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President Obama Dreams of (and Dines) at Jiro Restaurant


President Obama got to dine at the famous Jiro restaurant, something most of us only dream about.

President Obama won’t have to dream of this world-famous sushi any longer! While visiting Japan, the U.S. president dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the famous three-Michelin star restaurant owned by Jiro Ono. Thanks to the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the 89-year-old chef is well-known as one of the best, if not the best, sushi chef in the world.

The White House said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the president were joined by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Details of the meal have not been disclosed to the public, but according to the restaurant’s website, the selection of sushi for the high-profile guests cost almost $300 per person.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi


Obama Dines on Sushi at Tokyo 'Jiro Dreams' Shop

TOKYO - President Obama stepped off Air Force One in Japan apparently with an appetite for sushi.

After a quick refresh at the Hotel Okura near the U.S. Embassy, Obama joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for dinner at a tiny sushi shop in the city's Ginza neighborhood. They were joined by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, the White House said.

The restaurant - Sukiyabashi Jiro - has earned a rare three-star Michelin rating. Its owner and master chef, 89-year-old Jiro Ono, was featured in the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." Many regard him as the world's best sushi chef.

Details of the president's dinner were scarce, as it was closed to the press. A special meal of selections by the chef costs close to $300 per person, according to the restaurant's website. Reservations are booked through June at its main location.

White House officials say building personal ties between Obama and Abe is a priority on his third trip to Japan as president.

They "have good discussions all the time, whenever they see each other," a senior Japanese government official said. "But the more frequently they see each other, the better."


Obama Is Eating At The Legendary 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi' Restaurant

On the first day of President Barack Obama’s overseas trip in Asia, he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are dining at a legendary sushi restaurant made famous by a 2011 documentary.

The restaurant — Sukiyabashi Jiro — earned a rare three-star Michelin rating, which means it has “exceptional cuisine” and is “worth a special journey.” It is one of only 13 three-star restaurants in Tokyo. There are only 10 seats in the entire restaurant. The combination makes it especially hard to secure reservations — as of the beginning of April, the restaurant was fully booked until the beginning of May.

The chef, 87-year-old Jiro Ono, is considered to be one of the top sushi chefs in the world. Ono prepares the sushi himself. The chef’s recommended special course at the restaurant starts around $US300. That includes more than one dozen “courses” in about 20 minutes — but Obama and Abe’s dinner lasted about an hour and a half.

“That’s some good sushi right there,” Obama told reporters leaving the restaurant.

Obama and Abe were joined at dinner by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice. The dinner kicks off Obama’s week in Asia, as he finally makes the trip he canceled last fall because of the federal government shutdown. Obama’s trip is meant to reassure allies in Japan and South Korea, amid rising tensions with China and more unpredictability from North Korea.

Here’s the trailer for “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” the 2011 documentary that helped launch Ono to widespread fame:


Obama Gets A Taste Of Jiro's 'Dream' Sushi In Name Of Diplomacy

President Obama shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before a private dinner at Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Tokyo on Wednesday. At Sukiyabashi Jiro, people pay a minimum $300 for 20 pieces of sushi chosen by the patron, Jiro Ono. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Listen to the Story on All Things Considered

Obama Gets A Taste Of Jiro's 'Dream' Sushi In Name Of Diplomacy

President Obama kicked off the first leg of his tour of Asia Wednesday with some sushi diplomacy.

He dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo at a revered and tiny temple of sushi in Tokyo called Sukiyabashi Jiro. The subterranean restaurant, with just 10 seats at the counter, was made famous by the 2011 documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Obama emerged with a thumbs-up review. "That's some good sushi right there," he said. "It was terrific, thank you so much."

Master sushi chef Jiro Ono shows off his famously soft hands, one of the secrets to his renowned sushi, in front of Ono's sushi restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, in Tokyo, Japan. Located in the drab basement of an old Tokyo office building, Sukiyabashi Jiro is considered the best sushi shop in the world by major food critics. Photo: Everett Kennedy Brown/epa/Corbis

If you've ever seen the documentary, you know why: The sushi Obama had was carefully crafted by 89-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono.

"His sushi is the best in the world," says David Gelb, who directed the film. "For someone who has a taste for true, pure Japanese sushi, I mean it's a place you kind of have to go to."

But for the many of us who haven't been lucky enough to grab one those 10 prized seats, Gelb joined All Things Considered's Melissa Block, to talk about what it's like to dine at such a iconic place.

For starters, the restaurant is hidden in the basement of an office building and offers only one item on its menu &mdash the omakase course &mdash which can cost between $300 and $400 per person. It consists of 20 pieces of sushi, prepared and served one at a time.

"There are no appetizers, no rolls of any kind," Gelb says. "It's purely his style of sushi, which is kind of the classic Tokyo style, which is basically just fish and rice and seasoning, maybe a soy sauce or a nikiri, which is a kind of sweetened soy sauce."

