Archive for 'Cafe Duke'

41st St Cafe Duke Shutters

As noted by ML comment-er D, the 41st and Broadway Cafe Duke has shuttered and has been gutted inside. While Cafe Duke was never truly a great ML lunch, I thought that it was better than most options in the area, especially if I needed a quick and convenient soondubu fix. Less notably, the Baja Fresh across the street has also called it quits. Thankfully, you can now get Korean food a few blocks away at Liberty Cafe.

Cafe Duke Survives Transformer Fire: If you're an aficionado of the chocolate-covered baconery/generic deli juggernaut Cafe Duke, you may want to have a backup plan for today's lunch you'll be excited to hear that it's business as usual today. A transformer fire on its sidewalk yesterday prompted an evacuation of the Time-Life building in which the hotbed of pop-up bulgogi tacos sits. No word yet on the future of the deli, but we're guessing they're not going to be open for awhile. Amazingly enough The Duke made it through unscathed!

Stay Calm Folks, But Cafe Duke is Selling Chocolate Covered Bacon

There’s a part of us that thinks “chocolate covered bacon is so 5 years ago” but there’s another part of us that thinks “Holy Shit, Cafe  Duke (on 51st btw. 6+7th) is selling whole strips of bacon with 6 different kinds of chocolate and toppings!?!”  Either way, it’s worthy of taking a moment to reflect on the awesomeness of this photo. The bacon comes from Baconery, so if you were eyeing this Flatiron Lunch post with envy, this is your chance to fix that issue. (It’s also worth noting for Flatiron Lunchers that Baconery is no longer operating out of that bookstore.)   Thanks to Lunch’er Peter for sending it in.   

Stalking Cafe Duke’s New Soup Special

Yuk Gae Jang from Cafe duke

At this point, I’ve come to terms with the maddeningly inconsistent schedule at Café Duke’s Korean counter (on 51st btw. 6+7th). As far as we can tell, their daily specials ($8.95) usually jive with the given meteorlogic conditions, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s getting nippy outside. So it should be no surprise that on a particularly bitter cold day, I stepped into Café Duke and found that they were serving a soup special that bites back. Yuk gae jang is a fiery, tangy, yet refreshing Korean soup, rich with slices of beef flank, crunchy bean sprouts, earthy fern shoots, and pungent scallions. This dish’s raison d’être is to warm the body and soul. Halfway through the peppery bowl of soup, I had loosened my tie, rolled up my sleeves, and had a sheen of sweat on my brow despite the blustery conditions outside. A side of adequately steamed white rice provides relief to the sting of the broth, and the obligatory side of kimchi is the ultimate cure-all for any and all ailments (sez my Grandmother). Baby it’s cold outside, but boy, this yuk gae jang has got me feeling warm inside.

The only downside? You never know when they’re going to have it!

Café Duke, Give Us Our Bulgogi Tacos!
Korean Food at Cafe Duke

Café Duke, Give Us Our Bulgogi Tacos!

At last... bulgogi taco

Café Duke is such a tease. Ever since initial reports that bulgogi tacos were being haphazardly offered as a daily special at their Korean entrée counter, I’ve been fascinated by these tacos. After all, Bann Next Door took on the Korean taco concept and hit a home run, so I don’t see why Café Duke couldn’t replicate this success (and it’s a few avenues closer to work.) Besides, assembling a competent Korean taco is laughably easy in concept – just jam Korean meat into a taco (no double entendre intended), and you’re the next Roy Choi.

Café Duke has always been a staple in my weekly lunch rotation, given that it‘s a smorgasbord of wallet friendly options that appease my co-workers’ finicky spectrum of palates. But for weeks, I’ve bolted straight to the back counter, only to see a non-bulgogi taco special coquettishly playing with my emotions. We even sent ML contributor, Jeremiah, on a wild goose chase to hunt down these tacos at the 41st Street location, to no avail. However after weeks of speculation, my dumb perseverance and gullibility was finally rewarded.

