When it comes to kitchen tools, Eater Young Gun Max Boonthanakit (‘19) prefers simplicity. “I like cheaper things that get the job done with no fuss,” he says. His most trusted kitchen item fits this bill to a tee: It’s an old-fashioned Japanese can opener, that goes for cheap on Amazon.
Boonthanakit is perhaps best known as the former pastry chef at LA restaurant Nightshade. While there, his playful, yet minimalist desserts, were hailed as some of the most inventive in LA. But he came across the portable Japanese can opener before all that. Four years ago when he was working at No Name bar in LA, a friend and fellow cook brought one into the kitchen. “I was obsessed,” Boonthanakit says. “I was like, ‘Give me this one. This one’s sick.’”
The Ganji Kankiri (kankiri is the Japanese word for can opener) isn’t your typical home kitchen variety can opener with two arms and a mechanical crank. And according to Boonthanakit, it’s even superior to the industrial strength can openers affixed to tables in professional kitchens. This one is composed of a metal handle and attached blade. The user pierces the can with the blade and manually rotates it around the can. “There are no moving parts, so it will never break,” Boonthanakit says. “It’s easy to clean. It’s just super solid.”
The can opener is eminently portable, thanks to its small size and the cheerful red color that make it look more like an accessory than a practical kitchen item. Boonthanakit also notes that it’s versatile. There’s a built-in bottle opener and, according to the chef, the can opener is great for opening small cans, as well as big cans, like the 10-pound ketchup cans that make frequent appearances at restaurant family meals. Plus, there are no crevices for food to stick into, and it’s dishwasher safe.
As Boonthanakit puts it, “It’s amazing.”