Outside Japan, sushi is synonymous with Japanese cuisine because of its unique and photogenic qualities, but Japanese people eat many other things. We do not serve sushi but in keeping with typical izakaya style menus, we do always offer a sashimi dish on the menu.
We aim to promote the eclectic range of Japanese food beyond sushi, inspired by my Japanese father, the meals I had as a child and my trips to Japan. We start with tried and tested recipes from our ever growing collection of Japanese cookery books but we like to think we end up with dishes that add a touch of originality and creativity to help our menu stand out from the crowd. By consistently providing food that is simple, tasty and different, served in a friendly and informal atmosphere, we hope to become a go-to choice for the residents of Cheltenham and the surrounding Cotswolds at a price point that is affordable for occasional treats rather than special occasions.
Koj is half-Japanese, half-Scottish and turned his passion into his career after reaching the final of BBC1’s MasterChef. He began with fast track training Royal Hospital Road, The Ledbury, Le Gavroche, Oud Sluis and Dinner by Heston, before working as a private chef and cookery teacher, including for The Queen, Eddie Redmayne, Andrew Lloyd Webber and AP McCoy, With his first restaurant, he aims to push Japanese cuisine in the UK beyond the comfort zone of sushi.
Find out more about Koj at kojcooks.co.uk.
Robin has spent 25 years in the hospitality industry, cutting his teeth with Gary Rhodes in London, before rising to Senior Sous Chef at Whatley Manor when it held two MIchelin Stars. Outside work he has his hands full with five children and is a avid Gloucester rugby fan.
Robin joined the team in July 2017, having previously worked on a two week popup in Cirencester with Koj in 2015.
Phil joined us from Wild Beer where he was Head Chef, with a decade of experience in some of Cheltenham’s most prestigious kitchens including Lumiere, The Daffodil and The White Spoon.
Outside work, Phil likes to be outdoors, whether it’s travelling, exploring, on the coast or in his garden.
Phil joined the team in March 2019
Working in hospitality means working when most people are relaxing, but we believe that if our team is motivated, inspired and rewarded then their commitment and passion will be obvious to customers, resulting in a virtuous circle for the business and its employees.
We like to hire people who want a rewarding career in hospitality, not just a job. We value personality, work ethic and attitude over experience. If you are quick and eager to learn, please introduce yourself in person at an appropriate time or send us your CV with a covering letter.
We are small team who generally all work together in a regular pattern. We value our time off on Sundays and Mondays. As well as the softer, lifestyle benefits of working at Koj, we always pay above minimum wage and distribute service charge to everyone in the team, based on number of hours worked, not on seniority. Training is on the job and begins with bringing a friend or family member for dinner, so that you experience how we come across from the customer perspective.
You may notice the team eating together after Saturday night service. This gives us a chance to socialise, relax, reflect on the highs and lows and acknowledge everyone’s contribution. 'Otsukaresama desu', as they say in Japan.