8 of 10 of my favorite sushi chefs have great knife skills and the other 2 have decent skills. What I found in common was that 8 of the chefs had a certain brand of knife. Yes, people have said it’s not about the knife and more about the skills. It does matter after serving fish for 4 hours and your knife gets dull.
After asking a little more about their knives, Yanagiba…that long knife that they use, it turns out that they are really expensive! The Yanagiba is a special knife used for sashimi to slice fish in one slice. They are also called “Shobu” on the western side of Japan. Yes, I have one that I purchased while walking through Japantown but mine was about $60. The knifes the chefs used were Sakai Takayuki and are between $1,200 to $4,500.
I’ve been drooling over their knives and have seen many reviews and sure enough, it seems like this is the right brand to get for the working sushi chef.
As much as I wanted to get a Takayuki branded Yanagiba I just couldn’t justify the expense. Instead, I added a Takayuki branded Deba and petty knife. It took me a while to pick out which style, price, and length. In the end, the knives were about $125 each and 150mm long. I wanted something would match in my knife bag and I needed to adjust to the new length. I’m used to blades over 8” and under 3.5”. A little more about the blades.
Sakai Takayuki 45-Layer Damascus Hammered WA Japanese Chef’s Petty Knife (Utility) 150mm
The petty knife is crafted out of a 45-layer Damascus stainless steel with an AUS10 alloy core. I went with the double edge instead of single edge because I’m not used to a single edge. The handle is made from pakka wood and the blade is hammered. The hammer marks help make a non-stick surface to let food easily slide off it.
I picked a petty knife because I found myself reaching for my paring knife more often than my chef knives but I needed the length of the chef.
Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi (White steel) Japanese Chef’s Funayuki Deba 150mm
The Funayaki Deba knife is made with high carbon steel (White Paper 3 steel) and is single-edged. I went with this knife because I’ve been finding myself dealing with more salmon and Hamachi and my chef knives were too long and got dull fast. This blade retains its sharpness and is also easy to sharpen. At the same time, if I don’t wash, dry, and oil it after use, it starts to show some patina and rusting.
The handle is made with magnolia wood and made for right handed persons. Oh, what’s the difference between a Deba and a Funayuki Deba? Funayuki…which means “going on a boat” was used for fishermen going on a boat. These knives are a little lighter and longer than a traditional Deba. Unfortunately, they warn not to use a Funayuki to cut bone which means I have to reach for my cleaver to do bone work. Getting the meat off the bone is easy with this knife!
Until I get my Sakai Takayuki Yanagiba I’m going to stick with my off brand Yanagiba and Fuguhiki to do the work. At least I can break down a fish with my Takayuki Funayaki Deba.