Slice and Dice

Stay sharp at Little Tokyo's Anzen Hardware

Little Tokyo's Anzen Hardware–a dusty, jam-packed store with everything from saws and scythes to split-toed Tabi boots–isn't the first place you'd think of finding kitchenware. But it's a chef's haven for tools of the trade.

Since 1946, this idiosyncratic store has been known for its impressive selection of Japanese knives from high-end artisans like Sakai Takayuki, Aritsugu and Masamoto. Owner Norihiko Takatani sells the famous blades to anyone who has high-level knife skills, including chefs from Spago, Melisse, Campanile and a slew of sushi restaurants. He keeps them sharp, too.

Prices can run up into the thousands of dollars–the best knives are kept in a safe–but some under-$100 options include small ceramic fruit and paring knives, which are perfect for the home cook. Just don't try to buy a takobiki, or octopus cutter: The owner famously turns down nearly all requests for these esoteric slicers.

Aside from knives and sharpening stones, Anzen is the perfect shop for inexpensive kitchen items like scalers and stainless-steel bone tweezers for preparing whole fish, sushi rice molds in fun shapes, giant cooking chopsticks and Yamaga nabe pots with rustic wooden lids for soups and noodles.

And should you want to make traditional tamagoyaki (sweet omelets), imagawayaki (filled pancakes) or takoyaki octopus balls, you'll find all the specially shaped pans for those, too.

Anzen Hardware, 309 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo; 213-628-7600