Everything You Wanted To Know About Danku (But Were Afraid To Try)

Photo by Food in Mouth

I had a couple of stupid titles ready and waiting for my post about Danku, the new Dutch/Indonesian fast food place on 57th btw. 5+6th. I narrowed it down to “Danku But No Danku” and “Danku Shame”, but sadly it looks like I won’t get to use them. Is Danku good? No. But it’s also not so bad that I feel the need to publicly humiliate them on the site. How good or bad it is will also depend on who you ask, and what you order. After my first visit to Danku, on their opening day, yielded pretty terrible results, I decided to step back and give them some breathing room. Let them work out the kinks before returning to give them their full +/-.

Well, 6 weeks is plenty of time and last week I returned with a serious group of Midtown Lunchers, waiting to pass judgement on this new fast food chain: Danny from Food in Mouth, Blondie and Brownie (from the blog of the same name) and Bartender Extraordinaire Don Lee. I was actually surprised Don was willing to come, since he accompanied me on the first trip to Danku- and was less than thrilled with his decision.

We were able to try most of the menu, but with eaters like this Danku would have to bring their A game… and I’m not sure they were up to the challenge.

Unlike my four dining companions, who were pretty ruthless in their judgements, I am a little more forgiving when it comes to new concepts that I want to be good. After almost 3 years of Midtown Lunch’ing you realize that very few lunch options in Midtown are beyond criticism, so it’s not about being super critical- it’s about deciding whether or not this is a worthy lunchtime option… especially when compared to Chipotle or Metro Cafe.

First Look: Danku

Now, I love Indonesian food… but I wasn’t delusional enough to expect great, authentic Indonesian food. I was just hoping it would be the Indonesian equivalent of, say, Panda Express. Tasty and cheap, with a hint of Indonesian flavor tossed in. Mostly I was hoping that their fried noodles would be to mie goreng, what Panda Express’ lo mein is to a good sauteed noodle dish at a nice Chinese restaurant. First visit was a huge disappointment. The super mushy consistency was terrible, and it had absolutely no flavor. But on the second visit, I noticed that they had switched noodle type and added a little fried garnish (an authentic Indonesian flourish.) Notice the change for yourself:

Old Chicken Satay w/ Noodles
Original chicken satay combo with noodles

New chicken satay with noodles. (Photo by Blondie and Brownie)

Notice a few things here… Not only did they changed the noodles to a thicker cut (clearly they realized the original noodles were garbage), but they also changed the chicken satay (which we kind of knew was in the works). The original chicken was about as dry as could be, and pretty flavorless as well.  The new chicken, while also a little bit dry, was a huge improvement.  The final touch, and possibly the best of all, was the new addition of shrimp crackers- a standard accompaniment for all Indonesian food.  They were the best part of the whole plate.  (The noodles are still pretty terrible. Slightly better consistency, but they just don’t taste good.)

Photo by Blondie and Brownie

The sweet soy beef went through a bit of a transformation as well. In the original visit, the sauce had a really weird, gloppy consistency. It’s a little better now (but still not great.) The meat was tender, and the taste was decent but nothing to get super excited about (think food court quality.) The green curry chicken was about the same, although a little bit more dry (because it was chicken.) I could definitely detect the flavor of lemongrass, which is a positive. Again… the shrimp crackers and edamame were a welcomed addition.

Now onto the krokets:

First Look: Danku

Of all the comments the original Danku post got, the favorable ones all centered around the krokets- which are essentially fried pockets of goop. How can that be bad, right? Well- I’ll tell you how that could be bad… if you’re expecting solid food matter to be in your fried stick of goodness. In other words, krokets are fried goop. If the thought of eating fried goop is not exciting to you (like it is to some of us) then you will probably not like the krokets at Danku. It’s just the way it is.

Photo by Food in Mouth

Each of the krokets comes with its own dipping sauce (fun!) and we pretty much tried every single one. They are the one thing that appeared unchanged from the original visit, and I think the consensus was that the chicken curry kroket was the least offensive.

That’s the mac and cheese in the middle. Photo by Blondie and Brownie.

The mac and cheese kroket (which we were all very excited for) was fine, unless you were expecting to find actual mac and cheese in the kroket. It may have started off as mac and cheese (which I doubt) but if it did, it went through a blender before being breaded and fried.

L to R: Chili con carne, spinach & artichoke, chicken curry. Photo by Blondie and Brownie

Universally hated was the salmon and dill (fish is not the most appealing thing to eat after it has been pureed) and the beef kroket kind of tasted like nothing. Both the tomato and mozzarella and chili con carne version were just weird (slightly spicy beans was the dominant flavor in the chile con carne one, I think?)

Photo by Food in Mouth

The salad that you get in the combo (2 krokets and salad for $7.50) provides a nice foil for the fried pockets of goop, and is a pretty good size- especially considering the price of salads in Midtown.

