Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I just watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about Jiro, an 85-year old sushi chef who runs what is supposed to be the best sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Sukiyabashi Jiro. The ten-seat restaurant, on a basement floor in Ginza, has received three stars from Michelin. Jiro's is not a place to go for drinks, appetizers and a few pieces of sushi. There are no appetizers, just a 20-piece set menu that starts at 30,000 yen (about $375) per person. Not to worry, though: it's impossible to get a reservation.

The movie is delightful, with great images of sushi and every stage of sushi making, from the shopping at the Tsukiji fish market, to the preparation of perfect rice, to the cutting (and sometimes cooking) of the fish and assembly of the finished bite. The subtext of the movie is how passionate Jiro is about his work, and just how hard it is to be a great sushi chef. Early in the movie, Jiro sums it all up, with appropriate Japanese modesty and understatement:
Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.
Only in Japan.

Bobby Jay

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