To all the perks afforded the leader of the free world, add this one: Within about 90 minutes of arriving in Tokyo on Wednesday, President Obama sat down for a meal prepared by an octogenarian sushi chef whom some regard as the master of all masters.
The chef, Jiro Ono, was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary film, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” by the director David Gelb, which was featured at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, among other events. It follows Mr. Ono as he “pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi” and features his eldest son, Yoshikazu, as he “faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes,” according to the film website IMDB.com. The movie is available for streaming on Netflix.
The restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, is situated in a tiny space in a subway station in the downtown Ginza district, with seating for just 10 people. It is one of about 100 restaurants in the world to have earned a top rating of three stars from the Michelin Guide. There is no menu, and dishes are selected by Mr. Ono, with a meal costing about $300 a person.
Mr. Obama scored his spot at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who joined him for dinner along with the United States ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, and Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice.
It was a notably informal setting; neither leader wore a tie. Emerging from the restaurant after an hour and a half, Mr. Obama’s review was brief and surely understated. “That’s some good sushi right there,” he said.
Mr. Obama was apparently more effusive in comments he made to Mr. Abe. Speaking to NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster, after the meal, Mr. Abe said, “President Obama told me that, ‘I was born in Hawaii and ate a lot of sushi, but this was the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life.’ ”
The experience may be hard to match as Mr. Obama travels on to South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. No restaurants in those countries have earned a Michelin Guide rating.
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