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Inside the seafood restaurants in Japan where guests catch their own fish for dinner – so would you have the stomach for it?

Would you have the stomach to reel in your own fish dinner from a tank?

There are quirky restaurants in Japan that give you a chance to find out the answer – they store fish in huge tanks, with guests given fishing rods and nets so that they can catch one for the chef to cook for them.

Several TikT­­­­­okers have captured footage of the highly novel eateries – with many commenters left feeling queasy about the concept.

One viral video by Australian travel blogger Tina Pik documented her trip to the Osaka branch of Fishing Restaurant Zauo, a restaurant chain that’s been inviting dinners to catch their own supper since the 1980s. In it, she shows how staff bang a drum when diners successfully catch a fish and how chefs transform the catch into ‘a yummy sashimi or deep fried or steamed fish’ dish.

The video snapped up more than 17million views, but reactions were mixed, with user ‘Nawiti Nkhoma123’ writing: ‘I can’t eat something I’ve met face to face… that just changed everything.’ TikToker ‘Clayton’ added that it ‘just feels wrong’. 

TikT­­­­­okers have captured footage of highly novel restaurants in Japan where diners can catch their own fish for dinner, such as Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi in Osaka (above) TikT­­­­­okers have captured footage of highly novel restaurants in Japan where diners can catch their own fish for dinner, such as Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi in Osaka (above)

TikT­­­­­okers have captured footage of highly novel restaurants in Japan where diners can catch their own fish for dinner, such as Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi in Osaka (above)

Another user, ‘Porseleinen_Ponnie’, said: ‘Try to imagine this from the point of view of the fish.’ And ‘niknak8519’ remarked: ‘My problem is I’d feel sorry for the fish I caught, put it back and go home hungry.’

Others, however, were more enamoured by the prospect. User ‘Alex’ said: ‘I love food and I love fishing, so I need to go here!’ And user ‘Nor’ said: ‘I’m going to add this to my tour plan.’ 

San Diego-based bloggers Brandon and Mary, who run the YouTube channel ‘Ferrers In Flight’, shared a video from the same restaurant on a holiday in Osaka, explaining how lobster, prawns, clams and flounder are among the seafood that can be plucked from the tanks. 

A sign outlines how to catch a fish in Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi A sign outlines how to catch a fish in Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi

A sign outlines how to catch a fish in Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi

Costs vary depending on the type of fish you've caught. Above is a tank in Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi Costs vary depending on the type of fish you've caught. Above is a tank in Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi If diners struggle to catch anything, staff can step in and reel in a catch for them. Pictured is Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi If diners struggle to catch anything, staff can step in and reel in a catch for them. Pictured is Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi

Costs vary depending on the type of fish you’ve caught. If diners struggle to catch anything, staff can step in and reel in a catch for them. Pictured above is Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi

Lobster steamed in garlic and butter at Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi Lobster steamed in garlic and butter at Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi

Lobster steamed in garlic and butter at Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi

The costs vary depending on the type of fish you’ve caught. A red snapper, for instance, is around £17.50 (3,245 Japanese yen/$23). If diners struggle to catch anything, staff can step in and reel in a catch for them. 

Speaking to MailOnline Travel about the experience, Brandon and Mary explain how the staff ‘provide some bait you can put on the hook’ when you start fishing. They continue: ‘Once you drop the hook in front of [the fish], they are quick to bite!’ 

The couple, who visited the eatery with their young daughter, managed to catch one fish, which they shared between the three of them. They say: ‘We picked for half of our fish to be fried, and half grilled. They have a variety of ways to have it prepared, and you really can’t go wrong with any combination.’

TikToker Nicholas Teo (above) shared a video that showed him catching his supper in a Tokyo branch of the popular Zauo restaurant chain TikToker Nicholas Teo (above) shared a video that showed him catching his supper in a Tokyo branch of the popular Zauo restaurant chain

TikToker Nicholas Teo (above) shared a video that showed him catching his supper in a Tokyo branch of the popular Zauo restaurant chain

Their footage captures the dining experience, with seats built inside the wooden boats at the centre of the restaurant. 

Overall, they said it was a ‘great experience’, adding: ‘It was fun to see tourists and locals alike enjoying a nice meal that we happened to have caught ourselves!’

Another TikToker, Nicholas Teo, shared a video that showed him catching his supper in a Tokyo branch of the popular Zauo restaurant chain.

In it, he reveals that ‘you can actually come here and eat without fishing, but if you fish they give you a discount.’ 

The various fish that can be caught at the Zauo restaurant chain, which has been running since the 1980s The various fish that can be caught at the Zauo restaurant chain, which has been running since the 1980s

The various fish that can be caught at the Zauo restaurant chain, which has been running since the 1980s

Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi's facade. TikTok user Parisa admits she was 'a little sceptical' about the experience before visiting the restaurant Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi's facade. TikTok user Parisa admits she was 'a little sceptical' about the experience before visiting the restaurant

Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi’s facade. TikTok user Parisa admits she was ‘a little sceptical’ about the experience before visiting the restaurant 

He adds that the chefs can use the ‘fish head and bones to make miso soup for you’.

Another restaurant, Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi, which is located in Osaka’s Shinsekai neighbourhood, offers the same experience, as documented in a video by TikTok user Parisa.

She admits that she was ‘a little sceptical’ about fishing for her dinner at first, but thought she would give it a try anyway. 

And she was pleasantly surprised. The travel TikToker describes the fishing restaurant as unlike any place she’s ever been to, saying: ‘We ended up going for the lobster steamed in garlic and butter and prawns tempura style… this was some of the best seafood I’ve ever had. The freshness is unmatched and I would highly recommend this place if you’re looking for a unique dinner experience.’

She added: ‘Although I’m not a fishing expert, I will admit that the experience was a fun blend of challenge and enjoyment. While I found handling the fishing rods a bit tricky it didn’t take away from the experience. 

‘Fortunately, the restaurant provided nets for those of us who struggled, and I ended up using one myself. Curiously, it seemed like the fish had a hunch they were on the menu and purposely avoided the rods, creating a game of cat and mouse in the underwater world.’ 

This phenomenon briefly made its way overseas – Zauo opened a New York restaurant in 2018, but it shut down after less than two years in business.

Japan

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