Koj is half-Japanese, half Scottish and turned his passion into his career after reaching the final of BBC1’s MasterChef. He started out with fast track training at leading restaurants such as Royal Hospital Road***, The Ledbury**, Le Gavroche**, Oud Sluis*** and Dinner by Heston**. You can find out more about Koj at his personal website.
Koj Cheltenham began life as a nine week pop up restaurant in autumn 2016. Encouraged by local enthusiasm for a new and different type of dining experience, we decided to open a permanent restaurant.
A successful 25 day campaign raised £54,000 through Kickstarter in return for rewards and allowed us to refurbish a former café as a restaurant with a Japanese style open kitchen and cocktail bar on the first floor.
DOGS We regret that we do not permit dogs except guide dogs.
OUTSIDE CATERING Please enquire online.
NEWSLETTER To receive our newsletter, please subscribe.
EVENTS Please visit our Facebook page for details of events such as cocktail masterclasses, Japanese whisky and sake tastings.
CORPORATE EVENTS / TEAM BUILDING We offer experiences such as our canapé party with “Speed Dining” or our Cooking and Cocktail masterclass. Please enquire online.
EXCLUSIVE PRIVATE HIRE / PRIVATE LUNCHES Available on any day by prior arrangement, subject to minimum spend and a deposit. Seated capacity is 24 people on each floor. Standing capacity is 50 people on each floor. We can apply for a later license from Cheltenham Borough Council via a Temporary Event Notice (10 working days required). Please enquire online.
CAREERS We like to hire people who want a career in hospitality, not just a job. We value personality 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.
NO SUSHI Outside Japan, sushi is synonymous with Japanese cuisine because of its unique and photogenic qualities, but Japanese people eat many other things. While we do not serve sushi, we do always have sashimi (raw meat or fish) on the menu, in keeping with typical izakaya style menus.
RESERVATIONS Please book online.
PRESS / OTHER ENQUIRIES Please call 01242 580455.
GIFT VOUCHERS are available online.
DRESS CODE We do not have a dress code but we reserve the right to draw the line at fancy dress.
DIETARY REQUIREMENTS Our menu always has items suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets. Please use the special requests box to notify us in advance of any other requirements.
DISABLED ACCESS Please use the special requests box so that we can reserve an appropriate area. Unfortunately our Grade II listed townhouse was not designed for easy wheelchair access. There are 3 steps at the entrance and our toilets are on the first floor. Disabled toilets are available to our guests courtesy of our neighbours at The Everyman Theatre. There are disabled parking bays on Regent Street.
CHILDREN We welcome babies and children. Please use the special requests box if you require a high chair or space for a pushchair.
GL50 1JZ (Regents Arcade - £2.50 after 5.30pm)
GL50 1HX (Rodney Road - free after 8pm)
GL50 9SA (Municipal Offices)
GL50 1HQ (Disabled parking on Regent Street)
The Team (left to right)
Koj Executive Chef and General Manager
Koj began his professional cooking career in 2012, teaching Japanese cookery and working as a private chef, including for HM The Queen and A-list celebrities such as Eddie Redmayne, Andrew Lloyd Webber and AP McCoy, He has now fulfilled his dream of opening his first restaurant, with the aim of pushing Japanese cuisine in the UK beyond the comfort zone of sushi.
Robin Stock Head Chef
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 2 Michelin stars. He also brings useful experience on the supplier side, having worked at Creed and Wellocks. Outside work he has his hands full with five children and is a avid Gloucester rugby fan.
Richard Holt Sous Chef
Richard is a local lad who began his career in the kitchen at Corse Lawn Hotel and continued learning at Cowley Manor, before deciding to step out of his comfort zone to learn Japanese cuisine. After work, he likes to practise pool at the Frog & Fiddle and forget the time that Koj '7 balled' him.
Ben Ramsay Kitchen Porter
Luckily for us, Ben commutes in from Worcester where he is at college. Unluckily for us, his mum lives in Tenerife so he is often there topping up his tan. He is vegetarian and supports Manchester United.
Dan Morgan Front of House and Bar Manager
Dan is a local boy who began working in hotels in his teens. After a spell bartending in some of Birmingham's busiest nightspots, he returned to the Cotswolds as the Bar Manager at Monty's Cocktail Bar in Cheltenham. Now he is applying his experience to create our unique cocktail list inspired by ingredients and flavours of Japan.
