Zama's coZara opening in University City

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Chef/owner Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka (left) and chef de cuisine Chris Paulikas at coZara.

Other local restaurateurs have attempted the izakaya concept - it's basically a Japanese bar - while hedging their bets by offering sushi and rolls.

Not coZara, opening officially on Friday, April 25 at Chestnut Square (33d and Chestnut Streets), next to the new Zavino, Shake Shack and Joe Coffee on the Drexel U campus.

Owner Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka - who owns Zama near Rittenhouse Square - set up this bilevel 140-seater with a menu of Japanese small-plates. "No sushi," he explained gently. He's retained the services of Starr veteran Chris Paulikas as chef de cuisine; Tanaka himself worked for Starr for nine years.

There are many dining options on the two levels: the second-floor main dining room overlooking Chestnut Street, at the counter of the 10-seat open kitchen, at the 9-seat bar by the front door (stocked with Japanese beer and cocktails), and upstairs in a private room. A 30-seat outdoor terrace will open on the second floor when the weather wams up.

Boxwood Architects went for chic red and black, adding painted images of shoguns and geishas.

Menu is here.

It will be open for dinner only daily at the start; lunch will be on in a few weeks. Figure on $30 to $35 a head, including a drink, Tanaka said.

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