BROOKLYN, New York
I’m in New York for the Labor Day weekend, and one of the fun food events I’ve experienced so far on my trip was my day out at Smorgasburg on Saturday in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
First off, got to say, I love Williamsburg. I never spent much time here when I lived in farther out Park Slope, but I found Williamsburg to be hip and quaint, filled with creativity and just a tad of gentrification (they have an Apple store and Whole Foods).
Williamsburg was always popular because of its unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline. Now that skyline is the backdrop on Saturdays for this popular outdoor food event, where food vendors get together at East River State Park to sell a variety of good eats. Of course, the most popular item available is the ramen burger, which typically has the longest lines of people want to try the burger made with a beef patty sandwiched between two buns of ramen noodles that has been quickly pan-fried.
My friend Julie and I got to Smorgasburg just as it opened at 11 a.m., and after doing a quick circle around the various food booths we decided we had to try the ramen burger. The line moved rather quickly and in a few minutes we were chowing down on the ramen burger ($10), which came with cheese and a special shoyu-based sauce.
The ramen burger was surprisingly good, with the beef cooked to the right temperature and the ramen buns easy to bite through while still staying together. It can be a bit messy, but the Ramen Burger crew knows how to package the burger when they hand it to you. My only critic is I wasn’t particularly a fan of the special soy sauce, which made the burger a bit too salty. I wanted more of maybe a spicy sweet gochujang aioli. Ramen Burger guys, can you get to work on that?
There were so many interesting food options, and New Yorkers aren’t afraid of their meats because there were some major short ribs and pork on the grill at a few vendors. Some things were successful, like a Taiwanese pork belly steamed bun, while others weren’t, like the kimchi pancake that was on the mild side (it was helped by a spicy sauce).
The skies were a bit grey, so the Manhattan skyline wasn’t as sparkling as it typically could be. But that didn’t seem to disappoint the crowds who came out to eat and hang out along the water. The trick with Smorgasburg is to get there before noon because by 1 p.m. it was packed and the lines at many vendors got so long that we ended up passing on some items we intended to get later, like the specialty donuts from Dough.
Smorgasburg has grown in such popularity that it has spawned to several other neighborhoods, such as Prospect Park, and even as far away as Los Angeles. But if you’re in Brooklyn, I say you have to visit the original Smorgasburg in Williamsburg for the view and the ramen burger.
The deets: Smorgasburg Williamsburg, East River State Park, 90 Kent Ave., Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. www.smorgasburg.com
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