Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a 2011 Japanese documentary film directed by David Gelb. The story follows Jiro Ono, an 85 year old master sushi chief on a quest to perfect the art of sushi making (you’d think he’d be satisfied after over 75 years in the business). From his humble appearance, you wouldn’t guess that Jiro was a Micheline Guide 3-star chief. However, Jiro’s story is surprisingly poignant. He is in fact a rare breed of man who, by age 9, had been forced to live on his own in rural Japan. Today, Jiro’s humble restaurant, a 10 seat hole in the wall, is one of Japan’s most haled culinary experiences and prices at around $300 per meal.
And yet, for Jiro, it’s not about the money. As he and his apprentices prepare the evening meal, it was clear that the attention to taste and the manner of serving was absolute. Perhaps it is the Japanese Kaizen way, the indescribable discipline, that fuels Jiro’s craftsmanship or perhaps it is simply the need for Jiro to prove to himself that he has achieved perfection. We don’t know. The documentary is simple in that it does not attempt to characterize Jiro as a Miyagi-like sage, an absentee father, or even a celebrity. It sets out only to detail the amount of thought and preparation that Jiro puts in to creating each piece of sushi.
As a Vancouverite who has eaten many-a-sushi in my day, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a surprisingly engaging film experience, one that has without a doubt left me questioning how I could have ever eaten sushi that was presented to me via the standard conveyer belt.