“Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” is a documentary by American filmmaker David Gelb, about 85 year-old sushi chef Jiro Ono—considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. The film opens today in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center, and on Friday, March 16th in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theatre. A national rollout will follow.
Considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef, Jiro Ono is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a small, nondescript, sushi-only restaurant located down a flight of stairs on the concourse of a Tokyo subway station.
The restaurant serves only sushi and a few beverages—no appetizers, no miso soup, no desserts. The decor is classic sushi bar plainness: white walls, wood booths, tables and sushi bar. Customers must use a shared public bathroom outside the restaurant.
The great sushi chef Jiro Ono and his son Yoshikazu at their sushi bar. Photo courtesy Magnolia Films.
Yet despite the humble surroundings—a total lack of ambiance—Sukiyabashi Jiro is the first sushi bar to be awarded the top honor, three stars, by the demanding reviewers of the Guide Michelin. The reviewers famously give two stars for memorably great food and the third star for great ambiance.
The Real Message
We love sushi; it’s our favorite food. Yet for us, the inspiration of the film is not how to make beautiful sushi. It’s about the work ethic of a master craftsman who never stops seeking perfection.
At an age where most people are long retired, Jiro—who was hospitalized after a heart attack at at age 70 but never slowed down—gets up early in the morning and works a long day. He samples every piece of fish, trains his small staff of five (including his son) and stands behind the sushi bar to carefully mold and present his sushi. He’s there when the restaurant closes, after dinner service.
Jiro’s eldest son Yoshikazu, the traditional heir to his father’s business, is a bit like Prince Charles: past 50, diligently doing his job, respecting his venerated parent and no doubt wondering when he will get to run the show. His younger brother Takashi already has a larger, glamorous sushi bar in a fashionable neighborhood.
Follow the film to a theater near you on the official website.
Love sushi? Learn all about it in our beautiful Sushi Glossary.
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