CHELSEA —There’s something fishy happening at ZAUO, a new Manhattan restaurant: People are encouraged to fish for their own dinner.
“Most customers would come in and say, ‘wow what is this place? Is it an aquarium?,’” general manager Rui Higuchi told PIX11 News. “They don’t even know that it’s a restaurant.”
The chain, which has 13 locations in Japan, opened its first U.S. restaurant this fall. They chose New York City to see if the fishing and dining concept would catch on abroad.
The dining experience begins when patrons fill out an application and get a “ZAUO fishing license” from a restaurant attendant. After grabbing a baited rod, guests can catch a variety of seafood.
On the first floor, large tanks contain salmon trout, rainbow trout, and striped bass. The two smaller pools located upstairs in a large hanging boat have more exotic sea creatures, such as lobster, flounder and Aoyagi clams.
Higuchi says people can order off a menu, though the restaurant encourages diners to fish. Each time something is caught, serves beat on Japanese drums to celebrate.
The one catch? Once you hook a fish, it’s yours. Prices range from around $38 to $125 depending on the type and size.
“We don’t allow the customers to catch and release,” Higuchi explained. “We don’t want to weaken the fish when we put them back into the tank."
Food is prepared sashimi, grilled, simmered in soy sauce or tempura style. The dining experience is great for kids and adults of all ages.
ZAUO is open for dinner Mondays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. You can make reservations on the restaurant’s website.