Monday, December 17, 2007

Hammered Textured Damascus

This photo does not do justice.

During my recent trip to New York, I finally got to visit Korin - the specialty purveyor of all things Japanese Cooking. Need that weird pan to cook your pork for donburi? They've got 'em. Need a sushi case in stainless steel that's better than a Hoshizaki? They've got those too. How about those fake, frilly grasses in the front of the sushi case? No problem.

But the true reason to visit Korin is for the knives. Gorgeous, incredible and amazing knives made in the tradition of Japanese sword makers. Steel hammered by master craftsmen and honed to a razor sharp finish that one cut throats but now are delicate enough to slice paper thin layers of tuna.

My main reason for visiting Korin was to purchase some sharpening stones for the Aritsugu Yanagi knife I bought in Tokyo this past summer. Great knife, inept chef (me). After chatting with Jackie, the attractive Chinese girl from New York who spent the past several years teaching English in Japan as part of the JET Program, I decided on the 1000, 5000 and 8000 grit sharpening stones and the basic sharpening DVD (since the master whom I came to see was on his day off).

As I wandered around pondering plate, sushi cases, lotus flower molds and whether that nicely shaped cappuccino cup was indeed 5.5 ounces, I spied the knife displays and locked on the Togiharu Hammered Textured Damascus steel Petty knive. It's absolutely gorgeous. Hammered steel that has those layers and a rich, wood handle. Sexy. Never thought I'd say that about a knife but gosh is it sexy!

Next to it was the matching santoku. Oh, temptation. Craftsmanship this gorgeous makes me quiver in the knees and beg for redemption. It's almost as bad as chasing women. And like the woman, one false or careless move and sliiiice! Your blood is everywhere.

But I was here for a reason and that was to buy sharpening stones for the other knife. With those in hand, I couldn't stop staring at the knives. Then I remembered: it's the holiday season and all knives are 15% off. With prices slashed so low, it would be irresponsible of me not to avail myself of the savings!

You know, I like to posit myself as the stoic, cold-hearted, never fearing, manly man that's as hard as a rock. Never wavering under temptation. But it's a lie. Present a twenty-something girl from Mexico City or sexy Japanese knives in front of me and I turn to mushy goo. I can't say no. I don't want to say no. It would be irresponsible of me to refuse.

Within a few short minutes and a swipe of the black card (the MasterCard, not the Centurion card), I was strolling down Chambers Street with a very heavy plastic bag laden with three sharpening stones and both Togiharu knives...

It would be irresponsible of me otherwise.

1 comment:

mckolit said...

I recently saw on the science channel about knives made out of ceramic. The handle is traditional but the blade itself is made out of ceramic. They're sharpened by Japanese masters and can only be sharpened using diamond dust since it's the only material harder than the ceramic. They even show the dude testing the sharpness by slicing his thumbnail. Awesome.