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Korin Japanese Knife (and More) Store, NYC


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Took my brother, the knife collector, to this store the other day. It was the first time we had been there. What an amazing place! The selection of Japanese knives is mind-boggling.

The best thing is there are always chefs hanging around to talk to. I'm not good with chef faces, but I think we talked to Marco from Hearth for awhile. Or maybe just his evil twin. The sales help isn't all that helpful but they sort of try. They have a great catalog that has lots of information in it about metallurgy and sharpening as well as a lot of knives. And you can stand around the store and watch a cool knife-sharpening video that's dubbed in English.

Also they had on sale and probably still to a lot of nice Japanese plates, cups, and other small ceramic things. I got some excellent aquamarine rectangular plates for eight bucks each.

Thanks to The Art of Eating's Mitchell Davis for recommending Korin in the most recent issue of this "food letter."

Korin Japanese Trading Corp.

57 Warren Street

New York, New York 10007

800-626-2172 toll free, U.S. only

Showroom Hours:

10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Weekdays and every

2nd and 4th Saturday of the month

212-587-7021, 7025, 7026 phone

212-587-7027 fax

sales@korin.com

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I know that BladeGallery/Epicurean Edge has better prices on some of their knives, but unforutanetly those are not listed online yet. I believe I had compared the Ittosai brand in the store.

Knifemerchant.com has the same Nenox 9 1/4' Gyutou for 36 bucks cheaper.

A 9.5 Gestlain is 39 bucks less

The cost of the video seems pretty high too. Nearly 60 bucks for a 30 min video. It would be cool to have though!

I dont mean to disparriage the store since they have such cool stuff and some brands that cannot be had elsewhere though. I just got the sense that they were a bit high on some pricing.

Also, what is up with the cutting boards they list on the site? I couldn't figure out the extreme cost of them. There is no explanation about what makes them cool.

:smile:

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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Also, what is up with the cutting boards they list on the site?  I couldn't figure out the extreme cost of them.  There is no explanation about what makes them cool.

i think you'll always find better pricing on things you buy on-line when the store only sells on-line. when a store is located in new york city and carries the items that korin does, that is when the prices get a little inflated. overhead, my friend.

also, if you look at the dimensions of the cutting boards, they are that price because they are sized for sushi bars. i don't think it is likely you're going to buy a cutting board for your house that is 75 inches long, are you? so, they're meant to be for professionals.

also, korin offers a 10% discount to industry people. that's like getting the knife without paying tax (which is getting higher and higher in new york...something like 8.25 or 8.5%). that's a bonus for restaurant people. also, their name and reputation costs something as well. i'd much rather buy a knife at their store where i can fondle, yes, fondle it...

ellen is right though when it comes to sales help. i think because most of them are f.o.p. (fresh off the plane), their english skills aren't as sharp as their knife skills :blink: .

overall, i think korin is a fun place to drool over knives and restaurant supplies! besides, japanese stuff is always so well packaged...that's gotta be worth something, eh?

edited: only some of the cutting boards are huge...they are expensive and i don't know why?!

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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What is so special about sharpening on rare natural stones? Is it really better than other methods?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I'd love to get Chad's take on that. Maybe someone can alert him to this thread. But my albeit much less informed opinion is that the natural stones give a better edge either a) because they have properties that can't be duplicated by the synthetic stones, or b) nobody has bothered to devote the resources necessary to make synthetic stones that would both cost less and be better than the natural stones (it's not like sharpening stones are a big seller, found in every American home -- DuPont isn't likely to bother putting a team of its top people on the project).

Not that I've ever used a natural stone. Mine is totally fake. But the chefs and cooks I know who go for the crazy-expensive Japanese knives and stones do seem to have the sharpest knives. Likewise, as much as I admit that the Edge-pro and other tools do a better job than I do freehand, a true master of culinary knife sharpening like the dude at Korin is, I think, always going to get the best results by hand. Artisanal sharpening, as it were.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd love to get Chad's take on that. Maybe someone can alert him to this thread. But my albeit much less informed opinion is that the natural stones give a better edge either a) because they have properties that can't be duplicated by the synthetic stones, or b) nobody has bothered to devote the resources necessary to make synthetic stones that would both cost less and be better than the natural stones (it's not like sharpening stones are a big seller, found in every American home -- DuPont isn't likely to bother putting a team of its top people on the project).

