SOUTHINGTON — For the owners of COji Kitchen, the restaurant is an opportunity for a new start while still continuing to serve a mix of Asian cuisine.
Husband and wife owners Cais Tee Tran and Tuan Tran previously owned Koji in Hartford with a partner for about 13 years. They closed in 2018 and looked for a new spot to open a restaurant that would serve food only, a change from the Hartford bar and nightlife crowd they had cultivated. They changed the restaurant name just slightly because they wanted a fresh start, but didn’t want to lose longtime customers.
COji Kitchen, located at 1230 Queen St., opened Jan. 6 in a small plaza next to Southington Pawn Shop and A Wild Side Tattooing.
“I’ve eaten almost everything on the menu in the last week,” said Keith Labbe, owner of A Wild Side Tattooing
The Thai Shrimp and Curry Chicken Spring Rolls are his favorites.
The menu is a mix of Asian cuisine inspired by food from countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Cais Yee Tran is Malaysian and Tuan Tran is Vietnamese but grew up in Simsbury.
Some of the most popular menu items are the Josh Noodle, with roast pork stir-fried noodle and baby spinach; the Basil Chicken Spicy with veggies stir-fried with hot peppers and oyster sauce; and the Koji Fried Chicken, boneless chicken deep fried with a light batter and spicy mayo sauce.
“We're just very fun,” Tuan Tran said. “When you walk in it’s just a fun environment.”
James Cyr was in the tattoo shop with a friend and tried the beef and broccoli.
“Simple taste, but very flavorful,” he said.
The restaurant was previously home to a vape shop, and a deli before that.
With some help, the couple spent about a year renovating the space. The tables, chairs and front counter were made by Tuan Tran.
They plan to add some new items to the menu soon, as well as delivery through UberEats and DoorDash.
COji Kitchen is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.