Japan restaurant where you can fish for your own seafood - Zauo

When planning your Tokyo itinerary, if you’re looking for the best things to eat in Tokyo, you have to check out Fishing Restaurant Zauo Shinjuku. 

One of the most popular restaurants in Tokyo, for locals and tourists alike, Zauo allows you to fish for your own food!

But is this just a gimmick or is the food actually good? We tried it so you don’t have to.

Our honest review of Fishing Restaurant Zauo Shinjuku

Zauo has ten branches across Japan, and we dined at their Shinjuku outlet in Tokyo.

Fishing Restaurant Zauo Shinjuku review photo
Conveniently located beside the train station

Located at the basement of Shinjuku Washington Hotel, Zauo is modelled after a Japanese wooden ship in the sea. The seats are located on the deck, while the circumference of the “boat” is surrounded by fish tanks, where you can fish for your own meal.

You can expect to spend about ¥40,000-100,000 per person here. Our total bill amounted to ¥75,000 per person.

Zauo menu and prices 

Here’s how the fishing at Zauo works. You can refer to the images of the menu here, but we’ve also provided a lengthy explanation of how Zauo charges for each fish. 

Zauo Fishing Restaurant menu
Japan Zauo menu

Firstly, there are two rods to choose from. The short rod allows you to manually hook the fish up in the more confined tanks. Meanwhile, the long rod requires you to actually fish from the bigger tanks, which means that you’ll have to add bait to your hook. 

Each long rod, with bait, costs ¥110.

Next, catch your seafood and inform the staff on how you’d like the kitchen to prepare the fish — available in sashimi, grilling, sushi and more. 

You’ll save about ¥200-¥1,000 by catching the seafood instead of ordering directly from the menu.

The 3 fishes at Zauo

If you’re only familiar with salmon and tuna, and you’re not sure which fish to catch (or order, no judgement here), here’s a brief breakdown of the texture and flavour of each fish Zauo has, as well as what we ordered. 

1. Horse Mackerel (¥1,080)

Horse Mackerel nigiri sushi at Zauo Shinjuku

Known as “Aji” in Japanese, the Horse Mackerel has a lighter flavour, as most white fishes do. But, it offers an interesting texture — a slight fattiness that coats your mouth lightly, yet retaining a crisp bite.

2. Flounder (¥4,280)

Fresh flounder (hirame) prepared as sashimi and grilled with salt at Zauo Shinjuku
Flounder, prepared as sashimi and grilled

Similar to the Horse Mackerel, the flounder has a mild and sweet flavour. Its texture is firmer than the mackerel’s.

3. Sea Bream (¥3,480 for regular, ¥5,480 for large)

Out of the three fishes in Zauo, the sea bream has the richest flavour. It has a nice sweetness to it, and its flesh is softer and denser than the other two.

What we ordered 

whole lobster sashimi at zauo
Lobsters at Zauo ranges from ¥10,000 to ¥20,000

1. Horse Mackerel (¥1,080)
– Prepared as nigiri (¥220 for 4 pieces)
– Bone cracker (¥110)

2. Flounder (¥4,280)
– Prepared as sashimi (free)
– Grilled with salt (free. Not on the menu but can request for it)
– Bone cracker (¥275)

3. Spiny Lobster (¥15,000)
– Sashimi (free)
– Miso soup (¥198 per bowl)

4. Abalone (¥1,080)
– Sautéed with butter (free)

5. Steamed Oysters (¥638)

Do note that the cookery of bones — cooking the bones in miso soup or deep-frying it — can be requested after you’re done with the fish. 

We highly recommend turning the fish bones into a bone cracker, which is a crispy salty snack. 

Meanwhile, for miso soups, we recommend capping each soup at two bowls to ensure the flavour isn’t diluted. When we ordered four bowls of the Lobster Miso Soup, we found that the lobster taste was not prominent at all. 

lobster miso soup
Lobster Miso Soup

So… how did the food taste?

steamed oysters
Steamed Oysters

Definitely get the mackerel if you’re on a budget since it’s only ¥1,000.

The flounder was also worth getting. But, do not request to grill it with salt as it was extremely overcooked. The meat was dry and firm and the taste was ruined. The sashimi was great though. It was firm with a nice chew, though I have to say that it’s a little similar to the mackerel in terms of taste and texture. So if you want variety, opt for the sea bream instead.

Meanwhile, the abalone was nice and fragrant, and the lobster sashimi stole our hearts. ¥15,000, which translates to about S$135, is an alright price to pay for such a huge lobster.

But, if you’re discerning enough and you’ve eaten at enough restaurants in Japan, you’ll realise that these prices are relatively higher, which will be explained at the end of our Zauo review.

The only true standout, which tasted good and was worth its price, were the steamed oysters.

Other dishes on Zauo’s menu

As mentioned before, you don’t have to fish for your own food if you don’t want to as you can order them directly. But… what’s the point of dining here?

But if you’re not full enough and you want to save some money, you can also order rice bowls and hand rolls. 

The Clams Pot Rice (¥748) as well as other chirashi dons were worth their money. But skip the hand rolls. They were the worst, with the soggiest seaweed and mushy rice 

Also, there is a compulsory cover charge of ¥418 per person, which includes a cold tofu appetiser. 

Our verdict 

Japan restaurant where you can fish for your own seafood - Zauo
The fishing area surrounds half the “ship” in Zauo Shinjuku

So what’s our final review of Fishing Restaurant Zauo Shinjuku?

You can’t get fish fresher than this. However, for the same quantity and quality of food you’re getting here, you can definitely find it cheaper elsewhere. 

You’re really paying for the fishing gimmick.

Also, if you’re wondering if you have to make a reservation — you have to. They’re so packed — at least Zauo Shinjuku was — that they don’t even allow walk-ins. 

Make a reservation at Fishing Restaurant Zauo’s official website.

Location: Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 3 Chome−2−9 
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 11:30am-3pm, 5-10:30pm
Sat-Sun: 11:30am-2:30pm, 4-10:30pm

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