Which one is the best sushi knife?

November 19, 2014

 

This is yet another question that I get asked frequently.

What I can say about the knife is this: When you hold the knife in your hand, if it feels good to you, that's the best knife for you.

It's like finding a partner in your life. What's best for me will be different from what's best for you.

I certainly have used Masamoto sushi knives before and I think they are fantastic knives. However, just because Masamoto is one of the most popular sushi knives in Japan and US, does not automatically mean it's the best for you or me.

Let me tell you two stories relating sushi knives.


Story #1
Knife shop, Kappabashi, Tokyo

Kappabashi is famous street filled with restaurant supply shops ranging from kitchen equipment, crockery, restaurant furnitures and  of course knifes. I was browsing one of the knife shops and heard this conversation between the owner and the customer.

Customer: “So, which one do you think is a good knife?” (Pointing at several knives he picked)

Owner: “Well, they are all good knives.”

Customer: “Yes, I know they are all good. I mean which I should I buy?”

Owner: “If you are asking for my recommendation, I can tell you that almost all the professional chefs buy  inexpensive knives because they use them every day. They know they will damage expensive knives if they have to use them every day. Almost all the amatuers end up buying expensive knives. I suppose that is because they want to own and collect knives rather than using them.”

I don’t know which one this customer ended up buying - my guess is that he ended up buying an expensive knife.

 

Story #2
What I learned about a knife from the most talented sushi chef I’ve ever worked with.

I met Jin-san at this sushi restaurant in Long Beach, CA. He told me that he started working for a family run sushi restaurant in Tokyo when he was fifteen.

He started his day at six in the morning by cleaning and finished his day at midnight by cleaning the entire restaurant. For the first few years, all he did was cleaning and errands that seemed to have nothing to with sushi making. He practiced his knife and sushi skills on his own using leftover ingredients, sometimes purchasing his own. He worked in Japan for a while before he was asked to work in LA. Jin-san had over twenty years of experience as a sushi chef when I met him. He was very gentle, polite, and most of all, laughed a lot.

One day I saw Jin-san fileting halibut, and I was shocked at how fast he filled the whole fish. It only took him a few minutes or so, where it would have taken me at least ten. Not only Jin-san was fast, and he moved so gracefully and beautifully. His knife handling was so precise that it had the appearance of choreographed dance sequence. Realizing I was watching, he started talking to me, “You see that the trick is not about the knife you use. I have very expensive sushi knife at home. It costs over $2,000, and I rarely use it these days. These knives I use right now, do you know how much they cost? They cost me $15 each at restaurant supply store. You see it’s how you sharpen your knives. I can tell how much of a chef he is by looking at his knife.”

The knife I use is 10" chef knife I purchased in San Francisco Chinatown for $7. It's a great stainless knife that equals to any other made in Germany knives, because it feels good in my hand.

So, my recommendation is to try out as many knives you like until you find the one best fits your hand.  Learn how to sharpen your knives properly using sharpening stone instead of the sharpening steel. (A sharpening steel will never "sharpen" your knives. They are meant o use as temporary reliefe between sharpening.)

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