A Visit to Korin

February 23, 2012(updated on March 22, 2022)
Knife displays at Korin in New York City.
This is just one side of the knife section. There is an equally extensive display on the opposite wall.

Last Wednesday, I hopped on a double decker Megabus and rode to New York in order to learn about knives. Many months ago, I’d gotten an email inviting me to visit Korin, a specialty shop that sells Japanese knives and tableware and finally the day had arrived for my trip. As a fan of good kitchen knives, I was incredibly excited to learn a little more about the breadth of knives available out there.

A hand holding a sharp Japanese knife.

Located downtown near City Hall, Korin has been in the business of knives and tableware for 30 years. A family operation, the store was initially open only by appointment to the restaurant trade (they currently work with the likes of Nobu, Grammercy Tavern and Per Se) but in recent years, the shop has been open daily to the public as well.

Display promoting knife sharpening services at Korin.

In addition to selling an incredibly vast array of knives and tableware, they also offer sharpening services using a variety of Japanese water stones. They can sharpen and repair nearly any type or style of knife, save those with a serrated edge.

Having seen what they were able to do with some of my more beat-up knives, I am a true believer as to what a good sharpening can do. There is no one that I know of in Philadelphia producing this level of edge quality. Happily, you can mail your knives to Korin should you not live near enough to drop in for sharpening.

A variety of knives laid out on blue felt.

Korin sells Western-style knives, traditional Japanese knives and a Japanese-Western hybrid. The difference between these knives is in the edge. Western edges are sharpened so that they have a symmetrical edge. This offers a blade that is fairly durable and relatively easy to maintain. Japanese knives are traditionally sharpened on just one side of the knife. This makes for an incredibly sharp edge, but not as easy for the home cook to maintain.

Knife Master Sugai sitting cross legged, demonstrating how to sharpen a knife.
This is Knife Master Sugai, demonstrating the proper sharpening technique.

Then there’s the hybrid knife. Made of thin, high-grade steel, the edge is sharpened to an asymmetrical edge that leads to a sharper, more durable blade. The only issue with selecting a knife with an asymmetrical edge is if you have multiple cooks in your household who have different dominant hands. These knives are sharpened differently for righties and lefties. Just something to keep in mind.

Long tuna knife on blue felt.
This incredibly long blade is designed to be used to break down whole tuna. It’s a two-person operation. One maneuvers the knife and the other moves the tuna.

One of the things that my hosts stressed when showing me through the knives was the fact that in Japanese culinary culture, there are different knives for different tasks. The giant knife with the extended blade in this picture? It is designed for cutting soba noodles. Thicker blades are designated for butchering, while thinner ones are for making more precision cut. Blade shapes also vary depending on region and maker.

Row of knives in a well-lit display case.

One blade that I fell particularly in love with while visiting Korin was the Petty knife. It’s seen as an analog to the paring knife, as it’s both light and highly maneuverable. However, as you can see (it’s pictured below), it’s got a longer blade that you typically find on a Western paring knife. Since introducing it to my kitchen a week ago, it’s rapidly become my favorite knife for quick tasks like slicing up an apple.

Picture of Korin petty knife.

If you’re a knife nerd like me, make sure to visit Korin the next time you’re in New York!

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1,057 thoughts on "A Visit to Korin"

  • my favorite tool would have to be my chef’s knife. i waver in my loyalty between my global and my wusthof (usually depends on which is sharper).

    my favorite toy is my sous vide supreme 🙂

  • my fave kitchen tools are my cast iron skillets, immersion blender & those round rubber jar openers!

  • My favorite kitchen tool, aside from all of my knives, has got to be my Boos Board. It is extremely versatile and offers a nice heft to cut veggies and prep on. Plus it doesn’t know it yet, but it’s a family heirloom 🙂

  • My favorite kitchen tool is probably my cheap Farberware paring knife. I use that little blade more often than anything else in my kitchen!

  • My chopping boards, use them most of the time over anything else in the kitchen.
    Thank-you for the give-away!

