Tucked into a diminutive second-storey space at Queen West and Tecumseth, Knife feels like an art gallery: high-end Japanese blades are laid out on blood-red felt backdrops and showcased in white display cases. As the name suggests, this shop is devoted to the one truly indispensable kitchen tool: the knife.
Owner Eugene Ong developed a fascination with knives while working as a sous-chef in some of the city’s top kitchens—Susur, Nectar, Kultura—and was struck by the high-end knife shops in Japan during a 2008 trip. He realized there was nowhere in Toronto to buy high-quality culinary knives or get them professionally sharpened. He decided to open this outfit to cater to local industry professionals and foodies who, until recently, had to shop on-line.
“I was definitely aiming for chefs and cooks,” he told us. “But I’ve been surprised by how many non-chefs have been coming in. After all, anybody who has a kitchen has a knife.”
Prices range from $90 for a basic kitchen blade to $450 and up for specialty chef’s knives, all crafted from such durable materials as white steel and chromium, and sourced directly from Japan from such trusted brands as Mcusta, Misono, Sakai, Suisin and Sugimoto.
The eight-inch Misono Oyuto chef’s knife ($250) has been the shop’s best-seller to date, Ong says, noting that Knife is already attracting kitchen talent from Cowbell, Czehoski, Lee and Noce. Chefs have also been taking advantage of Ong’s unique sharpening services ($10–$14 per knife): each knife is sharpened by hand on stone blocks soaked in water, a process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
“People just love these blades—even those who don’t cook professionally, they just love knives,” Ong says. “There’s something really sexy about blades—it’s just that whole samurai, Kill Bill kind of thing.”
Knife, 658 Queen St. W., 2nd flr., 647-996-8609, knifetoronto.com.