I am rather addicted to kitchen gadgets, and though they may look good, not all of them make my life any easier. Like that useless prawn peeler, my semi-functional apple corer-slicer or those Italian made chicken shaped, egg scissors. Japanese kitchen tools on the other hand, such as those manufactured by Kobo Aizawa, seem to raise the bar in combining beautiful design and functionality.
Established in 1911, Kobo Aizawa is a famous cutlery and kitchen utensil manufacturer in Tsubame City in Niigata Prefecture in northern Japan. Tsubame City is a prominent metal manufacturing hub, the centre of the cutlery industry in Japan, and well known for the quality of its metal tableware, housewares, specialty fabrication and industrial pieces. Favourite pieces of the Kobo Aizawa’s collection includes the Yanagi Sashimi Knife, designed to cut fish with one samurai-like slice, along side sculptural pieces like the beautiful wooden cabbage grater. This designer cutlery can be found in the permanent collection of museums worldwide, including MoMA in New York and one small Japanese cafe in Melbourne.
Cibi, the Japanese coffee house and home wares studio will be hosting an exhibition called Japanese Kitchen, where a kitchen has been built to demonstrate how the kitchen tools are used. Cibi owner Zenta Tanaka, is keen to share some of his thoughts on these stylish utensils. “As cooking Japanese dishes at home becomes more popular in Australia, we thought it timely to share our secret loves in the kitchen – Japanese tools that simplify and speed up specific tasks in the preparing Japanese dishes,” he says.
While both stainless steel and western cooking tools and gadgets are widely used in home kitchens in Japan today, there is still a place reserved for a number of task-specific tools that have stood the test of time. Designs honed over decades of use that blend the appropriate choice of material and pure utility, once you’ve put them to work on the task they were designed for the you’ll be amazed how they are the perfect fit.
Designed to making preparing healthy Japanese dishes faster and easier, these tools are also handy for both Asian and western cooking. “Knives, graters and mandolines allow vegetables, fish and meat to be chopped finely and evenly, while strainers and dippers make preparation easier for all cooking methods. Once you’ve used them once, you’ll never go back to the tools you previously used,” Zenta adds.
Japanese Kitchen Tools Exhibition run until April 21.