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Tanagokoro: A Culinary Portrait on Changing the Fishing Industry

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Vancouver Asian Film Festival
Nov 4-13, 2021
International Shorts Program
Available to watch anywhere in Canada from 11/11/2021 11:00 am to 11/13/2021 11:59 pm

Japanese chef Yoshinori Ishii is more than a trendsetter. He’s out to change the industry in Tanagokoro: A Culinary Portrait.

After a terrific introduction to the man and how he earned his Michelin star (while he was in tenure in London’s Umu), the reason he earned massive respect is because he gives everyone some wisdom. That is, to be a top masterchef, he’ll only ethically harvest food the traditional Japanese way. 

The United Kingdom’s transition to a new method of catch and slaughter was not overnight. He wrote many letters and chatted with various fishmongers and leaders in industry to change how things are done. He used his passion and gift of gab to sway heads, and that’s the true focus of this documentary. This gentle man is the embodiment of Buddha and he’s done more than started change in one country. His teachings are spreading and hopefully soon, there’ll be more converts.

This documentary by Victoria Fistes and Masashi Nozaki is amazing at being concise. We see the zen of what it means to be Ishii-san; not only does it look at his life beyond the kitchen, but also we see him as an artist. He crafts his own ceramics that are used at the restaurant. 

After watching this work, I’m in the mood for high quality sushi. I’ve always questioned places that offer quick bites. Those snacks from takeout operations are never the same as a restaurant. In Seattle, there are only one operations I’d consider tops (Sushi Kaishiba). In Vancouver, BC, I’ve talked to a few regular patrons and members of staff at Miku to know where they get some of their sea life. But in Victoria, there really isn’t any save for one. After he left, I’m unsure if the replacement chef maintains the same standard. A lot of places still “fish” with nets, and pull the harvest in for slaughter either on board the boat or at the cannery, while the fish is still very stressed. A full interview can be read on

In conclusion, not every restaurant is terrific when half the fish they bring in isn’t fit for discerning taste buds.

5 Stars out of 5

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