Restaurants in the Kentlands have tried and failed to succeed. Kenaki may just be the restaurant to try and succeed.
Kenaki is located at the corner of Market Street and Center Point Way next to the Starbucks. It has a great combination of high quality, delicious food, friendly service and a comfortable decor. The crowds and returning customers are a good indicator that this restaurant is a stand-out in the Kentlands area and will be an easy dinner option.
The name of the restaurant was created by combining the two names of the owners and siblings, Ken and Aki Ballogdajan. Ken is the restaurant’s executive chef and Aki is the general manager, which means she is responsible for the daily operations. “My brother and I are very excited to have opened in Kentlands. We live very close to the neighborhood and visited there often, so opening there just made sense. We are thrilled to bring our family recipes and sushi here and feel very lucky,” part owner Aki Ballogdajan said.
According to the Town Courier Gaithersburg newspaper, Ken grew up making sushi in his family’s restaurant in Frederick. He appeared on the first season of Iron Chef America as the sous chef to Chef Trevino. He entered the culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine and then interned at Volt under Chef Bryan Voltaggio in Frederick. Ken worked as the executive sous chef at Raku for over a decade.
The menu offers a wide selection of typical sushi rolls and unique rolls that will surprise customers by the combination of tastes. It also offers non-sushi options including a flavorful chicken teriyaki. One of the stand-out rolls unique to Kenaki is called the black magic roll. This roll includes black rice, cilantro, fresh tuna and a variety of other ingredients that come together to create a spicy and tasty roll. Kenaki also has desserts and one of their most popular is the matcha dusted chocolate croissant.
The atmosphere is warm and intimate. Customers place their orders at the sushi counter, take a seat and are served their meals by an approachable waitresses. “I prefer being able to order at the counter and then sit down so this place was perfect for me,” junior Danielle Klein said.
Kenaki and competitor Yoyogi are both located in Kentlands. Students are eager to try Kenaki to see how it compares to Yoyogi. “I like Yoyogi but I am always excited to try new sushi restaurants,” senior Jesse Lotenberg said.
The restaurant is small but feels comfortable with dark blue wallpaper and a large sushi bar in front. It feels airy and light. The overall decor is enhanced by the presentation of the food with each order of sushi arriving on a different type of platter.
The waitresses are warm and ensure that each customer is happy with their food. “I liked the waitress we had because she took time to explain their specialty rolls to me so I could order things I know I would like,” junior Parmida Khajoee said.