CALL YOURSELF A SUSHI CHEF

~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, January 9th 2013

David Gelb’s lip-smacking documentary, "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi", profiles Jiro Ono (right), an 85-year-old sushi chef whose ten-seater restaurant in a Tokyo subway station has three Michelin stars. A central theme of the film is the importance of dedicating yourself to your craft for many years. Jiro believes that you have to train for a decade before you can call yourself a sushi chef, and he maintains that he’s still learning new techniques even now. It would be wrong to suggest, then, that an 81-minute documentary could bump up anyone’s Michelin rating. But, just in case, here are ten Top Tips gleaned from the film—one for every seat in the restaurant.

1) You should learn how to squeeze a hot towel before you learn to prepare sushi.

2) You should buy tuna only from a trusted market stallholder, and inspect each fish from the day's catch, using a torch to aid your surgical examination. If someone else beats you to the best available tuna, you shouldn’t buy any at all.

3) An octopus should be massaged for 40 to 45 minutes. Some restaurants massage their octopi for a mere half-hour, but that’s not enough.

4) Seaweed should be softened by flapping it over a portable grill in a back corridor.

5) Shrimp shouldn’t be boiled until the customers arrive at the restaurant. Boiling them in the morning and then putting them in the fridge won’t do.

6) Rice should be served at body temperature.

7) Twenty pieces of sushi should be served to each customer.

8) If a customer is left-handed, their food should be positioned on the left side of their plate.

9) The rhythm of the meal should be maintained by adjusting portion sizes according to the physique of the customer: women should be given smaller portions than men.

10) Once you’ve served sushi to a customer, you should stand over them and watch while they eat it. They’ll be intimidated, but apparently they’ll love it.

Nicholas Barber is a film critic at the Independent. His recent posts for the Editors' Blog include The Rushdie ratings and Slobs in perfect T-shirts