Following a brief opening and a long hiatus, downtown’s casual sushi spot Chubby Duck recently reopened its doors in the Harmonie Park area of downtown Detroit. The restaurant closed unexpectedly last fall for renovations and has returned with a freshly updated layout and some other unexpected changes.
The staff, for one thing, our now local. Owner Asad Rizvi tells Eater he bought out Chubby Duck partner chef Ian Diem from the Detroit portion of the business last fall during the renovations. “Last year we were getting requests to [stay] open past 6 p.m. but our staff was coming all the way from Flint, so it was a little bit more difficult.” With staff from the Detroit area, he’s been able to extend the hours slightly to accommodate more evening business.
Wedged between Broadway and Centre Street, East Grand River Boulevard’s small businesses naturally exude hole-in-the-wall character. Like neighbors Steve’s Detroit Deli and Jose’s Tacos, Chubby Duck occupies a relatively small footprint. Still, the recent updates to the floor plan — including walls separating the kitchen from the dining area — have managed to utilize every piece of square footage. Bar seating now runs along both walls with metal stools for more than 10 customers to dine-in comfortably.
The front counter also now features a grab-and-go cooler — something Rizvi says downtown workers including Quicken Loans employees were requesting.
In the back of the house, chefs King Shaw and Brian Agacinski have reworked the menu slightly. Hand rolls, once the center piece of the menu, are now flanked by a selection of traditional rolls and sides like refreshing cucumber salads.
While Chubby Duck offers some familiar sushi choices such as California and eel avocado rolls, the restaurant doesn’t always stick to traditional ingredients. A recent surf and turf roll spun rice around beef and fish and the Chubby Chicken cone features grilled buttermilk chicken, daikon, cucumbers, carrots, caesar dressing, and furikake. All the meats are purchased from a halal butcher in Eastern Market.
While it is offering later hours, Chubby Duck is still posturing itself as a go-to downtown lunch destination with options for carryout order or delivery through GrubHub and Food Junky.
Photographers Chris and Michelle Gerard recently took the microtour of the pint-sized restaurant. Scope out the updated interior and some of the dishes in the gallery below.
Chubby Duck is located at 208 E Grand River Ave; open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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