Booker and Dax mastermind Dave Arnold recently checked in from Tokyo on Cooking Issues, his International Culinary Center blog. What’s he up to? Oh, just hitting Jiro Ono’s sushi spot — the Michelin-starred sushi spot featured in the gorgeous food porn Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The verdict: The place is just so-so.
First up: The sushi itself is pretty good! Rice leans on the vinegar-y side, but the fish is fresh and tasty for the most part. A piece of eel is deemed “just OK,” and Arnold thinks the mantis shrim is terrible: “I don’t think my western taste buds are to blame — I think they just mostly suck.”
The real problem is the timing. The sushi comes out fast. Too fast: “The sushi courses came out at a rate of one per minute. 19 courses in 19 minutes,” Arnold writes. His two companions (including Mark Ladner) think that pace is “absurd and unpleasant.” The last course, melon, is served in a seating area. The trio takes ten minutes to eat that. Arnold points out the final tally is a $300 bill for 30 minutes of eating. When they’re winding down, Jiro himself waits at the door to offer a formal good-bye. Arnold doesn’t feel rushed: “At over 10 dollars a minute I have no problem letting an 86 year old man stand and wait for me to finish my melon if he wants to.”
About that melon: It’s fine, but the sporks served with it are killer: “Jiro’s sporks are the finest I’ve ever used. He deserves his three Michelin stars on the sporks alone.”