Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is one of those films that even for its shortcomings, it will have you calling the travel agent as soon as you’re out the door. If you enjoy raw fish, this will be your Casablanca, your cinematic mecca, the best thing to happen to you, ever.
Our protagonist is 85 year-old Jiro Ono, owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a ten-seater sushi restaurant located in a Tokyo Subway station. The first establishment of its kind to be awarded three Michelin stars, Jiro’s humble hole in the wall is in many ways the sushi equivalent of dining at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, another film well documented recently in El Bulli, Cooking In Progress.
This is the kind of place true sushi lovers book into month’s ahead. It’s unlike anything else in the world. For a lot of Westerners, the response may be slightly muted. It’s a film about an old dude and some fish. Japanese culture is one that develops an almost single minded passion for making art out of the mundane and this is what you see here. In the same fashion that the Japanese have made almost a religion out of serving tea, Jiro’s dedication to sushi is unswerving and an art unto itself. Anyone can have a California roll, but can you do this?
At just under an hour and a half, the film keeps the fat to the minimum. Legendary fish market, Tsukiji gets a look, as does the focus between Jiro and his son, whose entire culinary career will exist in the shadow of his father’s legacy. While not a perfect documentary, it’s enough to have any sushi fan on the next flight to Narita airport.