As at any izakaya, the first food you are served will be the otoshi, a starter that acts as both appetizer and obligatory table charge. Too often these are mere tidbits for a few hundred yen that you nibble and promptly forget. At Koju, though, your otoshi turns out to be more like a full course, comprising as many as 10 different dishes (for ¥1,280), some seasonal but others served year-round. Currently the specialties include: bite-sized hotaru-ika (firefly squid), takenoko (bamboo shoot) with freshly harvested wakame seaweed, spring burdock root with a tender pork spare rib, succulent deep-fried eggplant, and a bowl of smooth, rich homemade tofu. This is far from complex cooking — in fact it’s much closer to the idea of the antipasti misti served at Italian trattorias — but it still expresses the same sense of seasonal bounty as you find in a high-end kaiseki (multicourse) meal.
In line with the nationwide state of emergency declared on April 16, the government is strongly requesting that residents stay at home whenever possible and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.