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An innovative concept which never existed in New York before. “ZAUO” where you can eat the fish you have just caught

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By Aya Ota

“ZAUO”, where you can have the fish you have just caught cooked, and eat right there----a restaurant with such an innovative concept which is unprecedented in New York, is the talk of the town now.

First, the customer would decide which fish he or she wants to catch. In the restaurant, there are 3 fish tanks, and about 10 different kinds of live seafood items, which alternate every season, are kept there, and consist of rainbow trout, striped-bass, fluke, flounder, lobster, Dungeness crab, abalone, etc. Depending on the kind of fish, the tools and methods of catching differ. Staff called “Fish Attendants” would help you so you don’t need to worry. Once you catch your aimed item, the floor staff cheers for you by hitting a drum. After that, you choose the cooking method of your choice: salt grilled, tempura, simmered in soy sauce, sake-steamed, etc. Half & Half, in which a piece of fish is divided into 2 halves, and one half is used for shabu shabu, and the other half is salt grilled, etc., is especially popular. It makes you feel really special that you eat what you just caught which is cooked immediately while it is still fresh. There are additional services such as making miso soup with the fish head and bones, making crunchy senbei of fried fluke or flounder bones, etc. You can taste your caught item in its entirety without wasting any part.

Besides the above-mentioned fishing menu, for which the fished items are cooked, they offer a rich variety of a-la-carte menu items such as sushi, sashimi, seafood bowl, salad, and miso soup. You can start fishing right away, or you can enjoy sake and appetizers first, and then challenge yourself to fish. The restaurant has 3 stories. The first floor has lively seating near large fish tanks, private room like spaces, and a bar counter. You can watch fish swimming underneath from the mezzanine floor, or the 2nd floor interior gives you the sense of being on a boat, Whether you are a couple, part of a group, or by yourself, you can enjoy various ambiences by going to different floors. Customers often use this place for family outings with children or for birthday parties. From this June, they have just started using the 3rd floor. It is a quiet space very different from the 1st and 2nd floor, and omakase sushi is served there.

I can imagine that in order to realize such an unprecedented concept, they must have experienced a lot of difficulties in building construction and application for permits, etc., on top of gaining the understanding and cooperation of the involved parties. However, “I never really thought that I was struggling,” says Mr. Takuya Takahashi, President of Zauo Inc. cheerfully. He is also the Vice President of Harbor House Inc. (based in Fukuoka), which has developed 13 “ZAUO”s in Japan. This company was founded in1986, and was originally operated as an apparel business dealing with novelty products and uniforms. They expanded their business, and have developed a total of 20 restaurants besides “ZAUO”s, which include izakaya and teishoku chains. In 2014, when he was visiting New York with his brother, the President of Harbor House Inc., he felt the strong urge to do something in this town full of diversity. Back then, he was doing the market research and looking for locations flexibly without focusing on a particular business model. Then, he decided to develop the “ZAUO” concept, which has a strong, unique characteristic that differs from others. Sometimes, the experience and knowledge he gained from “ZAUO”, Japan, was useful, but some things were totally different in the US. Many customers come for the fishing experience without recognizing the restaurant as a Japanese restaurant, and taste Japanese food or sake for the first time. Some want rice as a side menu item of the western cuisine, so they started to offer it for free. In order to accommodate diversified preferences, restricted diets, and allergies, they offer meats, and vegetarian dishes as well. For those who are not accustomed to eating whole fish, they serve it with no skin and bones to attentively respond to the detailed needs. Moreover, they created a position called “Fish Attendant”, which exists only at this restaurant, and educate the staff for it so they can become confident and take joy in this unique position. Mr. Takahashi himself, who has the determining rights, takes the lead on site, so flexibility and power of actuation is excellent.

“I would like to produce joyfulness, focusing on the importance of sense of unity among customers and staff,” says Mr. Takahashi. His quote also holds a wish for having people understand not only the joys of eating something they caught themselves, but also conveying the understanding of expressing gratitude for each precious life to be taken and consumed with respect.


