While searching for fun places to eat in Tokyo, Hunter and I came across the Zauo Fishing Restaurant. It is exactly what it sounds like — a restaurant where you fish for your dinner! We couldn’t pass up that experience, and even though it was much more expensive than I’m used to spending on dinner, I made a reservation at their Shinjuku branch.
It was a little difficult to find, but that was mostly because of user error with Google Maps. It’s also located in a skyscraper, so there’s not an obvious sign for it or anything. Once we went inside, we saw one of the coolest things about the restaurant — in the middle of the room was a large wooden boat that you could be seated on, and around the boat were huge tanks full of fish! Unfortunately, we didn’t get seated on the boat (even though there were like three other groups of people and they all got seats on the boat…).
We were shown to our seats and handed an explanation in English about fishing — how to do it, how much each type of fish would cost, and some warnings (“If you catch a fish, you eat that fish. Please watch your children to make sure they don’t catch an expensive fish you won’t want to pay for”). One of the interesting things about this restaurant is that while you don’t have to catch a fish if you don’t want to, it’s actually cheaper to catch one! That’s right, the fish costs extra if you don’t catch it. When Hunter and I had decided which fish we were going to catch (sea bream — ~$30, versus some, like lobster, that were +$50!!), we were handed a rod with some fishing line and a hook with bait attached to it and allowed to fish in one of the tanks! It didn’t take long for a fish to take the bait, and while my first one got away, I landed the second one! The person helping us took the fish off the line, took our picture together with each of our fish, and then led the other staff members in a kind of ceremony celebrating our catch. I didn’t understand much, but that’s what it sounded like. They hit taiko drums and had us clap at specific parts too! Then, we got to choose two ways to have them prepared (cooked in butter, fried, deep-fried, sashimi, sushi, and more!) before heading back to the table to wait.
The wait was worth it. The food was delicious and presented very nicely; just be aware, if you haven’t looked at the pictures already, there is a possibility that the head will be served as well. If that creeps you out, might want to avoid the “fried” option, or just try it anyway.
Although the food and fishing was fun, the service was sub-par. The restaurant was having some kind of event where they give customers a card that says “best smile award” and ask them to give it to the staff member with the best smile. I have to say, they should probably change the event or something because the only time I saw anyone smile was when I gave our waiter the card because I didn’t know who else to give it to. We were also never given water, but there’s a chance, like many Japanese restaurants, that it was self-serve and we just didn’t see it.
Service aside, still a fun experience and worth a visit!