President Barack Obama had dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at legendary Tokyo sushi restaurant SukiyabashiJiro Wednesday. The Michelin-starred restaurant gained fame after being featured in the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and its chef, Jiro Ono, is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest sushi masters. However, the restaurant serves endangered bluefin tuna as part of its signature “special course.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider about whether Obama ate bluefin while he was at the restaurant, but the fish is included in the only item on the menu, the 30,000 Yen “Chef’s Recommended Special Course.”
Though Sukiyabashi Jiro’s site doesn’t go into detail about what is included in the special course, Japanese site Rocket News 24 published a detailed rundown of the meal that notes it includes “top loin of bluefin tuna.” Pictures of the “special course” on the Sukiyabashi Jiro webpage also show tuna along with the meal. The “special course” only lasts about 19 minutes, which means diners consume about $US15 of fish each minute they are in the restaurant.
Its not clear what type of bluefin tuna is served at Sukiyabashi Jiro, but all varieties of the fish are threatened. Two of the three main varieties of the fish, Atlantic and Southern Bluefin Tuna, are officially recognised as endangered. The third variety, Pacific Bluefin, has not yet received that designation. However, a new assessment published by the International Scientific Committee For Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean Monday found overfishing has brought the number of Pacific Bluefin tuna down 96 per cent to “historically low” levels.
Ono addressed overfishing in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” The famed chef said restaurants might need to find substitutes “for certain fish,” but he claimed it would not be possible to replace tuna on sushi menus.
“Is there a substitute for tuna? I don’t think so,” Ono said.
Obama and Abe were joined at the restaurant by US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and national security adviser Susan Rice. According to the press pool report, after leaving the restaurant, Obama praised the food
“That’s some good sushi right there,” he said.
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