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Zauo/ other "weird" restaurants

lmonitz Feb 23, 2012 07:38 PM

Hello fellow foodies! I'm doing my first Japan visit in a couple weeks and came across a list of weirdest restaurants of the world, a lot of which are in Asia. http://restoran.us/trivia/unusual.htm

I was wondering if any has been to any of these and if they're worthwhile or just gimmicky. I will be in Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka and possibly Nara/Kobe. I'm a travel writer so looking for any interesting/memorable experiences.

Zauo looked interesting where you catch your fish for instance, but I'm debating if the food's actually good or if it's just entertaining for the kids http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06...

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    Ninisix Feb 23, 2012 11:54 PM

    I have heard of a "monk bar" in Yotsuya 3-chome, monk don't drink alcohol, and they just serve it, with sometimes prayers, well, as as priest ! Strange thing ! If you are interested in that weird thing, here below the link :

    1. Robb S Feb 24, 2012 12:26 AM

      That first link has been posted here before (but perhaps immediately removed by the mods). The nicest thing I can think to say about it is that it's highly inaccurate. For example in the cat cafes, no you don't get to choose a cat to have dinner with - you're just in a room full of cats (and no dinner is served).

      The fish-catching place just sounds kind of gimmicky.

      26 Replies
      1. re: Robb S
        Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 09:58 AM

        Not a good example. The first cat cafe "Garden Cat" (猫花園) was opened not in Japan, but in Taiwan in 1998. It is apparently still operational, and is first on the list. According to cafe's website there are dedicated chairs with cat's names, and site is proposing them as "dinner partners". Many Japanese cat cafes are calling their cats - staff, with staff pictures, and bios been advertised on their web sites. So, there is little offense in the expression that some cat cafes let you choose the cat to be your dinner companion. The food is also served in some Japanese cat cafes, although not often, and there is even one "Cat Ristorante" :). The list is a product of years of a passionate research. Corrections are very welcomed.

        1. re: Unusual Restaurants
          Silverjay Feb 24, 2012 10:36 AM

          There used to be a hemp restaurant in Shimo-kitazawa. I don't know if it is still there. If you do a search in Japanese, there are sites dedicated to this sort of thing. I posted one a few years ago. There are just tons of speciality restaurants in Japan- horsemeat, whale, beef tongue, places that put "xyz" into every dish, etc. And there are "catch your own fish or squid from a tank or pond" places around as well.

          1. re: Silverjay
            Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 11:20 AM

            The most famous specialized horse (Suganoya) and whale (Kujira-ya) meat restaurants are on the list.
            Can't find squid fishing restaurant... does anybody know the name, location, link or reliable lead?

            1. re: Unusual Restaurants
              Silverjay Feb 24, 2012 11:41 AM

              They are examples of well-known places of which there are many. Here's a nationwide list of about 100 whale places- http://r.tabelog.com/RC019911/. There are more for horsemeat....You can catch and get your squid hacked up for sashimi at many of the tourist fish market restaurants around the country. Hakodate, I think in Numazu as well. Probably others.

              1. re: Silverjay
                Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 12:02 PM

                Fish market "squid catching" is not a restaurant fishing like Zauro. You just getting squid from the tank, like here in Hakodate http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinc/.... You can "catch" this way any sea product in any restaurant with the fish tank.

                1. re: Unusual Restaurants
                  Silverjay Feb 24, 2012 12:39 PM

                  The one I went to, you catch the squid with a pole and line and then they hack it up and serve it to you right there as sashimi. They also serve cold beer and have other items. I'm sure it's just as thrilling as sitting across from a cat. As noted, cat cafes, maid kissa, etc. aren't dining destinations.

                  1. re: Silverjay
                    Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 01:15 PM

                    photo of this squid pole fishing - http://bit.ly/z9Ai5F
                    may be worth to be included, just for completeness, but it is a big stretch.. :)

            2. re: Silverjay
              Robb S Feb 24, 2012 11:58 AM

              Sadly, Aso, the hemp-themed restaurant in Shimo-Kita, has closed down. Even more sadly so did the excellent rock-music-and-microbrew-beer-themed bar in the same building. Some story concerning the landlord, I gleaned.

              1. re: Robb S
                Silverjay Feb 24, 2012 12:40 PM

                Whoa, bummer dude.

                1. re: Silverjay
                  Robb S Feb 24, 2012 12:48 PM


                  Wait, what were we talking about?

                2. re: Robb S
                  ruprecht25 Feb 24, 2012 05:27 PM

                  Robb, are you referring to Beer Rock in your post above? I really liked that place and I always enjoyed talking with the owner. Does anyone know if he opened up a new bar elsewhere?

                  1. re: ruprecht25
                    Robb S Feb 24, 2012 11:47 PM

                    Yes, Beer Rock it was. I talked to the Ushitora guys about it and they didn't know about a new venue, although they seemed to know a lot about the closing.

