Bar at CoZara | Photo by Kyle Born
After Trey Popp’s review of CoZara, where the happy hour garnered the most compliments, we wanted to check it out for ourselves. And oh yes, it is happy.
Not only does CoZara offer up a wide range of beer, wine, cocktails and sake for just $2, you can get $2 deals on their Japanese small plates as well.
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Photos by Courtney Apple
We here at Philadelphia magazine decided last month to start debuting restaurant reviews early on Foobooz. We had reasons. And we discussed them here. Welcome to the new world.
If restaurants are like fishermen, constantly angling for customers, CoZara
is that guy at the end of the pier who keeps changing his bait as fast as he can reel in the line.Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s sophomore effort (following his eponymous sushi den in Rittenhouse Square) opened with a 60-item menu patterned after a Japanese izakaya. Small plates were grouped into nine categories, with sushi notable for its absence. A few weeks later, CoZara added lunch: rice bowls, ramen, and gluey alt-burritos whose delicate soy-paper wrappers struggled to contain heavy cargoes of soggy rice entombing the likes of teriyaki salmon or BBQ eel. Then the dinner menu, which had already been tweaked, changed again, shrinking by about half in response to what chef de cuisine Chris Paulikas called the “deer-in-the-headlights look” of customers who found the original one “ominous.”
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This Friday, Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka will officially open his University City izakaya, coZara. The Japanese pub is a bi-level space in the same Chestnut Square complex that includes Shake Shack, Joe Coffee and Zavino. It’s a big space, with 140 seats including a 10-seat open kitchen bar, nine seat downstairs bar as well as “the geisha room,” an upstairs private room. A 30-seat outdoor terrace will open this summer.
One thing you won’t find in the space though, sushi. The extensive menu at coZara, which means small plates, will include everything from gyoza to soba to ramen but no raw fish. There will also be Marugoto, a whole chicken yakitori that is served with coZara spicy sauce and Zama spicy mayo. Only a limited number will be available daily and the whole bird is $39, by far the priciest item on the menu.
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Brewer’s Plate is one of our favorite events of the year. The fundraiser for Fair Food Philadelphia pairs local restaurants with local breweries in an event of food and drink sampling.
The list of restaurants for the March 10th event has just been released and as usual, features many of Philadelphia’s best but one name really stood out to us, Royal Sushi & Izakaya. The perpetually delayed Japanese pub project from the team behind the Khyber Pass, Cantinas and Royal Tavern will be one of the featured restaurants.
This will be the first public appearance of Royal Sushi & Izakaya. They’ll be paired with Brooklyn Brewery. Todd Dae Kulper will be on-hand.
The Brewer’s Plate Tickets [Ticket Leap]
Fair Food Philadelphia [Official Site]
Royal Sushi & Izakaya [Official Site]
As Michael Klein reported last night Royal Sushi and Izakaya finally has a location. The anticipated Japanese bar from the RoyalKhyberCantinasandnowIzakaya team will be opening in September at 782 S 2nd Street. Philadelphia food nerds have been coveting a true izakaya for years now and as the Khyber Pass Pub’s pop-up proved, there is demand.
Chef Todd Dae Kulper who quickly gathered praise at the short-lived Ro-Zu will be in the kitchen of RS&K.
The building at 2nd and Fulton has been owned by Stephen Simons and company for several years and when the neighborhood steakhouse concept, the Grill Room couldn’t make a go of it they decided to locate the business there. The building is a bit bigger than the Khyber and will afford them the opportunity to do both pub food and sushi.
As for whether there will be another pop-up prior to Royal Sushi and Izakaya opening it isn’t so clear. Simons says they have one planned but with a tight September deadline things could change.
Royal Sushi and Izakaya [Official Site]
A Royal Izakaya for South Philly [The Insider]
The Khyber Pass Pub’s Izakaya pop-up is set for Monday and we’ve got the full menu.
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We have no idea if the Vapors every played the Khyber but that’s not stopping the Old City landmark from turning into a Japanese pub.
Meal Ticket has the details on the plan, we just have lots of questions. Like how can the divey Khyber successfully transform into a Japanese pub without closing for renovations? We also wonder what will be done with the terrifying restrooms not to mention the non-existant heat in the music side of the bar?It’s one thing to have a cold, dank music venue, that adds character, but chilly will not work for an izakaya, especially one in today’s Old City.
And for the offended-that-the-Khyber-is-closing contingent, owner Stephen Simons told Michael Klein this weekend that he’ll lookÂ at a new location for a music venue, perhaps in partnership with a booking agent. Forgive and forget?
The Khyber will become â€¦ [Meal Ticket]
Inqlings [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Look past the velvet rope and bouncers and you might notice that Akoya is trying to making a name for itself in the shadow of it’s nightclub sibling Peal upstairs. David Snyder has the results thus far.
[T]here’s plenty to like about this retooled spot in terms of food. I loved the fact that the menu assembled by chef Greg Garbacz ([orignal chef, Ari] Weiswasser’s former sous chef) is loose and flexible, one of the more intuitive and navigable small-plates menus around. Geeks could call it open-source dining â€” the noodle and hot dish sections provide guests with the comfort of the conventional three-course route, yet the snacks, small plates and yakitori categories provide a wide berth to play and share. This is all at reasonable prices.
Pearl Vision [City Paper]
Akoya [Official Site]
Despite the bottle service and velvet ropes of Pearl being upstairs, Adam Erace says Akoya is all about the food.Â
Buttery miso-glazed pork belly kebabs were perfection for only $7. Tender short rib sliders (braised in pho paste) were a $12 trip to Vietnam. Indonesian- style spare ribs cured in-house and tossed in vibrant kecap manis â€™cue sauce: not so bad for $10â€”especially considering the accompanying mound of soulful, sweet soy baked beans mined with scraps of char sui pork. That East/West harmony blended so seamlessly, calling it fusion would be an insult.
With similar Asian flavors and dedicated tempura and yakitori sections, Akoyaâ€™s menu comes a little too close for comfort to Michael Schulsonâ€™s at Izakaya. But looking past that, Garbacz delivers better foodâ€”and the staff better serviceâ€”than youâ€™d ever expect in such swank surroundings.
Akoya [Philadelphia Weekly]
Akoya [Official Site]
Michael Schulson’s Izakaya at the Borgata gets a ringing endorsement from Craig LaBan.
With its casually stylish ambience and ambitious small-plate take on Japanese pub fare, this is a departure from traditional casino fine-dining. And, judging from the stunning parade of dishes, from the crispy nori-rice cracker topped with spicy tuna to the silky kabocha cheesecake, Izakaya is also a smashing debut for a familiar name we’re likely to be hearing more from.
Three Bells – Excellent
Izakaya [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Izakaya [Official Site]