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Sep 8, 2010 10:19 AM

Looking for "SS" Brand Japanese Blue Carbon Steel Pans

Hi All,
I am wondering if anyone knows where I might buy some Japanese made blue carbon steel pans? I recently went to a restaurant supply store here in San Diego, which specializes in Asian cookware (Chef City, off of Clairmont Mesa Blvd). Where I spotted a carbon blue steel pan made by the Japanese company "SS", or pronounced as "esu esu" in Japanese.

I took a chance as the 26cm pan was only $20.00 and some change. It is a very nice pan, much lighter than comparable French pans, Matfers, de Buyer, but still has the heft that I am looking for. 26cm diameter, 2.3mm thickness, with riveted "V" shaped metal handle with about 1" high sides, so it's great for some sauteing or even a crepe pan in a pinch. And also much less expensive at well.

Here's the problem, Chef City's supplier for this pan has gone out of business, and I am having a tough time finding these pans in San Diego. I have tried to find them at the local Marukai Japanese grocery store, but they don't carry the frying pan. They do carry at 36cm wok and also a 24cm tempura pan (i bought both, really inexpensive for quality cookware). But it seems they can't get the frying pans either.

Here is a website in Japan which has some interesting details on a similar pan, and also a slightly different way to season, seems to be used in Asia a lot, much like how you would season a wok. Very high temperatures for a long time, then adding oil and burning it into the pan. I would suggest you type the website into the google search, and then hitting the "translate this page" option, unless you can read Japanese. Here is the site: copy and paste this in google search.

(note no dot after www) It should pop up as the first hit on the search.

Let me know what you think of these pans, I know that I really like them, as mine has already turned a nice black, and is almost as non-stick as non-stick, I like to call it stick resistant. Also the translation is very rough, and often very funny. Or if you have any suggestions for a different brand. Thanks in advance.


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  1. This is so strange to see this post. I have been looking around for SS pans as well. I bought the 12 inch wok made by SS from the wok shop. When I cooked some eggs for fried rice inside of the wok, the eggs were literally sliding around. The weight is excellent and I can really control the heat easily because it is so thin.

    Here's what I searched for using google: ss フライパン (ss fry pan)

    I'm interested in where (if anywhere) they are sold here in the US. I go to Japan once a year, and I might have to stock up the next time I go there. :D

    3 Replies
    1. re: cxt5122

      What about not sure if that will be of any help.

      1. re: SDGourmand

        Hi SDGourmand,

        Thanks for replying, I looked at their website a while back, just cause I like knives as well, and they do have some cookware, but not these pans. They did add some products since the last time I went to their website though. So I am going to take a closer look at the whole site. Perhaps they will order it, I just have to find which company makes the woks they sell, may not be "SS", but could be Ajido or Yamada, but all of them put Chinese made woks to shame.


      2. re: cxt5122

        Hi cxt5122
        Yes I have that same wok, it's awesome isn't it? It is the perfect size for 2-3 people, did you get the "Beijing" pan or the two loop one? I have the Beijing pan and it's my favorite wok so far. I am also looking for the matching turner and ladle for it as well, also made by "SS". I went into Marukai and asked if they could order it, but I have yet to hear anything from them. I do so hope they can order the fry pan and the matching ladle and turner for my wok as well.

        I have heard that there may be a Japanese cookware shop in LA that might carry what we are looking for. It is off of Sawtelle, but I don't remember the name off hand. I will have to take a look and see what they have in the way of cookware.

        But thanks for posting, so I don't feel totally weird and the only person out there that is looking for this brand. I am also glad to hear that you too really like the products that they make.


      3. Three suggestions to try out...

        1) Try contacting the Gardena (or Fountain Valley 2nd) special orders desk for Marukai. I've obtained some items through them only that I have not been able to obtain otherwise.

