Jan 25, 2019

Jiro Ono - Sushi Master par excellence

by Aksha Verma
Reading time: 4 mins

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I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I'll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is. - Jiro Ono, Master Sushi Chef

‘Sushi’ is a traditional Japanese food which is made with a special cooked rice. Sushi Chefs combine rice with other ingredients. Often, the rice is served with fish or seafood. Usually, the fish in sushi is not cooked. Sushi Chefs also combine rice with other ingredients, such as, egg, cucumber, weeds, etc. and make and serve sushi in rolls. They roll rice and other ingredients together and cover it with dried seaweed.

Sushi combines different tastes and textures, from salty and smooth to rough and sweet making it a popular food for many. For the starters who are trying out this amazing food, it may take some time to acquire the taste for it.

Is there a ‘perfect’ Sushi? Perhaps, someone who works in the pursuit of sushi perfection every day, the world famous sushi master, Jiro Ono can answer the question.

Jiro Ono is a Japanese chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-Michelin-starred Japanese sushi restaurant in Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo, Japan. He follows a long and carefully defined process for making sushi resuting in a finished product which has made him the best Sushi Chef in the world. Michelin is an international organization that rates restaurants and they gave Sukiyabashi Jiro their highest rating - three stars making it the first ever sushi restaurant to ever receive such an accolade. This rating is a rare honor and the highest honor a restaurant can receive.

Jiro goes to extreme lengths in composing his sushi menu. A meal at Ono’s restaurant is expensive, but that does not stop the diehards from coming. People travel from all over the world to eat Ono’s sushi, making plans months ahead and booking in advance.

Jiro Ono has been regarded by his peers as the greatest sushi craftsman alive and is credited with innovating many of the methods used in modern sushi preparation.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, still striving for perfection, working hard from sunrise to beyond sunset. He tastes every piece of fish, meticulously trains his employees and carefully moulds and finesses the presentation of each of his sushi creations. For Jiro, sushi should be treated like a chick, very gently, and the temperature of the rice, which should be the same as the body temperature, and the freshness of the fish are critical to make a good sushi.

Jiro Ono began working when he was 9 years old and when he was in his twenties, he became an apprentice under an expert sushi chef from whom he learned many skills and ideas about sushi. Having learnt the traditional methods of making sushi, he has gone on to improve and perfect the art in his long and illustrious career.

Jiro Ono’s work ethics, drive for excellence and unflinching hard work have made him one of the most important sushi chefs in Japan.

Many other people aspire to be Ono’s apprentice. But to do this, a person must agree to work with Ono for 10 years. Apprentices at Ono’s restaurant do not start by making sushi. First, they must learn about all the different kinds of sushi, fish and rice. Then they learn how to cook the rice so that it is right. The rice must be sticky, but not too soft. Then the apprentices learn how to prepare the fish. At every stage they have to meet and satisfy the boss’s lofty expectations. It is only after several years of training on the job that they can begin to make the sushi.

The menu offered in his tiny restaurant, located on the ground floor of a Tokyo tower building, has only 10 seats. Each meal starts from 30,000 yen (250 euros) and only fresh fish bought every morning at the Tsukiji fish market is served.

There is no other restaurant in the world that has three Michelin stars (and he is the oldest chef to receive the honor).

As an expert teacher, he has trained both of his sons in making sushi. His sons are also expert sushi chefs. His elder son, Yoshikazu, works at Ono’s restaurant whereas his younger son, Takashi, has his own restaurant in a different part of Tokyo. The mantra that Jiro has repeated to his children for almost the whole of their lives: “Always look forward, beyond yourselves. Always improve yourself, strive to perfect your skills.”

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