The plan was, watch a documentary on one man's art of sushi and then have a sushi dinner to discuss the film. The problem was that the showtime was later in the evening. So the potentially good idea had to be reversed. It might have worked out better because there was probably nothing that could compare to what we would have just watched. We invited friends to join us (you may remember Kurt and Diana from earlier posts) and headed towards the entertainment district in Toronto.
236 Adelaide Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 1W7
The dinner, we decided, would be at Yuzu. A new restaurant to us, but a place where many food bloggers have raved about their omakase. Being a bit tight on time, we couldn't try the omakase this time, but I think it is something I'd like to return for.
That being said, the sushi was very good! The plate was beautifully presented with great flavour pairings for each fish (pictured above). The crispy lotus roots are a lovely touch and a personal favourite of mine. The fish were at room temperature and were not in the usual state of chilliness that comes from other Japanese restaurants. I have never had sushi with tasting accompaniments before, so that was another delight.
Sadly, we departed without trying the desserts since our documentary started in fifteen minutes. I had been waiting to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi (directed by David Gelb) since it was first announced, we were not going to miss it now!
If you're unfamiliar or haven't heard about this film, the documentary is about Jiro Ono's Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-star Michelin sushi restaurant in Ginza, Japan. The draw here is that Jiro is nearing ninety years old and still loves his job. His ten-seat restaurant is located in a basement where guests must make reservations at least a month ahead. We see in the film that some people even book a year ahead! The meal starts at ¥30,000 and there is no menu - the chef decides on which sushi will be served. Noted by a food writing in the documentary, if you are a quick eater, the whole experience could last about thirty minutes. But rarely does anyone do that. You would savour each preparation, each presentation, and each perfect bite. Tokyo food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto even declares that "no one ever has a bad experience there."
There are a number of apprentices that hope to learn the operation, skills, and methods of Jiro. What impresses us the most is their dedication. It is said that one would need a minimum of ten years to be able to do their job at Subikyabaski Jiro competently. It took one apprentice almost sixty attempts before his egg sushi was acceptable. Other apprentices are taught to massage octopus for over forty minutes. They chuckle at the fact that there was an apprentice that only lasted a day there - he never showed up for work again.
Jiro's younger son, Takashi owns a second location in Roppongi Hills, which has earned him two Michelin stars. The eldest son, as per tradition, will wait to inherit his father's original location. Both have mastered their father's techniques and we watched in awe as a couple of quick hand movements shape the rice and fish slices are brushed with soy sauce.
Hearing from all aspects of their restaurant business, we see the vendors who take great pride in being the ones supplying Jiro's. It becomes a marketing tool for them, to be able to say that Jiro buys their products, therefore, you really can't get anything better than this. The rice dealer doesn't even sell his rice to top hotels because he claims that they wouldn't even know how to prepare it.
I liked that the film also touched upon the sustainability of food. Even with something as simple as sushi - rice and fish - Jiro's has noticed a drastic change from their seafood providers. Certain fish are no longer available. They mention that it's society's need for quick access - even convenience stores sell (mediocre) sushi. A waste, as the abundance of fish decreases and are not being used properly.
Of course, the premise is based on the wonder of how seasoned rice and fish could taste so good. And the fact that Jiro is so passionate about his job. You see the heart and dedication he puts into the restaurant for all his guests. Managing reservations, seating charts, knowing each customer's preference, and serving the meal - it makes me ache with hope that everyone can be so lucky in finding their perfect fit in the world.