TOKYO: US President Barack Obama dined at a tiny Tokyo sushi restaurant – a revered spot with three coveted Michelin stars but only a handful of seats – ruled with an iron rod by its redoubtable 88-year-old owner.
The world’s most powerful man, dining at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was entirely at the mercy of Jiro Ono, whose exacting standards and tireless work ethic have made him legendary among global foodies.
The commander-in-chief of one of the planet’s most fearsome armed forces, who sits at the helm of a multi-trillion dollar economy, had no menu to choose from – even if he could read it – because Jiro selects the dishes he serves and will not take orders from his customers.
And for a man used to the finest presidential suites in the plushest global hotels, the setting may have come as a bit of a surprise.
Sukiyabashi Jiro – yesterday’s venue – has only 24 seats, sits in a slightly scruffy basement of an ageing commercial building and is connected to a Tokyo subway station.
But that has not been enough to deter even the most discerning diners, who must book months in advance to secure a seat.
Obama made the pilgrimage to the restaurant just after touching down in Tokyo at the start of an Asian tour, and took along US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and his national security adviser Susan Rice. — AFP