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.