Behold Danku, the second unit of what identical twin brothers Bruno and Filip van Hoeck hope will be a multinational chain.
It’s already multinational, as its first unit is in Antwerp, the van Hoecks’ hometown (that’s right, two Belgian brothers are opening Dutch restaurants). But with just two units, it’s not a chain yet.
Within the next year they hope to open another two units in Antwerp, another nine in New York City and four in Kaliningrad, Russia.
The food is sort of Dutch, but with other things that Americans like, such as frozen yogurt (plain and açaí flavor) and salads and panini. They also offer Indonesian food, as that is the street food of the Netherlands, like Indian food is in Britain and Mexican food is in much of the United States.
Perhaps the centerpiece of the menu, and certainly the hook, is the krokets, which are cylinders of fried food that the Dutch traditionally fill with beef and eat with mustard. But at Danku the van Hoeck brothers decided to fill the krokets with other things. Much in the tradition of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar and Empanada Joe’s, Danku is filling Dutch snacks with such un-Dutch things as Indonesian chicken curry and spinach-artichoke, and each one gets a different sauce. The beef-and-bean kroket comes with avocado sauce, and tartar sauce is provided for the dill and salmon. The traditional Dutch beef one has honey-mustard.
Another part of the restaurant’s schtick is environmentalism. Everything’s compostable, the food’s all organic, you can get four different yerba mate beverages.
The place opened for a couple of hours on Sunday and then went full swing yesterday, and Bruno von Hoeck says business has been good, with the combos ( two krokets with salad, or satay or Indonesian stew with a rice or noodle dish, for $7.50) are the best sellers.Here’s Bruno, taking a break from a hard day’s work to let me interview him. He and Filip both studied at hotel school and have owned bistros in Belgium, including one called Daily, another called Afspanning de Hand, and what I hope was a Spanish place called Las Tapas del Sud.
At Danku, the food is being done by Christof Roothooft, whose picture is on the left. In good chain restaurant fashion, he calls himself the R&D chef. Roothooft has worked in hotels in the past, and also has been a personal chef, which is how he got his current gig as he was the chef of one of the restaurant’s investors.