In Search of New York’s Best Milkshake
It’s finally warming up here in New York City, and I’m less than thrilled at the prospect of imminent sticky subway rides and the constant need for repeated cold showers. However, if there’s one thing I look forward to when the blazing weather arrives, it’s that the heat of a summer’s day makes milkshakes taste so darn good.
Last week I mentioned the idea of a milkshake story to my co-worker Louisa Laz-Hirsch, and she gamely took one for the team and offered to help me on “research.” We set out in East Manhattan together and began our milkshake taste-test.
Strangely enough, our milkshake quest started in Chinatown, where Louisa and I were eating delicious noodle soup at Pho Grand and happened to spot avocado milkshakes on the menu. Whenever I see a mash-up of two of my favorite foods, I just have to try it, no matter how odd the combination may be. This milkshake was super rich, creamy, and only slightly sweet. The avocado added a bit of oil to the dairy richness, and the shake was the color of a perfectly ripe avocado. I’m definitely planning on heading back to Pho Grand for another.
Our next milkshake stop was Sugar on the Lower East Side, which is an old-school diner-type place. I tend to go plain in spots like this, and the soda jerk served up a solid, very satisfying traditional vanilla milkshake. Sugar is a good everyday spot to pop in and get a quick shake before heading back out to Houston Street for more New York adventures.
Next, we swung by two shops in the East Village. The first one was OddFellows, a brand-new, tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it storefront, but this place is not to be missed. We ordered a Thai Iced Cream Milkshake for Louisa and a Burnt Marshmallow one for me. These were top-shelf, professional-style milkshakes; definitely the kind of thing you’d seek out as a special treat. The Thai shake tasted exactly like Thai iced tea: nicely spiced, not too sweet, and full of flavor. The Burnt Marshmallow flavor comes with bits of toasted tiny marshmallows mixed in, and it was a brilliantly executed, innovative shake. This place is a must to visit if you’re a true ice cream lover.
The second East Village stop was big-time chef David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar. He and his pastry chef, Christina Tosi, are incredibly creative, and after perusing all of the fantastic options, we settled on the Cereal Milk milkshake. Wow! This one took me straight back to being a kid and tipping back the milk left over from a big bowl of cereal. It was ridiculously tasty, but almost overwhelming — a little went a long way.
Our final milkshake stop was on 23rd street at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. They may be better known for their burgers, but if you name yourself “Shake Shack,” you’d better deliver an amazing shake. And, boy, do they. We again opted to go basic at this spot, although their more innovative flavors were very tempting. We ordered a Vanilla Malted milkshake for our test. The first thing I noticed was how thick it was; too many milkshakes have the wrong milk-to-ice-cream ratio, but not this one. The malt added a nice, subtle flavor to the already high-quality ice cream they use. I would have ordered a second, but after a day of shakes, I had just about hit my limit. Besides, by then the infamous Shake Shack line extended to the end of the block!
While I may have to take a break from shakes after all of my indulgence this week, there are still plenty of neighborhoods to explore in search of the best milkshake around. Who doesn’t want to drink milkshakes in the name of journalism?