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Cochi is a reliably satisfying jazz bar with a friendly neighborhood feel, the kind of place to rub shoulders with local folks while listening to home-ground jazz musicians. Although the room is tiny, the space is well furnished with vintage decor and ambiance, featuring a small bar and a set of tables and low couch seats where you can watch the musicians play within arm’s reach away. In fact, the nearest front table offers an up-close-and-personal experience, basically sharing floor space with the musicians, alongside a bass drum and cymbal stands on nights when drums are featured—a really nice way to get into the music.
Performance duos and trios are common here, as is a monthly jam session where amateur musicians can join the house band for a song or two each. The schedule includes local professional musicians and talented up-and-coming artists. Cochi is a perfect setting for an opportunity to catch popular and soon-to-be-popular artists in a comfortable and casual setting. The grand piano at Cochi is also a musician’s favorite, whose sublime tuning and sound occupy a large part of the sonic and physical territory in the room.
Creative homestyle dishes include the Cochi curry, tomato fried rice, salads, yakisoba, and snacks, as well as Heartland beer, sake, and other drinks. For non-Japanese speakers, the handwritten menu posted on the wall with the monthly schedules can pose a problem, but just ask the friendly owners or nearby customers to help you out, and if still in doubt, beer usually works as a universal language.
Like other tiny spots in Tokyo, there are times when all seats at Cochi are filled with reservations for that night. It’s sometimes an adventure to trek out and try your luck without making concrete plans, and more often than not this works out fine. Yet, it can be disappointing to be turned away at the door when there’s no room left for drop-ins. On full nights, solo customers may be able to beg a foldaway stool or standing room in a corner, but this will likely not be the most comfortable or view-friendly option and sometimes isn’t even possible. It’s usually a better idea to make a reservation if you can and really intend to go, which can be easily done by phone or through the bar’s website.