Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Everyone was surprised when Jiro Ono’s tiny sushi restaurant earned itself three Michelin stars. Three Michelin stars means it’s worth travelling to a country for the sole purpose of eating at that restaurant.

Situated in the basement of an office building, under Ginza station, with a shop front so modest you’d walk past without a second glance, Jiro’s restaurant is hardly the image of opulence. Moreover, the place seats a maximum of ten people at a time. And he only serves sushi. Beautiful, simple sushi that you can immediately pop into your mouth with your fingers, in the traditional style, or lift delicately with chopsticks.

Directed by David Gelb, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an intimate documentary about how Jiro Ono came to be regarded as arguably the world’s greatest sushi chef, and about how his legacy has influenced his two sons. Jiro, who came from poor beginnings, was on his own and working from the of nine. His success is the fruit of hard work, hard-earned talent, unflagging passion, and long hours in the kitchen.  Throughout the film, Jiro’s almost inhuman work ethic and single-minded dedication to his craft astound the viewer. Is this what it takes to make a shokunin, a master of an art? To never take a holiday; to become bored with idleness? To be unable to retire at the age of 86, even after you’ve suffered a heart attack? Suddenly the fact that his sushi is so perfect doesn’t seem so surprising.

The best parts of the documentary involve Jiro’s two sons. The elder, Yoshikazu, works at Jiro’s restaurant. He cycles to the fish markets in the cold, wet mornings to scout for fresh produce. He trains the apprentices and often makes the sushi. He knows his role is to take over his father’s restaurant after Jiro passes on. He wishes, out loud, that his father “could make sushi forever.” Jiro, on the other hand, when talking about handing over his business to Yoshikazu, remarks with a simple matter-of-fact tone, “He will just have keep doing it for the rest of his life.” There is an eerie sense grace and acceptance in their words.

The film has moments of wonderful, bittersweet quotes. The cinematography is simple, bare and elegant. The close-up shots of faces and the subtle few seconds that the camera lingers on their expressions after they’ve said something–they really made the show, for me. The soundtrack is a feast for the ears, particularly the scene where the experience of eating at Jiro’s restaurant is compared to listening to a concerto.

In a few short decades, sushi has gone from being an obscure, exotic dish to a mainstream fast food. Jiro Dreams of Sushi reminds us to be aware that our natural resources are not infinite. Without tightly regulated fishing laws in place, the numbers of fish in our oceans dwindle. It’s an important call to be less consumptive and more conscientious.


On rolling sushi

Yes, I totally made this sushi.

Things I’ve learnt about making sushi:

1. Never substitute long grain rice (normal Chinese dinner rice) for real sushi rice. It just won’t stick.

2. Don’t over-prepare. You’ll always make more filling than you can finish. (This is most definitely true, and you’ll end up munching soggy tuna and stale cucumber sticks for supper.)

3. Roll slowly.

Things I’ve learnt about life:

1. Don’t be content with the second-rate. It just won’t stick.

2. Don’t over-prepare. Half of it is the things you don’t plan.

3. Roll slowly…in the grass ;P

The point I’m trying to make is to take life easier. Which is something I’m not especially good at, given my propensity to freak out/tear up/punch pillows/rip my clothes off, aghast at that horrific visage in the mirror/throw my notes on the ground in complete and utter despair over the fact that I can’t remember the 17 causes of acute pancreatitis.

BUT, I do try.

Anyway, I suppose part of it is choosing what sort of people you surround yourself with. And how you let them influence you. After all, it’s inevitable that you become like your friends–whether that’s a scary or comforting thought may tell you something, ho ho. I’m a bit lucky (or should I say unlucky? Antisocial? Suggestive of sociopathic tendencies?) in that I get sick of people easily, so the people who put up with me (and vice versa) are usually the nicest, most patient and most interesting sort. Thank you for being my friends…*sob

IT IS NOW LESS THAN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS until I will be entirely free of Medicine for the rest of this year. I have so many reasons to squee that I do not know where to start. So I think I’ll start with the small things, which is always a good place to begin.

Victor’s Nintendo shirt turned up in the mail today (see below), which got us pondering how marvellously exciting it is when packages come in the mail. Which is reason for me to be, like, over the moon, because I’m expecting exactly THREE (3, trois) packages in the mail in the upcoming week. Ever since I got a debit card, my inner shopper has revealed itself to be a furious and unappeasable spirit.

Victor <3 Mario


The packages I am waiting for are:

1. Contact lenses

2. The Face Shop BB cream (I’ve finally decided to tag along with the trend…)

3. A secret

None of which are super exciting, in and of themselves (except the secret. A SECRET!!! WHO CAN RESIST A SECRET?!), but I guess it’s the surprise factor…and the feeling of tearing opening the cardboard and sticky-tape ;D I will update as each of these packages rolls in.

Also, I set up a travel money card today for Europe! Everything’s almost set. Can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’re jetting off in two weeks. I feel a little delirious :) My French is going horribly, but just well enough to make me feel sophisticated and Continental and delude myself into thinking I’m coiffed, blonde and smoking a long cigar ;D Oui, bien sur j’parle Francais…

Woot! I managed to tie a whole lot of unrelated topics together into one deceivingly fluent entry. I promise the next post will have more pictures. Don’t desert me.