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Dec 5, 2009 08:08 AM

Good, but wondering if this is the best sushi in Durham/CH area?

Talking only about Sushi/Sashimi here. Kanki's fish is always good, most of the time they have fresh scallop and uni. I have not had anything better. The rolls are always on the sweet side. However they offer 2 for 1 full rolls Sun-Thursd which is a pretty good deal and half price appetizers. Am I right in assuming there's no better sashimi and sushi in the immediate area?


Kanki Japanese House of Steaks & Sushi
3504 Mount Moriah Rd, Durham, NC 27707

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  1. This is just a guess, but any time a place is offering 2 for 1 I'm going to guess that it isn't the highest quality. We normally go to Akai Hana in Carrboro, but mostly because it happens to be the closest reasonable stuff we've found, we're not in love with it. My husband recently tried Sushi Love in Durham and said it was much higher quality. All this said, I haven't tried Kanki, so I can't really compare it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Sushi Love which use to be owned by the Shiki Sushi people does 2 for 1 and their stuff is pretty good. Never been to Akai Hana but it too is around the corner. Momoyama near Southpoint was really good the last time I was there thought he price point may be a little higher. I don't know about other places like Sushi Yoshii

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        I've always wondered about Sushi Yoshii - thats the little place in the house just off 15/501, right?

        1. re: LulusMom

          Yeah right after you past the Hardee's on what becomes University.

          1. re: LulusMom

            I haven't been to Sushi Yoshi in a couple of years, but I've really enjoyed my visits there. Very good sushi and cute place.

      2. If I'm going out for great sushi, I go to Waraji in Raleigh. It's off of Hwy 70, just a few miles past the Angus Barn, so the drive isn't terrible if you're in south Durham. I personally find it worth the drive for the quality of the fish and their perfect rice. That said, none of the sushi bars I've tried in either Durham or Chapel Hill has been terrible. I have a slight preference for Momoyama (near the Target by Southpoint), though I do get tired of strip mall sushi joints. It'd be nice if a chic little sushi bar opened up in downtown Durham. I haven't tried Cafe Zen at American Tobacco, but my antennae say to stay away.

        2 Replies
        1. re: durhamois

          We tried to do Cafe Zen for one of the first shows at DPAC and though it was less crowded than the other ATC restaurants.. It took them so long to even come get our order that we ended up leaving and just going to the snackbar at ATC.

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            I got a chirashi don at Cafe Zen and I think the fish was spoiled. It was not good. Their yakisoba is yummy though.

        2. My Japanese ESL students swore by Kurama on 15-501 in Durham. It's one of those hibachi places, but the sushi bar is cute and apparently, if you request the real thing, they're supposed to be quite good at it. If groovy "1/2-price" rolls are your thing, this may not necessarily be the best place, but apparently the quality of the sushi is the best around. I'm not an expert, so it's tough for me to say, but the few times i've been there I've enjoyed what I had and there have been Japanese in the sushi-bar part of the restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: suse

            I haven't been in awhile (so many places to try and choose from) but Kurama was/is very good. Their location and exterior don't do them justice. THier sushi chefs are the real deal.

          2. For me, Japanese steak house and sushi are mutually exclusive, so Kanki is out. I've had great sushi and I've had cheap sushi, but I've never had great, cheap sushi. Great sushi is about getting the best possible fish as fresh as possible. For that, you will have to pay money. That being said, fresh uni is always a draw so maybe I'll have to check out Kanki.

            In Raleigh, I've been very pleased over the years with Waraji. It's on pretty far out on Glenwood. Great fish, good serivice. Closer to downtown, Haru Sushi is another fine choice. They seem to cut their fish thicker and have a good selection of rolls.
            Hayashi is on north edge of Raleigh, practically Wake Forest. They have the most creative rolls and good fish.

            24 Replies
            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

              I don't get how you can dismiss them because there's a steak house attached. And it's not Kanki, it's Kurama. Two totally different things. Hey man, your loss.

              1. re: suse


                Sorry, I wasn't dismissing Kurama, though it appears so. I hit Reply to Thread to reply regarding Kanki. Your write up of Kurama looks good. I'll have to check it out.

              2. re: Tom from Raleigh

                I hear that... Little Tokyo in Cary is supposedly good with Sushi or maybe it's called Tokyo Garden something to that nature. I enjoyed Sono in Raleigh but I wouldn't say it was the best.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Ok. I have been holding out on mentioning Kurama on the various Sushi posts, but since it has been mentioned twice I will give it up. It is in my mind the clear winner when it comes to sushi in Durham/Chapel Hill. I liked having it to myself, so I was pleased to hear that most people go to Shiki Sushi and Sushi Love. The sushi bar area is pretty small, so 20 people and the area is full. I love the Sashimi platters, because they give you mackeral and two kinds of clam. The chefs are top notch and most important to me is the sushi is cut per order. They typically have uni as well. Do not expect exotic rolls or 2 for 1's, but the roll quality is very high. I would be shocked to hear a negative review of the sushi bar. I think you will find it is right there with Waraji and much easier to get in. At least for now.......

