Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is a vision itself; a documentary that’s a dance of measured classical music and men in slow motion, meticulously crafting award-winning sushi by pressing it "like a baby chick."
The 85-year-old shokunin (artisan) Jiro Ono and his lifelong quest for deliciousness and "to be better than last time" are humbling for a dilettante. Director David Gelb follows the sushi master, his two sons and apprentices through their daily ritual of protein selection at the Tsukiji Fish Market (where his suppliers are in awe of him), preparations like massaging an octopus for 50 minutes and warming some pieces to body temperature, and elegantly simple presentation.
Jiro won a remarkable three Michelin stars representing quality, originality and consistency for his tiny, ten-seat restaurant. He’s not elitist, as the noren-fringed counter is incongruously located in a Tokyo subway station, yet it earns the right to have a month-out waiting list and to charge 30,000 yen (about $300) for 20 pieces.
A Japanese food critic confirms that Jiro has the five most important attributes of a chef: take the work seriously, aspire to improve, and have the qualities of cleanliness, impatience and passion. Jiro embodies these in a hard-working, minimalist and attentive package. He carefully observes which diners eat left-handed, then serves them on that side, and crafts smaller sushi for petite people.
At a tight 80 minutes, the film, in Japanese with English subtitles, quietly documents "doing the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit, with a yearning to achieve more." Jiro says, "I’m always trying for the top, but nobody knows where the top is."
"Jiro Dreams of Sushi"
DVD in Japanese with English subtitles