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Kanto Vs Kansai Knife Shapes - A Lesson In History

Someone asked this question the other day, so i thought it might be nice to copy and paste some of that conversation here:

"The history of the shapes is a bit different, as is the way the used to be used. Because of the tip on the kamagata usuba, chefs can use it for regular usuba work and mukimono (design work), and tend to do so. In kanto, chefs that do mukimono tend to use a mukimono bocho as well. Of course, at the best restaurants and with the most skilled chefs, they still tend to use the most task specific knife (but, not always).

There's a bit more history to it than just that... i'm in a rush right now, but if i can remember tonight, i will explain in more depth. It will also clear up the difference between takobiki and yanagiba."

and later, i was able to post this:

"So here we go... in the kanto region, back in the day they used to sit while cutting, making their cutting boards higher relative to their bodies. This necessitated the use of flater edged knives (takobiki, higashi-gata usuba, etc), as well as the lack of a sharp tip, which would be useless and problematic from this position. In the Kansai region, chefs stood while cutting, this making the curved profile of yanagiba more useful than takobiki. Likewise, the tip of the kamagata usuba is easier to use from a standing position than a sitting position. Moreover, the home of kaiseki ryori is kyoto. In this kind of cuisine, mukimono (decorative cutting technique) is often seen. The tip of the kamagata usuba is very useful when doing this kind of detail-oriented cutting. Mukimono bocho is also sometimes used, but it seems to be a bit more common in the kanto region, as the higashigata-usuba doesnt have a functional tip for this kind of thing.

Hope this helps you guys better understand these knives."

Jonathan Broida
Jonathan Broida


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