351 East 12th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
I haven’t been this psyched about a restaurant in a while (The Bao aside, of course). I didn’t know what I wanted to eat but wanted something new and great. I was looking for an unconventional place with unconventional food. Ducks Eatery happened to be exactly what I was looking for. The menu is like a blend of comfort soul food with Southeast Asian flavors. Very, very interesting. And surprisingly very, very good.
We all shared a couple appetizers. FIrst up is this Smoked Duck Salad ($13) with black rice, pomegranate, apple, and black garlic. The pomegranate and apple added a great tartness and crunch to the almost creamy, smokey duck. Black rice was a really interesting addition. It was a little sweet and chewy, which rounded out the dish quite nicely.
These are the Smoked Mussels ($14) with chili oil, house cultured smoke butter, and toast with maple and chive. Also H.W.’s favorite appetizer of the night. The smoked mussels were pretty damn intense. Slightly fishy, very smokey, and bathed in a flavorful oily sauce. It was a serious flavor trip.
Crispy Pig Ears ($11) on bibb with Lingham’s hot sauce, pickled cabbage, and sesame. My least favorite of the night. I love pig ears for their fattiness and chewy + crunchy combo. This fried version eliminated both factors and made the pig ears just straight up crispy. A little too fried in my opinion. All the fat had gone away!
T.W. and I both got the Yakamein Soup ($16) with brisket, clams, sora noodles, pickled greens, and a coconut milk broth. Holy crap was this good. Yakamein soup is a beef noodle soup commonly found in New Orleans and is rumored to have cultural roots in the now extinct Chinatown. Apparently during the mid 19th century when Chinese immigrants were working on the railroads between Houston and New Orleans and the sugar plantations, they adapted the Chinese noodle soup to local Creole and Chinese clientele. Ducks Eatery’s version tasted more Southeast Asian to me, probably because of coconut milk and lime. The broth was SUPER flavorful: creamy, savory, a little sweet, and a little sour. The brisket was quality southern style brisket that had just the right amount of fat. Noodles were like an egg noodle and were very al dente.
LAW and H.W. both got the hickory smoked St. Louis Ribs ($13). I don’t want to say it, because it would be a large claim, but these ribs might just be some of the best I’ve had. I was hyper impressed with how much flavor the ribs had without ANY sauce. I normally like my ribs doused in bbq sauce, but this is usually because the meat itself is just… well, meat flavored. These ribs were BURSTING with flavor on their own. SO smokey with a little bit of sweetness. So, so delicious.
LAW can’t eat a meal without any carbs so also ordered a side of Nasi Ulam Rice with fine herbs, dried shrimp, coconut, and sambal (a Southeast Asian chili sauce). Nasi Ulam is a traditional Malaysian steamed rice dish with herbs. The rice here was also great. It was dry (not the sticky kind), very umami (probably fried the dried shrimp) and not too savory to complement all the other flavorful foods we were having.
Overall, an extremely wonderful meal filled with new flavor combinations that tasted delicious. Anyone want to go with me again?