The best bread knife

Japanese. Think different.

Some nine years ago I extolled the French Sabatier chef’s knife, and it remains in service to this day, sharpened on a Chef’s Choice 130 machine which combines a coarse grinding wheel, a fine polishing wheel and a miniature strop/steel which re-establishes the edge with negligible wear to the blade. Being at the peak of the culinary expertise of the free world no one beats French cooking, so the choice of the Sabatier was simple. That non-stainless steel knife – yes, it rusts as quickly as you glance at it – seems to have been discontinued in favor of the modern stainless variant, but I’m sticking with old tech because it works so very well. Just like ignition points in my old Airhead.

As it happens I like to cook bread and chanced on a fine Italian bread baking book by Carol Field. I’m having a blast working my way through it and, for the first time, find myself ordering groceries from Amazon. Have you tried finding durum wheat flour in your local store? Amazon has it, needless to say, which is why they will take over the world. One recent, successful effort saw a couple of loaves of Pane di Altamura exit the oven, a bread which hails from the heel of Italy and comes with a very hard crust.


Pane di Altamura, along with the now recycled Taiwanese bread knife.

But try as I might, sawing away with my Taiwanese bread knife offered more threat to my fingers than to my carb intake. The knife, properly sharpened, is next to useless.

When it comes to tools, the Japanese and Germans excel. Cars, cameras, power tools, knives – both nations massively recapitalized by the US in the late 1940s brought new thinking to tool design and ended up dominating their respective genres. Heck, this blog would have little to write about on the hardware front had there been no German or Japanese engineers. Sure, the easy answer when it comes to bread knives is to blow $130 or more on a Wüsthof, but that’s kind of offensive to my frugal ways, and there’s a far cheaper alternative which Just Works:


The Tojiro has at it with the Altamura crust – paper thin slices, effortless, total control.

I suppose all those centuries of seppuku, samurai sword feats and the occasional ritual disemboweling have allowed the Japanese to perfect their knife making expertise – I mean, when you are slicing your abdomen in half or beheading a fellow zealot you really want to do it just once, I suppose – but the modern cook is the beneficiary of Tojiro’s skills. Price? You can get six or seven of these for the price of one fine killing machine from the Master Race and it is absolutely superb.

The wonderful selection of Tojiro’s specialty kitchen tools can be found here.