Jiro Dreams of Sushi | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

An engaging documentary about sushi, work and attaining perfection


Japan's most-renowned sushi master does indeed dream of sushi. But it's not the "fancy" or "modern" sort, tricked out with myriad ingredients. No, Jiro has devoted his life to the ongoing perfection of the simple and sublime — fish and rice. (For instance, octopus at Jiro's is hand-massaged for nearly an hour, so that the meat acquires the desired texture.)

David Gelb's engaging documentary puts viewers in the tiny kitchen of Jiro's restaurant, an unassuming 10-seat slot in a Tokyo subway corridor, where three-starred-Michelin meals nonetheless start at 30,000 yen (about $360). At 85 years old, Jiro is still working, overseeing his venue and training staff (an apprenticeship averages 10 years). Employees and colleagues are interviewed, and a Japanese food writer provides some context. The film also includes a visit to the always entertaining Tokyo fish market.

But it's not just about sushi: What makes Gelb's film especially revelatory is its depiction of Jiro's (and by extension, the Japanese) commitment to work; the somewhat awkward personal and business relationships Jiro has with his middle-aged sons, both sushi chefs; and Jiro's contradictory motivation — to continually strive for perfection while knowing it can never truly be achieved.

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