Tribeca Film Festival ’11: Jiro Dreams of Sushi Review
Mouthwatering, insightful, and passionate. These are the only words that can describe David Gelb’s new documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
The film is about an 85 year old Shokunin (Master Sushi chef), named Jiro Ono, who owns and operates the Tokyo based Sukiyabashi Jiro restraurant with his son and apprentices. Hailed as one of the best in the world, you’re probably asking yourself, so how good is his sushi? The man has been making sushi for 70 years and his restaurant received the highest culinary honor of three Michelin stars despite the fact that it only has 10 seats.
You’re probably thinking this place is worth the trip, right? Be warned, while it may be totally worth it for your pallet, your wallet might disagree. With only sushi on the menu, the restaurant charges $300-a-plate, and practically everyone agrees that it is worth every penny. Jiro also stares at you when you eat it so it may be a little nerve racking, just a heads up for you.
At the age of seven his father died and he was left on his own. It was his personal upbringing that taught him discipline, determination, patience and the importance of a strong work ethic. Because he criticizes himself constantly, he is able to consistently improve the quality of his sushi. Now in his 80s, he has taught both of his sons how to make sushi, the youngest one opened his own restaurant while the elder one, Yoshikazu, is expected to take over Jiro’s.
Throughout the film we learn about Jiro’s life, how bad he was as a parent when the children were younger and where he’s at now in life. I mean, his kids used to say there was a strange man sleeping in their house because they never saw him when they were awake. It also takes us through every step of the sushi making process, from choosing fresh sushi from the Tsukiji fish market to buying the rice, which is a very exclusive and comical experience, to talking about preserving Japan’s oceanic resources to finally placing the product on the customer’s plate. I’ve never seen sushi glisten like I did when the soy sauce was painted onto it right before it was placed on the serving dish, it was glorious.
The movie, at its core, is about Japanese traditions, living up to your father’s expectations, and doing what you love, what you’re passionate about. These are things that everyone can relate to and are the reasons why people who have never even had sushi can enjoy this documentary. Although it can drag a bit resulting in some boredom, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is relatable, inspiring and, most of all, not depressing.
Rating: A mouthwatering, insightful, and passionate doc that gets right to the point (7/10)
you catch Jiro Dreams of Sushi at the Tribeca Film Festval on April 21, 22, 25, and 29th.