In kitchens around the world, there are dozens of gadgets cluttering the walls and drawers, not to mention the precious counter space. Some people simply must have the latest lemon-juicer to add to their collection of 12, while others are on a never-ending quest for the perfect garlic press.

I, however, subscribe to the "simple is best" approach. My lemon-juicer is a fork, and the best thing for garlic is the side of a heavy knife. While I can sympathize with kitchen-hardware addicts (I myself have a thing for cookbooks), after spending years in professional kitchens around the world, I have made myself a tool rule: I don't buy it (literally or figuratively) unless I have seen it actually used regularly in two or more restaurant kitchens.

In Japan, several tools fall into this category. The two that I present today are among the most useful.