Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sushi For The President

I loved hearing  that within the first two hours of President Obama's visit to Japan yesterday, April 23, 2014, that he went to the finest maker of Sushi- a little old man named: Jiro Ono.  Apparently that was Obama's choice and he went there with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to open up negotiations between what the Japanese consider a "dry" American President and a "stilted" Japanese Prime Minister.

 In the New York Times article Obama’s First Order of Business in Tokyo: Sushi From the Master the paper says "The chef, Jiro Ono, was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary film, 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi,' by the director David Gelb, which was featured at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival...It follows Mr. Ono as he 'pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi'."

The restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro is in the basement of a business building in Tokyo and is very small. A Blog called "Donald says" describes the place: "The restaurant seats about 10 people, and reservations are only allowed for locals, foreigners must come with a person fluent in Japanese with a Tokyo accent. The customer must eat whatever the chef serves immediately, with no utensils or wasabi or soy sauce. 'The way he does it already right.' " Donald Says

 I work with a chef who has studied in Japan under the Japanese Emperor's Sous Chef and once he served the sushi just as it is and said the same thing:  "It does not need wasabi or soy sauce- that only disguises the flavor." he said.  But I love wasabi (and I love sushi!) so I slowly helped introduce wasabi back into the class.  Sigh, yes us Americans and our taste buds- but I do love wasabi.  So I hear Obama was very impressed and even though he has had a lot of sushi before- he said this was the best. 

In the Straits Times (Obama Dreams of Sushi...) it describes the restaurant as having three Michelin stars and a set meal of 20 pieces costs over $300. (Which the Japanese Prime Minister would of paid since Obama was his guest). There is no menu: the Chef prepares what he thinks you will like and even for a president he must eat what is served.

President "Obama made the pilgrimage to the restaurant just after touching down in Tokyo at the start of an Asian tour, taking along US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and his national security advisor Susan Rice."

After enjoying a 90 minute meal of sushi and sake, a meal that usually takes only 30 minutes because of it's sparseness, the president declared: " 'That's some good sushi right there,' he remarked as he emerged from the restaurant after the 90-minute dinner with Abe and headed back to his hotel." Obama taken to Michelin star sushi bar

The life and pursuit of this Chef for the perfect piece of sushi is told in the award winning movie: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi". The movie looks endearing, I'll have to watch it, it is available on Netflix:  

For further reading about Obama's sushi experience in Japan please read:

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