  • My favorite tool is…

    My Kitchen Aid mixer. It’s important to realize the value of a true quality item (like these knives!)

  • Wow! Those knives took gorgeous! My favourite tool is my pressure cooker since it helps me make quick and delicious meals for my family!

  • The kitchen tool I use the most is absolutely my knives and I take very good care of them. My favorite tool…Is it ok to say my wine bottle opener?? Maybe my coffee maker.

  • Too many favorites to pick just one, but as I have recently discovered a new recipe for pizza crust that I LOVE, I will say my baking stone and Epicurean peel!

  • I think my favorite kitchen tool is my cast iron dutch oven. It’s not le creuset but I love it all the same!

  • Favorite kitchen tool? Tough call. Most used? The 8″ Scanpan in which I make my breakfast almost every morning.

  • My favorite go-to kitchen tool would have to be my largest chef’s knife that I keep wicked sharp. When I think about all the prep I’ve done with this fine instrument, it’s almost overwhelming. Years worth of day-to-day cooking for my husband, countless dinner parties and holiday celebrations for friends and family. It is a tool that makes so much possible, and, ultimately so many people very happy.

  • I love my santuku. I have small hands and even an 8″ chef’s is too big. I also have a Dutch oven I’ve been using like crazy!

  • I recently had my 2 favorite knives sharpened professionally. I would love to have this longer paring type knife in my collection. My favorite kitchen tool I hate to admit is a nice sharp knife…it needs to cut through something like it’s hot and it’s slicing butter!

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my santoku knife. I turn to it for just about every chopping, slicing job.

  • Well obviously I could never live without a good knife. But otherwise, I love my food processor (I can do anything with it! doughs, sauces, grating…) and my garlic press

  • I think the most important and my favorite tool is my 6 inch knife just after being sharpened. You can do anything with a good knife !

  • Trying to pick just one tool in my kitchen as my favorite is rather difficult. Good knives are always good, appliances like a waffle iron or stand mixer come in handy, but I think I’d have to choose my cast iron skillet. I can cook just about anything in it, from breakfast to dinner, from main dish to dessert.

  • My favorite(s) are what makes really amazing thin crust pizza possible…my Kitchen Aid mixer and Paderno pizza pans (with lots of holes to make them extra crispy!) Yumtastic!

  • I have always favored my knives as kitchen tools, but lately I’ve truly enjoyed my well-seasoned cast iron frying pan by Lodge. Got it at Target for a reasonable price and have worked for about 2 1/2 years getting a good season on it. Makes wonderful eggs – easy over, please – and fantastic steak! Oh, wooden spoons and my microplane…these things I probably can’t live without!

  • I’d have to say that my fave would be my 13 qt. stock pot. It does take a lot of chopping to get it full though. The knife would be wonderful to help the job 😉

  • Holy moly, that is awesome.. My favorite tool is a handmade wooden slotted spoon my mom gave me. It has little hearts instead of hole. Love it.

  • Love the knifes, my favorite kitchen tool would be my slow cooker. I love trying new recipes and it saves me time and love the smell of the roasts and other food that I cook.

  • Oh, what a lovely blade. It would do wondrous things on my favorite cutting “board”, which is a 15″ diameter slice of an ash log. It’s Mexican. It’s cool.

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my KitchenAid 6 qt Professional, I leave it out on my counter all the time cause it’s pretty and red(love red).

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my crockpot. =) I love putting dinner on to cook before I leave for work and then smelling it when I walk in the door.

  • Ohhh, my favorite kitchen tool… that is hard. I think it is tongs. Not only do I have several pairs in my kitchen, but I like to buy them for everyone else in case they don’t have any.

  • Favorite tools are my kitchen aid mixer, Viking range, and cast iron skillet. A new knife would go well with these!

  • My very favorite kitchen tool is the ribeisen. I use it to grate potatoes and onions for my family’s stuffing and potato latke recipes. I’m not sure if they are still being made but I come across them at flea markets once in a while.