Everything you need to know about Jiro Ono, the subject of the new documentary, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, is right there in the title. The man literally dreams of new ways to perfect one of the world’s greatest delicacies. He has dedicated nearly his entire life to the art and craft of sushi making and I don’t say this lightly. After being cast out of his home at the age of 10, in some form of parental lesson meant to teach him to fend for himself, Ono began his career as a sushi apprentice. It has been 75 years since then and not only has the student become the master, but Ono is actually considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef alive today.
Yes, it is an incredible story but does it really make for a compelling film as well? I’m happy to say the answer there is also a resounding yes. Ono’s journey is as long and fascinating as his personality is colorful. First time feature filmmaker, David Gelb, has crafted a telling piece that brings us deep into Ono’s kitchen and even deeper into his philosophies on life, most of which are expressed in his actual sushi. His 3-star Michelin restaurant, can be found in the basement of a Tokyo office building but it can take up to a year to get a reservation at his tiny table. Dining with Ono is said to be like experiencing a great and balanced symphony, itself broken into three sections. And somehow, without even getting the privilege of a single bite of Ono’s sushi, we can understand what that experience might be like thanks to the intimacy of the film.
Ono has two sons, both of which never went to college but rather followed in their father’s footsteps at his insistence. The youngest now has a restaurant of his own. The eldest meanwhile, is still working under his father, waiting for the day when his father will step down, if that day ever even comes. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a beautiful and tender lesson in tradition and dedication that will have you pondering a quick trip to Japan to feast upon sushi made by the master. If that isn’t possible though, be sure to have some of your own near by. If you’re a sushi lover, you couldn’t possibly watch this film without a plate within reach.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is now available to rent or own on DVD. Review copy provided by eOne Entertainment.