Restaurant News & Reviews

Bu.ku, the restaurant known for its elevated street food, is adding a second location

The Thai barbecued pike, served with green papaya salad, is a dish found at Bu.ku in downtown Raleigh. A second location will open this spring in Wake Forest.
The Thai barbecued pike, served with green papaya salad, is a dish found at Bu.ku in downtown Raleigh. A second location will open this spring in Wake Forest. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Bu.ku, the restaurant that introduced global street food to downtown Raleigh, will open a second location this spring in Wake Forest.

This will be the third restaurant for owners Sean Degnan, Tony Hopkins and Todd Ohle, who also operate so.ca in Cameron Village and the original Bu.ku on South Wilmington Street. Both Buku and so.ca offer fine dining takes on the street food that defines many of the world’s cuisines.

The new Bu.ku is at 1228 Heritage Links Drive, in the Heritage development, next to Wine 101 wine shop. Degnan said it’s about halfway through construction, with the shell of the building completed and the interior remaining. He anticipates a March or April opening.

Around that time, the original Bu.ku, which opened in 2010, is also expected to undergo a reboot. Degnan said the restaurant’s lease in the Red Hat building is up in April and that both the space and menu will be remodeled.

As for the new location, Degnan said Bu.ku’s beyond-the-Beltline fans have recounted $30 rides from Wake Forest into downtown to eat at the restaurant, so he believes the demand is there.

“We did research on the culinary scene (in Wake Forest),” Degnan said. “There are lots of people living out there, but not necessarily a ton of infrastructure. It felt like there was a need for a nice restaurant and we found a great space.”

Degnan said this second location has been in development for two years, but the group opened so.ca in March last year in the meantime. Andrew Smith, executive chef of so.ca, will lead the kitchen at the new Bu.ku.

“Bu.ku in Wake Forest will be the best of both worlds (so.ca and Buku), being able to pull from the entire world,” Degnan said. “This will be (Smith’s) take on global street food.”

The original Bu.ku has a world view focused on the Eastern hemisphere, with dishes often from Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and takes on hot pots, pho, ramen and adobo. So.ca, standing for south of the Tropic of Cancer, has more Latin American and Caribbean influences that are likely to show up on the menu of the Wake Forest Bu.ku.

Both have a variety of small plates, or tapas, and larger entrees on their menus and are known for their creative brunches.

Progress on the Wake Forest location can be tracked on twitter.com/bukuwakeforest and at facebook.com/bukuwakeforest/.

Drew Jackson: 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson

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