Kojyu (Koju) is the only three star kaiseki establishment in glitzy Ginza, nestled among fashion brands like Cartier, Celine and Max Mara.
Serving Japanese haut cuisine, Kojyu moved to this new location since June 2012. No fancy ground floor entrance, it’s perched discreetly on the fourth floor. A small indoor garden greets you the moment you exit the lift, and the reception area seats a few while the staff prepares the seating.
Though there were different rooms in the restaurant, I was seated at the counter where Toru Okuda （奥田透）served me and five other guests for the night.
In August, it’s the season for Ayu. Charcoal grilled Ayu was their seasonal signature dish. An Ayu is grabbed from their tanks and it is prepared upon your arrival. The fish would only appear on your table after your fourth dish. I had the fortune of trying other seasonal fish, such as the Okoze and Hamo – which also involves meticulous preparation.
There are less than 20 staff in Koju, including Okuda himself. They were visibly busy, but managed to handle everything with care. So now – what are the dishes I liked? The very refreshing awabi soba, the finely grilled ayu and the kobe beef winter melon stew. The eel was also remarkable, grilled to a crispy outer-finish while semi-melting beneath the skin. Many asked me how would that compare to the one at Ryugin – and even the staff asked me the same question that night. I would say both are actually prepared differently but they’re equally good in their own right. Personally, I’d lean towards the Ryugin eel as it has a crunchier texture and has a more subtle charcoal flavour. For the desserts, it’s definitely less exciting than Ryugin, but it’s still some delicious traditional Japanese desserts.
At the end of the meal, I was invited to visit the kitchen. Surprising indeed as such open gestures are not that common in Japan. Okuda’s new restaurant in Paris just opened its doors – it’ll be interesting to see how Koju is received in Europe.
Ginza Koju (銀座小十)
Tel: +81 03-6215-9544
Address: Carioca building 4F 5-4-8 Ginza,Chuo-ku,Tokyo, Japan
Visited on: 29 July, 2013
Price: Lunch ￥21,000; Dinner￥26,250 + 10%
Hours: Monday to Saturday – Lunch: 12 – 1pm; Dinner 6pm-9:30pm
Chef: Toru Okuda （奥田透）