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"

  • Current favorite? Immersion Blender! It’s opened up many recipe possibilities for us. Also attaches to a mini food processor (we don’t own a food processor) to it makes some tasks easy for this busy mama.

  • I’ve not been cooking for very long (baking, yes – cooking, no), but I just LOVE my garlic press. I hate every knife in my house because they all suck. That will be changing soon.

  • My favourite tool (gadget) right now is my vitamix. It has been my lifesaver since I’ve been pregnant with horrible morning sickness, I have lived off smoothies for a month now LOL

  • My favorite kitchen tool is our cast iron griddle/grill plate. We use it so oven that it remains over two burners all the time.

  • It is cheap and cheesy but my favorite kitchen tool is my $10 rice cooker. I can make a delicious risotto, but unless rice is the main dish I don’t have patience for it, so into the rice cooker it goes and soon there is delicious rice to go with dinner.

  • Hi…Love your site.

    My favorite kitchen tool is a Spiralizer. It’s great for making raw salads and raw pastas. It can turn carrots, zucchinis into noodles. It’s very cool and it makes eating salads fun.

  • My Henkel chef knife – I use it daily. My favorite specialized piece of equipment are orange, lemon, and lime squeezers

  • Hi my favorite kitchen tool is…not sure if you would call it a tool but it’s my old solid maple butcher block from an old butcher shop. It weighs approx 350lbs and it is my most cherished kitchen item.

  • I love my immersion blender…. I use it primarily for soup and smoothies, and they turn out great! I live alone, so it’s really nice to be able to do up small batches of things with it, rather than dragging out a huge VitaMix. 🙂

  • Gosh it’s so hard to choose. I love everything I have because I cook so much! I guess I would have to say my loving Husband because he helps me with it all and cleans up behind me as I go. What more could I ask for?
    Okay well if I must it has to be my long, flexible slotted spatula from Crate and Barrel.

  • My current favorite kitchen tool is my immersion blender. My son, who is a chef, has been trying to get me to purchase one for years. I finally broke down and got one, and it is fantastic! No more pouring hot soups into the blender to puree!!!

  • My favorite kitchen item? That’s tough… I guess my favorite is my knife holder, which is a mint green version of The Ex, but my favorite item to actually use? Probably the same cheap santoku knife I’ve been using since college ^^;;

  • Tough to choose just one.
    There are the obvious choices…Gram’s cast iron skillet, the fabulous enormous German nonstick my Mom gave me, my favorite knife or my immersion blender. Then there are the less obvious choices…a ruler, a Sharpie, my instant read thermometer, my Epicurian cutting boards. But the tool that wins in a thing which has become oddly indispensible in my kitchen…my Ipad! Blogs, recipes, substitutions, inspiration, it’s all there.

  • I love my Cuisinart Immersion Blender with the food processor attachment. I use it for EVERYTHING…and I will confess, I have to laugh at the fact that my husband can never remember the name of the gadget, so he has named it “the vibrator”. 😀

  • Without a doubt, my favorite kitchen tool is my steamer basket! After getting an Allclad stock pot with basket for our wedding 7 years ago it was mostly banished to the cupboard for a couple of years since we only considered “the pasta pot” but with our dietary transition to as many greens and veggies as we could possibly cram into our mouths, it seems to be steaming away almost every night of the week. The very best part is it has nesting baskets, so I can do sweet potatoes and dandelion greens at the same time!

  • My chef’s knife is my favorite kitchen tool, without a doubt. I use it everyday, and I recently bought a sharpening stone so it will never be dull.

  • Always, my Grandmother’s garlic press and olive pitter. Many others, but that is the item I would grab on my way out the door in case of fire.

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my 25 year old, well seasoned, square cast iron pan. It is perfect for bacon and paninis!

  • My current favorite kitchen tools are two wooden spoons given to me by my sister after a trip to Kenya. Apparently her local friend and the vendors were horrified that she didn’t want the more touristy spoons with carved figures on the handles, but the spoons locals use everyday. I love the useful so much more than I would have liked the carved ones.

  • Not very original I know, but I’d have to say my favorite kitchen gadget right now is my KitchenAid (standing mixer). Maybe because it’s still new, maybe because it’s awesome. I really don’t know. I’m also taking a cake decorating class so my tips and piping bags are up there on the list as well.

  • My favorite tool should be EVERYBODIES! If it were not for this tool – not any, single other tool would have a purpose anywhere! My hands. They with a bit of help from my eyes make ALL possible.
    Thank You.

  • By far, my favorite (altho not a “tool”) is my mother’s 50 yr old Oster Blender! Such a workhorse! At 13 speeds and multiple choppers, you can do 90% of the work of a food processor and it makes smoothies for a crowd!

  • Well my paring knife gets used the most, hands down. But my kitchendaid mixer my be the current favorite tool. Or my mom’s wood rolling pin. I don’t use it often, but I love it.

