Sunday, December 1, 2013

My New Santoku

Like many people who like to cook, especially guys, I like knives. When I was in Kyoto in October, I went to the famous Aritsugu, which has been in business since 1560, three times but bought nothing. Why not? Because I decided to buy a knife at the much less well-known Shigeharu, which has been in business far longer, since the Kamakura period (1190-1329). My decision was made easier when I found out that Aritsugu's knives are actually made by a different company in Osaka, while Shigeharu's are made in Kyoto.

Based on the recommendation of a website of the Haru Cooking School, I decided to buy a standard grade, medium-sized santoku, the most all-purpose of Japanese knives (but you still can't use it to cut even tiny bones).

Armed with this knowledge, I went to Shigeharu, a not very prepossessing shop that is not particularly convenient and where English is not spoken, thus challenging my very limited Japanese.

Shigeharu knife store
Shigeharu knife store display
When I walked in the lady in charge called for her husband. I told him I wanted a two-edged santoku, and he brought me some samples. I opted for a standard grade, medium sized knife, in carbon steel (he told me that stainless steel, while easier to care for, would never be as sharp as the carbon steel). As he was packing it, I asked the man who had made it and he pointed to himself. I then asked where he had made it, and he pointed to the back of the very store we were in, through the blue noren.

Mr. Shigeharu, nth generation knife maker
I loved that, because I am always thrilled to buy things from the artisans who have made them, particularly where the family history is measured in centuries (in this case at least seven).

So here's my knife, which I am enjoying immensely. It does nothing that I can't do with my others but when I use it I feel a connection with Mr. Shigeharu and his ancestors that I just don't get from a Wüsthof,  Henkels or Sabatier knife.

My Shigeharu santoku
Happy cutting!

Bobby Jay

1 comment:

Bobby Jay said...

There is a dialogue between myself and Nadege about Japanese knives following my post of December 7 on the movie Haute Cuisine.