Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/01/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 81 mins

Hugely entertaining, genuinely mouth-watering documentary that focuses on an intriguing subject and is both moving and informative. It'll also make you very hungry – don't see this on an empty stomach.

What's it all about?
Directed by David Gelb, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about octogenarian Ono Jiro, whose 10-seat Sukiyabashi Jiro sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station is the only restaurant of its kind to have earned three Michelin stars. Regarded by many as the best sushi chef in the world, Jiro still works in his restaurant every day and continually strives to improve his own techniques. Waiting in the wings to eventually take over (the Prince Charles to Jiro's Queen, if you will) is Jiro's 50 year old eldest son Yoshikazu, while his youngest son Takashi has opened his own, more relaxed restaurant in a neighbouring district.

The Good
Gelb's cameras observe Jiro, Yoshikazu and their team as they go about their daily routine (such as massaging each octopus for 40 minutes) in the restaurant kitchen, interspersed with frequent to-camera interviews with Jiro, Yoshikazu, Takashi (and various combinations thereof), as well as contributions from reverential food critics and brief profiles of two valued long-time colleagues, tuna-dealer Hiroki Fujita and rice-supplier Hiromichi Honda. There's also a brief recap of Jiro's own difficult childhood as well as touching anecdotes from both his sons (there's a lovely story about the two boys saving up to buy their first can of Coca-Cola, only for the youngest to ruin it by shaking it up, because that's what he thought you were supposed to do).

Jiro's work ethic is truly inspiring and his absurdly high standards are almost comical, particularly when it comes to his trainees; as one of his admirers drily puts it, ‘After ten years, he lets you cook the eggs’. It's also both fascinating and admirable that despite his reputation, Jiro clearly has no interest in expanding his business beyond his family restaurant (though he is obviously proud of his younger son's success).

The Great
Gelb's cinematography would do even Nigella's team of food pornographers proud, lovingly shooting and lighting every morsel of sushi until the audience starts drooling and moaning. There's also a terrific soundtrack (much of which is by Philip Glass), which comes into its own in two skilfully edited and extremely enjoyable sequences: first at the tuna market during an auction and secondly when Jiro prepares and serves a 20 course meal that is likened to a symphony.

Worth seeing?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable documentary that's a must-see for food fans everywhere. Highly recommended.

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Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (U)
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 05:18

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