        2) Might be a long-shot, but try calling Anzen Hardware on 1st Street in L.A.'s Little Tokyo. They specialize in all sorts of "old tech" Japanese "living history" goods, and have become quite famous for being a good source for Japanese knives for L.A.'s chefs. It's a long-shot only b/c their focus is not precisely on the culinary angle, but more about things that have to do with "old tech"/"living history" Japanese goods. A very fun store to browse, by the way...

        3) If you frequent any Japanese restaurant enough to ask for favors, ask them if you could have access to their catalogues. The main supplier for S.D.-based Japanese restaurants for restaurant goods would be L.A.'s Mutual Trading. I don't recall, though, if they specifically carried S.S. or not...

        11 Replies
        1. re: cgfan

          Hi cgfan,

          Thanks so much for your information...I will contact the Gardena Marukai people, as it seems the ones here in San Diego either won't or can't order it for me. I think my wife and I may just make that trip up to Gardena this weekend or so.

          But if the Marukai angle doesn't work, I will also contact the Anzen hardward store...I have been to Little Tokyo many times, and I can't remember this one shop, and I am totally into this type of stuff. Love "old tech" stuff, much like living in a "modern" Chinese farmhouse in some remote province.

          As for the Japanese restaurant angle, I may just have to try that one out. Hmm, which one to bug? I might just go see Colleen at Chef City again, as she might just have that catalog for Mutual Trading, and just didn't know that these products existed in that catalog.

          Thanks again, these are excellent suggestions. I am so happy with the new found prospects for my pan, and also a wok turner and wok ladle all by "SS". I do so really like their stuff.

          1. re: Jvsgabriel

            Oh I don't know if SS is carried by Mutual Trading, but they are a good source for traditional serviceware for the Japanese restaurant industry...

            As to Anzen Hardware, they are located on the very central block of 1st St. in Little Tokyo on the North side of the street. They are flanked by the businesses "Koban", or Japanese-style "police box" (community policing office), Fugetsudo, a fantastic source for traditionally made Japanese confections for tea, and Daikokuya, the Tonkotsu Ramen shop.

            BTW if you're interested in quickly disappearing traditional Japanese craft items, a good store to look through (while they're still there; I don't know how they manage to survive...) is the Rafu-Bussan store across the street from the South side of the plaza on 2nd Street. On the way, pick up (or at least watch) the Taiyaki being made at Mitsuru Cafe, just north of center of the plaza. If it's hot I also like to sit down an order a Milk Kintoki (Japanese shaved ice with red Azuki beans and sweetened condensed milk) in this small, old shop.

            BTW on the East end of the block sits the JANM (Japanese American National Museum), a Smithsonian affiliate museum, whose permanent collection/display covers the forced internment of people of Japanese ancestry from their homes and into various camps around the west during WWII. They also mount some interesting temporary exhibits as well from time to time, and perhaps of most interest to Chowhounders also happens to be an often-featured stop for the venerable Kogi BBQ truck...

            1. re: cgfan

              Fugetsudo makes the best chocolate, fruit and suama mochi! We buy out their supply every time we're up there!

            2. re: Jvsgabriel

              Hi cgfan,

              Well just came back from LA and went to look for these pans, and this time no luck. Went to the Mother of Marukais in Gardena, and they could not order it. I tried to show them the pans but they were not interested. I might have had a language barrier as I didn't speak spanish, and I didn't speak to the manager of the department either. But no luck, yet. I will have to try again on my next trip up.

              I also found a nice little enclave of Japanese shops off of Sawtelle Blvd. There I found all sorts of little shops, much like a living Little Tokyo, without the fake Nihonmachi surroundings. My wife and are coming back here, as there were so many shops around to visit. But still no pans. I went to Satsuma trading, and they had mostly earthenware "donabe" pots, and lots of kimonos and getas, but no pans.

              But I have yet to make it to Mutual Trading, where they might have the pan. But thanks again for your suggestions.


              Little Tokyo
              11640 Carmel Mountain Rd Ste 122, San Diego, CA 92128

              1. re: Jvsgabriel

                Too bad your search hasn't yielded anything yet, but sounds like it wasn't a complete loss either. Yeah the Sawtelle Blvd. area is like a second, "westside" Little Tokyo.

