To Instagram your meal or not to Instagram your meal? That is the question on a lot of diners' minds right now after seeing restauranteurs' wildly differing reactions to the phenomenon. But if you're of the mindset that considers it a major irritation, doing it at Sukiyabashi Jiro would seem like the ultimate faux pas. The legendary Tokyo sushi restaurant requires booking months in advance, you'll pay several hundred dollars for a meal that can last under half an hour, and, with only ten seats, the setting is uniquely intimate.
What's more, acclaimed 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi has turned 87-year-old owner Jiro Ono into a global star. Diners sit in front of Jiro and his son Yoshikazu as they impassively prepare a course of what is widely considered to be the best sushi in the world. Simply eating at the Michelin 3-star restaurant is an intimidating experience; taking your phone out of your pocket at all would seem disrespectful, let alone applying an Instagram filter.
"Jiro coulda easily been a DJ yo."
Questlove, drummer for the Roots and all-around hip-hop legend, had other ideas. He's in Tokyo today, and made a point of visiting Sukiyabashi Jiro for lunch — he says he's watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi ten times, and felt compelled to "make a pilgrimage." Not only did he Instagram the course, however, he got permission from Jiro himself. Questlove was fully aware of the potential minefalls of such a move — he said that he "didn't want to be 'that guy' who Instagrams every bite." But Jiro, swayed by his enthusiasm, granted permission, and Questlove proceeded to "respectfully" post a step-by-step review of his sushi course on the photo-sharing service. One particularly succulent nigiri prompted a photo with the caption "I swear there is no filter." The greatest praise of all may have come with a photo showing Ono laying down sushi like a DJ lays down beats: as Questlove put it, "Jiro coulda easily been a DJ yo."
There could hardly be a less appropriate place to Instagram a meal; Jiro Dreams of Sushi eschews filters for reverent cinematography, a stirring classical score, and tastefully blurred backgrounds. Questlove, despite the disparity in photographic equipment, approached Jiro with a similar level of deference. The result? We get a uniquely voyeuristic perspective into the lives of two people who've reached the top of their respective crafts. Questlove didn't simply take retro pictures of his meal — he captured a master in the process of creating it. If you're going to Instagram your food, this is the way to do it.