On Friday afternoon, “Monk” and I had a rare opportunity to spend a little time together without the munchkins. When I say “a rare opportunity,” I mean “a rare opportunity.” It’s tough getting away from “Jazzy and Lexicon,” but I’m really starting to realize how important it is that we try. They are a demanding pair of offspring and as parents, we love spending a lot of time with them, but sometimes we need a little time for ourselves. We threw together some last-minute plans and decided to enjoy a mid-day date in Gastown. On the agenda was lunch at Nuba [207B West Hastings Street, Vancouver, (604) 688-1655] and then a movie at Tinseltown, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
Having never eaten at Nuba before, I thought this would be a great opportunity to go check it out. The restaurant was literally empty when we were sat at 11:45am, but within 20 minutes, the entire restaurant was packed. We ordered relatively quickly; a Najib’s Special to share, a feature duck confit pita, a lamb kafta plate along with a Turkish coffee. The Najib’s Special was tasty; fried cauliflower with lemon and sea salt served with tahini. I love fried/caramelized cauliflower; it has such a nutty and savory aspect to it. I just wish it was a little crispy-er and a touch hotter. The mains were mediocre, but the star of the show was the Turkish coffee; finely ground coffee from Turkey with cardamom, rose-water and sugar mixed together. The flavors were quite foreign to me, but so aromatic, interesting and flavorful. The unfiltered fine grounds of the coffee resulted in an ever so slightly viscous mouth feel, which made the Turkish coffee seem extremely rich. Next time you’re having a meal at Nuba, try the Turkish coffee; it’s delicious.
Let me get back on track here. After lunch, we strolled to Tinseltown after making a quick stop at Save On Meats for a loaf of Erin Ireland’s “It’s To Die For” Bacon Banana Bread. “Monk” and I are big fans of her banana bread and we’ve never tried the bacon version, so it was a perfect timing. I’m a big proponent of supporting local entrepreneurs and businesses; Erin Ireland is a prime example of someone who is passionate about their product, is making smart moves and is allowing the business to grow organically. OK, I’m getting off track again. Back to the main event.
First things first, I’m no movie critic. In fact, I think the last movie I saw in a theater was ‘Quantum of Solace” in 2010?!?! My tendency is to fall asleep within the first ten minutes of a movie and usually wake up with about five minutes to go. Though I’m a big movie fan, between not having much time and my Pavlovian response to sitting down in a theater, I’m considerably better off waiting for the DVD, where I can start and stop as much as I want. Prior to watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” I knew very little about it. “The Godfather” brought it to my attention a week prior and the big deal to us was it got a thumbs up from Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain. I had never heard of Jiro Ono, had no idea about the critical acclaim the movie was getting on the festival circuit and had never heard of his 3 Michelin star sushi restaurant. In hindsight, I have heard of his restaurant in passing and in different media, but I had no notion about the story and the people who make the Sukiyabashi Jiro so special. All I knew was it was a movie about a guy who dreams about sushi; that’s good enough for me ’cause I love sushi and dream of sushi all the freaking time. Before leaving on our big date, I did manage to watch the trailer and that definitely got me excited about watching the whole movie.
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” resonates with me on many different levels. First off, the movie is visually gorgeous and the cinematography is excellent. I’m no “Scorsese in the making,” but because I have a DSLR that shoots movies in HD and a separate HD video camera, I’m pretty sure that qualifies me to judge the work of professional film makers. But seriously, the movie has a great look to it and the sushi is absolutely stunning to look at. Secondly, I admire and relate to Jiro’s dedication and sacrifice as a chef. His pursuit of excellence, pride in his craft, unparalleled discipline, unrivaled work ethic, his singular attention to detail and constant desire to improve are all enviable attributes in my opinion. I also love Jiro’s use of the word “shokunin” in the movie, which describes himself and his apprentices as highly skilled and purposeful tradesmen. I’ve never personally considered a chef to be an artist and completely agree with the word “shokunin” to describe a good cook. There are so many great scenes, story lines and quotes from “Jiro Dreams of Sushi;” I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, just go see it. I’m looking forward to purchasing a copy when it becomes available and catching more of the details I missed the first time around.
“Monk” enjoyed the movie as well, but I don’t think it touched her in the same way it impacted me. In my opinion, I think chefs and people in the restaurant business will be much more inspired by the movie than your average foodie. After the movie, we had such an appetite for sushi, that we made a quick stop at Sushi Mart [1668 Robson Street, Vancouver, (604) 687-2422] and had a fantastic little snack of 6 pieces of nigiri sushi. No, not the quality of Jiro-san’s sushi, but fantastic for the price here in Vancouver. Reality then set in, we knew we were on borrowed time and it was time to head back to the ‘burbs and check up on the kiddos. Usually my Yowza! Moments are about food that I’ve eaten, but this movie no doubt made me say Yowza! over and over. Go watch the movie and tell me what you think.
Until my next Yowza! moment, peace be unto you.