                I'd highly recommend getting a peak at Mutual Trading's catalog vs. trying to go there in person. Most Japanese restaurants should have the catalog, and it'll be an easy matter to reference it to see if your pans are available through them...

                Good luck on your search! I've been on many a similar quest in the past and have found that the search itself always yields interesting new finds, if not always the target item itself.

                1. re: cgfan

                  Hi cgfan,
                  well I am finally able to do some more investigating with the SS pan search. Unfortunately, the Mutual Trading catalog which nileg, so kindly put up didn't carry the pans. But I was able to spot the wok ladle which I was also looking for. So that might just be just good enough to keep me happy for now. I might also get some of those really cool cooking chopsticks as well.

                  Thanks for the tips. Now if I can find some more information on my newly bought Chukabocho, or chinese chef's knife from Chef City in San Diego. It is a CCK knife, (Chan Chi Kee) it is listed as a Pa Pei knife, which on their website is a dim sum knife. I do so love it as it is perfectly straight cutting edge, super thin and light blade, and unfinished wooden handle, which gets more grippy when wet. But it did come very dull. I had to sharpen it with 4 different stones. Now if I can just find out if it is Carbon or a stainless steel knife. And if it is the knife which they use to make the thin skins or not.

                  Thanks again for the extra info. I'm still on the look out for those elusive pans. I haven't broken down and bought those French made Matfers just yet.


                  1. re: Jvsgabriel

                    What Chinese chefs can do with a single Chinese cleaver is amazing. There are many videos up on YouTube that you might want to browse. Also look for opportunities to watch Chinese chefs in action, such as at any of the Chinese BBQ shops in Kearny Mesa, though at such places you'll mainly see them cutting down poultry and pork and little in terms of deft cutting of veg.

                    BTW I was a bit intrigued at your description of a perfectly straight cutting edge. I personally have never come across a Chinese cleaver with a straight cutting edge, by which I mean flat. Did I misunderstand what you meant by straight? Just curious.

                    8310 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

                    1. re: cgfan

                      Hi cgfan,
                      I am totally with you with the Chinese chef's and the knife skills they have. I have always been amazed with what they can do with just about any ingredient...a knife, chopping block, wok, ladle and some simple condiments and sauces and of course the jet blast of fire under the wok. I am also with you on the youtube, as it is my favorite thing to do when i'm not at work. I will just peruse youtube for all sorts of cooking. Especially Chinese cooking. Most of the ones are actually from Japan. I love the one with Chef Cheng of the CIA, and there is a clip of her just demolishing a whole chicken in to tiny parts. It is amazing. I aspire to be one of those Chinese chefs.

                      Ok as for your question, yes the knife is basically a rectangle with a handle. the cutting edge is perfectly flat, no daylight between the knife's cutting edge and the cutting block at all. I think that it is pretty rare, as I too have never seen one like that as well, and that was the reason for buying the knife. From what I have heard, this is the knife dim sum chef's use to make their har gaw skins. basically taking the dough and smashing it against an oiled cutting board and then scraping it off the board. You can see this in action if you youtube gordon ramsey making dim sum in london, england.

                      If you go to youtube and type in "eat, drink, man, woman" you will see a cip on there of the first 7 minutes or so. and you will see a chinese chef cut down a squid and some dried red chilis. if you look carefully, the knife he uses has the same nearly flat cutting edge. see i told you i really love youtube and cooking clips.


                      1. re: Jvsgabriel

                        Awesome Ramsey clip. I thought I'd already seen his entire "The f Word" series, but I guess I missed the dim sum one.

                        Also the "Eat, drink, man, woman" clip made me realize just how much of the movie I forgot. Good excuse to watch it again. Though I did recall the long walk through the restaurant kitchen scene, which at the time reminded me so much of the famous Scorsesee single camera take of the night club in "Good Fellas"...

