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Sleepers to See: Delve into the Life of the World's Greatest Sushi Chef in 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi'

Sleepers to See is an occasional column to tout lesser known films. This column is not studio endorsed but instead is a strong recommendation from the movie geeks here at Fandango for those looking for something outside of the Hollywood mainstream.

There's a lot going on in Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's a father-son story, a sushi aficionado's dream, a character exploration.

Sure, much like sushi, documentaries are an acquired taste, but Jiro's 81 minute running time breezes by as we delve into the life of a man who has spent 75 years making sushi in the basement of a Tokyo subway station. His creations have earned him a coveted Michelin three-star review and earned him the title as the world's greatest sushi chef. A seat at the 10-seat restaurant needs to be booked at least a month in advance and depending on what kind of meal you order, prices start off at 30,000 yen (that's about $370).

While we marvel at Jiro's self-discipline, drive and high standards, there's also the story revolving around his 60-year old son Yoshikazu, the heir to the restaurant. Director David Gelb follows Yoshikazu through the painstaking process of meeting Jiro's high standards, from how the restaurant selects their seafood to the meticulous training the restaurant employees undergo.
An apprenticeship at Jiro's restaurant involves a 20-year commitment. Ten years in, you finally get to make tamago (grilled egg) and if it doesn’t pass Jiro's strict standards, you keep making it until he finally approves. One apprentice ended up making over 200 batches of grilled egg over the course of many months.

Jiro's drive for excellence comes at a price though. He admits he was never much of a father, always spending time at his restaurant. "I was probably more like a stranger," he says. He jokes that on the rare occasion that he slept in on a Sunday, his youngest son, Takashi, who now operates his own restaurant in Roppongi Hills, would say, "Mom, there's a strange man sleeping in our house!"

Like most people, Jiro is a complex man. While the sushi porn will suck you in, the documentary beautifully illustrates the lengths this shokunin  will go to achieve perfection.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is in limited release beginning today, March 9. You can read more critical reviews here.
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