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Hakanai, a pop-up Japanese restaurant 

The Cookery's Nick and Rochelle Johnson (left) and Toast's Kelli and Billy Cotter (right)

File photo by D.L. Anderson

The Cookery's Nick and Rochelle Johnson (left) and Toast's Kelli and Billy Cotter (right)


WHAT Hakanai, a pop-up Japanese restaurant, open for only three nights in February

WHEN Friday, Feb. 1–Sunday, Feb. 3

WHERE The Cookery, 1101 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham

WHO Chef Billy Cotter of Toast, with Kelli Cotter, also of Toast, and Rochelle and Nick Johnson of the Cookery. Wine Authorities, the Clever Vine, the Whiskey and Bull City Burger and Brewery will curate special drinks for the event.

HOW MUCH $55 for prix fixe menu, not including drinks

RESERVATIONS Online at The Cookery beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Reservations are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. No phone reservations or walk-ins accepted.


The lifespan of Hakanai, a pop-up Japanese restaurant planned for Durham, is equivalent to that of a very, very old mayfly.

For three days in February, Hakanai will encamp at the Cookery in Durham. And then, poof, it will disappear.

Hakanai, which means "ephemeral" in Japanese, is the brainchild of Chef Billy Cotter and Kelli Cotter of Toast and Rochelle and Nick Johnson of the Cookery. "The point is to let the chefs go buck wild. There will be an element of surprise in the dishes," Rochelle Johnson says. "Billy can spread his wings and be very adventurous."

Billy Cotter fixes Japanese meals at home—his specialty is a robust miso soup—and once concocted an elaborate multi-course Japanese meal in the Cotters' tiny kitchen in Atlanta. Tiny as in the refrigerator door couldn't be completely opened lest it hit the counter.

The Cotters are still working on the menu, which will include "dainty plates" with creative takes on grilled, fried, steamed and raw ingredients, Kelli Cotter says. "It won't be traditional preparations," she adds. "But it won't turn into fusion."

Hakanai will be the first of a series of pop-up restaurants at the Cookery. "We're hoping it puts Durham on a national map," Johnson says. "It's a chance for foodies to experience something they've never done before."

Correction: Hakanai was spelled incorrectly in print.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Hakanai: A flash in the pan."

  • For three days in February, Hakanai will encamp at the Cookery in Durham. And then, poof, it will disappear.

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