Madame Kwan’s Moviehouse: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Meet Jiro Ono. He is an 85-year-old Japanese shokunin, or “skilled craftsman”. His craft? Sushi.

Jiro runs a 10-seat sushi restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station that books reservations at least a month in advance. Each seat costs 300,000 yen (somewhere near $3,500). And yes, Jiro dreams of sushi.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a wonderful documentary about Jiro and his one passion in life – to make great sushi. His drive and dedication is like something out of old Japanese fables. The food he presents is simple: fish, wasabi, rice and soy sauce. But it is the purity of these ingredients which allows for their complex depth of flavor. Every meal he serves, which consists of about 20 pieces of sushi, leaves its diners simply awestruck.

This movie completely immerses you in an elegant and quiet culinary world, paying reverence to its masters and their time-honored traditions. It’s beautifully shot and is completely enchanting, even if you don’t like sushi. My only warning is that it makes you feel quite lame and lazy compared to the various craftsmen in the documentary. Hopefully it’ll light a fire under your butt to find your true passion.

Huge thumbs up from Madame Kwan.

DC Eats


It’s wonderful when several of your senses can be excited at once, the more the better. Oya in DC seems to have covered sight, smell, taste and three out of five ain’t bad.


Oya restaurant and lounge is at home in the capitol city where politicians, celebrities and global dignitaries slip in and out of unassuming store fronts behind which are amazing menageries of design, culture and cuisine. Sitting quietly on 9th street, Oya is a hot spot that plays host to everyone from Maxwell to Alec Baldwin to secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. The sensual décor is contemporary yet opulent with bright white furnishings and flashes of gold and silver metallics throughout.


Oya is known for its decadent sushi menu and its expansive wine list. Sommelier, Andrew Stover is recognized as a leading wine expert and makes wine an integral part of the complete dining experience.


If one wasn’t enough, the owners of Oya followed up with Sax, an equally spectacular dining experience although wholly different. You might miss the heavy gilded door if it weren’t for the well-dressed guard standing out front. Once inside, Sax is a feast for the eyes. Soft settees in red and gold embroidery line the walls of the huge open dining room. However, the piece de resistance is the two-story stage enclosed in glass where dancers emerge on the hour performing contemporary burlesque style shows to the guests intrigue and delight.