The top 10 places to buy kitchen knives in Toronto
Finding kitchen knives in Toronto is serious business for both the home cook and the professional chef. There is so much to know about knives - how they are made, the different materials they are made from and the benefits of their various styles - that you could dedicate weeks and months to selecting the right one.
Many experts prefer the quality, durability and performance of Japanese crafted knives, be they fashioned in the traditional Japanese or Western style. But whether you're looking for Japanese or German, ceramic or high carbon stainless steel, or just a inexpensive entry-level chef's knife, there are a wide variety of shops and purveyors (we're talking bricks-and-mortar for the purposes of this list) in Toronto that specialize in the coolest of kitchen utensils.
And, unlike many of the big department stores and discount chains -- The Bay, Home Outfitters, Costco, etc. -- the staff at these places have the type of expertise you can rely on to make the most informed choice about what knife (or knives) you'll want to invest in.
Former chef Eugene Ong opened this little shop on Queen West earlier this summer to the joy of chefs and other blade-enthusiasts across the city. Knife carries a nice variety of Japanese knives from makers like Suisin, Sugimoto, Mcusta, Misono, Sakai Takayuki, and Moritaka. They also offer accessories like Japanese whetstones (80-12,000 grit) and sharpening services for all knives (Japanese or not), plus free educational sharpening classes every Thursday.
Local chef Ivan Fonseca has had an infatuation with blades since he was a kid. It started with his grandfather's Japanese woodworking tools and evolved to knives when he got into cooking professionally. For the last 12 years he's spent countless hours learning about knives and how to sharpen them, taking his inspiration from 'katana togishi' or Japanese sword polishing/sharpening techniques. Now he and his partner Olivia Go are expanding their sharpening services into sales, and will be opening Tosho (meaning sword cut), a store dedicated to all things knives slated to open at the end of this year. Until then, you can purchase knives from them directly. They are working with Japanese knife maker Konasuke, and are involved in every aspect of the design and forging of their product.
Nella built their business on their knife sharpening/rental services and restaurant supply. Today, the Nella Cucina location at Bathurst and Bloor offers a great variety of supplies for both the restaurateur and home cook. Their house-branded, German made knives are great value for the money (an average 8" chef's knife runs about $30) and can be found in many professional kitchens across the city. They carry: Wusthof (Classic and Classic Ikon), Kasumi V-Gold 10, Global, Henckels Professional "S" series, Victorinox's Forschner line, Shun (Ken Onion and Classic series). As for accessories they sell regular and diamond sharpening steels, blade protectors, and bags/rolls. Once you've got your new knife, you can take in one of their Saturday skills classes (75$).
The Cook's Place
This small shop on the Danforth is packed with almost everything you'd need to outfit a home kitchen, and friendly knowledgeable staff to boot. They carry: MAC (Mighty and Superior series), Shun Classic series, Global, KAI Pure Komachi, Wenger Grand Maitre series, Kasumi V-Gold 10, Kyocera, and Wusthof (Culinar, Cordon Bleu, Classic Ikon, Classic series). Accessories include blade covers, rolls, and steels (regular and diamond). The staff are very helpful and will pull out a carrot or potato for you to test different knives on. If you buy three knives you get a 10% discount, if you buy five a 15% discount, and if you bring in gently used knives, they'll offer an additional 5% off.
The Internet Kitchen Store
The Internet Kitchen Store is, who would have guessed it, an internet kitchen store. But it's also a bricks-and-mortar store west of Yonge on Eglinton that carries a wide variety of knives. For German knives they carry pretty much all the products offered from Wusthof (Classic, Classin Ikon, Culinar, Grand Prix II, Le Cordon Bleu) and Henckels (Cermax, Four Star, Four Star II, Miyabi, Professional "S", Twin Profection). They also carry Kasumi (Ceramic and V-Gold 10), Shun (Classic, Elite, Pro and Ken Onion series), and entry-level brand Wenger (Grand Maitre and Swibo series).
It's not surprising that butchers would know a thing or two about knives. They offer some great resources for learning knife basics and what to look for in a knife on their website, and you can pop in any one of their three locations to try them out for yourself. They carry Victorinox (Fibrox series), K Sabatier, Grohmann, Global, MAC (Chef, Superior, and Professional series), Kasumi and Wusthof Classic Ikon series. On top of all that they guarantee the lowest prices too (promising to beat any Canadian competitor's price).
Nikolaou Restaurant Equipment
A stalwart for professional and home kitchen supplies, this small dingy shop at Queen and Bathurst carries one of the larger varieties on this list. Wusthof (Classic, Classic Ikon, Grand Prix, Culinar series), Global, MAC (Superior and Mighty series), Shun (Classic and Pro series), Kasumi (V-Gold No. 10), Miyabi by Henckels, Henckels (Professional "S"), and entry level knives from Giesser and Victorinox. The staff are perpetually busy, but knowledgeable and helpful if you can snag someone to talk to. They also carry a variety of Japanese sharpening stones, from 800-6,000 grit, rolls, bags, and blade protectors.
Another go-to for industry types and the home cook, Tap Phong in Chinatown has a little bit of everything, including a small selection of knives at lower prices than you'll find elsewhere. On offer are Wusthof (Classic & Classic Ikon series), Henckels (Professional "S" series), Shun Classic series, Global, and Victorinox's Forschner line. Stock levels are spotty, but they can order in any of the knives from the makers they carry. They sell basic sharpening steels as well.
High Tech on Front Street is a kitchen equipment store specializing in chrome and stainless steel pieces, and what better line of knives to fit that aesthetic than Global. They offer the best selection of Global knives on this list, from chefs knives, bread knives, slicers, sashimi, and Deba knives too.
The east side's restaurant supply store, Dinetz on King East, has a modest selection of knives including Global, Victorinox, Wusthof Classic and Henckels (Professional "S" and Four Star series). They can also order in specific knives from any of the makers they carry.