The yanagi or yanagiba is loosely translated from Japanese as willow blade as it resembles the willow leaf. Like many traditional Japanese knives, this knife is a specialty knife intended for one purpose: Slicing raw fish and seafood.
Most people have never used a yanagi or have only been exposed to one when sitting at a sushi bar, watching the sushi chef ply his craft. The blade is very thick at the spine and has a single bevel ground into the outside (right) face of the blade and a slightly hollowed back. This allows for a very sharp, albeit, delicate edge, which excels at the purpose for which it is intended.
Like Global knives, the other brand produced by parent company, Yoshikin, the level of fit and finish is quite good. Although the edge out of the box is sharp, like most Japanese knives, it isn’t delivered with the kind of fully sharpened edge of which it is capable. Japanese makers expect the cook will want to put his own edge on the knife before using it.
A single bevel blade of this type requires a different method of sharpening than a typical “standard” double bevel edge. In order to achieve the sharpest edge possible, like other traditional Japanese blades, the back of the knife will need to be flattened before a final microbevel edge can be ground into the face. If it were to be sharpened in the same manner as a double bevel blade, the unique qualities the single bevel edge possesses would be ruined.
Like most other specialized Japanese single bevel blades, this is a knife intended for use primarily by professional cooks. Unlike many of the very expensive handmade Japanese knives, this is a knife made from modern stainless steel. It requires far less maintenance and the steel is softer than the high carbon steel knives favored by many professional sushi chefs. This combination of materials and price makes it ideally suited as an entry level knife for the apprentice sushi chef, or as a specialty knife for a cook who occasionally may need to produce the kinds of precision cuts at which this knife excels.
Find this Bunmei Yanagi Sushi Knife: