Reader Recommendations: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

JiroHey everyone, we’re back with another entry in the Reader Recommendations series!

The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, email me @ fogsmoviereviews@gmail.com or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate.
 
Jen KaikoThis time up, our recommendation comes from Jen Kakio from JenKakio.com! She’s recommended “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”. I’ve actually heard quite a bit about this film… maybe it’s because Jen mentioned it to me initially a long time ago now, and so it was on my radar. Now I’m curious to finally check it out!
 
Click through to read a little more about why she felt it was worthy of recommending, followed by my thoughts on the film!
 

 

My questions in bold. Jen′s answers below.

1. Do you remember when you first saw this movie?
 
Yes and no. I don’t remember the exact date on when I saw this movie, but I do remember other details like who I was with and where. I was with my dad and in Hawaii. It was pretty uneventful day. No lines, I didn’t buy any food, and the movie theater was semi-packed with retirees.
 
2. Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
 
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is not for everybody. I feel documentaries are chosen for personal reasons. I would recommend this movie if you fall into one or more categories:
  • Asian
  • Interested in Asians (sorry, there is only males in this movie)
  • Foodie
  • Loves Sushi
  • Loves Japanese culture or at least have an interest in it
3. Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
 
Um. Well, I don’t see a lot of love for this movie, but the people who watched it had really great things to say about it. I think this movie was totally overlooked. I don’t blame the public for that. i mean, the title and poster alone kinda throws you off. It’s more than sushi. There is a deep sense of pride in the work that Jiro puts into his restaurant. I would even go as far to say that his passion and pride causes his family tension. In a way, I respect Jiro for his intenseness for his career, but at the same time feel sorry for him. The cinematography was great when it came to the sushi! I just wanted to bite the screen! It definitely made me hungry.
 
4. Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
 
I feel that you could appreciate the sushi porn, at least. I think you would be surprised how this documentary is like an onion. The longer you watch the movie, the more layers of Jiro is being peeled back. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I am not at all shocked that you didn’t watch it.
 
5. Have you written about the movie yourself?
 
I am shocked! I didn’t. I’m putting it on my blogging list. Stay tuned!

Big thanks, Jen! My Review Below.

I knew one thing going into “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”. I was not about to be hit with a Sushi craving unprepared. So I ordered up a sampler and a couple of rolls, and dove in as I hit play. And I was glad I did, too. Within two minutes of this movie I would have been dying for some.

“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a documentary about Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old master sushi chef in Tokyo Japan.

See if you can wrap your mind around this. Jiro’s restaurant has ten seats. It’s a sushi bar, with ten chairs in front of it. He charges $300 a seat, dinner for two… so, say if you took a date… it would be a $600 meal. He serves only sushi. Not tempura and sushi, not edamame and sushi, just sushi. Rice, fish, light basting. Sushi. They put the pieces out one at a time on a small serving plate, in front of the customers, and the customers eat them as soon as they’re served.

His restaurant is world renown and takes reservations a full month in advance.

Jiro’s secret is his relentless pursuit of perfection. Forced into self-reliance at an extremely young age, he adopted an incredibly strong work ethic. He constantly strives to improve his technique, and is unwavering in the demands he places on his staff. He dislikes vacations and holidays, and avoids time off at all costs. He is so focused on his work that he would make sushi in his dreams, and in the morning wake up with new ideas.

The documentary is a combination of a biographical look at the man, the sushi industry in Tokyo (including the fish markets), and the changing world we live in. But mainly, it’s a look at Jiro’s philosophies. In Jiro’s way of thinking, one should dedicate themselves to their work, and strive to master it. It’s about aspiring to be the best, and having a singular focus is a strong part of that. For example, he admits at one point in the film that he hasn’t been the best father, but both of his sons are master sushi chefs themselves now due to his tutelage.

Seeing the lengths they go to just to cook their rice, to serve the fish at exactly the best time, watching the lengths he makes his apprentices go to for their training… it really all is incredible. It’s a different and admirable way of life, and something that I think few Americans can relate to.

It was certainly an interesting film, and I found Jiro’s philosophies on perfection to be fascinating. Sushi has also never looked so delicious… so if you enjoy it, and you watch this film, be prepared for some big time cravings!

A-

Daniel Fogarty

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38 thoughts on “Reader Recommendations: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

  1. I saw this in the spring of last year and it was a revelation as not only as a documentary but as human story. Definitely in my top 10 documentaries of all time!

    • High praise indeed. It is kind of fascinating that they illustrate what might have driven him to have this work ethic by illustrating how he was forced to fend for himself as a child. It really brought everything full circle as opposed to just focusing on his success now as a restauranteur.

    • I know, right!! LOL I was prepared. I saw it coming and was like, ohhhh no. You’re not gonna get me! And I ordered up front. LOL

      It was really well done, no doubt. But I think the key is that Jiro’s a fascinating man. I mean that’s an otherworldly level of dedication!

  2. What can I say? It’s on my 2012 Best Of The Year List. Everything good said about this film I agree with 100%. (That includes the craving for sushi-which I love) Glad you loved it and I thank Jen for bringing it to your attention.

    • Yeah, she picked a good one. Glad to finally scratch it off of my “must see” list, too.

      I dont think there’s anyway that a person who likes Sushi gets through this film without wanting some. What I’m really curious about is if someone who DOESNT like Sushi watches the film, will it make them want to try it? LOL

  3. Being unfamiliar with the great sushi world; I searched wikipedia info. I look forward to seeing this and hearing what enlightened foodies have to say on FMR.

    Sushi means “sour tasting” and is fermented rice, and often in Japan uncooked seafood is wrapped in the rice whose fermentation breaks down the fish proteins yielding the meal. Additionally, diets are incorporating more fermented foods because a little of them helps the gut. Sushi is becoming more popular globally.
    Tempura, which is cooked items seafood or veggies generally, is not technically sushi.

    Per Jiro Ono’s mastery of sushi, he is highly regarded by culinary chefs.
    “Chef and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain claims he had the best sushi experience of his life at Sukiyabashi Jiro. French chef Joël Robuchon says that the restaurant is one of his favorites in the world and taught him that sushi is an art.”(Wikipedia on Jiro Ono).

    Solid FMR post on doc from JenKaiko.com recommendation. Domo arigato.

    • LOL. Did you not know what Sushi is, though even?

      I understand though if youve never tried it. It puts a lot of people off… the idea of raw fish. But its definitely delicious, you should seek out an opportunity to try it for yourself S!

      Start with some rolls or something, thats like the entry level stuff ;)

      • I know of sushi just not specifics about sushi. My tangential exposure is walking off an elevator in Vegas by a sushi restaurant and having a sour smell overpower my nose each morning one week. So yes I am unenlightened and will seek out said entry level rolls.
        -Cheers ;-)

  4. About to be a parent myself, I’m going to guess I’ll disagree with his philosophy, lol. But I’m still pretty sure I’ll admire his dedication. And sushi. But $300? I want him to have a hostess feed it to me by hand while massaging me.

    I just checked, and…nice! It’s on Netflix. Now in my queue.

  5. Thanks for the opportunity. I’m glad that you actually liked the movie. Great call on eating before (or during) the movie. I wished I did the same. I recently saw Questlove (the drummer of The Roots or as I like to call them The Jimmy Fallon Band…LOL) went to Jiro’s restaurant. It was amazing to still see Jiro and his oldest son still serving sushi. I mean, it’s a matter of time before Jiro will have to retire, right? I don’t think he can, tho. I’m not too sure if that is sad or admirable. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to eat at Jiro’s.

    • I dont think he’ll ever retire… but you know, not to be morbid, but he’s getting old, you know? People dont live forever…

      After seeing this movie, I would love to eat there. I think it would totally be worth the cash, and I bet everything he serves is delicious.

      Great recommendation Jen, thanks for pointing me in its direction! :D

      • I totally agree…it’s a matter of time before Jiro has to leave this earth. Let’s hope that we can both go before than. Let’s making it a blogging event. LOL That would be fun. Then again, ComiC-Con would be easier.

      • Good luck! I’m also hoping that the 3 Guys 1 Movie makes it as well. I mean, they live in the OC!

  6. I just had a big sushi dinner last night so it might be due time I finally sit down to watch this. I had a hard time paying $40 for dinner — I can’t imagine $300 for one meal! I bet it’s worth it, though. Sounds like an awesome restaurant, an awesome chef and a great documentary to boot.

    • Seriously? I thought it was ridiculous myself. I can see $300… but the course and the setting are entirely different. Literally? At this place you belly up to a bar, he stands on the other side and feeds you sushi servings one at a time. LOL.

      But once you get all the details of what they do… DAMN. I’m like, whats the big deal? Cut the fish, boil the rice…. Boy was I wrong.

  7. Pingback: Featured on Fog’s Movie Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi | jenkakio

  8. No comment on the film, haven’t seen it… but I just have to say, as somebody who doesn’t eat fish (my father’s allergic, so I didn’t grow up with it, and there are cultural reasons I’ll comment on in a bit) this whole thing just sounds absolutely bizarre.

    See, even if it weren’t for the fact that I wasn’t allowed to even try fish until I was fully grown (and have decided fish, even cooked fish, must be an acquired taste), the idea of eating a meal of raw fish just sounds really strange to me. Osage traditionally don’t eat fish. Not unless there’s no other option. There’s such an abundance of good land mammals and birds to eat, why eat a fish? It’s not taboo, exactly; we just traditionally view it as kind of pathetic. Can’t hunt or provide anything of worth to get buffalo, deer, rabbit, pheasant or anything else? That’s what fish is for. It’s about as low as you can go, to a traditional Osage. Only thing lower is starvation.

    And here’s this guy serving fish, not even cooking it, and charging a small fortune for it. Just goes to show how radically different cultures can be. (Note: My brother does actually eat fish, which Dad and I sometimes tease him about. He’ll eat about anything. But I’m not sure even he’d eat sushi.)

    • Yes, it does show how different traditions can be… cause I’ll tell you: Fish is delicious. Yum Yum.

      Salmon, bass, trout, swordfish, catfish, tuna… and thats not even getting into the shellfish or shrimp. Mmmmm.

      And Sushi is delicious. Mmmm. Raw, sliced fish on a block of white rice. Sooooooo good. :D

      If you’re allergic, it’s one thing. I sympathize, sorry to hear that. But your brother’s the one who should be teasing you guys, I think buddy. He’s open minded enough to delve into a delectible world. Mmmmmmmm…

      • When I was old enough to finally be allowed to try it (it was longer than in the case of my siblings, since we already knew that my non-food allergies were considerably worse than theirs), it turned out I was able to eat it, at least in small doses. I never acquired a taste for it, though; most of it’s pretty foul. Salmon and fried shrimp are OK, but only in small amounts — anything more and the oiliness gets to me real quick. (Which might indicate a mild intolerance, so I’m pretty cautious about it even now.)

        Still, I don’t think I’m missing anything on that front. I try foods from other cultures when I get a chance. Keep wanting to go up to Albany (a town about an hour and a half from here) to try out a Hungarian restaurant up there. Just haven’t had the time.

  9. Jen, you sounded great! PS He spelled your name wrong twice. $300/seat of sushi. This better be my-last-meal type stuff! Great review. I put it on my list.

    • LOL! I did, apparently! Jen, why didnt you say something? :D

      Fixed now. Oh well, at least I got the link right…

      Meanwhile, cool, Lisa, I hope you enjoy it! Its a good documentary for sure, very interesting!

  10. Pingback: No more than sushi … | Culture Traveler

  11. Doing my monthly, catch up on old blogs (or maybe I do it every other week), and I have to say I wish I hadn’t missed this one. I love sushi. I love Japanese food. I really want some Goma Ae and plan to try to make it myself soon. I will admit that until the past 10 years, I wouldn’t have touched sushi. I moved from a place with abundant fish and sea food to the middle of the country and couldn’t get good fish or seafood anywhere. I finally broke down and started eating sushi just to get good fish. The standards for sushi are really high because it is served raw so they get fish that has been shipped in daily. I would probably have trouble with this individual. I think being so focused on work that your children become an extension of your job and not a family is not healthy.

    • Well, whatever you do then, if you do catch this movie, have some sushi ready to eat soon thereafter because it WILL make you crave it.

      Meanwhile, you would think that, right? About the family life, etc… except the man has become world famous, and his children are both highly successful and ready to inherit his mantle. It’s not entirely like your average workaholic CEO here or something. I dont know, I’m torn. I mean, I wouldnt want to do it, but its hard to deny that its worked out incredibly well for him 8O

      • Yes, but the question becomes, are the sons well rounded. They may be successfull but are the marriagable. Japan has passed new divorce laws making it more practical for women in unhappy marriages to get out. Women were calling divorce lawyers and startign support groups to help them do paperwork and figure out the math a year before the law went into effect. Business started clubs to teach men to be better husbands because the work culture was one in which work and business outings were more important than family and until they hadn’t realized just how many wives were completely miserable under that lifestyle. Its easy to say it was a cultural difference that we just don’t understand but the flood of women seeking divorce advice and divorces under the changed law just goes to show that even within the culture, people were not happy with that type of culturally enforced workaholism.

  12. Pingback: No more than sushi … | photomathon blog

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