And if you're fortunate enough to be one of Ono's costumers, don't even think about ordering off the menu &ndash even if you are the president of the United States. "The Jiro that I know would not change his sushi for anyone," Gelb says, adding that "he just gives you what he feels is the best of the day."

And Ono really means the best. Every day, for instance, Ono massages the octopus he's planning to serve for an hour.

"The octopuses that he gets are trolling the seafloor, eating clams and other delicious shellfish," Gelb says. "And so he's getting the octopus that has the best diet and then he massages it &ndash or has his apprentices massage it, because he's getting on in the years &ndash to bring out the best flavors.

Sashimi from Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Tokyo. Photo: Leon Brocard/Flickr

That's because to Ono, making sushi is more than just a job it's an art form, an obsession, even. In the film, he tells Gelb that he'd wake up in the middle of the night and dreams that he'd have visions of sushi.

"His philosophy of work, where it's about finding a routine and mastering that craft, it applies to any kind of art," he adds.

So you can imagine, eating in front of such a meticulous artist can get a bit intimidating.

"The first time that I ate there, I was very nervous," Gelb tells Block. "I mean the man is a living legend, and he watches, and he observes the customers very closely, and it so it can be a nerve-wracking experience."

But, he says, the sushi is so good that the tension melts away.

"The restaurant is very quiet there's no music or anything," Gelb adds. "There's just the sound of the fountain and you kind of got into this sushi trance, and it's quite an amazing experience."


Obama Is Eating At The Legendary 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi' Restaurant

It is one of 13 three-star restaurants in Tokyo, and t here are only 10 seats. That combination makes it especially hard to secure reservations. In early April the restaurant was already fully booked until the beginning of May.

Chef Jiro Ono, 87, is considered to be one of the top sushi chefs in the world. Ono prepares the sushi himself. His recommended special course — which features a rare, endangered species of bluefin tuna — starts at about $300. It includes more than a dozen courses served in about 20 minutes.

Obama and Abe's dinner lasted about an hour and a half.

"That's some good sushi right there," Obama told reporters as he left the restaurant.

Obama and Abe were joined at dinner by the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, and White House national security adviser Susan Rice.

The dinner kicked off Obama's week in Asia, as he finally makes the trip he canceled last fall because of the federal government shutdown. Obama's trip is meant to reassure allies in Japan and South Korea amid rising tensions with China and, more unpredictability, North Korea.

Here's the trailer for "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," the 2011 documentary that helped launch Ono to fame:


The 'world's best sushi restaurant' has lost its 3 Michelin stars because it's now open only to people with 'special connections'

The world's best sushi restaurant has been removed from the Michelin guide.

Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo was withdrawn from the esteemed list because the restaurant no longer accepts reservations from the general public.

Guests wishing to dine at the exclusive restaurant can now do so only if they are regulars, have "special connections," or have the aid of a luxury-hotel concierge — and must part with at least 40,000 yen, or $366, for the chef's selection.

The establishment received three Michelin stars every year since the culinary guide's first Tokyo edition in 2007 and was the subject of a 2011 documentary, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."

Upon unveiling the latest Tokyo edition, a representative for the Michelin guide said: "We recognize Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the general public, which makes it out of our scope."

While reports indicate that the restaurant has been "stripped" of its Michelin stars, the person added: "It was not true to say the restaurant lost stars but it is not subject to coverage in our guide.

"Michelin's policy is to introduce restaurants where everybody can go to eat."

The restaurant opened in 1965 and boasts one of the world's oldest chefs, Jiro Ono, who is 94 years old and established the successful sushi spot.

He is widely regarded as one of the greatest sushi chefs alive.

Jiro is noted for developing new methods in contemporary sushi preparation, such as massaging octopus for much longer than usual to enhance flavor and texture and boiling prawns before serving, as opposed to the customary morning boil.

Obama reportedly said the sushi he ate at Jiro was "the best I've ever had."

Jiro's son, Kazuyoshi Ono, caused controversy in 2011 after stating that women made inferior sushi chefs because their menstrual cycle affected their sense of taste and created an "imbalance," a claim widely contested by female sushi chefs.

Michelin's 2020 guide fortifies Tokyo's position as the world's culinary capital, boasting 226 starred restaurants, more than any other city.

The Japanese capital is home to 11 restaurants with three-star ratings, three of which have held the accolade for 13 years in a row.

In a statement, Paul Perriniaux, the CEO of Nihon Michelin Tire, said: "Taking full advantage of its position as a center for high-quality food, and highly skilled domestic and international chefs who prepare it, Tokyo is likely to continue to lead the world as a city of gastronomy."


Obama lands table at world's most exclusive sushi restaurant in Tokyo

President Barack Obama grabbed dinner at one of the world's most exclusive restaurants while visiting Tokyo on Wednesday.

Sukiyabashi Jiro has no set menu and meals typically last 15 to 20 minutes—but 20 pieces of sushi will set you back 30,000 Japanese yen (about $300).

And that's if you're lucky enough to land one of only 10 seats in the cozy basement venue.

Obama presumably did not have to phone ahead, as he ate there as a guest of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the first day of his week-long Asia tour.

The owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro is 89-year-old Jiro Ono, regarded by many to be the best sushi chef in the world. He was featured in the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and has been making the dish since he left home age 9.

Even in his 80s he still claims that "all I want to do is make better sushi," according to a review of the film in the New Yorker.

The restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, was rated by the dining website eater.com as the world's second toughest place in which to land a reservation, beaten only by the world famous Noma, in Denmark's capital Copenhagen.

"What makes it nearly impossible to pull off, though, is that no one on staff speaks English, and that they tend to not welcome foreigners without a Japanese host," Eater said.


Obama dines at world-class sushi restaurant in Japan

For his first meal in Japan - the first stop in a four-country trip through Asia that began Tuesday evening - President Obama got to dine at one of the world's most renowned sushi restaurants.

Mr. Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had an hour-and-a-half dinner at Sukibayashi Jiro in Tokyo's Ginza district Wednesday. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and National Security Advisor Susan Rice were also in attendance.

Chef Jiro Ono is so famed for his sushi skills - he is widely considered to be the best in the world - that he is the subject of a 2011 documentary, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." His restaurant has just 10 seats but three Michelin stars, a rare honor. According to a 2012 piece in the New Yorker, a meal at the restaurant includes twenty pieces of sushi served all at once, and costs hundreds of dollars per person.

"That's some good sushi right there," the president said as he left the restaurant.

vidJiro came to work at the restaurant when his struggling family sent him there at at the age of seven.

"I was too young to apprentice with the gardener or carpenter," he told CBS Sunday Morning last year. "The local restaurant was the only place that would take me. So that's how I ended up in this business."

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After a good night's sleep, the president has a full day meetings and ceremonies in Japan, including a joint press conference with Abe, a tour of the Miraikan Science Expo and Meiji Shrine, and a state dinner.


US President Log 1 / Obama dines with Abe at sushi restaurant in Tokyo on April 23

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At 7:06 pm local time, President Obama disembarked from Air Force One at Haneda Airport and was greeted by a group of American and Japanese officials. The full list, per the White House, is below.

Caroline Kennedy, United States Ambassador to Japan
Hirotaka Ishihara, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Shigeyuki Hiroki, Head of the Suite of Honour, Ambassador
Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the United States
Nobuko Sasae, Wife of Ambassador Sasae
Koji Tomita, Director-General, North American Affairs Bureau, MOFA
Akio Hayashi, Vice-Grand Master of the Ceremonies, Imperial Household Agency
Kenko Sone, Director, First North America Division, North American Affairs Bureau, MOFA
Tokuro Furuya, Principal Deputy Chief of Protocol, MOFA
Misuzu Iwami, Master of the Ceremonies, Imperial Household Agency
Kenji Ueki, Administrator, Tokyo International Airport
Dr. Edwin Schlossberg, Spouse of Ambassador Kennedy
Lt General Sam Angelella, U.S. Forces Japan

After an uneventful motorcade, the president arrived at the Hotel Okura at 7:36 pm local time. As the motorcade drove along the highway workers in one office building stood up against the window and took pictures when it entered downtown Tokyo there were small groups of people standing on the street watching it go by. A couple of people clapped, though there was less picture-taking than in Washington state.

Prime Minister Abe has invited President Obama to dine in the Ginza district at Sukiyabashi Jiro, one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. Its owner and sushi master, Jiro Ono, turns 90 next year and was featured in the 2011 documentary by David Gelb, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

Obama arrived at 8:34 pm local time along with US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and national security adviser Susan Rice. Obama, wearing a black suit, shook hands with Prime Minister Abe, who sported a gray suit. Neither men wore ties.

At 10:05 pm local time President Obama left Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant along with Ambassador Kennedy and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. “That’s some good sushi right there,” Obama remarked as he emerged from the restaurant after the hour and-a-half dinner with the prime minister.

In a restaurant on the same basement floor, diners peeked through the windows and aimed their cameras to grab a picture of the president.

The motorcade is headed back to the hotel for the night.

At 10:14 pm local time the motorcade pulled into the Okura Hotel.

Reported by White House Correspondents, Colleen McCain Nelson of Wall Street Journal, and Juliet Eilperin of Washington Post.


Here is Your Video of President Obama Reviewing Jiro Ono's Sushi

President Obama has a history of making a scene when he goes out to eat. But today he really did it. He kicked off his trip to Japan by eating sushi from the most famous sushi chef in the world. He and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shared a meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro, run by Jiro Ono, the 88-year-old chef profiled in the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Reuters reports that Obama chose the pricy, extremely hard-to-book restaurant, which, like all of his choices, caused outrage in the Twittersphere.

People still don’t seem to understand that when you are the President of the United States sometimes you get special access to great food. While we certainly don’t begrudge the President his sushi, it was a bit of an odd choice for diplomacy. Reports about Jiro say he “is known to discourage conversation amongst his guests, hoping instead they pay full attention to the flavor.”