As a fan of Chef Mike Lee who owns and runs great restaurants like Sono in Raleigh and M Sushi in Durham, I’m always curious to see what he comes up with next. So of course I was excited to hear that his newest eatery, M Kokko, was doing a soft open last week. Focused on chicken dishes that Chef Mike craves, I really didn’t know much about what M Kokko would be like which made for a fun experience on my first visit. With two friends in tow, we headed out in search of M Kokko on a warm Wednesday evening.
If you haven’t been to M Sushi yet, finding M Kokko is going to be a bit tricky! Head on over to 311 Holland Street and M Sushi which is hidden at the address on the side of a brick building. M Kokko is BEHIND M Sushi and at the back of the building, foodie explorer! As soon as you enter you’ll spot a large chalkboard with some bawk-bawk chicken imagery. Turn the corner and you’ll see it’s a pretty small space here at M Kokko. Maybe 20+ seats and very humble. The menu is very small (5 items) and chalked up on the huge chalkboard, no reading glasses necessary here!
Choose from a donburi rice bowl, Korean fried chicken wings, a chicken sandwich, ramen and soon dan dan chicken noodles. M Kokko has a small selection of canned beers for your dining pleasure right now but I suspect there will be more options once they settle into a groove. At the table we order up two plates of KFC wings, a couple of donburi bowls and I go with what I suspect will be a boring chicken sandwich. Yep, I hate to order the same item as everyone else and it was too hot for ramen so it’s time for the sammich! We’re warned that the chicken and donburi will take 15 minutes since its cooked to order but not a problem.
Our Korean fried chicken shows up and it’s a lovely looking plate. Six or so flats and drums glistening with garlic-soy sauce along with some rice covered with tomato-okra gravy. M Kokko does a very good Korean fried chicken (Chef Mike is Korean) and a bit different than my other fave, Soo Cafe. While the chicken is equally fresh and well-fried, he goes with a heavier soy flavored glaze and it’s not that sticky. Excellent in its own way and the side of rice is fluffy and tasty. The KFC plate at M Kokko would make for a good meal.
Next up is my boring (not really!) chicken sandwich. While my expectations weren’t sky-high it was a FANTASTIC bite! Served with some skin-on wedge fries, M Kokko amps up the flavor of their fried chicken breast with some aioli and these wonderful, soft sweet pickles. Taken all together with the flour-dusted bun, it’s one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve tried of late. And at $9, a really good lunch option!
My friends enjoyed their donburi and maybe I’ll try it for visit #2. Oh, and M Kokko will be adding chicken dan dan noodles soon (spicy Szechuan noodles). Service was solid and attentive at M Kokko but we’ll have to see how things move along as they get busy. Overall I was really pleased with M Kokko and especially since it was only it’s 2nd day in operation. But I suspect Chef Mike will tweak the menu and operations over time, he’s got a great track record for successful restaurants from what I’ve seen. So rock on M Kokko! You certainly do chicken right and can’t wait to get back for a return visit…
311 Holland Street
Durham, NC 27701