This week President Obama was in Japan and had sushi at a revered and tiny temple of sushi in Tokyo called the subterranean restaurant, with just 10 seats.
The sushi Obama had was carefully crafted by 89-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono.
“His sushi is the best in the world,” says David Gelb. “For someone who has a taste for true, pure Japanese sushi, it’s a place you have to go to.”
What is it like to dine at such an iconic place? For starters, the restaurant is hidden in the basement of an office building and offers only one item on its menu — the omakase course, which can cost between $300 and $400 per person. It consists of 20 pieces of sushi, prepared and served one at a time.
“There are no appetizers, no rolls of any kind,” Gelb says. “It’s purely his style of sushi, which is the classic Tokyo style. It is basically just fish and rice and seasoning, maybe a soy sauce or a nikiri, which is a kind of sweetened soy sauce.”
If you’re fortunate enough to be one of Ono’s costumers, don’t even think about ordering off the menu. “Jiro would not change his sushi for anyone,” Gelb says, adding that “he just gives you what he feels is the best of the day.”
And Ono really means the best. Every day, for instance, he massages the octopus he’s planning to serve for an hour.
You have to love your job.
You must fall in love with your work.
— Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The Japanese call it shibui, simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements.
— Japan Sukiyabashi Jiro 3-Star Sushi