                        1. re: cgfan

                          yeah i know, youtube just my favorite website ever. you can find just about anything there. just love gordon and all the f bombs he uses. but watch the dim sum one, and you can see his chinese counterpart, who totally dismisses all his attempts at dim sum.

                          personally i just love the beginning of this movie, i have tried to duplicate the chef's kitchen. I have modified my gas range to produce a column of fire about a foot high to replicate wok cooking as much as possible. I have also bought the hunk of tree trunk in san francisco's chinatown. and now if i can get fresh chicken and frogs like him? just kidding about that one.


                2. re: Jvsgabriel

                  You can view Mutual Trading's catalog using this link:


                  I looked at every item in the "Cookware" section (select the "Non-Food" tab from the "Index List" at the top of the column on the left side) but did not find the pan you seek.

                  I suggest you print out the web pages from the Japanese sites that clearly identify the pan and bring them to a shop who might be willing to contact a supplier in Japan and order it for you. Also, print out my earlier reply from Sep 10 which contains some additional information that might be helpful to a shop owner that may be reluctant to do any research for you.

            3. The company that makes the pan is Shimamoto ("島本"). A better Google search would be for "フライパン島本26 cm" as follows:


              Many Japanese department stores such as Komeri ( ) carry them, but you can also buy them online via the large online shopping site Rakuten:


              Like Amazon, Rakuten hosts products for many individual stores, and this store is PanCup, who has their own website and webpage for the product:


              I believe this is Shimamoto's home page:


              1 Reply
              1. re: nileg

                Hi nileg,

                Thanks so much for all the cool info and suggestions on where to get the pans. It's a whole new ballgame now that I have some Japanese websites to visit. I just know that there is someplace state side that sells these pans. Otherwise it's time to use these websites to order overseas.

                Thanks again

              2. Hi everyone, I have finally given up hope of ever finding the SS pans. So I broke down and got the French made Matfers pans at San Diego Restaurant Supply. To my surprise the pans were not as expensive as I had thought. A 8" crepe pan was about $13.00, and my huge 12.75" saute pan was about $48.00. The crepe pan having the lower edge and having less metal all together and the saute pan having about 3" of metal at about a 45-50 degree angle has quite a bit of metal. So the prices are quite reasonable.

                I have found some things which I do find quite annoying. Firstly the pans are not constructed with the same care. For instance the Japanese SS made pan has a riveted handle which is good and bad, but it is at least riveted straight on the pan. These French made Matfers pans have a welded handle, that you are lucky to get even somewhat straight on the pan. The welds must be done by hand, cause sometimes there are two welds, side by side on the smaller pans. And the larger pans have triangular weld. Some times the welds are spot on, and sometimes very off, to where it looks like the welder just got the bare edge of the handle on the welding machine.

                The metal on the French pans are very thick compared to the SS pan (3mm vs 2.7mm). And going back to the handle, the SS pan's handle is thinner and has a gentle "v" shape to it. The other pans have a long straight metal handle which is thicker and like I mentioned above not welded with much care or precision. But all in all the pans are working out quite well. They heat up nicely, but you have to be superman to actually "saute" the big 12.75" pan, which I have tried. It does have the perfect sway to the edge to allow for sauteing, if you can lift the sucker.

                The pans have also seasoned very nicely as well. It took me about 20 minutes to get them nice and dark, of course they will season more with use. But making something that uses a lot of oil/butter in them the first couple of times will help to season them a bit faster. I will post some before and after pictures of the pans. They really do change color quickly. But otherwise I think it was an okay compromise for the SS pans.

                1. OK i may have found a place which sells the SS pans. The website is, and it also has a lot of other Japanese cookware. I have found some yukihara or yukihira pans, as well as some yokotto pans too. Both very difficult to find here in the US, but apparently they have it. I have tried to email them, but I have not yet recieved a response. Will post further updates if this company has the right pans.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Jvsgabriel

                    Have you tried Mitsuwa Market on Mercury Street?