But it wasn’t all completely mediocre…

Photo by Blondie and Brownie

The Indonesian meatballs w/ french fries!!! Both of these were added to the menu since our first visit, and may just be the best option of all. I don’t know what makes the meatballs Indonesian, but if the thought of Ikea quality meatballs, covered in a sweet Asian style sauce sounds appealing to you- you should be all over this. The french fries are slightly better than average fast food fries, and are hands down the best side dish option. You can (and should) get them instead of the fried rice or fried noodles, no matter what you order.

 Photo by Blondie and Brownie

Finally, we had to try the poffertjes- a traditional Dutch pancake dessert treat (Blondie and Brownie were with us, after all.) I’ve never tried real Dutch poffertjes, but I’m guessing if you have ever had the real thing, these will be a huge disappointment. I’m not one to scoff at mini pancakes, smothered in syrup- and these certainly fit the bill- but if you are expecting something better than the pancake batter that you poured out of a carton when you were a kid, these will be disappointing. It tasted good (of course) but nothing special.

So there you have it. Everything you could possibly want to know about Danku, without having to try a single bite of it yourself. If I had to guess, Danny, Don, Blondie and Brownie probably wish they had read this post before agreeing to go with me. None of them will be returning. I, on the other hand, don’t consider it a total loss. For the price, there are a few things on the menu I could see myself eating again. For example, if I was going to eat a salad- I would want it to be accompanied by 2 fried sticks of goop. And I wouldn’t turn my nose up at those meatballs. But the most important thing you should take away from this, above all is this: If there is something that looks appealing to you… something you think you might like to try… get it with the french fries. The amount of alcohol you have to drink to make the korkets appetizing, is not nearly enough to save the fried rice or the fried noodles.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • They’ve made some improvements since opening, and that should be commended (in other words, at least they’re trying!)
  • I love to eat at food courts, and the sweet soy beef and chicken curry are just as good as any food court options
  • I love shrimp crackers!
  • I love Dutch fast food krokets! (aka “I love fried goop!”)
  • Each of the krokets come with their own dipping sauce, which is pretty cool
  • The salad is great for the price… (and the krokets are just a bonus!)
  • A kroket lover in particular: “Oh my god, I’m so drunk and the only place I can think of is Danku.”
  • The french fries are pretty good
  • I love Ikea meatballs and I love sweet Asian sauce

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Hi, my name is Don, Danny, Blondie or Brownie.
  • The fried rice and fried noodles are terrible.  Seriously… they have no redeeming qualities.  Order the plain white or brown rice… or just go with the french fries!
  • I was hoping the krokets would have something in them that resembled some sort of real food product.  (They don’t.  They’re just fried goop.)
  • Mac and cheese kroket was really disappointing, if you were expecting fried macaroni and cheese
  • Nothing on the Indonesian half of the menu bears any resemblance to actual Indonesian food (or any authentic Asian food for that matter).  And the poffertjes bear more resemblance to pancake mix out of a carton, than authentic Dutch poffertjes.
  • Pureed fish makes me want to throw up in my own mouth
  • It’s not as good as Panda Express.  (Super fail)

Danku, 47 West 57th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-888-3777


  • Curry chicken krokets had the best goop.

    (wow, did i just write that?)

  • “It’s not as good as Panda Express.” I think that says it all.

  • Should have went with “Danku But No Danku” – that was hysterical

    It was obvious after your first excursion just from the pics – In a world of lovely food porn, Danku is a scheisse film

  • I am, by no means, a master of “krokets” but I was in Amsterdam for a week 2 Novembers ago. On my list of “must eats” was Krokets, as being a very specfic ‘Dam/Dutch treat. I tried about 3-4 different kinds, and they were ALL fried goop. They certainly look like the pictures you posted! So, I think they may be quite authentic.

  • Can we lay the whole Danku thing to rest now? I would be very happy to never see it mentioned here again. I don’t ever plan on eating there, and most other readers probably won’t either based on the consistently sub-par (yet endless!) write-ups it receives here.

    Or does your secret marketing deal with Danku not expire until 2010? (Operating on the theory that any press is good press….)

  • Hahahahahhahahah…
    re Swan’s comment, Americanized Chinese takeout (from your local dive place) offends her, STANDARDIZED/frozen/national chain Americanized Chinese takeout offends her even more…. bwahahahaha… that’s too bad. I love Japanese style croquettes :)

  • I just luv the look of the girl with the backpack in the second pic. At first it looks almost ethereal. But give it a moment or two and she looks completely lost…like she made a wrong turn and ended up in Jersey. :)

    Awesome post!

  • The chopped up Krokets…..Wolfhound with Ebola.

  • here here on Japanese croquettes, Yvo!

  • As someone of Dutch heritage, I must vehemently exclaim that GOOP is NOT supposed to be in croquettes (krokets)!

    The meat is generally supposed to be leftovers from last night/week’s roast and so the meat should be pulled and in small bites but most certainly not in LIQUID form.