I came. I saw. I conquered the elusive Café Duke bulgogi taco.
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Blogger Proclaims Cafe Duke’s Pizza “The Best”

Bold (and often ridiculous) food claims are what NYC Food Guy (aka Lunch’er Lawerence aka Superman) is all about, so we’ll take this one with a grain of salt.  Apparently the spicy chicken pizza from Cafe Duke (on 51st btw. 6+7th) is the best non-restaurant pizza in all of Midtown. Now, you know we love their Korean food…. and their fake shrimp… and their occasional soft shelled crabs.  But is this really the best we can do for pizza?  Feel free to defend or refute his claim in the comments.

Crabwatch: Are Soft Shelled Crabs Back at Cafe Duke?

Last October, I was pretty excited to find soft shelled crabs on the by the pound buffet at Cafe Duke (on 51st btw. 6+7th).  Well, soft shelled crab season started up again last month, and Lunch’er “David” reports seeing them at the 41st and Broadway Cafe Duke yesterday.  I stopped by the 51st Street location today, and they were nowhere to be found.  Please report positive sightings in the comments below (preferably before lunchtime.)

Soft Shelled Crabs Show Up On A Midtown Pay By the Pound Buffet!!!


Uh… yeah.  You heard me right.  Soft shelled mother f’ing crabs on a Midtown by the lb. buffet.  That is what I discovered at the Cafe Duke on 51st btw. 6+7th yesterday. I’ve already written a bunch about how much I love their by the lb. buffet, but this just put it over the top.  Soft shelled crab! I’m still giddy thinking about it.  This could be the biggest money item to ever show up on one of these generic Midtown deli buffets (the ones that cost under $10 a pound anyway).  And, they don’t even weigh that much (especially compared to other stuff like fruit and bone in chicken).  It really is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen at a by the pound buffet.

At $7.79 a pound, Cafe Duke by the lb. is on the high end of these kind of crappy Midtown options… but for the quality it is definitely worth it.  The food always looks fresh, every choice looks damn tasty, and the sauce they put on their fake jumbo shrimp makes me not mind that they are trying to fake you into thinking you’re actually getting shrimp

How they were, a shot of my lunch, and the one big downside- after the jump…

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Airing of Grievances: Cafe Duke & Tad’s


I try my best not to be too negative on this site, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to vent. Every once in awhile I’ll share some of the more angry useful emails I get in a post called “Airing of Grievances”. (If the Eater Complaints Dept. would like royalties, I’ll be happy to pay up…)

“I just went to Cafe Duke yesterday and I bought a mini black forest cake for $5.50!! I went home and wanted to surprise my husband with a little cake for dessert and what happens?? We bit into the cake and it tasted like sour bleach! The whole cake layer inside was alive with greyish blue mold! Needless to say, it not only ruined my evening but it spoiled my appetite for anything Duke in the future!!”

Ooops. Not sure if this was the Cafe Duke on 51st btw. 6+7th (which is one of the few generic Midtown delis I will eat in) or the one down on Broadway and 41st, but either way, it may be a good idea to stay away from their baked goods. If you’re headed to the one on 51st, stick to the by the lb. buffet, and the Korean food in the back left hand corner.

After the jump, a Tad’s complaint you knew would come eventually… Read more »

Commenter Demands Real Shrimps or Refund from Cafe Duke


Despite my extensive report on fake shrimp at by the lb. buffets, the word is not entirely out on this NYC deli tactic.

From commenter “Leo” on the post about Cafe Duke (51st btw. 6+7th):

Got fooled by the fake shrimp.

Called them to complain and the lady that picks up the phone had an attitude.
She said that 1. I had to ask — Ask who, there is no one you can ask around the food buffet. 2. Nothing is labeled  3. They make the fake shrimp same shape and size as real shrimps.

Would not offer me a refund after I spend $10 on cheap fish instead of what looked like shrimps…

They are so busy have like 10K people there during lunch, there is no need to cheat customers… Will not go back unless given real shrimps of refund.

I was fooled too, but I only took a few of the fake shrimp, and I really liked the way they tasted- so I wasn’t too upset.  The lesson to take from this-  when eating at a by the lb. buffet, never take a full tray of something you’ve never tried. 

For more rules of by the lb. buffet eating, you’ll want to read this post.