Koj Cheltenham, popular Masterchef finalist Andrew Kojima’s new restaurant, is easy to miss, we’ll let you know if you should…
Fronted with a large window, you’d be mistaken to think that it was another shop and mistaken you would be. It may be small, only about 25 covers, but it packs a real punch, especially in flavours.
I usually wouldn’t gush in to a review, but I might as well, you’ll find out why as you read on. Koj is different, modern and trending – it’s actually rather unique.
Firstly, some scene setting. It is a celebrity restaurant, from a game show contestant, who didn’t even win. I always find it amusing that all MasterChef contestants want their own place, do well in the show and it’s yours if you want it and Andrew Kojima wants it. Koj started as a pop up restaurant which is now permanent.
It’s refreshing that Andrew Kojima doesn’t believe that it’s only the taking part that counts, he is clearly driven and wants to be a success, therefore, Koj is extremely flexible and adaptable to the needs of it customers, and in that regard, rather unique.
During the week Koj is a relaxed affair with Ramen and Hirata buns but at the weekend it turns in to a cocktail bar to accompany a fun drinks menu of Japanese beers and Sake. We went cocktail night, and they were great fun a Geisha and Japanese Whisky Sour, had a couple of Japanese beers too.
The decor is contemporary and fits in with a modern Japanese style – most noticeable is a very cool mural, encompassing all the great things that inspire the Japanese Tapas approach – Koj is super chilled. The staff are like your buddies, dressed relaxed, act relaxed and care deeply that you have a good time.
The pricing is as you’d expect for a popular place, the dishes, of which there are rather few, which is always a good thing in my book, range in price and you’ll need a few. It’s unlikely that you’ll find Sushi on the menu, which is ace – we don’t like all that rice here at National Dish.
I’m just gonna whip through the dishes we shared:
- Miso Soup – served in a cool bowl and cup in one and was sublime
- Sashimi – Salmon and Tuna, fresh and well prepped, was good
- KFC (Koj Fried Chicken) – this is unbelievably good, ordered an extra portion
- 2 Hirata buns – soft shell crab and pork in tonkatsu, yes bread, which is bad, but it taste sooo good, so shut up
- Squid pancakes – we’d been tipped off about these before hand and there’s a good reason for that
The entire bill, with a well deserved tip, was £96 – and because of the quality and it’s celebrity status, this is going to get a £ £.
You may have heard of Andrew Kojima’s rant at a Tripadvisor user, right or wrong, he can reply if he wishes and it’s good to see some honesty for a change. At least, or at least I hope, he doesn’t post fake 5 star reviews like far too many other restaurateurs – you know who you are you – liars.
‘We paid the bill to keep it real’ and the reality is…you need to go here, so book up.
PRICE: £ £
TELEPHONE: 01242 580455
A bit about Cheltenham
‘Cultural Centre for the Cotswolds’ which is handy, because Cheltenham is right on the outskirts of the Cotswolds – Cheltenham is a Regency Spa Town, because of course, it has mineral springs.
Cheltenham’s architecture is one of it’s most endearing features, long, high avenues of regency townhouses, mostly painted white and many with pillars, it’s cool. As a result it incredibly middle class and hosts some of the best schools in the world.
It’s also rather famous for a number of high profiles festivals such as the Jazz and Literature Festivals and of course The Cheltenham Festival, the most prestigious national hunt racing meet in the world.
Cheltenham also happens to be our home town, and even though we’re not indigenous to Chelters, it’s a really cool place to live (past winner of best place to live in Britain) and visit.