Saturday At The Movies, The Food Porn Edition: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

For fans of food-focused movies, documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi deserves a spot at the top of the list. The film explores Sukijabashi Jiro, a tiny sushi restaurant in the basement of an office building and it’s nearly 90 year old chef Jiro, known as perhaps the best sushi chef in the world.  Despite the unassuming appearance of the restaurant,  it is strictly reservations-only, with an extremely long waiting list for a table.  Each meal lasts approximately 30 minutes and prices start around $300 depending on the types of fish available that particular day.

Fans of Anthony Bourdain’s food-and-travel-porn series No Reservations may recognize the stoic Jiro from the show’s Japan episode, where Bourdain proclaimed the meal to be “the best sushi of my life”.  It’s easy to see why. The film is inter-cut with beautifully rendered slow motion shots: jewel-like slabs of fish, nori toasting over a charcoal flame, a frenzy of bright yellow egg yolks being whipped into clouds. It was barely 10 minutes into the movie and I was already wondering where the closest sushi place was, and feeling disappointed knowing that it wouldn’t live up to what was being prepared on the screen in front of me.

Throughout the course of the movie we come to know Jiro and his life story, told simply and without manufactured drama. We learn that Jiro is a perfectionist who has made it his life’s mission to perfect the art of sushi making, and that he expects his sons to continue in his footsteps once he is gone.  We meet Jiro’s sons; Takashi who runs a second, more relaxed branch of the restaurant, and Yoshikazu, who is expected to take Jiro’s place as head chef one day. We learn about Jiro’s love for his work, his unbending loyalty to his rice and fish vendors, and their loyalty in return.  Jiro’s sushi making technique is simple yet precise. I found myself completely fascinated by watching a man closely examine fish with a flashlight at 3 a.m, searching for the perfect cut, and a vat of rice being prepared and covered so that it remains the perfect temperature for being served (body temperature, in case you were wondering).

There are touches of humour, particularly when apprentices are shown performing the most unappealing tasks of the day (such as massaging octopus for up to an hour at a time in order to obtain ultimate tenderness – a Jiro technique), and learning from one apprentice that only after 10 years of loyal and perfect service will they “let you cook the eggs”.  There are also moments that border on emotional, in particular the quiet relationship between Jiro and his eldest son Yoshikazu.

Ultimately, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a fascinating and gorgeous look into the life of the best sushi chef in the world. It’s the story of a man who loves what he does – a perfectionist who expects the best from himself and therefore everyone around him.

The film ends with a shot of Jiro riding the subway, a quiet smile slowly spreading across his face. It’s the face of a man who has spent his life working at something he loves and simply for that he is definitely someone to admire.

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About corinacorona

Video maker, social media enthusiast, content maker, etc. Tattooed travel lover, runner, horror junkie, amateur foodie. Born in the wrong era. http://corinacorona.wordpress.com/

Posted on May 12, 2012, in Corina H-S, documentary, General, movies, Saturday At The Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on 771 SF Life and commented:
    My review of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” over at Biff Bam Pop!

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