  • Large Teaball infuser – I use it to add flour to stocks to avoid clumps, sift seasoning (i.e. paprika) on meats and as a easy clean-up bouquet garni.

  • Other than my knives that I bought in Osaka when I lived in Japan my favorite kitchen tool is the 2″ tall box grater I inherited from my grandmother. It is great for grating ginger and you can thinly slice garlic on the side slats. I also grate daikon on the pinhole side.

  • My favorite kitchen item/tool would be my immersion blender. That thing comes in handy for just about anything to do with making past sauce, hot sauce, soups, salsa’s, gravy and on and on. Easy to store and clean and I cant imagine how I would get along without today. Great kitchen tool!

  • I love my immersion blender – it was always just a little dicey juggling hot liquids between the food processor and the pots. I also love my scraper for picking up chopped veggies to be stir fried. And then there is the microwave oven for small batch kumquat marmalade…. hmmmm…. immersion blender.

  • Also not exactly a tool, I’m a huge fan of my huge wooden cutting board with the wonderfully nostalgic, incredibly memorable preparation scratches. It’s my foundation for so much of my health!

  • I love my little strainer–the one that is about the size of a cereal bowl. I use it all the time for rinsing rice, washing produce for just one salad, etc.

  • My favorite “gadget” is the Togiharu Molybdenum Gyutou knife – it was a wedding gift and is waiting for its Petty Knife cousin!

  • My favorite has to be the cleaver. I injured my tricep tendon a while back and wasn’t able to cut food anymore until I switched back to my cleaver. The weight of the cleaver helps the cutting so you dont have to put that much effort. I never noticed that until I was injured, where any form of pushing down would hurt. The cleaver was the only knife I could use with no pain!

  • The kitchen gadget that I can’t live without is my wisks. Various sizes get the results that I want 🙂

  • My favorite is my large Santoku knife, well-balanced, solid steel. Does a great job on anything I use it for.

  • My favorite tool is my pressure canner. Having a good knife to cut up all the food prior to canning would be nice.

  • If we’re talking knives, the petty knives you like look pretty amazing! Similar to one I have.

  • I personally like myself my MIU France Zinc Alloy Connoisseur Corkscrew; i just can’t stand those goddamn ballerina looking ones.

  • My favorite tool right now is mu Molybden Suison Inox 210 chefs knife. I love the action, the weight and basically everything about it!

  • What a beautiful piece of cutlery! I love a fine knife in the kitchen. I have lots of German knives but no Japanese – I am dying to try them. Hope this little pretty wants to come home with me!

  • Lately it would have to be my microplane grater: citrus zest, ginger, garlic, chocolate, cheese, nutmeg……

  • We got a Vitamix for our wedding last August and it immediately became our favorite kitchen tool. We use it at least once a day.

  • My favorite is my Vitamix. My parents were gifted one and it sat on their counter unused for over a year. I was a poor college kid in need of a blender, so I asked if I could have it, and at the time I had no idea how awesome they were. Score!

  • My kitchen shears have become my closest friend, from cutting open meat packages to snipping herbs. While preparing Thanksgiving dinner my mother was so impressed by how useful they were she decided she wanted a proper pair herself. I like that I have reached a point where I am teaching my mother new tricks in the kitchen!

  • hmmmm. Definitely my standing mixer and ice cream maker attachment. So awesome to have home made ice cream!

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my immersion blender! I use it for all kinds of stuff, soups, salad dressing, sauces, mashed potatoes, veg puree, etc. Last weekend I used it to blend bacon jam!

  • My favorite tool is my Calphalon Everyday Pan. Except for omelettes, I don’t need non-stick as long as I use a good stainless-steel. And it washes up so easily!

  • My favorite tool is by far my set of Henckels knives. A good knife makes cooking so much more pleasurable. Would love to try a new one!

  • My favorite kitchen tool is definitely my canning funnel. I guess because I make so many jams and pickles, I find it impossible to live without.

  • My favorite kitchen gadget is my mouli grater. Someone left it at my house about 20 years ago, didn’t want it back and I still use it.

  • My absolute favorite kitchen gadget is my immersion blender. Makes baby food, creamy soup, everything!

  • the number one thing in my kitchen would have to be my hand held mixer. I couldent live without it. i love this site.

    thank you
    jeremy whitaker

  • I’m thinking of sending my knives there to be fixed. WOW! Amazing knives. My favorite Kitchen tool is my canner – but my kitchen aid comes in second. Knives, though, have to come in there close too – as they cut everything!

  • Slice and dice my way please! My favorite kitchen gadget is the immersion blender. Any tool that can multi task, really.

  • I am torn between 2 – a chopstick and my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I love the simplicity of the chopstick for stirring and mixing and sautéing and the power of my mixer to make some awesome creations!

  • I love my big chef knife. I used to love my paring knife, but it disappeared from my kitchen. What great timing!!!!