The perfect meal
Delving into the mind of Jiro Ono, master sushi chef
Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary film directed by David Gelb, is the story of an 85-year-old perfectionist sushi master named Jiro Ono who runs a 10-seat sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station that has garnered a three-star Michelin rating, despite its funky location and lack of an on-premise toilet. That alone is interesting enough, but it is the film’s meticulous, successive delving into the layered depths of Ono’s life, mind, co-workers, customers, children and the world of sushi that puts Jiro over the top.
His restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, serves no drinks, no appetizers—only sushi that has been sourced from the very best seafood available and prepared with a level of attention and care that other, lesser sushi restaurants simply cannot attain. One must reserve a spot at least a month in advance for the three “movements” of sushi that Ono serves to that night’s customers. Like a conductor of a premier symphony, Ono guides each evening at his restaurant with almost unbelievable artful flair and love.
Ono—who was basically abandoned by his mother and drunken father at a young age—has such a strong, passionate work ethic (developed originally because of his need to survive) that every move he has made in his 75-year career as a sushi chef has been in pursuit of perfection.
Over the course of the movie, one cannot help but grow to have great respect and affection for the seemingly gruff, demanding master.
Sentences uttered unpretentiously by Ono throughout the film shine like bits of Zen wisdom, such as “Never complain about your job”; “Ultimate simplicity leads to purity”; and “You have no home to come back to”—which is something that, according to Ono, one should say to one’s children so that they can go out into the world and succeed as adults.