Apologies if there's already been a thread or discussion on this board about this but I recently watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi and was wondering what people's opinions were of Jiro's restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. Is the sushi that amazing here? Could I go elsewhere in the city for similar sushi quality and preparations but not have to pay the price or worry about finding a reservation opening? I know his son opened a restaurant in Roppongi Hills that is similar.
Ok, I'll bite...
I've been to the son's location in Roppongi several times mixed between lunch and dinner and to the main branch in Ginza once for dinner, where Jiro was serving.
At least in my experiences, I found the Roppongi setting to be far more approachable and enjoyable. Along with my guest, generally for lunch we were the only two people in the restaurant on several occasions. In other cases, there may have been one other small group or couple. At the main branch on one weekday for dinner, it was just my group of two and another group of four, all Japanese.
FYI, I'm a gaijin. My guest was Japanese. In Roppongi, they happily speak English and seemed to enjoy conversing with the guests, explaining items upon request, soliciting feedback and comments. It was interactive and mutual in terms of the discussion. A very quiet setting, I did not feel rushed, but the meal is rather fast compared to say, French, or another multi course plated experience.
In Ginza, I definitely felt like there was a wall between Jiro and his guests. The other table of Japanese folks were constantly praising him, it was almost pathetic to be honest, but I am trying to respect the culture here and acknowledge that it is normal and perhaps even expected in this setting with this master chef. He himself was stoic, didn't say much and certainly did not speak any English to anyone in the establishment. I felt the dinner to be even more rushed despite that the bulk of the restaurant was empty.
All that said, the sushi meals at both of these establishments have consistently been the best in my life and while the price is incredibly high, I would recommend it be tried - at least once (or twice!)
I ate there a year or so before the movie was released.
My impressions: Good Edomae sushi. Excellent, excellent rice. Lots of sauce on some of the pieces (but I'm sure Jiro-san intended it this way). Authentic, but I think I like my sushi with bit less sauce (but that's only my preference). It was a fast meal, but I have no problems with that.
Food-wise, there are many closely comparable sushi-yas all over Tokyo... But if I was a filmmaker, of all the itamae in Japan, I would also choose Jiro-san as my subject.
So, I'll give you my take as a foreigner who has lived her for a few years. It was a pretty memorable experience, but I think it is kind of "binary" -- you either like it or you hate it. Very rapid and what I felt was alot of pressure to eat each nigiri piece immediately -- so I had just sort of finished one and was savoring the experience and the next one was down and Jiro was sort of staring at me waiting for me to eat it before the temperature went off perfect. 14 pieces, one after another, maybe 25 minutes or so from start to finish. Relaxing tea and melon at a booth afterwards.
Each piece was honestly the best of that type that I have ever had -- even awabi, which I am not a huge fan of, was fantastic at Sukiyabashi Jiro. And my friends and colleagues (both Japanese and now foreigners who have seen the movie) are always amused and entertained by the stories. And I have a photo of myself and wife and Ono-san that I am fond of. So, I am glad to have gone and it was truly excellent at every bite. But colleagues have not enjoyed the experience as much, and I can see the logic there. So, the summary of all this rambling: YMMV.
No, no, Jiroo-San is not complicated, basically it is just a mix of simple and various things (hihi!). And ignore comments about his character.
Well, if you are new to high-end sushi, it might be a bit difficult to understand.. Just don't expect the service to be transparent, they don't speak Japanese. I will try to give you hints if you want to give a try (already decided not to? too bad, hasty decision !):
The set is nigiri only, the sequence is short and the shari(rice) warm, it should be your first warm shari sushi. The nigiri set changes between season, and as for a French menu, pieces like 'aji(mackerel)' will appear on the menu not at the same time, depending on the previous seasonal piece.
The maguro, especially the 'chutoro(mid fatty tuna)', is one of the great 'nama(raw)' piece of high quality
Try to book if possible at night, and last service will be better to have a bit more time.. usually the sequence, alternative sequence in fact, as each customers is serve at each tempo, you won't have to wait, but it will still be 30-40mn.
In my opinion, the set at 30,000.-yens(with tax 31,500.-yens), is not expensive if you think that it is 1,500yens per piece. Jiroo's nigiri are beautifully shaped, and in a breath just melt in your mouth.. True, you have also his son, or some of his disciple, like Mizutani and Harutaka, but after having gone each year at Jiroo Ginza, I can not help compare them unfavorably.I am picky even with his second son, although his lunch is better than at Mizutani and at 17,000yens...