Obama lands table at world's most exclusive sushi restaurant in Tokyo

Alexander Smith
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before a private dinner at Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Tokyo on April 23, 2014.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Barack Obama grabbed dinner at one of the world's most exclusive restaurants while visiting Tokyo on Wednesday.

Sukiyabashi Jiro has no set menu and meals typically last 15 to 20 minutes—but 20 pieces of sushi will set you back 30,000 Japanese yen (about $300).

And that's if you're lucky enough to land one of only 10 seats in the cozy basement venue.

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Obama presumably did not have to phone ahead, as he ate there as a guest of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the first day of his week-long Asia tour.

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The owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro is 89-year-old Jiro Ono, regarded by many to be the best sushi chef in the world. He was featured in the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and has been making the dish since he left home age 9.

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Even in his 80s he still claims that "all I want to do is make better sushi," according to a review of the film in the New Yorker.

The restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, was rated by the dining website eater.com as the world's second toughest place in which to land a reservation, beaten only by the world famous Noma, in Denmark's capital Copenhagen.

"What makes it nearly impossible to pull off, though, is that no one on staff speaks English, and that they tend to not welcome foreigners without a Japanese host," Eater said.

Obama is in Japan at the start of a five-day tour to Asia, in which he will also visit South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. It is part of a wider effort by the U.S. to shift its focus to the Pacific.