Not that I've ever used a natural stone. Mine is totally fake. But the chefs and cooks I know who go for the crazy-expensive Japanese knives and stones do seem to have the sharpest knives. Likewise, as much as I admit that the Edge-pro and other tools do a better job than I do freehand, a true master of culinary knife sharpening like the dude at Korin is, I think, always going to get the best results by hand. Artisanal sharpening, as it were.

Yup, it's artisanal sharpening. If the guy is good, he's good.

Japanese waterstones are much like natural Arkansas stones -- not so much in sharpening ability as in rarity. Just as the novaculite deposit in Arkansas has been mined out, the deposits from which the best Japanese natural stones are mined are all but tapped out. That's my understandng, at least.

Most Japanese waterstones are reconstituted, meaning that the natural (lesser grade) stone has been ground and put back together with some form of binder. They're pretty damn good. Japanese waterstones cut like crazy because they are so loosely bound. There is always a fresh cutting edge to grind away the metal. That's why they have to be kept wet -- it helps wash away the swarf and refresh the cutting ability of the stone. But natural waterstones definitely have an edge (no pun intended), just as an original Arkansas stone will have an edge over a reconstituted Arkansas stone.

BUT natural stones aren't naturally flat. They come in weird shapes and sizes; so despite their sharpening advantages, natural waterstones aren't sought after except by fanatics. Sure they cut metal better but they're a pain to deal with, are extremely expensive, and are just plain finicky. Grading waterstones is much like grading wines and cheeses, it's more an art than a science. If a sharpener has a good set of natural waterstones -- and a good source for replacements -- and knows how to use them, then he's going to be able to put an astoundingly sharp edge on a knife.

However, a home user can get close to 98 percent of a Japanese waterstone with a little practice and a good sharpening rig (the EdgePro Apex, for instance). Woodworkers face this problem every day. They're even more fanatical about edges than chefs or kitchen knife nuts. The true believers use waterstones. The rest use a good sharpening rig. You'd be hard pressed to feel the difference.

If you want to learn the freehand techniques that work with Japanese waterstones, you'll have some amazing knives. It just takes time, practice and money -- as with any other skill. But you can get pretty damn close with a smaller investment. And you don't have to deal with stones that require more attention than a high-strung poodle.

In short, if the Korin store is nearby, take your knives there to be sharpened. I would. The bottom line is performance. Otherwise, do it yourself.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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I wonder if the knife-sharpening guy at Korin will sharpen Western knives as well. I'd like to bring him my Wusthof chef's knife as an experiment. It would be worth the $25 (I think that's the going rate for basic sharpening) to see the results.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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They gave me an automatic 10% off when I physically visited the store. Also the resident 'master' does an amazing job sharpening knives, he'll even offer in his words a "tune-up" ie sharpening even more when you buy a brand new knife. Imagine that if you can sharpening an already super sharp knife.

I was reading in their catalog that regular western made stainless steel because of the hardness makes sharpening on a waterstone somewhat ineffective. Can anyone attest to this?

Yes they are a little bit more pricey than online stores but then again they're located in MANHATTAN!!!

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  • 5 months later...

We were back at Korin with my brother yesterday. He bought some kind of very expensive knife with a two-tone wood handle. Two Korin updates:

There is a 15% off sale for the entire month of July.

There is a new catalog out and it is beautiful. Most of the old catalog's content has been preserved but there is now a whole section at the back with comments from many Japanese and Western chefs. Definitely request a copy.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Got my catalogue a couple of days ago, and have been drooling ever since. If you have a copy, check out the Fish-Shaped Knives on page 45: Mutsugorou, Kawhagi, Fugu, Manbou, and Kingyou. Talk about practical artwork!

Also, the woman who owns the company is really warm and gracious.

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I have been going to Korin for over 4 years now and I have to say that I have recently become increasingly disappointed.

