What was your favorite movie as a 10-year-old? Something from Disney? A superhero flick? A documentary about an 85-year-old sushi master? Travel + Leisure recently covered the story of the precocious Clark Sandaluk whose obsession with the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi led him to fulfill one of his own dreams – dining at Jiro’s three-Michelin-starred 10-seat sushi restaurant in Japan.
According to his mother Colleen, she first watched the popular documentary with her son when he was just six years old, reading the subtitles aloud so Clark could follow along (Thanks, mom!). Sushi immediately became one of Clark’s favorite foods.
Turns out the Sandaluk family spends a lot of time traveling (Clark’s dad’s job with Shell takes them all over the world), so hitting up unique food experiences is one of their family’s favorite activities. When Colleen found out that they’d be traveling to Japan, she decided a meal at Jiro Ono’s Sukiyabashi Jiro was a must, even though she wasn’t sure Clark would even be allowed in.
Despite this, the family scored a coveted reservation for three. (All you have to do is stay at a five-star hotel like the Mandarin Oriental and ask the concierge for help. Piece of cake.) From there, they set off in search of sushi. Though Sukiyabashi Jiro apparently has an unofficial policy of not letting anyone under the age of 12 in the restaurant, after some discussion, none other than Ono himself let Clark in.
To Ono’s surprise, Clark ate all 20 courses of the tasting menu, including sea urchin, squid, sardine, and salmon roe nigari. The night ended with Clark getting photos with his culinary hero and a signed copy of Ono’s book. It’s was every 10-year-old’s dream. Actually, most 10-year-old’s probably would have been like, “Why are we eating weird fish in a subway?” But a dream is a dream.
A final footnote to the story: While the rest of the family went to their Michelin-starred meal, Clark’s 8-year-old younger sister was left back at the hotel with a babysitter. Talk about playing favorites. That’s sure to lead to a serious “first world problems” therapy session.
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