これまでニューヨークになかった革新的なコンセプト
自分で釣った魚を食べられる『ZAUO』


「自分で釣った魚をその場で調理してもらう」…これまでニューヨークには存在しなかった斬新なコンセプトの店、『ざうお』が話題だ。

客は来店するとまず、どの魚介類を釣りたいか決める。店内には3カ所のいけすがあり、ニジマス、シマスズキ、ひらめ、かれい、ロブスター、ダンジネスクラブ、あわびなど、季節ごとに変わるが常時約10種類の魚介類がいる。種類によって釣り具や捕獲方法が異なるが、「フィッシュ・アテンダント」と呼ばれる店員が助けてくれるので安心だ。お目当ての魚介類を釣り上げると、店員が太鼓を叩いて盛り上げてくれる。その後、塩焼き、天ぷら、煮付け、酒蒸しなど、好みの調理方法を選んで料理してもらう。特に、一匹の魚を半身はしゃぶしゃぶ、半身は塩焼き…という具合に、二通りに調理してもらう「ハーフ&ハーフ」が人気。自ら捕獲した魚介類を、新鮮なまま調理してもらって食べる醍醐味は格別だ。頭部と骨を味噌汁にしたり、ひらめやかれいの骨を揚げて骨せんべいにしたり…という追加サービスもあり、釣果を無駄なく丸ごと味わい尽くすことができる。

釣った魚介類を調理してもらうフィッシング・メニュー以外にも、寿司や刺身、海鮮丼、サラダ、味噌汁など、アラカルト・メニューも豊富に用意されている。来店してすぐに釣り始めてもいいし、お酒や前菜を少し楽しんでから釣りに挑戦してもいい。店は3階建てのビル全体を活用した構造で、1階には、大型のいけすが近い賑やかな席、個室風の席、バーカウンターがある。足下に泳ぐ魚を眺められる中2階、実際に乗船しているような臨場感ある内装の2階…カップルでも団体でも一人でも、フロアや席を変えて異なる雰囲気を味わえる。子供連れの家族層や誕生会などに利用されることも多いという。6月からは3階での営業を開始し、1〜2階とは全く異なる閑静な空間で、おまかせ寿司を提供。プライベートイベントにも対応可能な空間も用意している。

これまでに例のない概念を実現するには、関係者の理解や協力を得ることはもちろん、建設工事や許認可申請など多くの障害があっただろう。しかし、「あまり苦労していると感じたことはない」と明るい笑顔で話す『ZAUO INC.』社長の高橋拓也氏氏。日本で『釣船茶屋ざうお』を13店舗を展開する『株式会社ハーバーハウス』(本社:福岡県)の副社長でもある。1986年創業の同社は、もともとノベルティ商品やユニフォームなどのアパレル業からスタートしたが、事業を拡大し、『ざうお』以外でも居酒屋や定食屋など複数の業態を含め約20店舗を展開する。2014年に、高橋氏が社長である兄と、市場調査を目的にニューヨークを訪れていたときに「多様性あふれるこの街で何かやりたい」と直観。当初は業態を絞り込むことなく柔軟に調査や物件探しを進めていたが、他と差別化できる強烈な個性を持つ『ざうお』を展開しようと決断した。日本の『ざうお』での経験や知識が役立つこともあれば、全く異なることもあった。釣りをきっかけに、同店を日本食店と認識せずに来店する客も多いため、初めて日本食や日本酒を口にする人もいる。西洋料理のサイドメニューのようにご飯を要求する客もいて無料提供を開始した。多様な嗜好性、食事制限やアレルギーに対応するべく肉やベジタリアン料理も提供する。丸ごとの魚を食べ慣れない客には骨や皮を外してあげるなど、細かい要望にも丁寧に対応する。また、「フィッシュ・アテンダント」という他店にない職種に自信と喜びを感じられるよう教育をしているという。決裁権ある高橋氏本人が現場指揮を執っているため、柔軟性と行動力が抜群だ。

「お客様やスタッフとの一体感を大事に、楽しさを演出したい」と高橋氏。自分で釣った魚を食べられる楽しみを伝えるだけでなく、感謝して命をいただくという食育の願いも込められている。



ZAUO
152 W 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 646-905-2274
https://zauo-newyork.com/
5:00 pm to 10:30 pm (Last Order 10:00 pm) 7days week
#alljapannews #NY #ZAUO #sushi

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