Japanese restaurant Zauo has decided to go back to basics with a pretty unusual concept. Rather than order up a load of fresh fish every day, the chain has installed a series of tanks inside its dining room allowing clients to catch whatever they fancy eating for dinner.
Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll be invited to climb aboard a giant indoor boat and grab a fishing rod to get to work on the fish-filled waters.
Once you’ve caught something, you just need to decide how you want it cooked – with a choice of grilled, tempura-fried or sushi – and the restaurant’s staff will take care of the rest.
The restaurant was founded by Noriki Takahashi along with his sons, Kazuhisa and Takuya, and now has thirteen different locations throughout Japan. According to Takahashi, Zauo is so much more than a “themed chain” and welcomes hordes of families, sometimes even three generations, every day.
Speaking to Eater New York, Kazuhisa describes taking a philosophical approach to running the business and defends the concept against criticism that it makes light of the animals’ death. He says:
“We totally understand there’s a debate going on, but we’d like people to understand we’re not doing this just as entertainment. We do want people to have a good time, but there’s a message we want to send that you’re eating a life.
You’re killing a fish and eating it, and in Japan we pray before every meal and say, ‘Thank you for the lives you have given.’ Thats the message behind this restaurant.”
Armed with the success of their empire, the family is now looking to bring the idea to New York – though there are still challenges to face.
“Half the people we met said it’s a really interesting concept, and the other half said it’s impossible,” says Takuya before concluding: “That made me want to bring it more.”
What do you think about this? Would you try it, or do you think it is something that should be avoided?