If you’re tired of all the ways shrimp can be prepared — coconut shrimp could re-ignite your interest. It’s No. 23 of our 100 Days/100 Dishes count-up.
The dish was the crowning glory of an ancient East Village place, long gone, called Sugar Reef, which once stood at 5th Street and Second Avenue. It was part of a hipster-owned (or maybe I should say, hippie-owned) theme-restaurant craze that included Cottonwood Café, Gulf Coast, Tortilla Flats, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame, which we used to facetiously refer to as the “Callgirl Howl of Shame.”
The appetizer has resurfaced at Cowgirl offshoot Cowgirl Seahorse, and been dubbed “Sugar Reef coconut shrimp” in honor of its origins.
The shrimp are battered with a thick liquid containing lots of sweet baker’s coconut (that’s the supermarket kind sold in plastic bags), and deep-fried until golden brown, which doesn’t take very long, because the shrimp cook almost instantaneously. The coconut batter browns fast, too, due to sugar content. (This is no dish for dieters.)
Furnished with a mango dipping sauce with a bit of heat, there used to be nothing better on Second Avenue, and the dish is still worth seeking out in the Seaport.
259 Front Street
100 Days/100 Dishes is an almost-random alphabetical collection of delicious dishes from around the five boroughs. See the entire series so far.
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More:100 Favorite Dishes