                  1. re: chops

                    Kurama is by far the best sushi experience in the Triangle, assuming you convince them you want Japanese style food. If you call them ahead of time, like a few days in advance, they can pull off a meal that will blow your mind. Half the dishes on a recent meal I had never seen before. Waraji is good for American style sushi. Kanki, at least on my one visit, is below average and not worth a visit.

                    1. re: veganhater

                      Can you describe more of what this call ahead experience was like?

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        We were served a mixture of cold and hot Japanese dishes with sashimi, nigiri and rolls mixed in. Highlights included a cold seaweed soup with quail egg, yellowtail collar, a whipped uni dish, a mushroom dish, some special squid that was firm yet melted in your mouth as you chewed, fried fins, nigiri served piece by piece and dressed with sauce by the chef (perfect rice, which if you eat enough sushi is rare), and possibly the best tuna belly I've had. Some of the details were lost in translation as I do not speak Japanese. I've only had the chance to eat there three times, but a good friend eats there a couple times a week. He has told me the seasonality of there food is unmatched, as many ingredients make fleeting appearances on there menu. If you love food and sushi/Japanese flavor, this is a must try.

                        1. re: veganhater

                          So I guess what others may want to know is how to set up this type of an evening if we don't speak Japanese.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Agreed! I took 3 semesters of Japanese in school and have forgotten more than I learned. I'd REALLY love to do this, though.

                          2. re: veganhater

                            Thanks, V. You've confirmed what I've suspected all along. I was in there one day and saw a young Japanese family eating some things I was sure had to have been specially ordered. When you say "if you can convince them" - what does that take? Do you just call up and say you would like an authentic Japanese meal, chef's choice? I definitely want to try this for a special occasion sometime.

                            1. re: suse


                              Sounds first rate. Tell us more. Did you do this as an omekase or did you tell them what you wanted?

                              1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                omekase?.. google here I come.. Yes we all want the nitty gritty to experience this type of occasion.

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  omakase, i believe the correct spelling is

                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                    cervisiam is right... i haven't forgotten *that* much! :)

                                    1. re: Pigloader

                                      We did an omakase and had no idea what they were going to serve us. Although I couldn't catch some of the Japanese descriptors during the meal, the main sushi chef spoke pretty good English. For example, a soup was served in a square bowl and was so good I needed to eat every drop. I asked if it was ok to pick the bowl up and drink the rest. He nodded, I cupped the bowl and brought it to my mouth an he said "ahh, now you are eating like a king." Call the restaurant and ask for the sushi chef. Explain you are interested in a Japanese style omakase meal similar to the way Ken eats. Be honest about not knowing Ken and be polite. I'm quite certain they will oblige and you will be able to experience something I have not seen in NC. I don't know if this was favorable pricing, but we were charged $50 a person after saying price was no object up to $200/person. Similar meals had in Manhattan (Sushihatsu, 15 east, Greenwich Grill) were at least three times the price and none have been better.

                                      1. re: veganhater

                                        Holy cow, that is one awesome recommendation. How many courses did you end up having for $50? That seems incredibly inexpensive to me.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          Seven courses with no dessert. I have no idea if that's normal and the bill wasn't broken down, but even at twice the price it would've been worth it.

                                          1. re: veganhater

                                            For 50 bucks I'd love to experience this with a group of people. My gf unfortunately tends to stick with vanilla instead of the more interesting possibilities thus the group and common shared passion for trying new things.

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              Last night, my wife and I ate at Kurama in Durham at the sushi bar. I made a reservation and said we'd do omakase. When we arrived, the sushi chef asked us if we were friends of Ken, we said yes. Long story short, it was 6 courses and included some real stand out items including ankimo, (monkfish liver), sushi, and udon. We left convinced that Kurama has the freshest sushi in the Triangle. The bill was $99 before tip. A great meal for a a great deal is a beautiful thing, indeed. This is sushi worth driving from Raleigh.

                                              Thanks to Suse for bring Kurama up in this thread.

                                              1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                I've heard the meal is even better if you deny that you're friends with Ken.


                                                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                  Thanks for the props, Tom. You're very welcome. Can't wait to get back to North Carolina and try it out myself. Hohoho!

                                                  1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                    Who is this Ken and how do we know we won't be cross referenced to if we really know him?

                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                      Who knows Ken's deal? He's a regular I assume. Kurama seems to make most of their dough on the steakhouse side. Their sushi is quite good and will be my NYE meal via take out.

                                                      1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                        My Japanese students used to get take-out sashimi from there and said it was enough for two people. Two Japanese people. Happy New Year! I'm having sushi tonight, too, but I'm out of town....

                    2. My wife and I went for the sushi bar at Kurama on this past Friday night. The sushi was fantastic and the chef taking care of us was very personable. This restaurant feels like one of those "secret places" even though its in the wide open on 15-501.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ToothTooth

                        I think it's because to some it can look a little dingy.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Yeah, I think might be because the building has been there so long it has kind of faded into the scenery on that stretch of road. Inside, the place is really well kept and the sushi coming out is beautiful.