to see all Japanese carbon steel woks and frypans. 

*Kai is the author of the article. Kai is our product specialist at My Cookware®.

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Freiz Enzo Carbon Steel Series

Freiz Enzo Carbon Steel Induction Wok - 28cm
This stylish designer carbon steel wok is made in Japan.

Compared to other Japanese brands of woks and frypans, the Enzo wok has a sharp angle and a modern design. There is a hammered style to the wok.

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