There are three traditional mainstay knives in the Japanese kitchen knife canon: the yanagiba
, the deba
, and the usuba. A professional chef in Japan can basically take care of any cutting, chopping, or slicing need with one of these knives. They are all single bevel and they are all very job specific.
The usuba is designed to cut vegetables with a blade that is very thin and broad. The word usuba translates to “thin cutting edge.” The usuba design allows for some of the most precise and delicate cutting techniques in Japanese cooking such as Katsuramuki (rotary peeling) and Kazari-giri (decorative cutting). Just as the yanagiba is designed to reduce damage to the fish cellular structure, the usuba blade has a very thin spine to minimize the damage to the vegetable fibers as they are cut.
This very well constructed usuba is made from a stainless steel, which is unusual for this type of knife. Care and maintenance are a lot easier than with a full carbon steel blade. As it is a single bevel design, sharpening is a bit different from a double bevel blade. But an experienced sharpener will quickly learn the techniques required. The short length of the blade also makes it a bit easier to use for novice chefs unfamiliar with this special knife.
Maker: Sakai Takayuki
Location: Sakai, Japan
Construction: Ni Mai, Hammer Forged
Edge Steel: Inox (Stainless Steel)
Cladding: Stainless Steel
Handle: D Ho Wood
Ferrule: Buffalo Horn
Grind: Single Bevel Traditional
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Blade Length: 165 mm
Total Length: 310 mm
Spine Thickness at Base: 3.4 mm
Blade Height: 41 mm