So we actually watched Jiro dreams of sushi over the weekend – a version ripped from a BluRay disc, which made it 2 gigs for about 1.5 hrs of documentary. It couldn’t play on my really laupok laptop (which I have used since my first year at uni) but worked fine on LZ’s toshiba.
The documentary was really well crafted, well shot, and had great spontaneous dialogue. For those who haven’t watched it (and are sushi lovers – not me), Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about a shokunin (artisan) who specializes in making sushi – both the nigiri type (little lozenges of vinegared rice topped with a small piece of sashimi and then glazed) and the gunkan type (sushi rice wrapped in toasted seaweed and filled with seafood. He has received 3 michelin stars at the age of 85 (I think) and his restaurant is a tiny, 10 seater restaurant with no pandering waiters, just people who are very, very serious about their sushi. In fact the place has no “restaurant seating” and “bar seating” – you’re pretty much seated bar side where the sushi chefs are on the other side of the table preparing your sushi, about 1 prepared per minute, 20 pieces in 20 minutes. Jiro watches you while you eat.
The menu is what one would call an omakase (the chef decides, and it depends on what is the freshest available seafood at the nearby tsukiji fish market), and costs at least 30000 JPY, usually with sake etc. it will come up to about 36000 JPY, which is USD300 – USD400.
Items that are quite typical in the omakase are:
sole, squid, yellow tail, tuna – with three different degrees of fatness, gizzard shad, ark shell clam, octopus, hose mackerel, tiger prawn, halfbeak, saba, salmon roe, bay scallops, sea urchin, mantis prawn, saltwater eel. The meal ends with tamago – the egg omelette that’s a bit like a sponge cake, and a slice of melon.
Here are some things I never knew about sushi –
Nigiri style sushi seems to be the most popular. The Gunkan style with toasted seaweed (the ‘mascot’ of sushi) seems to be mainly used to keep small morsels in, for example, ikura, or fat vermillion balls of salmon roe, uni, or the little pale yellow bodies of sea urchins, or bay scallops. Female sushi chefs are uncommon because apparently females have a higher body temperature (is this true?) and using their hands to mould the rice would give it a higher than optimal temperature, which is body temperature.
In nigiri, a little dab of wasabi is swiped onto the concave part of the fish before being laid over the rice. The fish is then glazed with a special soy sauce before being served, meaning you don’t have to eat it with wasabi and soy.
I don’t eat sushi but I liked the documentary very much. Jiro is quite funny. I can’t believe he’s still working when he’s reaching his late eighties. Still, I suppose if it’s been his life all this time it would be hard to just stop halfway.
Also, after having Xiumin over on Saturday during which I recommended a slew of books for her reading pleasure (lent her Stephen Fry’s The Liar, which is a great introduction to Fry), she told me about bookOS.org, from which you can download epubs/mobis of various ebooks (illegally, of course). I’ve taken to looking for the soft copies of thick books there, such as Julie Orringer’s Invisible Bridge. Tried to find World Without End, which I really want to read after finishing the TV series of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It was expertly casted, acted and filmed, and followed the storyline in the Pillars of the Earth quite closely. You can really see the huge amount of research he had to do to write that book. World Without End is the sequel to that, and I have the hard copy (which releases me from any guilt to do with downloading the soft copy), but Ken Follett’s publishing house has been totally on the ball in deleting the links to the pirated versions of his books online so I couldn’t get any. I feel kinda bad for not having read World Without End yet (I have owned the book for more than 5 years now), since I finished reading The Pillars right on the release of WWE, and then bugged my mum to buy me the hardcover release which was $50. Now it probably costs peanuts, the novelty having worn off. It’s far too chunky to read on the commute, probably weighs about 1kg and has the same volume as a basketball. You can find much of Simon Rich’s and Alain de Botton’s oeuvre on BookOS, as well as Nicole Krauss and Julie Orringer. The download limit per IP is about 7 books a day, and of course you typically need a smart device with an epub reader (which you can also download for your computer) to read these books.