The One about Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy

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For sushi enthusiasts, the name Jiro Ono is internationally known.

The sushi chef is considered one of the greatest sushi craftsman alive and in Ginza, his restaurant “Sukiyabashi Jiro” has received a three-Michelin-starred rating.  There is also a restaurant in Roppongi as well.

And many more people are familiar thanks to the 2011 David Gelb documentary titled “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.

But before anyone goes to Sukiyabashi Jiro, there are rules that many people have posted online that one should know before going to the restaurant.  For one, expect to pay at least $300 minimum (Y30,000), no photos are allowed to be taken and last, because many people are trying to get in (there are only 10-seats available), you are seated and are presented one sushi after the other.

Similar to some curry restaurants in Japan or even a few sushi restaurants in Tsukiji, this is one of those sushi restaurants where conversation is not what you want to do.  You get in there and you eat your 20 courses of sushi and then you leave, it’s not a restaurant where you soak up the ambiance and hang out with friends for hours.

Also, it’s good to know the proper ways of eating sushi before visiting Sukiyabashi Jiro and fortunately, a 100-page pocketbook titled “Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy” is now available, courtesy of Viz Media.

“Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy” introduces readers to the sushi varieties served throughout the year at Sukiyabashi Jiro, how to eat sushi and also how to dine at the restaurant.

In the first chapter titled “Omakase Tasting Menu”, one can learn about what is served at the menu.  Such as sole, flounder, juvenile cuttlefish (a total of 30 are featured) are provided with a photo, information about the sushi, what season they are served, the romanized name of the dish and the name in hiragana.

So, as an example.  Flounder (Hirame/ひらめ) is shown that it is served from November through March and how at Edo-style sushi restaurants, sushi chefs used to maintain the tradition of beginning the meal with tuna (maguro), because tuna is considered the epitome of Edo-style sushi.  But at Sukiyabashi Jiro, flounder is served first, because it was an innovative idea and other sushi restaurants started to follow.

As for the second chapter titled “How to Eat Sushi”, this is probably a very important chapter to read because Jiro does observe how people eat sushi.  Actually, some other restaurants I have seen happen in other locations as well.  And I have read stories of sushi chefs becoming disgruntled by how some people go to restaurants and not knowing how to eat sushi correctly.

This chapter is one that some people should want to read.  From how to pick up sushi (never use your fingers from the top), how to use chopsticks for sushi (sideways not from the top) and more.

The third chapter is about “Dining at Sukiyabashi Jiro” and the importance of reservations, not to bee late and also a bit about the popular omakase tasting menu.

But the pocket book is full of information and yes, it’s small and it costs under $15 but for the information that you get, it’s one of those guides worth investing, especially if you are going to spend nearly $300 for the omakase tasting menu at Sukiyabashi Jiro, as you will be familiar with the rules and also how to eat sushi at the restaurant.

I also want to add a little about this that many people have commented on the price of the booklet, considering how small it is.  For one, Sukiyabashi Jiro is not your basic sushi restaurant.  You pay a premium to eat at that restaurant and you are paying a little bit for a 100-page booklet. While $9.99 may seem like a better pricepoint for some, once again, you want to eat at a fine dining, three-star Michelin restaurant, $15 for a booklet for the restaurant is not that bad.  And those familiar with Japanese culture or pop culture, know that Japanese merchandise are not always inexpensive.

Overall, if you are passionate about sushi and dream about eating at sushi master chef Jiro Ono’s Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant, “Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy” is definitely recommended reading before dining at the restaurant.


 

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Dennis A. Amith