Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: Stuff You Should Watch

I first learned about Sukiyabashi Jiro from Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. While in Tokyo he visited a tiny sushi bar in the basement of a subway station. The place seats only about ten people and they serve only one food, sushi. Sukiyabashi Jiro is owned and operated by Jiro Ono, an 85 year old master sushi chef who has been awarded 3 Michelin stars and designated as a living national treasure by the Japanese government. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a critically acclaimed documentary about the man, the restaurant, and most importantly, his sons who are charged with carrying on their father's legacy. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is available now on Netflix streaming, so your access to this wonderful film could never be easier.

Sushi has been something of a trendy dining experience over the last few decades in America. For some, its the only food they know of from Japan while for the Japanese, sushi was more of an occasional delicacy than a main dish. The explosion of popularity of sushi put Jiro Ono's way of preparing fish in a positive collision course with the taste buds of the world's most influential food critics. This documentary dives into the personality that drives this small restaurant and what it takes to maintain a high level of perfection. Perfection really is the word even though Jiro himself would say that perfection is the goal, but never attainable.

The most interesting aspect of this documentary is the exploration of the father to son relationship in this business. Jiro's standards are high and his skill is legendary. It is said by a former apprentice, that when Jiro dies, his eldest son will need to exceed his father's skill just to match his influence. His father is that important to Japanese food culture. They also explored the thoughts Jiro and his son have about over fishing and sustainable fish stocks. He explains how finding some fish and shellfish used to be easy but now it is nearly impossible. Wild shrimp, at the quality he needs, are nearly impossible now for example.

I don't want to ruin the movie for you, because its one of those that needs to be seen and experienced first hand to really gasp how important this man, his sons, and his small restaurant are for a country and for food lovers everywhere. Check it out on Netflix streaming.

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