Friday, April 13, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" played at a small indie film theater here in Columbia for a few days and we grabbed an opportunity to see it after some good reviews.

First off, if you know me, I love sushi. It is my hands-down, choice of food for celebration or any special occasion. When I travel to certain cities, I eventually find favorite sushi places that I love visiting.

Second, I've grown a certain amount of discernment when it comes to sushi. I don't bother spending money on those pre-wrapped trays and platters at the grocery store, Trader Joe's, or Costco. The rice is usually overly wet, hard, and cold, making for a very disappointing experience. Though I can usually enjoy standard sushi joints (even those on revolving tracks keep it pretty fresh in some cities), I relish when I visit a sushi place of really high caliber.

So a documentary on one of the finest sushi chefs in the world? Especially one of a small 10 seat restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station that earned 3 Michelin stars, commanding $300 a meal? I am so there.

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" was a lovely overview of Jiro's life as a sushi chef, with the cultural challenge of passing the legacy on to his sons, but it left me wanting more details about his life, his family, and his craft. Some may be surprised at the simplicity of his sushi. It seems that a lot of popular sushi restaurants go in the direction of more: more sauce, more fish, more fillings. Not that these types of rolls aren't enjoyable or delicious but it seems more sushi restaurants feature specialty rolls loaded with more than one type of fish or topped with another fish, than drizzled with some "dynamite" sauce. A lot of the work and attention for Jiro's simple sushi comes before he puts it together--buying the best fish, prepping the fish, and preparing the rice--no Dynamite rolls in his house.

One of the fascinating aspects confirmed what a friend once advised regarding the egg sushi. You know when you get a sushi platter, where there's an assortment of sushi? And the one everyone usually dismisses or groans about is the one with a slice of egg omelet on top. A while back, a Japanese friend remarked that in Japan, the egg is the hallmark of the sushi chef: the egg embodies his delicious skill. And in the documentary, you see an assistant share how he moved from general prep of the fish to preparing the sushi rice (a huge milestone in itself), and eventually being allowed to prepare the egg. It took hundreds of preparations before they finally allowed his egg to be served. He said he was near tears of elation when that happened. And all I could think of is how everyone here in the States pretty much throws away the egg sushi--though to be fair, I don't think the standard of the egg here reaches anything close to the standard in Japan.

This movie would leave most sushi-lovers a desire to eat at Jiro's and for me--also to attain an experience as close to it as possible. I dream of sitting in a quiet sushi bar, just me and a sushi chef presenting precious, delicious bites of sushi as I enjoy moments savoring every mouthful. Heaven!

Overall this movie was enjoyable in its simple elegance. Just like Jiro's sushi.

1 comment:

  1. aw i want to see it! if you get the dvd bring it so we can relive another tampopo!