kō•än, opening in early August, seeks to bring stories, food, and people back to the former ān cuisines space in Cary, North Carolina. With a focus on humble, tranquil, “food for thought,” kō•än will bring a renewed energy and feel to Cary’s dining scene. kō•än’s menu is focused on sharing food that celebrates the unsung heroes of Southeast Asian cuisine. The new restaurant will be located at 2800 Renaissance Park Pl., Cary, North Carolina.

“What remains of ān cuisines is the sacred space, and the immigrant Japanese maple tree beside the beautiful empty building full of beautiful empty frames. What we will bring (back) into the space, to honor its rich tradition and celebrate its history is the kō: the people, sharing good food and drink and telling their stories. One by one, refilling the beautiful empty frames,” says kō•än’s owner Sean Degnan. 

The kitchen at kō•än will be led by executive chef Drew Smith, formerly of Raleigh’s bu•ku and so•ca, and winner of 2019’s Cooking for a Classic dining competition. Smith’s menu and vision for kō•än includes an array of small plates meant for sharing like Cauliflower 65, Duck Bao and Lobster Gyoza, along with large plates like NC Thai Fried Snapper and Green Tea Smoked Duck. Expect to find inventive bowls on the menu as well like the kō•än Hot Pot brimming with lobster, cod, shrimp and local vegetables or the Vietnamese Pho with Wagyu Beef Short Rib. 

“This space and the kō•än concept represent an amazing medium in which I can share a story with everyone, whether they’ve traveled or experienced the Asian culture or not. An experience at kō•än can be quite adventurous with octopus and snails, or approachable with dumplings and ramen. Our guests are going to experience a part of me, my story and the reason I will always be humbled and inspired by Asian cuisine,” Smith says. “I will never master this food. It’s not meant to be mastered. It’s meant to tell a thousand stories to anyone who will listen.” 

For trusting, food-loving patrons, kō•än plans to offer an omakase menu developed by Smith that will offer 5- and 7-course tasting menus with wine pairings. There will be limited availability each evening.

A centerpiece to the new restaurant will be its zen-like ambiance. kō•än plans to incorporate living walls, fountains and wood textured furniture throughout the restaurant, beautifully redesigned by Courtney Evans of Tactile Design.

kō•än will provide job opportunities to local applicants. Interested residents may apply online at www.koancary.com and hiring starts July 1.

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