Admittedly a knifeophile, I tend to have a slight obsession for cutlery stores. As Korin has become more poplular, it seems that they have begun to hire actual "Sales People" who are more concerned with their commision rather than the loyalty of their customers. These new "Sales People" also do not seem to be fully informed of the products. I have only a slight foundation in the production of knives and other utensils, but I think the "Sales Person" should have more knowledge than me.

I miss the nice ladies that speak little or no English, but can still describe Rockwell Hardness, or steel origins, or proper maintenance. I miss the fact that Korin used to be a "find".

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looked at the site and was wondering what makes a $2000 knife worth that much money when compared to a perfectly acceptable $200 wusthoff knife? what can such an expensive knife do? is it the craftsmanship that primarily dictates the price?

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i'm sure someone else is more qualified to answer this than i am, but it is craftsmanship that dictates some of the price.

a japanese knife that is being made by a 20th generation knife maker using samurai sword making techniques could warrant the $2000 price tag. i have a friend who has a $5,000 japanese knife.

for myself, spending much more than $100 on a knife is overkill. i'd get a perfectly serviceable knife with a decent edge and lifespan, particularly since i'm able to maintain it.

also, some of these knives are meant for specific foods. you do need a special knife when you're carving up some fugu :biggrin:

edited to add: korin does give industry discounts at about 10% off regular price. i had them change a knife from right handed to left handed for me and the main sharpening guy didn't charge me for that. normally, a left handed knife costs 50% more than a regular knife off the shelf.

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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What can a $15,000 Rolex Submariner do that my $30 purchased-at-Costco Casio G-Shock can't?

Utility is only one criterion by which value is judged. Beauty, uniqueness, materials, craftsmanship . . . all these factors and more influence a product's perceived value.

In addition, utility can often be a question of purpose. For a professional underwater demolition expert a Rolex is a worthwhile expenditure from a utility standpoint, but for the casual SCUBA diver the G-Shock keeps better time, has more features, and will not be placed at any risk at normal recreational SCUBA depths and conditions.

Professional sushi chefs, as well as some chefs in Western restaurants who care about this sort of thing, use very expensive handcrafted Japanese knives because they believe the cuts they make are better, truer, and cleaner than what you'd get with a Wusthof. They can apparently tell the quality of a knife by looking at the cut surface of a piece of fish. Japanese gourmets "eat with their eyes" and some will argue that the appearance of a good cut is reflected in texture and flavor as well.

Such knives are a pain to maintain. A Wusthof is probably the better choice for most casual users. But for those who want the very best for a certain purpose, the price of expensive Japanese knives may be justified. And for the rest of us these knives are objects of beauty.

By the way, not all Japanese knives are expensive. Korin sells many knives in the $75-$200 range.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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looked at the site and was wondering what makes a $2000 knife worth that much money when compared to a perfectly acceptable $200 wusthoff knife?  what can such an expensive knife do?  is it the craftsmanship that primarily dictates the price?

$200 Wusthof? I don't think I have ever seen one that expensive.

Before I began to use Japanese knives primarily, I owned (still own, I guess) a Wusthof Culinar french knife and santoku. I used the french knife for about a year and the santoku about 2. I have the great pleasure of utilizing knives everyday, so the wear and tear is obviously a bit more compared to the average home user. I understand that.

However, if one were to look at my santoku, one would see that the steel has been ground almost 3/4 of the way up the hallow ground grooves.

The knives I now use everyday, are certainly not $2000, but a bit more expensive than most of the German ones, and the degradation has been much less severe over the same period of time. The reason, I have found, is the quality and mix of the steel and the processes by which it is transformed into a cutting tool. On top of that, for my uses, the edge holds much longer and the need for steeling throughout the day is much less.

I think there are many many factors that drive the price of cutlery much in the same way it does for watches, or cars, or anything where perceived value is subjective. I think the key is to research and then define them for yourself.

D

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Fat Guy,

Do you have any experience with the Tojiro dp knives at Korin? I'm interested in hearing about the perfomance of this knife.

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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  • 5 months later...

www.korin.com has everything on sale for 15% off to celebrate the new website. The prices on the other website do not reflect or mention the discount. Now if I could just find something to get for someone other than me...

dougery, you may have found these by now, but here are some reviews of Tojiro knives and another comparative review including a Tojiro.

~Tad

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