Okay, I gotta be honest. I love gimmicky things. It's why I buy "As Seen On TV" products (like the thing that attaches to your shower floor and is like a car wash for your feet). This restaurant is fine, I think. The food itself isn't spectacular, or anything. I mean, it's good … I enjoyed the food … but the real reason I go here is because I get to catch my own fish, with a fishing pole, and then tell the server what I want done with it (sashimi all the way… it's just too fresh not to!).
The restaurant Zauo is in multiple places around Japan, so it's not like it's hard to find. They aren't super common, but if you go visit Japan, there's a good chance you could find one if you spent the time to look for it.
One thing I didn't know (and something that Google's Japanese IME helped me to notice) is that zauo ざうお turns into the kanji 座魚, which isn't actually a word (as far as I can find) but does consist of two kanji that pretty much sum up this restaurant… "Sit" and "Fish."
That's pretty much what you do. You sit on giant boats that are inside aquariums (or a side room, also right next to the aquarium) and you fish for your meal.
The fish are pretty much as dumb as fish, and bite within seconds of you putting the bait in. Mmmm. Then, the server comes over and asks you what you want to be made from the fish you just caught. There are quite a few choices, but like I mentioned before it's all about getting something raw to take advantage of the freshness.
If you're in Japan, check this place out. Fun times and they exist in many of the larger cities. The one reviewed was located in Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture.
It was very enjoyable, and I recall the freshly cooked fish was delicious. I came Zauo for my grandpa’s birthday, and we all had a good time.
Maybe I’ve been here too many times over the last fifteen years, and it lost its magic. But, it’s a lot of fun, and you should come here with a group. Kids will enjoy it too.
Yes, it’s a chain. Yes, it is probably not the best food one can get while in Japan. But I like fishing. And the whole experience is fun.
I like the idea and the concept—you can fish and eat. The price isn’t cheap as far as I remember, and it’s totally understandable considering all the maintenance costs, but personally, I would just rather go eat the freshest fish somewhere else with a 生簀 (fish tank) with a cheaper price. If I want to fish, I’d go fishing in the ocean and cook by myself.