So I’m preparing to go to Taiwan for the summer – something I’ll probably write about later. I had to go to New York to get my visa and since I was paying a ridiculous amount to get there (28$ round trip Princeton Junction to Penn Station? You’d think the tickets were made of crack.), I figure I’d make a day trip out of it. I ended up going alone, which was amazing . I got to roam around (read: get mad lost) and go where I wanted to go and take my sweet time ambling.
And I ambled all over. For those of you New York socialites who know your way around, read this and weep: Penn Station –> Taiwanese Embassy (5th and 42nd)–> Rockefeller Plaza –> Magnolia Bakery (6th and 49th) –> Momofuku Milk Bar (2nd and 13th) –> Penn Station. And since I’m poor and wanted to maximize my dessert money, I brought my own lunch/water and didn’t take the subway. My feet hated me afterward, but I ended up only spending ~18$ for my trip, minus the cost of that stupid, hot, smelly train – not bad for the city.
What I got: Vanilla/“Carrie” Cupcake($2.75), S’mores Cupcake($3.25), Chocolate Chunk cookie($0.75), White Sugar Cookie ($0.75).
What I thought:
I had heard so much about the bakery and had loved their recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes, I thought I’d go and check it out. As with most experiences, it did not live up to its hype. Don’t get me wrong, what I bought was delicious. But from what I paid and how much ranting and raving I had heard about it, I expected them to be more than what they were. There was, however, nothing special about them.
One thing I particularly didn’t enjoy was sugar cookie’s floury taste. I think that, in their attempt not to be too sugary, they actually didn’t put enough. Maybe it’s a matter of preference, but I felt like I was eating dough – and I don’t mean that in a good way.
I liked their overall lightness in taste and texture though. They say that Magnolia is “New York’s sweetest bakery” but I’m glad they’re not. Everything was just sweet enough – at least to my taste – to not be bland and nothing was too heavy. There was a mountain of icing on the cupcakes, as I’m told is the norm nowadays, but I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t need to take off some of it as I normally do.
Momofuku Milk Bar
What I got: Compost Cookie(~$2), Pork Bun ($9 for 2)
What I thought:
Everything about the Momofuku empire screams high-class (and very expensive) rebel. I had read owner David Chang’s book about Momofuku. By the way, his story about Momofuku and its origins is hilarious and I’m anxious to try his recipes. His restaurant seemed to have a fascinating history so I made my way over to East Village. The restaurants are all near each other on 1st and 2nd Ave. “Restaurants” is plural because this dude owns like half of East Village. I think right now his empire consists of Momofuku Noodle, Momofuku Ssam and Momofuku Milk. Looking into Noodle, my first thoughts were… this is an Asian restaurant? Where’s the smell of sweat and the din of various families arguing with fob waiters? Where’s the Asian grandma who shamelessly picks her nose at the table? Instead, the crowd mainly consisted of younger adult hot shots with money to burn. They’re not really Asian. More like a haute-cuisine take on Asian-American fusion. How interesting!
But enough about the place. Onto the food. I ended up going to Milk because it seemed like the cheapest place out of the three, as they only served shakes and bakery goods. And, having eaten there, I want to break my bank account and try everything else. After eating, it no longer surprised me that a place that sold a bowl of ramen for 15$ was completely packed.
Their compost cookie is… hot diggity dang. This cookie is badass. This ain’t your mama’s dainty little cookie. In fact, it probably beat your mama’s cookie to a pulp during recess and ate it for lunch. For goodness sake, it’s got potato chips !But the thing about badasses is that we can’t help but swoon over their attitude. Likewise, the rebel flair of the compost cookie makes it so irresistible. It has pretty much every mix-in you might think to put into a cookie and then some. Over everything is a definite but not obnoxiously overpowering coffee flavor which really finishes it off so awesomely.
I wasn’t going to get their pork buns but I dropped my homemade sandwich after eating only a few bites and, having walked upwards of seven miles, I was famished. At first, I was cynical. I have an unhealthy affinity for meat buns of all sorts. Let’s just say that I am very strict about what’s good and what’s not. And, most importantly, who in the world pays 9$ for a pork bun? But, oh, it was worth it. It was so, so , so worth it. I wish I took a picture of it in all of its glory. Light but definitely not dainty. Moist and tender but not overly greasy. And the thin-sliced cucumber inside added the perfect crunch to it. It was a tad too blank for my taste but I added a bit of sriracha and… well, if it wasn’t for the price I’d have stood there and ate through a few more or twenty.