Foodie News: ZenFish poke bar to open new Cary location

Zen Fish Poke Bar (Courtesy of Zen Fish)

Cary, N.C. — Last week the folks over at Zen Fish on Durham’s Ninth Street announced that they had officially started construction on their second location – this one in the Weston Corners Plaza on Chapel Hill Road in Cary/Morrisville (next to Guasaca and Famous Toastery.

Wake County Restaurant News

The News & Observer reported last week that chef Mike Lee, who operates M Sushi and M Kokko, has plans for five more restaurants. Next up, M Kogi and M Taco, which he hopes to open in the 4th quarter of this year. Lee likes the model of his restaurants opening adjacent to each other and sharing a kitchen. Once Kogi and Taco are up and running, Lee will shift to his next projects: one built around Buddhist cuisine and offering a vegan menu and another that’s essentially a permanent pop-up spot, with the menu and chef changing often, but the space staying the same. And finally, Lee ultimately plans to launch a non-profit fast-casual concept.

This is going to be fun to watch (and enjoy!).

WRAL announced this week that O-Ku Sushi, an Asian restaurant with locations in Charleston, Atlanta and Charlotte, will open at The Dillon this summer. They were named “Top 20 Best New Restaurant” by Esquire in 2010 and “Best Sushi Restaurant in the U.S.” by Travel + Leisure.

And rejoice…WRAL also reported this week that Smashed Waffles (all waffles, all the time) opened this week at 2304 Hillsborough Street, directly across from NC State.

Up in North Raleigh John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer, brought it to our attention that Kwench Juice Cafe will open soon in the Falls Point shopping center. They are serving up Acai bowls, salads, juices and smoothies.

And I’m happy to report that North Hill’s Vivace Italian restaurant has reopened after taking on extensive damage due to a burst water pipe in early January. Get by and welcome them back!

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

This is going to be big! Monday, Feb. 19 will be the grand opening of a new fast-casual restaurant called Sushiōki (“Oki” means big in Japanese) at 4900 Highway 55 (near the intersection with Highway 54, next to Brigs restaurant). The concept features large, burrito-sized sushi rolls, both traditional (raw tuna, raw salmon, tempura shrimp) and non-traditional (double fried chicken, southern pork BBQ, Korean bulgogi, and veggie). Can’t wait to check this place out.

And this is exciting. A viewer on WRAL shared the news that a ‘coming soon’ sign appeared for Duck Donuts over at Patterson Place in Durham. No word on a timeline.

Considering my daughter’s name and the fact I love cheesecake, I was excited to learn from Bites of Bull City’s Amber Watson that Lily’s Cheesecake Bakery & Cafe held their grand opening this past week. They are located at 5504 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.

In downtown Durham, the owners of the popular restaurant Old Havanaare in the process of transitioning into a new concept, Copa (a farm to table tapas and cocktails of old Cuba), in the old Revolution. They are looking to open the new venture in March. However, to complete that dream, they are asking for community support to make renovations/furnishings possible.

Amber Watson at Bites of Bull City tweeted this week that it looks like Khaja’s Curry on 9th Street is open, where Chubby’s used to be at 748 Ninth Street. We could not find an online presence for them. Will have to just go by and check it out!

Glen Gillen notified me that the Amante Pizza in the Hope Valley Shopping Center has closed and has been replaced by a Subway. He also pointed out that there is a new outparcel across the street with signage that says “New Tokyo” but it appears to still be under construction.

Over in Chapel Hill, things are starting to become a little clearer as to what is happening with the former One space in Meadowmont. It will become Fusion Fish, a global Asian fusion restaurant featuring sushi and spirits and cocktails. They won’t commit to anything more definite than “opening soon” so we will just have to keep peeking in the windows for now.

Also in Chapel Hill, we are not certain if this is a move or a second location, but we do know for sure that the Korean restaurant MinGa is moving into the former Captain Poncho (and before that, Mixed) space on Franklin Street, near the intersection with Estes Drive. Look for them to open the new space in March. Thanks to Matthew, the Burgeoning Baker, for the tip.

Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street will get another pizza joint soon. The Pizza Press, a create your own pizza concept, will be located just down from Target in Carolina Square (formerly University Square) at 123 W. Franklin Street. And snooping around their site, it looks like they will also open a location in Raleigh, just don’t know where just yet (guessing Hillsborough Street??).

And while on the subject of Carolina Square on Franklin Street, signage went up recently for the next location of B.Good. They already have locations in Morrisville, downtown Raleigh and Raleigh’s North Hills. No word on a timeline for the Chapel Hill location.


And this is a hard one to report, but WRAL reported that Scratch will close their 8-year-old location in Durham to focus on their newest ventures – “Baby Scratch” and the Lakewood on Chapel Hill Street. They close at the end of this month, so there is still time to get by!

Got word from reader Scott Eaton that SiP Bistro in Holly Springs (once featured on Restaurant Impossible) has closed.

​Food Trucks

Art Sheppard, the Wandering Sheppard, noted that the date has been set for the next edition of Rodeo on Rosemary over in Chapel Hill. This year it will take place on April 22 at 12 noon featuring 15 of the best trucks in the Triangle.

For those that live in and/or frequent North Raleigh, you will be happy to know that Mr. Sticky’s Sticky Buns food truck has opened and can be found at 9229 Capital Blvd. next to Pro Tire. Congrats to Ed Hall!

Two great sites to keep up with your favorite food trucks. Street Food Finder is one, and another, aptly named, is Roaming Hunger.


The 2018 version of the Lucy Daniels Center Cooking for a Classic is coming to a conclusion as chef Matt Hannon of Ironwood Cafe goes up against chef Dean Thompson of Raleigh Renaissance Hotel on Feb. 7. Tickets are still available.

Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom and Sam’s Quik Shop will host the 6th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience on Sunday, Feb. 25. The event features 30 restaurants paired with 30 breweries spread throughout all three DPAC floors featuring unlimited samplings and the Harris On Stage Experience showcasing local food trucks with the help of County Fare, a daily food truck rodeo opening soon.

March 17 is the date for the second annual Food Shuttle Garden Gallop 5K to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Growing School Gardens program (better known as the Sean is Faster Than Gordon race). If I can do it, you can do it! Come on out and support a great cause.

Durham Magazine, Chapel Hill Magazine and Chatham Magazine return with their popular culinary event, Taste, to take place April 18-22 highlighting culinary talents. The event will feature over 30 of the area’s top chefs at four unique events throughout the week.

And looking ahead a bit, it was announced this week that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will host a culinary event called Thrive NC set to take place at downtown Raleigh’s City Market on May 10-11. The two-day event will highlight the fact that 1.5 million people in the state struggle to buy affordable and fresh foods. A highlight of the event will be a two-day food festival featuring top chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drink samples against a backdrop of live music each night. Tickets will go on sale in February.

Food Bank Corner

Go ahead and mark your calendars and get your tickets for the Food Bank’s Chef’s Feast at Fearrington Village coming up on March 22. Four renowned chefs will prepare and serve favorite recipes through four courses in an intimate environment. Guests will enjoy beverage pairings, an opportunity to bid on unique auction items, and learn more about what the Food Bank and its partner agencies are doing in the community for those facing food insecurity.

Sean Lennard covers the Triangle food scene on his site Triangle Food Blog.

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