Jiro Ono is the most famous luxury sushi chef in the world. He’s shot to fame in recent years since the release of the American documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, in 2011. The popular documentary centers on Jiro’s life and his luxurious sushi creations, which can cost up to $400 per person. The 88-year-old Japanese native owns and works at Sukiyabashi Jiro, which is widely thought to be the world’s greatest sushi restaurant. This sushi master has become world famous among wealthy food lovers. He admits to having left home at the young age of nine and dedicated his life to cooking sushi from that day onwards. He says he has always dreamed of making better sushi, regardless of how good he gets. For the vast majority of his life, he has spent his days and nights working in his own restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, and accepting nothing less than perfection from himself and his carefully-selected employees. Each of his chefs train as apprentices for at least 10 years before graduating to a more senior position.
Jiro’s restaurant is based at the entrance to Tokyo’s Ginza metro station, in the basement of a business building. The modest restaurant is surprisingly small and simple compared to fancy sushi restaurants being built all over the globe – but it certainly makes up for that with the quality of its cuisine. It provides guests with the most luxurious Japanese food – and restaurant experience – imaginable. When Jiro was 82 years old, he received a well-deserved Michelin 3-star rating. This is something granted to only the world’s best, award-winning chefs – and Jiro was the first sushi chef in the world to receive the honor. Taking all those accolades into account, it’s not surprising that this 10-seat restaurant is one of the hardest restaurants in the world to get a reservation at. Anyone who can afford a $300+ dollar meal, and who’s planning on being in Tokyo for a few days, should make their reservation at least a few months in advance. On top of that, guests should be sure to arrive on time so as not to miss out because the schedule is tight at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Rumour has it that if you get your hotel to call and mention that you’ll be there with a local person, you’ll have greater success of getting a last-minute reservation.
If you’re lucky enough to get a reservation, you will be subject to a 15-to-20-minute mouth-watering sushi experience like no other. Sitting at the bar inside the restaurant, you will first be offered a warm towel to wash your hands and face and a cup of Japanese tea. Following this, guests will receive approximately 20 pieces of sushi per person as part of a set menu. The set menu is different every day depending on the freshest ingredients available, but food reviewers say it’s always luxurious. There’s no way of knowing what you’ll be served on any one day. Each piece of sushi is served as a separate course and comes out about one minute apart. Some guests reportedly find it hard to keep up with the pace but it’s all part of the experience at this sushi bar. We figure it’s just enough time to admire the presentation and the delicious smell before popping it in your mouth. There’s the tuna nigiri that is sometimes aged for up to 10 days in order to maximise flavor. There’s the karei (or sole) that cleanses the palate with its mild fish flavor on top of a bed of delicious rice. There’s the yellowtail that’s extremely flavorful and glazed with Jiro’s special soy sauce. No matter what kind of sushi you’ve tried before, this luxury meal is sure to beat all your expectations.
It won’t come as a surprise that Jiro’s highly trained chefs spend hours preparing the rice and seafood, before handing it over to the master at the last minute. Jiro completes the molding of the rice and paints every piece with a luxury glazing, which is a top secret recipe, before serving it individually to each customer. During the meal, Jiro reportedly stands and watches his guests eat in order to gauge their satisfaction. He serves wasabi and soy sauce alongside the dishes, but it’s apparently bad manners to actually use it because it would suggest you aren’t satisfied enough with the flavors of his cuisine. At the end of the sushi experience, you’ll be ushered to a booth that’s alongside the bar and served a delicious piece of Japanese melon for dessert. Despite the full experience lasting less than a half hour, you’ll be charged up to $400 per person for the most luxurious sushi you’ll ever eat. This doesn’t include drinks and amounts to over $25 per individual piece of sushi. With 10 guests per half hour, each paying up to $400, Jiro is bound to be among the richest sushi chefs in the world too.
It goes without saying that every single piece of sushi at Jiro’s restaurant is made with the best, hand-picked seafood and ingredients. All food is cooked to perfection by Jiro and his master apprentice chefs. Jiro has entrusted one of his sons to visit the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo everyday and handpick the best, freshest seafood available, regardless of the price. This market is the largest wholesale seafood market in the world, with more than $5.5 billion worth of seafood passing through every year. Often the catch of the day includes shrimp, eel, octopus or tuna, and Jiro’s son has specific dealers who he purchases each type of seafood from. Even the rice is of the finest grade. It’s purchased from one of Tokyo’s top rice dealers. Years of experience and excellent relationships have given them a strong ability to find and purchase the best ingredients that even Jiro will be satisfied by.
From the high-end ingredients through to the expertly-trained chefs, restaurant reviewers and foodies around the world say that Jiro Ono’s sushi experience is worth every cent. A favorite of the richest travellers – and the richest locals – this restaurant offers the most luxurious sushi on the planet. (by Melanie Mills)