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Jul 15, 2008 09:28 AM

Kanda Koujyu (かんだ光壽 ), Kanda, Yamanote Line- mini review

Kanda Koujyu was the number one rated izakaya in Tokyo on Tabelog the day I visited. It was the second stop of the night for me, so I didn't make a full meal of it- hence the mini-review. It's a dimly lit, well proportioned place a few minutes from JR Kanda Station. The interior obviously tries to evoke a rustic, aged classic Japanese sake establishment along the counter, with a more western style wine bar/ café table opposite. Mostly, it's of popular Nihon-shu centric bar design, with the jumbo "issho" bottles on prominent display. Most of the clientele seems to be salarymen, though a bit more refined than the off the rack types at red lantern izakaya.

Koujyu is well known for their "お通し" (otoshi) set, which is sort of a Japanese version of an amuse bouche. Accordingly with any good restaurant, it changes often. On the evening I visited, my set consisted of some nice slices of katsuo, fresh tsukemono, a wonderful jellied anago, and a few other tasty dishes. Wish I could remember, but the Tabelog gallery provides some nice shots of what others experienced- . We also ordered a sashimi moriawase consisting of maguro, kinmedai, and hirame. It was generously portioned, though not stellar. And we sampled a house specialty- homemade flavored cream cheeses. The saikyo-miso one was a nice compliment to the sake we had selected.

I would definitely like to revist Koujyu for a full session. I'd be interested to see what their menu offers in the fall and winter months particularly. This seems like a worthy destination spot.

On the side: This was my first time to Kanda for a night out. The area's regular evening denizens are heavily slanted toward the salaryman demographic, but if you don't mind that, it seems to be an izakaya gold mine with shops of every ilk. Many are fairly open and on the ground floor, so you can get a look inside to check out the scene. We stopped at some random place and had excellent homemade steaming tofu and a few other nice dishes. If you are staying in the Tokyo Station/ Marunouchi area and fancy a bit of downtown style dining activity with a bit less intense environment than Ueno, Kanda is one station north of Tokyo and worth checking out in the evening.

Kanda Koujyu's Tabelog page:

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  1. Nice review Silverjay! :)

    Can't wait to try this place out.

    Did they have a good selection of Stewed and Fried items as well? (for example Agedashi Tofu, or Buta no Kakuni?)

    2 Replies
    1. re: exilekiss

      Agedashi-dofu is not a dish that's going to elicit a number one ranking for a shop. Kakuni and other pork dishes tend more to be associated with shochu.

      Kanda Koujyu is a Nihonshu-centric izakaya, so the cuisine will not be like a catch all "red lantern" benches style menu or shochu focused Southern style. Here's a shot someone took of a menu there- . Let's take a look:

      There are some tempura items like different types of mushrooms and eggplant. A few potato items as well- shiokara potato, sake steamed. Hmmm, this menu was probably from the Fall or early winter. I also see aburi saba, madai long onion carpaccio, daily braised fish head, gobou chips, various marinated tofu and cream cheeses, fresh steamed tofu, ground meat tofu, dried anago, and horse sashimi. There's a few items I can't understand, including some type of salted whale preparation.The sashimi and cooked seafood sections are not shown, except for buttered Manila clams from Aichi Prefecture. There's probably some miso marinated grilled fish if Aichi is being featured. I wish I knew Nihonshu better, but I'm sure the staff can help out for recommendations. Also, I just remembered, that they serve you sake in tiny stemware rather than standard tokkuri or wooden masu. I kind of liked it that way.

      1. re: Silverjay

        Thanks for the info Silverjay. It's interesting to know that Kakuni is normally associated with Shochu rather than Izakayas that focus on Nihonshu. I can't wait to try this place. :)

    2. Silveryjay, would you recommend reservations? I'll be heading here after work on Weds this week.

      5 Replies
      1. re: lost squirrel

        Just in case, I would call ahead. It was pretty busy on the Tuesday night that I went.

          1. re: Silverjay

            As of noon yesterday, all booked up.

            We're on the hunt for a new place.

            1. re: lost squirrel

              What type of place are you interested in and where specifically? There are a bunch of places that I am interested in, but haven't had a chance to go to. They are all little izakaya/sake/shochu-centric joints with good food.

              1. re: Silverjay

                I'm interested in anything really, I usually let friends decide.

                We ended up at BigPig, a pork-centric okonomiyaki joint with a heavy baseball vibe. They provided us with cup sake omiyage due to the Carps winning.