    I went to Danku with my family and we could not have been more horrified! No nasi goreng, no sambal – all stapes of the Dutch-Indonesian food that real Dutch people are used to. They were also advertising things they didn’t even have! Out of the 3 of us, we each had to alter what we originally decided on because they didn’t have what was on their menu.

    Add the fact that they don’t offer mainstream beverages, only the organic 3 dollar ones, and my opinion was CRYSTAL clear. BAD BAD food. What do they have against Diet Coke anyhow?

    I thought the organization of the place was bad. I thought the food was bad, and the prices only SO SO. Definately seemed more interested in being ECO friendly than stomach friendly.

    I sincerely worry that people who eat here will assume that Dutch food is like this….and they couldn’t be more wrong.

    I’m glad that they have finally introduced their french fries (which they didn’t have when I was there) but they don’t have the correct dips that are OH SO Dutch. Where’s the Picallily? (a mustard/pickle concotion) and HELLO? What do you mean no mayo? Fries with Mayo in Amsterdam/Netherlands is like Fries with Ketchup here.

    Avoid at all costs…. just not worth it and I expect it to go belly up within 2009. A shame, because it was a GREAT idea.

  • So Zach’s final take on it is that it sucks but he won’t come out and say it because he still gives them props for the concept………..oookay then. Between chickening out of the Walgreen’s sandwich and now refusing to call a spade a spade at Danku this is turning into a banner week of mediocrity on midtown lunch.

  • Dude,
    I’d rather take a jackboot to the junk then eat at this craptastic farse ever again. Enough with the colorful cardboard containers…put some f/n decent food out ya d-bags!!!I want my ten bucks and 25 minutes refunded.

  • Milhouse, you’ve shed your Dutch ways and become a true Dane.

  • I work right down the street from this place and have given it a few tries because I really wanted to like it as I’m insanely bored with Printon 56, H&H, Au Bon Pain, etc. The staff are super enthusiastic and nice, but so much so that they are not efficient. One time I went, I had my food brought to my table by an employee, other times I’ve just kind of hovered near the door waiting for my fried goop tubes to be served.
    Everything I’ve had here ranged from bland to gross. The salmon kroket is a crime against humanity! To make it at home, get some Fancy Feast cat food, blend it with grease, and fry it up burnt-brown. I also need to mention that they are really stingy with the dipping sauces and salad dressings. They only fill the little containers to 1/3 full, so there’s basically only enough sauce for half the kroket or salad.
    The fried noodles here somehow manage to taste worse than those microwave chow mein brick things you can get at 7-11s for 99 cents. They are mushy and bland.
    The froyo is likewise bland and boring. It’s like it can’t decide if it wants to imitate Pinkberry or Tasti D-lite.
    The thing that irks me the most about the place though is its ludicrous claims that it’s a green restaurant. The food comes wrapped in TONS of packaging, even if you’re dining in. Each Kroket comes in its own little paper Kroket garage, the the asian dishes come in a cardboard container, around which a brightly colored cardboard “sash” is secured. Eating a meal here produces TONS of packaging that needs to be thrown away. It doesn’t matter if there’s a place to “sort” your garbage. You want to be green? Make less garbage in the first place.

    Take note creepy blond Dutch owner guy who sits in the back of the restaurant on his laptop all afternoon staring at guests while they eat: If you want a return on your investment, you’d better revamp your recipes. Stop trying to be everything all at once. You can’t be a bakery/sandwich shop/salad place/asian place/Pinkberry/Starbucks/Dutch fast food joint and serve any one of those things well. Please get better, I want another place to add to my lunch repertoire!!!

  • Their mini pancakes suck huge donkey d**k. They were hard and flavorless…luckily they have syrup.

    After reading this review, I don’t think I’ll be trying anything else there.

    Waited for months only to be disappointed.

  • I had two krokets (tomato mozzarella and artichoke) and their Indonesian beef stew yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. And the food is certainly improving, as I’ve noticed on the few occasions I’ve eaten there. Even if you don’t like krokets, you can at least appreciate the green philosophy behind the place, which makes me feel OK about the disposable containers. In any case, comparison to Panda Express is excessively harsh.

  • I agree with the anonymous poster above about the packaging. Unless you eat at the place and use their recycling containers, everything has to be thrown out.

    My kroket special had two individually wrapped krokets and two dipping sauces in a paper bag, and this was put in a larger paper bag with the salad and sauce. Plus two pairs of chopsticks.

  • Why do they not have REAL Dutch krokets. And why, for crying out loud, do they not have REAL Dutch poffertjes.
    Come to Holland and try the REAL stuff. You will find the products to be entirely different all together.

  • I saw this place on Dutch television (RTL4) the other day and Dutch expats who tried their food, were not impressed at all.
    It just doesn’t taste the same like home. One of the owners (a daughter of the alleged Dutch fraud Nina Brink) told the reporter that they’d changed the flavour of the krokets to the “American taste”…

    They won’t last for long if they keep up this quality.

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