Director David Gelb takes us into a small 10-seat sushi restaurant, in the middle of a Tokyo subway station and from here, we learn how after decades of dedication, a man, his sons, and their apprentices, wow the world with their delicious preparations.
Admittingly so, I am a huge fan of sushi. This made this film that much more attractive to me. Be that as it may, this isn’t just a gastro-visual journey to entice the viewer into eating sushi. No, its art. Jiro Ono, the sushi chef, or “Shokunin” in Japanese, has spent his whole life perfecting this style of cuisine. At 85 years old, when the film was shot, he continues day in and day out, slicing us bite-size portions of fresh heaven. At $350 per person to eat there, this tiny little restaurant isn’t what it appears to be.
Jiro has made it his life work to continuously perfect, refine and re-invent sushi. In the film we follow his journey along with his two sons and the apprentices of the restaurant. While the training is meticulous, long-lasting (taking 10+ years to be an apprentice under Jiro), and laborious, the final product is nothing less than absolutely magnificent.
While the mouth-watering visual appeal of the movie does so perfectly showcase the culinary wizardry of Jiro and his crew, its learning about the Shokunin, his sons and their apprentices that gives the film its life. Jiro and his sons have a very traditional Japanese approach to their work, blindly and fully committing themselves to perfection. And it pays off.
The second half of the film moves more into the personalities of those at Sukiyabashi Jiro (the name of the restaurant). Jiro’s smile and laughter is contagious, his eldest son, Yoshikazu’s journey to prepare to take over when his father retires, and the apprentices’ stories of their trials learning their craft.
This is a heart-warming story of a lifetime dedicated to improving oneself, one’s trade, and passing that on before we die.