A Cut Above the Rest

Ask any chef about what is the most important tool any cook can own, and I promise you that the first words from their lips will be “a sharp knife.” So critical to every sort of kitchen task, the true value of this most common utensil can not be overstated. It may seem like a strange thing to propose as a prime holiday gift to some, but anyone that likes to bang around in the kitchen even a little bit should undoubtedly be thrilled by such a useful present.

For many years, my everyday, prized knife was a flimsy santoku, purchased at TJ Maxx for a whopping $15, accompanied by a sadly pitted and stained plastic cutting board that came from the dollar store many years prior. Never could I have dreamed of how much use both items would get, or considered investing in something a bit more substantial. Merely basic tools to get me through some meal prep while living on campus, they seemed like more than enough to get the job done at the time. Oh, how little I knew about knives.

Not that I can claim to be an expert now, but after taking a trip to the Korin store in New York City, I can tell you what a real knife should feel like. Evenly weighted, from the handle to the tip of the blade; light-weight, but still with enough heft to feel substantial in the hand; and of course, very, very sharp. Let me tell you, the knife that I set my sights on, the Togiharu Cobalt Damascus Santoku, was like nothing I had ever used to butcher vegetables before. A beauty with a fearsome edge, this powerful blade wasn’t even in the same category as the flimsy metal stick I left at home. Walking out of the store with my dangerous new toy in hand, provided for the sake of a review, it felt like stealing. I raced out of there before they could change their minds.

An excellent option for both chefs and amateurs alike, I immediately felt the difference upon upgrading to a real knife. Prepping mis en place was suddenly no longer a chore, and it was a snap to power through towering stacks of veggies without any strain. Amazingly for a clutz like me, I haven’t even managed to slice off my fingers yet, which seems highly possible considering the blade on this monster. “Sharp” doesn’t begin to describe it, as is evident by the gossamer-thin slices of lemon it was able to produce above, breezing straight through rind, fragile segments, and pips altogether without a snag.

Though still slightly intimidating to use due to the comparatively extreme increase in chopping power, it really does make a world of difference to have the proper tools for a job. As an item that will get daily attention, an upgrade could be a worthwhile idea for Santa to explore when shopping for your favorite cooking enthusiast.

And I did take it upon myself to also step up my cutting board options; investing in a simple but sturdy little bamboo number was the least I could do for this serious santoku.