News & Politics

A Cut Above: Local Chefs’ Sushi Knives

Japanese knives are some of the most prized—and expensive. Local chefs reveal their favorites.

Photograph by Scott Suchman

Sushiko chef Koji Terano purchased his yanagi knife (1)—a
classic sushi and sashimi slicer—in Osaka. The long blade slices fish in a
single, clean stroke.

To slice large pieces of tuna, Sushi Taro chef/owner Nobu
Yamazaki uses a deba knife (2) that’s double the typical size—his father
gave it to him 30 years ago.

Sushiko’s Terano follows a traditional sharpening method, using
this small stone (3) to polish his larger knife stone. It smoothes out
irregularities and ensures a sharp blade.

The Source’s Scott Drewno swears by his expensive Misono
santoku knife but often reaches for this equally versatile Chinese-style
cleaver (4) when prepping vegetables and duck; it’s $25 at Best Supply
(413 Morse St., NE; 202-544-2525).

Kaz Sushi Bistro’s Kaz Okochi prefers a gyuto knife (5), which
he says is the most reached-for blade in Japan’s professional kitchens. He
uses it for everything from cutting meat and vegetables to slicing

Yamazaki’s Tokyo-style eel knife (6) is designed specifically
for slicing eel through the back instead of the belly, a tradition born in
the samurai period to avoid references to human seppuku, or ritual

When Makoto owner Yoshiaki Itoh retired last year, his son,
Gene Itoh, took over both the restaurant and his knives, many of them more
than 20 years old. This small deba (7), sharpened only on one side, is
best for cutting fish bones.

Want to buy a Japanese knife? You’ll find the best selection at

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.