Welcome to “Kitchen Essentials,” a new series from Chowhound where chefs and bartenders from around the country invite viewers into their kitchens and bars, unveiling the five tools that are simply essential to their work.
There’s an unassuming restaurant in Echo Park, Los Angeles, called Konbi that, no matter the hour, is fronted by a line spilling out of its red doorway. Inside Konbi, this sliver of a space is strewn with a fistful of stools perched under a counter, the narrow open kitchen just across the aisle. The lucky ones who are able to nab an elusive seat have come with a few particular things in mind: to eat photogenic sandwiches, a smattering of flaky French pastries, and sip mugs of hot coffee.
Related Reading: Elevate Your Cocktails with This One Knife Bartenders Swear By
It’s thanks to two friends, Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery, that Konbi is in operation. A daytime Japanese sandwich counter, Konbi has developed the sort of cult following and coveted fame few casual restaurants can ever garner. That fame is particularly due to Instagram, where the now beloved egg salad sandwich has become a bit of a celebrity, those neon yellow half-moon yolks sandwiched between soft white bread. But there are other things worth plucking off Konbi’s tiny menu, like the crisp pork katsu sandwich, summer squash flecked with pickled plums and sesame, and warm, buttery chocolate croissants, fresh out of the oven if you arrive by 10 a.m.
And while Konbi has made its mark in the restaurant world this past year, it’s just like any other restaurant where the tools that are employed in the kitchen are equally important as the food. Chowhound visited Konbi to ask Akira and Nick what their most essential kitchen tools at Konbi are for the third episode of “Kitchen Essentials.” Keep reading to find out what tools Nick and Akira can’t live without in order to run Konbi.
The crown jewel of Konbi, this German egg slicer has been used thousands of times to perfectly chop and dice hard-boiled eggs for the egg salad sandwich. Akira and Nick actually replace it every six months, but for most home cooks, this would last for several years. Buy Now
Ready to find out when your roasted chicken is done without playing a guessing game? Time to invest in a Thermapen thermometer, an instant-read thermometer that is very effective in measuring the temperature of anything you probe. Akira and Nick employ it to measure the temperature of chocolate ganache and pork katsu, but it can be used to measure the temperature of just about anything you’re cooking. Buy Now
Akira and Nick swear by this custom-made Japanese chef’s knife, which they use religiously to chop Japanese eggplant for the eggplant katsu sandwich. It’s light, well-balanced, and the sharp blade easily slice through hard-to-chop items. Buy Now
While most Americans simply boast a rounded ladle, in Japan you can find both right- and left-handed ladles. The curved edge on the right side allows you to pour liquid without spilling and wasting anything. Akira and Nick’s version was purchased on Kappabashi Street (a famed Japanese lane lined with restaurant tools), but if you’re not planning a trip to Tokyo anytime soon, it can also be found online. Buy Now
This rubber spatula is designed to get all the last dregs of melted chocolate or bits of jam from containers—saving you all those final smears you would ordinarily leave behind. “This is the best tool for an aspiring restaurateur,” Nick explains, because it makes sure you’re not wasting any food. Buy Now
For more about Nick, Akira, and Konbi, watch the third episode of “Kitchen Essentials.”
Header image by Chowhound.