Jiro Ono is the 85-year-old main chef and owner of Sukibayashi Jiro, a small restaurant (only 10 seats) located in a Tokyo subway station. His establishment, which only serves sushi, is the only of its kind that has been awarded with 3 Michelin stars. Jiro and his small team of chefs, including his older son Yoshikazu, are guided by simple, humble principles: hard work, patience, repetition and relying on the best ingredients. Filmmaker David Gelb captures their activity, as well as the spirit of the place, in the most beautiful, subtle way.
The documentary is about Jiro, a man who devotes himself entirely to a passion, making the best sushi; but it is also about what it takes to make things right, time and attention to detail, and the sacrifices (and rewards) that come along with it.
One of the sacrifices is personal life: Jiro literally ‘dreams of sushi’; therefore, he didn’t have much time for his two sons (and presumably, for his wife). He somehow forced them into the business, which condemns them to be always under the shadow of their famous father.
There is also, however, the reward of the craftsman who is doing what he loves and knows best. And the result is gorgeous: The camera shows the process by which the sushi becomes such a delicate and tasteful bite. The viewer gets to admire Jiro’s stubborn strictness and simplicity and recognize why he’s been named one of Japan’s national treasures.
‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ is a masterful example of how to portray a subject and a person. It is definitely a must-see, even if you’re not a fan of sushi. You may have second thoughts about it after watching the film.
Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures