I love documentaries, especially those about unique crafts and skills, such as origami, artistic woodworking, and specialty food. TV shows like Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations are right up my alley. Chefs like Ferran Adria of El Bulli fascinate me with the fine, experimental details he puts into everything he does. However, this post is not about him, but about Jiro.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about the owner of a sushi restaurant in Japan considered by many to be the best. It is one of the few restaurants to be given a 3-Star rating multiple years in a row by the Michelin guide. It also casts aside the misconception that many people have that sushi is simply fish and rice served cold and raw. There is a lot of tradition, a lot of care and lot of training that goes into this delicacy. There are many cultural differences between the west and the east, especially when it comes to work ethic. Many people tend to want to do a variety of different things in their lives and want weekends and holidays off, Jiro has only known one thing, sushi, and that is all he has ever wanted to do and is still striving, after 75 years of doing it (he's 85), to perfect his craft.
The filmmaker takes us on a trip through Japan, from the fish market to the produce stands and to a reunion with Jiro's former schoolmates from many years ago. The story introduces us to his two sons, the elder take over his fathers business while the younger already owns his own restaurant. Throughout the film are stunning visuals of sushi in every stage of preparedness and showing how such simple ingredients have to be treated with respect in order to achieve the desired effect.
If you like this type of documentary, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a Japanese film that is subtitled. Normally, I would prefer dubbed, but in this case, subtitled is the only way to hear Jiro's passion for his craft. It is available on Amazon Instant Video for $3.99 rental for 48 hours, or free for Prime members. It is also available on Netflix streaming. If I were a critic, which I'm not, I would give this a 5 out of 5.