David Lim started Razorsharp in 2002 and was one of the first retailers to bring Japanese knives (handcrafted cutlery of carbon steel) into Singapore. A former computer hardware vendor, he came to realise that his was a sunset industry. So he decided to do something that aligned with his interest – knives.
Lim has a soft spot for Japanese blades in particular. He says that when he was starting out, factory and mass-produced knives made from stainless steel were the norm. “I believe mine is the only shop in Singapore to offer such serious Japanese knives. In the beginning, turnover was slow, but over the last three to four years, the market has come to appreciate it. So much skilled craftsmanship goes into them,” he enthuses.
In his shop, the knives are displayed in glass showcases, with the selection spanning elegant Kasumi knives from Seki, Japan, (we love the haze patterns on the Damascus series) to the Wusthof series with ergonomic handles from Germany, and custom ordered knives as well. Of them all, the Japanese Honyaki range (brought in from all over Japan) is the most fascinating. These prized knives are hand-forged from a single piece of carbon steel and represent the highest level of traditional craftsmanship. Lim shares that only a few skilled craftsmen can make these knives, and as the process is time- consuming, quantity is limited.
The store also stocks cookware and accessories such as Lodge Cast Iron Cookware from the US, Japanese-style charcoal grills, and culinary tweezers.
But what sets Razorsharp apart from other kitchenware providers is its expertise in knife care, and a willingness to share that knowledge with fellow enthusiasts. Sharpening and repair services are also available at the shop for a fee. Professional chefs like Cure’s Andrew Walsh, who’s a fan of Japanese knives, visit the store for retail therapy from time to time.
“I have customers asking me how to sharpen and how to repair their knives, so I had to pick up the skill. In those days, I had to learn by observation and practice, as the professionals would only demonstrate, but not let you in on the details.”
“In addition to honing my skills, I find that when I teach my customers to sharpen their knives, I improve faster, because you need to be able to crystallise your thoughts before you can explain clearly to others,” Lim says, launching into details on grinds and angles, and the best types of stone for different knives.
Those who are keen to dive into the intricacies of fine blades can add this speciality store to their list.
#01-03 Tan Boon Liat Building; Tel: 6227-7515; www.razorsharp.com.sg