Coming Soon: Tosho Knife Arts, bringing Japanese knives worthy of samurai to downtown Toronto
By Megan Rudson
The Takeda Funayaki (Image: Warren Wang)
Most people are oblivious to the intricacies of Japanese knives, but chef Ivan Fonseca (of Messis) and Olivia Go intend to change that with their upcoming store, Tosho Knife Arts. Japanese knives are considered an art form; traditionally, there is a knife for every task — like peeling chestnuts, say — unlike European knives, which are less specialized. Tosho, currently an online store, sells samurai-sword quality knives from Blacksmith Takeda and Konosuke-Sakai.
“Anyone who loves cooking can appreciate them. They outlive people,” Go says.
While most of Tosho's knives range from $100 to $300, some require a bit more dough. The Konosuke Yanagiba Honyaki Lacquer, for example, costs a whopping $3,500. The knife takes time and patience to make — the lacquer takes eight months to apply — and the single layer blade makes the knife thinner than most (though it can easily crack if not used by a specialist). It's a sushi chef's best friend.
For an everyday knife, Go chooses the Konosuke Sakai Gyuto ($270). The simple, seamless design is “thin and can cut quickly.” She also favors the Takeda Kogatana ($100). Meant for woodworking and crafting, the handleless knife is also good for butchering.
The biggest mistake when it comes to knife-maintenance, Go says, is letting the blade get too dull. “Not keeping knives sharp makes the knife slip while cutting.” Along with creating the possibility of injury or a bloody fish, a dull knife bruises food, making it lose its integrity. When it comes to knife grip, you have to “Hold it like you own it,” says Go.
Still, it is difficult to maintain a knife's natural shape, and it takes experience and a special eye to know which sharpening stone to use for which knife. Go offers classes at the Good Egg, but be ready to plan in advance; the waiting list is long and growing. The classes, which will likely take place in the store after it opens, focus on sharpening and the basics of cutting.
Tosho Knife Arts, which has been online-only since last January, will be opening its first physical location on Markham Street on July 24, with any luck. Along with knives, it will sell sharpening stones, oil (to stop rusting) and wooden Saya ($30-$40) covers. All knives and stones will be imported from Japan.
Tosho Knife Arts, 602 Markham St.