Phoebe Pearson Front of House
Phoebe is also a student of Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, specialising in food photography. Her previous front of house experience is working in her local Italian restaurant back home near Leeds.
Martyna Wieczerzak Restaurant Manager
Martyna has spent over ten years in hospitality, including some of Cheltenham's most cherished restaurants such as Coco Bistrot, Wild Beer and Number 7, She is also a mum of two, a skill which often comes in useful at work too.
Josh Lyle Front of House (not pictured)
Josh is a student of Photography at the University of Gloucestershire who shot the restaurant interior photos for this website. When back home in Cornwall he works with Paul Ainsworth at No 6*. He is occasionally found in Moo Moo. He is no fan of Ginsters.
Toshi-san Chef Consultant (not pictured)
Toshi-san brings a wealth of over twenty years' experience of cooking in Japan and London, including 17 years as Executive Chef of Benihana during its heyday in the late 1990s, almost 5 years at Stanton House Hotel and 2 years at Sake No Hana.
The hospitality industry is renowned for its long hours and low remuneration. Couple that with inadequate training and the result is a despondent team and a disappointing dining experience for customers.
We believe that our staff should continually be inspired, educated and rewarded for their commitment and passion and that this will create a virtuous circle for the business as well as the career development of our staff.
You may notice the team dining together after service. This gives us a chance not only to eat, but to socialise together, relax after a long hard day, reflect on the highs and lows and acknowledge everyone’s contribution. 'Otsukaresama desu', as they say in Japan.
2018-11-21 Nikka Whisky Tasting
For details of this event, please go to the Booking section or visit our Facebook page.
2018-10-06 Cheltenham Lit Crawl
As part of Cheltenham Literature Festival, we’re offering sake in the company of Haiku poet in residence Paul Conneally and calligrapher Yoko Takenaki.
2018-09-17 Bartender of the Year
Our bar manager, Dan Morgan, has been crowned Cheltenham Bartender of the Year.
2018-09-11 New beer now available
Our latest house beer, Topknot Fatboy is a ruby ale brewed exclusively for Koj in collaboration with Hillside Brewery.
2018-09-10 Cheltenham Awards: Best Bar / Restaurant Finalist
We were shortlisted among 4 finalists in the 2018 Cheltenham awards.
2018-09-06 The Good Food Guide 2019
For the second year running, Koj Cheltenham is among 17 Gloucestershire restaurants in The Good Food Guide.
2018-08-08 Kikkoman Masters 2018
Our Executive Chef, Koj, has been shortlisted among ten finalists in the prestigious Kikkoman Masters cooking competition
2018-08-06 Bandana Monkey beer wins 1 star
The Great Taste Awards 2018 have been announced and our house beer, Bandana Monkey was awarded 1-star.
2018-07-03 Cotswold Life Best Newcomer
We won the Best Newcomer category in the Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards 2018.
2018-04-30 The Trencherman’s Guide
Michael Caines MBE invited Koj into 26th edition of The Trencherman’s Guide.
2018-04-03 Restaurant of the Year
Koj Cheltenham was announced as joint Restaurant of the Year, alongside Lumiere at the Cheltenham BID Awards 2018.
2018-03-26 Recommended by Two Michelin star legend
David Everitt-Matthias of Le Champignon Sauvage recommended Koj among the best restaurants in Gloucestershire in The Telegraph.
2018-01-25 Burns-san Supper
A tasting menu celebrating Robbie Burns and Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky [click here]
2017-12-15 Second major guidebook listing
Following our inclusion in The Good Food Guide 2018, we have now been listed among Harden’s 2018 Guide to the UK’s best restaurants
[Click here] to read our newsletter.
2017-10-31 Best Restaurant Finalist
Koj Cheltenham was named as one of three finalists in the Best Restaurant category of Gloucestershire Food & Farming Awards.
2017-10-05 Introducing Kojin, Spirit of the Hearth
We have collaborated with Psychopomp Distillery in Bristol to create our very own Japanese-inpired gin.
2017-08-17 The Good Food Guide
Just five months after opening, we have been included among 15 Gloucestershire restaurants included in the Good Food Guide 2018.