Every booth made sure to display what they were selling to help people decide.

Every booth made sure to display what they were selling to help people decide.

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.

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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?

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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).

Seemed like everyone was selling some kind of taco

Seemed like everyone was selling some kind of taco

Another unusual item is the "raindrop," which is a big dollop of flavored water made with agar agar and shaped like a huge raindrop and served up with a special sauce and crushed nuts.

Another unusual item is the “raindrop,” which is a big dollop of flavored water made with agar agar and shaped like a huge raindrop and served up with a special sauce and crushed nuts.

There's a tiny beach area by the park, which offers up a view of the Manhattan skyline.

There’s a tiny beach area by the park, which offers up a view of the Manhattan skyline.

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.

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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

Taiwanese pork belly served up with pickled vegetables and nuts (kind of like The Chairman in San Francisco)

Taiwanese pork belly served up with pickled vegetables and nuts (kind of like The Chairman in San Francisco)

I intended to come back for these donuts from Dough bakery but the line got too long.

I intended to come back for these donuts from Dough bakery but the line got too long.

Kim chi pancake. We tried it plain but you can have it topped with things like chicken.

Kim chi pancake. We tried it plain but you can have it topped with things like chicken.

This pizza oven was in the center of the food stands but most people were buzzing about this guy's summer shorts. ;-)

This pizza oven was in the center of the food stands but most people were buzzing about this guy’s summer shorts. 😉

Malai ice cream. This was Turkish coffee flavor in a cardamon flavored cone.

Malai ice cream. This was Turkish coffee flavor in a cardamon flavored cone.

I noticed a woman eating this "mango flower" so I had to try it. And it was spreading like wildflower because I saw more and more people starting to eat them. It's served with lime, chili powder and salt.

I noticed a woman eating this “mango flower” so I had to try it. And it was spreading like wildflower because I saw more and more people starting to eat them. It’s served with lime, chili powder and salt.

By the time we were ready to leave, the line for the Ramen Burger grew incredibly long. So go early and get in line at Ramen Burger first.

By the time we were ready to leave, the line for the Ramen Burger grew incredibly long. So go early and get in line at Ramen Burger first.

3 Responses to Weekend Fun at Smorgasburg Williamsburg

  1. Brenda Ton says:

    That looks like fun! I didn’t realize the ramen burger craze was still a thing.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Thanks Brenda! And yes, people still want the ramen burger. It’s the same city that draws lines for the cronut! LOL

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    I, too, saw people going crazy for the raindrop cake and the flower-cut mango at the BC night markets. But they’re so eye-catching, you just can’t resist. Glad you gave us the lowdown on the ramen burger. It definitely looks like a four-napkin affair. But glad it was worth it.