‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


You shouldn’t see “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” on an empty stomach.

Indeed, you should have sushi in ready proximity once you have seen this fascinating look at the world’s greatest sushi chef. And it better be good.

Directed by David Gelb,”Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a documentary portrait of Jiro Ono, Tokyo’s most acclaimed sushi chef. Ono, whose 10-seat restaurant is tucked away on the subway concourse under a Ginza office building, has been awarded three Michelin stars.

Ono, 85 at the time the film was shot, has devoted more than a half –century to his art – and it is an art. Yet he refuses to stop working, heading to his small kitchen each day in hopes of making sushi that is a little better than the day before.

His reputation means that he has access to the finest fish in the Tokyo market. But it also means that he’s lived a life so devoted to his work and his business that he was a virtual stranger to his children when they were growing up.

Now his oldest son, Yoshikazu, still works for him, training the other kitchen staff and sushi apprentices and doing the actual fish shopping (since Jiro had a heart attack when he was 70). Japanese culture dictates that the oldest son follow the father into his business – which is why Yoshikazu’s younger brother, who also apprenticed with his father, split off and opened his own restaurant.

The family dynamic is fascinating, at once loving and distant, intimate and at arm’s length. What unites them is the quest to serve the perfect piece of fish – and then to do it again, even better.

This review continues on my website.

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