              2. re: Unusual Restaurants
                Silverjay Feb 24, 2012 10:41 AM

                Also, you're about 20 years too late and missed the "no-pan shabu/ yakiniku" era. But I've heard rumors that there are still some around.

                1. re: Silverjay
                  lost squirrel Feb 27, 2012 02:48 AM

                  Please tell me that 'no-pan' refers to a lack of pants. I need a new romantic dining option.

                  1. re: Silverjay
                    jem589 Mar 5, 2012 08:51 AM

                    Was that real?! I've spent a lot of time looking for a place like that online and could never find anything. Did they exist during the Bubble? (Which I hesitate to point out was more like 30 years ago...)

                    1. re: jem589
                      Silverjay Mar 5, 2012 10:39 AM

                      Yes, there was a Zaimu-sho scandel in the 90's where n.p.s.s. were in the news. They were like invitation only....There are still all kinds of wacked out places- women in various disrobe, crawling on the floor, wearing race girl outfits, etc. I have a good friend who works for one of the big four zaibatsu in sales. Tells me all kinds of (sordid) stories... There's a more mainstream chain of Hokkadio-themed izakaya called Hanako that has a kind of "Hooters" approach to hospitality. Here is their recruitment page- http://i-hanako.com/recruit/woman.html .

                      1. re: Silverjay
                        jem589 Mar 6, 2012 09:25 AM

                        Bummed that I never penetrated that sphere of corporate life. Work dinners were usually quite bad.

                  2. re: Unusual Restaurants
                    Robb S Feb 24, 2012 11:55 AM

                    I applaud your decision to follow your passion, so please take this comment in the spirit of answering your request for corrections. Cat cafes, at least here in Japan, are not restaurants where you can have dinner - most serve only coffee, although one or two might have minimal sandwiches or light snacks. Certainly none of them let you "choose a cat to be your dinner companion" - the idea is to go and hang out for an hour and pet a few cats and dangle catnip toys in front of them while you have a cup of coffee.

                    Other listings among your Tokyo selections seem very out of place. For example Les Creations de Narisawa, Ryugin and Tapas Molecular Bar are all world-class restaurants with innovative menus - but what do they have in common with places where the "waitresses are men in drag"? And why do they in particular qualify for a place among the "most unusual restaurants in the world" while their many similar competitors don't? I think you may be casting too wide a net.

                    Also please note that Ogori Cafe, where you pay for the drink of the person after you, has been closed for quite awhile - they were only open for a few months as a sort of performance art experiment.

                    Good luck with your project - it's certainly sparked some conversations!

                    1. re: Robb S
                      Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 12:50 PM

                      - No, there are few food serving cat cafes, eg Cat Ristorante http://bit.ly/hBk2sZ, just browse their sites.
                      - You may argue for long with semantics of any similar site, review or article..
                      - The world's most unusual restaurants are divided into seven categories, so you may find the most innovative avant-garde restaurants in the world, and some weird small cafes with the most outrageous amusing gimmicks.
                      Where practical, all restaurants of the particular type are listed (dining trains, restauratnts in the planes, etc). Any such listing is subjective, and suggestions are welcomed.

                      1. re: Unusual Restaurants
                        Robb S Feb 24, 2012 01:14 PM

                        I see, so you've found one cat cafe in Chiba that possibly serves dinner, and with that you justify your descriptions of every cat cafe in Japan as a place to "choose a cat companion to have dinner with"? Okay, noted.

                        >you may find the most innovative avant-garde restaurants in the world, and some weird small cafes with the most outrageous amusing gimmicks.

                        Yes, that was precisely my point - maybe you're casting too wide a net. In practical terms, people interested in "the best restaurants in the world" are generally a different audience from people who want to experience weird novelties. Seeing them all crammed together is jarring.

                        1. re: Robb S
                          Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 01:33 PM

                          OK, wording changed :)

                          1. re: Unusual Restaurants
                            Robb S Feb 24, 2012 01:38 PM

                            Oh, well done, you've improved your site's credibility right there.

                          2. re: Robb S
                            kamiosaki Feb 24, 2012 05:51 PM

                            And of course when dining with a cat, in addition to self-licking in inappropriate places and the occasional hairball being projectile-vomited across the table. you may run into awkward situations such as this:


                          3. re: Unusual Restaurants
                            kamiosaki Feb 24, 2012 02:03 PM

                            I don't see the choo-choo train curry restaurant in Yutenji on the list. Or was it Gakugeidaigaku.

                            1. re: kamiosaki
                              Robb S Feb 24, 2012 02:13 PM

                              I want to go!

                              (I still miss the Ebisu beer train.)

                              1. re: kamiosaki
                                Unusual Restaurants Feb 24, 2012 02:32 PM

                                http://www.niagara-curry.com - listed

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