Born in Chotto, Japan, Takeshi Kojima began his chef training at the age of 18. Five years later he moved to Australia, becoming a fully qualified sashimi chef before going on to own Japanese restaurant Hibari, a South Yarra favourite, for 18 years.
Takeshi brought his years of experience as a sashimi chef to his role at Tanto, the high-end specialty knife shop at the base of QT Melbourne. Tanto sells meticulously crafted knives from Japan, specifically those made by 10th generation swordmakers Suisin, with a range forged in Sakai, the heartland of Japanese knife production.
Tanto also offers a sharpening service if you have any knives at home that are failing to pass the tomato-slicing test. It can seem daunting picking out your first knife but Takeshi is on hand to guide you. For a beginner the best place to start is a Western-style knife, he says, also known as the gyuto, which is a good all-rounder.
As your knife skills improve you can move onto specialised, single-bevelled blades like the deba, capable of slicing thick bone, or the yanagiba for delicate slices of sashimi. With practice, single-bevelled blades are capable of finer more precise slices than their double-sided counterparts.
The range of knives on offer at Tanto are constructed from high-quality stainless, white and blue steels ranging from $65 to upwards of $1000. Being susceptible to rust, the non-stainless options require more care but are worth the extra investment. The added hardness of the metals allows for a significantly sharper blade and develops a beautiful patina over time.