It was peaceful sitting there with my fishing pole and soft shamisen music playing in the background, but that bubble of serenity was soon to pop. Fish after fish swam right by my bait, but finally one was foolish enough to nibble. As his mouth closed over the little pink shrimp I yanked on the line. He wriggled and splashed in panic, but too late. Soon he was scooped up into a net where he spent his last living moments.
“Sugoi! (Amazing),” cried the people sitting behind me in our big fishing boat as I stood with the fish in the net. I had a moment to admire my catch before the waiter took it away to fry it up.
At Zauo restaurant in Shinjuku, the first hint that this is not the usual dining experience is when you’re seated on a bench in what is essentially a giant fishing boat, surrounded by a moat filled with fish.
For a few hundred yen, the staff will bring you a fishing pole and bait, and you can fish for what you eat. In fact, if you catch a fish you get a discount. However there are no throwbacks: you catch it you eat it.
I’ll admit it: catching my own fish, and watching it struggle and die, was kind of strange…bordering on disturbing. If you’re squeamish or sensitive I wouldn’t recommend it. Still, someone’s gotta kill it, right? And this way the fish is guaranteed fresh.
So if you’re looking to try something unusual, (possibly a bit disturbing) yet entertaining for dinner try fishing at Zauo. The location I visited was on the ground floor of the Washington hotel in Shinjuku, but there are more locations throughout Japan.