Growing up in New Jersey, Tom Mukoyama‘s family used to mix mayo with soy sauce. “I thought everyone did it,” he says. Once he realized the sauce was a special one, he and his siblings began to put it on everything. “Even if we didn’t like a dish that much, we just put the secret sauce on, and it made it delicious.” His love of experimenting with food was born.
Today, Tom is the general manager of Kanki Japanese House of Steaks and Sushi, which currently includes three restaurants in the Triangle. I recently spoke with Tom at the Mount Moriah Road location about their upcoming seasonal offerings and his favorite dishes on the menu.
The new seasonal menu: Sweet and savory chicken lettuce wraps, imperial steak with shrimp and rice and dynamite green mussels baked with cheese are just a few of the items that bringing the heat for diners this autumn. What makes the mussels so dynamite? A special spicy mayo, inspired by the secret sauce of Tom’s childhood, and a sprinkle of roe.
The sushi: Kanki offers a huge variety of sushi, with more than 35 options that range from classic to unexpected. I recommend the Carolina Twister, which is coated in fried potatoes. If you want to try something different, the Walking Dead roll is to die for: crab, asparagus, avocado and rice are wrapped in slices of seared ribeye steak, then topped with sriracha and, of course, Tom’s spicy mayo. They also offer fully-cooked options and vegetarian rolls. “We really try to be friendly to all levels of sushi eaters,” says Tom.
More than steaks and sushi: In addition to its namesake signatures, Kanki offers some Southern-infused options, such as crispy pork sliders with slaw and tempura-fried jalapeños, as well as hibachi-style dishes, at both lunch and dinner.
His favorite cocktail: For the fall/winter season, Kanki will be serving up bright beverages, including a Spiced Apple Bourbon and Pineapple Collins. Tom’s favorite, though, is the Peppermint Bark Martini. Almost a dessert in itself, this creative concoction starts with Stoli Vanilla Vodka, is mixed with Godiva white chocolate and pure cane syrup, then layered with whipped cream and crushed candy canes. Cheers!