The finest sushi in the world is served in Japan, in a basement just off the subway, that can only seat ten people. Even Barack Obama has dined there.
It’s no secret that sushi is favoured amongst the rich people of the world. The delicate taste of fresh sushi can win over the heart of every unbeliever and it’s for this reason that some of the finest restaurants in the world are Japanese/Sushi restaurants. In fact, even the world’s most expensive hotel hosts a Japanese restaurant.
Over the last couple of decades, countless sushi restaurants have popped all across the world and it does not look like this trend is about to stop any time soon. The truth is though, that in spite of the many sushi restaurants that can suit any budge, great sushi does not come cheap. In fact, it’s not too far-fetched to say that the best sushi can only be eaten in expensive restaurants that are not likely to cut back when it comes to buying fresh fish or hiring the best sushi chefs.
Traditionally, sushi is a kind of Japanese fast food, but it has evolved into one of the most gourmet foods of all time and it’s for this reason that sushi connoisseurs and sushi lovers alike are in constant search of a sushi restaurant that can amaze them.
A Brief History of Sushi
More than just a type of food, sushi is a type of food preparation with Japanese origins which consists of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients, such as raw seafood, vegetables and tropical fruits. Although sushi can now be found at practically every corner of every western capital, this hasn’t always been the case.
In fact it wasn’t until the late 19th century that sushi, as we know it today, took its form. A type of sushi was first made in Southeast Asia and it was created as a form of food preservation. In order to preserve fresh fish, people would salt it and then wrap it in fermented rice. Upon consumption the rice was discarded and only the fish was eaten. The fermentation gave the fish a strong smell and a strong sour taste, but the process was essential as fish was an important source of Protein for the people in the areas.
Circa 14th century, at the beginning of the Muromachi period, vinegar was added to the mix as it would not only make the preserved fish last longer, but it would also help with improving the taste as well.
Sushi in its contemporary form was created by Haraya Yohei (1799-1858) at the end of the Edo period. It was an early type of fast food as it could be eaten with hands and although it was bigger than our current standards –in fact, it was three times as large- not much has changed in the way it’s prepared.
The Best Sushi Restaurant in the World
Although not much has changed in the way sushi is prepared a lot has changed in its ingredients (typical western sushi includes mayo for example), but also in the way that sushi is perceived. Sushi is no longer a fast food but an item featured in the menus of some of the most expensive restaurants in the world.
Eating quality sushi today is considered an unparalleled luxury and even world leaders, such as Barack Obama, will attend dinners where sushi is served. In fact, the most famous person to have ever dined at the world’s best sushi restaurant is none other than Barack Obama himself.
Sukiyabashi Jiro has been awarded with three Michelin stars for its culinary excellence and it’s currently the only sushi restaurant in the world to have received such an honour. Unlike what you might expect of the best sushi restaurant in the world, Sukiyabashi Jiro is a tiny restaurant located at the basement of an office building attached to an underground station in Tokyo and it’s one of the most celebrated restaurants in the world. It can only seat as many as ten people at a time and dinner here consists of twenty sushi pieces which Master Jiro will prepare in front of you and place in your plate.
The restaurant rose to fame after Tony Bourdain and his No Reservations series visited it. Also, in 2011 David Gelb released a documentary film entitled Jiro Dreams of Sushi which helped the restaurant become renowned as the best sushi restaurant in the world. Bourdain has often said that eating sushi at Jiro’s was one of the best experiences he’s ever had and earlier this year he penned a piece for The Guardian describing his ideal last meal which he wishes could take place at Sukiyabashi Jiro.
Dining at Jiro’s
Jiro’s is in no way an exclusive restaurant but you’ll need to part with what is close to $300 for a twenty course evening there. To get one of the 10 seats you’ll need to make your reservation months ahead and even when you do you need to arrive on time. According to Jiro, the vinegared rice is prepared based on your reservation time, and should you arrive late your sushi simply won’t be as good.
If you are successful in getting a reservation and getting there on time it’s important to know that there are quite a few rules you should be aware of when entering Jiro’s. For example although there’s no dress code for this expensive restaurant (as it’s practically located within in an underground station), you can’t wear shorts, sandals or collarless shirts as you might be refused service. Just to be on the safe side, make sure that you have a jacket with you. Also note that it’s discouraged to wear perfumes in Jiro’s so it’s best if you stay parfume-less for that evening.
Even if you’re used to pairing your sushi with sake in other expensive restaurants, be warned that it’s discouraged to drink sake in Jiro’s. You can always ask for some green tea which according to Jiro is the best drink to pair with sushi. To make the most of your experience it’s also important to concentrate on dining so don’t get distracted with talking, taking pictures (which is actually prohibited) or doing anything else that might disturb the serene environment of Jiro’s.
There’s no menu to select from and you’re advised to eat each of the twenty pieces of sushi you’ll be served soon after they’re placed in your plate as the flavours in sushi are more prominent as soon as it’s prepared. You should eat with your hands while Master Jiro prepares each sushi to perfection (and make sure that you don’t spoil your sushi’s taste by dipping it in soy sauce).
Back in 2014, President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had dinner at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Although typical visits at Jiro do not exceed 30 minutes –this expensive restaurant is often criticized for its rushed service- Obama exceeded this time frame by staying for an hour and a half.
After the dinner, Obama proclaimed that it was the best sushi he’d ever had so you can take his words for it as I’m sure that Obama has had his fair share of expensive restaurants.
Sukiyabashi Jiro is not your typical expensive restaurant where one dines in luxury. Here what matters is the food. Sukiyabashi Jiro is a holy place where one goes to eat the best sushi in the world and you shouldn’t expect anything more or anything less than that.