Slated to be one of the tastiest seafood preparations in the East Village.
When it comes to certain dishes less is more. I’m all for a complex curry with a dozen spices brimming with all manner of goodies or an overdressed báhn mì. For grilled seafood though simplicity is the best approach. That’s why today’s dish of the day is the charred head-on shrimp ($12) at Ducks Eatery.
Four generous specimens are grilled on skewers and lavished with multiple brushing of whipped lardo. And before they’re grilled the head are injected with a mixture of anise and chili. Simple, but just complicated enough to keep it interesting. Served on a slate shingle over a bed of arugula that wilts slightly from the hot shrimp it’s some of the tastiest—and messiest—grilled seafood I’ve had. You’ll want to take your time licking every last bit of seafood infused pork butter from your fingers before heading out into the cold East Village night. I know I did.
Ducks Eatery, 351 East 12th St., East Village, 212-432-3825
Will Horowitz cooks “Vietnamese Cajun food” at Ducks. Photo: ELK
This week I pose Seven Questions to Will Horowitz, the chef-owner of Ducks Eatery in Manhattan’s East Village. Ducks is the kind of place where trail mix, crispy pig’s ears, and yakamein with barbecued brisket and clams all appear on the same menu. Strange, beautiful and delicious.
How would you characterize the food at Ducks?
We like to tell people that it’s “Vietnamese Cajun food, strongly influenced by local terroir” so people have some sense of category, maybe next week we’ll just start calling it “New Orleans 2047.” Really though, I have no fucking idea. I’m building recipes like stories, my inspiration is found in old trade routes, travels, nature, wars, traditions and heritage techniques. With that being said, there’s also a very “stream of consciousness” style undertone to our creativity, which we tend to paint on what’s often a very comedic canvas.
Do most customers get it?
A lot of people get it, a lot of people don’t. Not that I expect everyone too, that wasn’t the goal. Religion gives faith to the uncertainty of the universe’s question marks… we are a question mark with no religion. We’re utilizing a mentality driving some of the world’s most exciting restaurants in the form of corn dogs & moonshine. With that being said we have a huge following from the neighborhood, food writers and most of all industry folk. We’ve become sort of a cult hangout for a lot of really cool chefs, which makes me happy. I love cooking for other cooks.