Jiro Dreams of Sushi
It was too busy focusing on his current status than it did showing how he achieved it. Well shot but stayed a little too close to the surface.
It has been said that the history of sushi is so long that nothing new could be invented but that is where the passionate Jiro Ono comes in. Just as the title suggests, Jiro literally dreams of sushi. David Gelb’s documentary is about a man who has dedicated his entire life to the art behind sushi making. While it certainly convinces you that all other sushi is inferior to his, from a documentary stand point it stayed a little too close to the surface.
We are introduced to Jiro Ono who is an 85 year-old sushi master who runs his sushi bar appropriately named Jiro. A prolific food writer explains that of all the sushi places he has been to in Tokyo, Jiro’s place is by far the best. Other culinary professionals agree that Jiro is one of the greatest sushi masters in the world. Which makes sense as to why reservations to eat at his $300-a-plate restaurant must be made one month in advance.
Jiro explains that once you have figured out what you want to do for a living you must immerse yourself into it and dedicate your life to mastering it. That is his secret to success. He practices what he preaches as he has been working at the same job for over 70 years now. Jiro is a perfectionist who is constantly trying to improve his product as he thinks he still has not reached the peak of his skills.
At the age of nine Jiro left home and was told that he has no home to come back to. Because he had to work in order to survive before he was even a teenager, it is undoubtedly the reason why he is such a hard worker today. He practically breathes passion and it shows in his work.
Each vendor that they buy from specializes in what they sell, so they have a different vendor that they buy their tuna from than the one they buy their shrimp from. Some of the most interesting footage is when they visit these vendors. Of course, each vendor has good relationships with Jiro. They hold high standards when they buy fish because they know he expects the highest quality.
The documentary gives a brief background on The Michelin Guide. The guide first began in France in 1900 and is considered one of the highest honors to receive in the culinary world. Inspectors look for the quality of the food first, then originality and finally consistency. Jiro received a perfect three star rating even though the restaurant only seats 10 and the bathroom was located outside the premises.
It is not until the last 15 minutes of Jiro Dream of Sushi that any kind of conflict arises in this documentary. It touches on the subject of over-fishing and how the governments should be regulating the catching of young fish (specifically tuna). Because sushi is getting so popular the demand for fish is rising more and more each day. He pleas for businesses to balance profit with preserving natural resources.
The other issue I had with the documentary is that it could have expanded a little more on Jiro’s personal life. Sure, it did touch on his past and on his sons that are set to take over the business when he passes away. But it was too busy focusing on his current status than it did showing how he achieved it. And although he mentions his wife once or twice, we are never see her or told anything about her.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi preaches on more than one occasion that one should constantly be pushing themselves to work harder every day. The biggest fault is that it did not show what makes Jiro Ono tick. Also, it chose to focus more on his success than how he got there. The documentary was shot similar to how the cuts of sushi were shown, precise and well presented. One thing after watching the documentary is certain; you will walk away feeling hungry.