But it really was a lovely experience.
Jiro's serves what's called an omakase tasting menu. The chef dictates what guests will be eating that day, and what we eat depends on what impressed Jiro at the fish market that morning. The meal consists of 20 pieces served one at a time, all within about 20 minutes. Each piece is to be eaten seconds after it touches on our plate. That part is very important. Jiro believes those precious first seconds after the sushi has been served are when the flavors are at their peak. I've eaten supermarket sushi seven hours after I bought it and it was still pretty good. But whatever. He's the three-star chef. I won't lecture him about how eating the fatty tuna within seven seconds instead of five won't make it decompose like a time-lapse fox corpse.
The place is just a counter. On one side are the patrons hoping the expensive meal they're about to eat is worth it; the master sushi chefs who walk around like they've got 10-inch dicks because they know it's worth it are on the other. It feels personal. There's an intimate connection between the chef and the guests. But since my wife and I don't speak the language, we don't get to experience this connection as deeply as, say, the guy to my left, a seemingly filthy-rich local who looked like a regular. He was chumming it up with Jiro and his son, Yoshikazu, from the second he walked in. He's a Japanese version of Norm from Cheers. He took his seat like he owned it.