A sharp kitchen knife is fine when you first start making sushi, but the preparation and presentation of your sushi and sashimi will be improved with proper Japanese knives.
Just to be clear, a sushi knife and sashimi knife are not the same thing. There are three steps to making a sushi roll: cutting fish, cutting vegetables and cutting the roll itself. A sushi knife is suitable for all three stages, whereas a sashimi knife is reserved just for fish. There are also dedicated knives for cutting vegetables and through the bones and cartilage of fish.
Look for a one-size-fits-all Santoku knife, which is a modern addition to the Japanese kitchen and is often sold with a stainless steel blade. Professional high-carbon steel blades are also available, but they will cost more.
The ‘traditional’ sushi knife that you’ll have seen at your favourite sushi restaurant is the Yanagi. The Yanagi is a ‘standard’ sashimi blade that can also be used to cut sushi rolls. Yanagi have a single sided cutting edge and are designed to cut in just one direction, by pulling the knife through the fish. Again look for a high-carbon steel blade for the sharpest cut.
Now you know a little more about Japanese knives, here are some places to buy them in London:
The aptly named Japanese Knife Company are the go to brand in London. With locations in Soho, Marylebone and Kensington, you’re never far from a JKC in Central London.
Soho Knives stock a small range of Yanagi and Santoku knives. Unfortunately they no longer stock the Deba knives, which are designed to cut through fish bones and cartilage.
You can find them at the Dennys Brands hospitality store in Dean Street.
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If you’re looking for somewhere south of the river then Borough Kitchen has a small range of Santoku knives from £32 to £265.
As you’d expect, they’re just next to London’s famous Borough Market.
Nisbets supply professional chefs knives to the catering trade and stock a huge range of speciality knives, including Santoku and Japanese vegetable knives.
You will find them in Shoreditch and at the Covent Garden end of Shaftesbury Avenue.