Shams El -Mutwalli Dubai
KUTO, formerly known as Chef’s Play, is the first Japanese knife shop in the UAE and offers an extensive selection of pristine knives sourced from Japan, as a result the brand has gained ample recognition from restaurants and chefs in the region.
The founder, Keisuke Kutomi, works in the food and beverage industry, putting him in contact with many chefs whose admiration of Japanese knives inspired the birth of KUTO. As a result, Kutomi began selling Japanese knives that satisfy several purposes including home and professional use.
KUTO’s knives range from “Traditional” Japanese knives to more “Western” style knives, which differ based on their blade features that ultimately influence how they are used in the kitchen.
“Traditional Japanese Knives have the distinct feature of having a “kataba” blade. also known as a single beveled or single-edged blade. These traditional knives are specifically designed and made for preparing Japanese cuisine, the different styles and shapes of Traditional Japanese knives are also specifically designed for their own purposes,” KUTO employee Renzo told Arab News Japan.
The traditional knives are made using carbon steels, a type of material that demands a very specific skill and refined experience to make, defining these knives as quintessentially Japanese. This contrasts with the stainless steel, more typical of western knives used within a more domestic, and relaxed culinary environment.
Renzo cited a very specific type of knife known as the“Yanagi” utilized in the slicing of sashimi—the specialized purpose of this knife can be attributed to the long and thin form of the blade that assists in maintaining the quality and flavour of the food, by preventing bruising and friction with the ingredients.
Western knives have a more generalized purpose, as the double-edged blade allows for more practicality, simplified use and are easier to maintain.
“With the rapid growth of popularity of western cuisine in Japan during the early 20th century, the Japanese people needed the proper knives and tools in order to prepare Western foods. Knife-makers in Japan then started to forge Western knives with the skills, experience, and techniques of Japanese knife and sword making,” Renzo said.
Japanese knives come with many distinctive features, and elements that differentiate them from standard knives customers are familiar with, thus justifying their hefty prices.
“I always explain it’s like a shoe. Very personal,” Kutomi told Arab News Japan, while also reiterating the many different lengths, purposes, materials and designs present amongst Japanese knives.
Knife and sword making is a talented art in Japan, so much so, that there are designated cities that are skilled in making them, these include Tosa, Seki, Sakai and Takefu.