When I was looking for a new job, there was a few places that needed guys to come in and there was one place I thought was gonna be perfect. It’s supposed to be a biggish modern type of a Cantonese restaurant serving food that would probably be pretty damn close to what I might want to do myself. Unfortunately they never got back to me with anything so I moved on. I also applied for a few other places but either through fate or luck or whatever, the one place that got back to me was a one hatted Japanese joint.

When I did my trial, I was at my most mentally drained, worried as hell about my housemates and my girl yet knowing that I had to do well. I didn’t. I sucked at cutting stuff and was just totally nervous. My knife was sharpish but maybe not enough for that day. I had to chiffonade red cabbage but stacked it too high and everything came out uneven. The trick wasn’t better technique or anything it was just stacking less. It was like I forgot everything I’d learned in the last 3 or 4 years and just got too nervous. They took me aside after and hour and a half and told me my knife skills weren’t up to scratch but they’d still offer me a commis position. I took the job despite the step down in money and position. Didn’t matter to me because I knew I’d learn something here.

I look at my mini arsenal of spanking new Japanese knives and I realized maybe I should put them to use and I have! The deba has filleted a few trout and kingfish thus far and I’m actually getting better at it. I don’t bring my sujihiki into work cos it’s a little precious and let’s be honest, I ain’t as good at slicing and cutting shit like the guys on the sushi/sashimi. So at the mo, I’m doing it all with my Aritsugu A Type. Funny thing is, two of the Japanese guys at work have the same damn knife. The fryer dude has got  massive ear hole inserts and uses his 210mm version for everything. The sushi dude doesn’t really use his as much but thought it was interesting we all have the same damn knife.

2 and a half weeks in and I’m settling in already. I can chiff the cabbage fine and cut everything fine. My filleting isn’t the fastest or the bestest but I ain’t all crap. I can improve of course but I’m headed the right way. The nerves are gone and I’m heading into that zone where I’m throwing myself into it. I start work early, I finish late and people keep asking me to go on breaks or eat food or drink coffee or whatever. I don’t really want to, I just wanna cut shit up.

The only other knife I’m using at the moment is a Vic parer but I use it to open plastic and shit, not cut food. At the moment I’m really feeling like I need a thin, small knife like a petty for trimming up tenderloins, around 150mm maybe 180mm. The gyuto does all the veg and protein slicing but it’s a little awkward to trim silverskin and I really don’t need anything like a proper slicer or a boning knife at the moment. No bones anyway. So tossing up between the two lengths for a petty. At the mo, I’m leaning towards the 180mm cos after I’m trimmed up, it could also serve as a slicer, just fine for a tenderloin tataki. The 150mm could too I’m sure but I want a service knife that can also dice up fish. We do these raw fish tacos served up with shots of sake that we gotta dice the fish up and a 150mm might be a little short for that. So knife shopping a lot at the mo.

My head chef is really cool. He’s super chilled and keeps trying to make me laugh. One of the sous chef’s last names is Bong and we joke about that in the middle of service. Which is annoying and ridiculous at the same time. I’m really enjoying it all, the work is new and there’s a lot of knifework, using the mandolin and slicing proteins so it’s all good. I find a few of the dishes a little fiddly but getting used to the flow and all. The other guys in the kitchen are all really cool too. I got kept up after work one night talking shit with this older dude who’s taken to showing me the ropes and shit. I burned 2 Jiro Dreams Of Sushi dvds for people. The Japanese guys keep wondering why the hell I have an Aritsugu A Type. Settling in with everyone and they’re getting used to me too. This is pretty much the closest to the kind of kitchen I dreamed about, the type that just works and is happy doing it without someone on top shouting his head off Ramsay style. You also get treated well in terms of staff meal (leftover wagyu son, parfaits and cupcakes and ice cream and coffee… ) and the money’s better than I thought it was gonna be. Still want a pay raise within 3 months though haha and hopefully, I’ll earn it. Really feeling like I can learn a lot more and add some Japanese ideas and technique to my kit.