What it is: Kanki is a Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant where the food is cooked and served to you at your table by a chef. It's really part show and part dinner. Since it is such a destination, we had a 30-45 minute wait when we arrived at dinnertime on a Friday night. At a normal restaurant, I would say that a 45 minute wait would be torture with a baby and a toddler, but not here. They have a huge cylindrical fish tank in the center of the waiting area. I had trouble pulling my kids and husband away when our table was finally called. It was great!
The dinner was just as entertaining as the wait. While the adults were treated to a multi-course delicious meal complete with soup, salad, freshly cooked vegetables, meat, and rice, the boys were completely entertained by the show at our table. The tables have a large cooking surface in the middle, and several families are seated around it. The chef then cuts and cooks all of the food right in front of you while performing a couple of tricks while he works. We all got to watch onion volcanoes being lit on fire, fancy knife work, bowls being flipped into the chef's hat, shrimp tails being tossed onto the unsuspecting plates, and many more entertaining feats.
When it actually came time for my boys to eat, they had a kids menu! My toddler ate chicken tenders and smiley face fries while my little one happily munched on some plain white rice. It was great because they could still eat what they were comfortable with, but they could be exposed to a different type of cuisine than they could get at home and be a part of a unique dining experience. Kanki even had chopsticks modified for kids with rubberbands and folded pieces of paper.
What we liked: We loved the fish tank in the entrance. It's worth a long look even if there's no wait. Then, we loved the entertainment while we ate. There was so much for my kids to watch that my husband and I actually got to have a decent conversation during dinner. In addition, the food was pretty good as well!
What we would change: It's expensive. The most inexpensive entree on the adult menu is $16, so it is not an everyday outing. In addition, it is a fairly long meal, so small kids might get a bit twitchy by the end of the meal. Finally, you're sitting at a table with several other parties, so that can also be a bit awkward for a curious toddler.
Website and other important information:
Address: 3504 Mt. Moriah Road, Durham, NC 27707
Phone Number: 919.401.6908
LUNCH HOURS: Saturday & Sunday Noon - 3:00 Friday 11:30 - 2:00
DINNER HOURS: Monday - Thursday 4:30 - 9:30 Friday 4:30 - 10:30 Saturday 3:00 - 10:30
Sunday 3:00 - 9:30
1. The fantastic aquarium
2. One of the chefs creating a feast for the table