Good Eats: Zauo (Tokyo)

I’ve never minded having to work for my dinner and Japanese cuisine can be very hands-on. There’s something rather satisfying to me about swirling my beef around the hot pot for shabu shabu or getting my vegetables grilled “just so” at a yakiniku restaurant. So imagine my excitment when I stumbled across Zauo, a restaurant where you actually have to fish for your dinner.

The idea – and decor – at Zauo is pretty ingenious. Most customers sit on a raised boat-shaped platform in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by a large tank of fish. (There are also private rooms lining the sides of the restaurant for larger parties.) There’s plenty to choose from off of the multi-page menu but if you want fish, the staff will give you a rod and some bait and you’re free to head down to the tank to catch it yourself.

Dining on the boat
Dining on the boat

On the day I went, I stuck my line over the side and within three minutes had hooked myself a sea bream. One of my friends, slightly more discerning in his tastes, spent twenty fruitless minutes attempting to coax an eel onto the line. The types of fish are listed on the wall, as are their prices. Once you’ve hooked one, just tell the staff how you’d like it prepared – the options are grilled, fried or sliced up a sashimi.

Fishing for dinner
Fishing for dinner

Fish might be the top attraction at Zauo but we supplemented our meals with lots of little dishes from the menu and weren’t disappointed. Hot fried crab cakes, platters of vegetables, some gyoza and a few sushi rolls had us feeling more than stuffed. There’s also no pressure to fish if you don’t want to and, in the end, our whole table ended up sharing the sea bream I caught and that was it.

My fish, grilled up nicely
My fish, grilled up nicely

Zauo is located in the Shinjuku Washington Hotel, which has a direct access tunnel leading to it from Shinjuku Station (comes in VERY handy on rainy days). Reservations aren’t necessary on most days but if you do call, make sure to specify your seating preference.

Their website is only in Japanese but the address and phone number is listed at the top of the page and there is a map for taxi drivers at the bottom.

7 thoughts on “Good Eats: Zauo (Tokyo)

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    1. It was really a lot of fun – I had picked it because we had a group with kids and I thought they would like it, but I think we adults had just as good a time! And the food was really good.

    1. Honestly, it depends on what type of fish you catch. At the branch we went to, there was a list of fish and their prices up on the wall. I’d say expect to pay around Y2000-Y3500. You can choose how your fish is cooked (grilled, boiled, fried, etc) but if you choose sushi, that costs a bit more. If you don’t want to fish, the prices on the menu for small dishes range between Y600-Y1500 from what I can remember. I haven’t been back in a few years though.

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