These days, New Yorkers are more likely to be able to recommend a place to get a good banh mi than a good egg cream.
The name egg cream is thought to derive from the Yiddish "echt" (sounds like "egg") cream, meaning "genuine" cream. For those of you who claim New York City as your home but were raised in, say, Idaho, allow me to clarify something right off the bat: An egg cream is made with neither eggs nor cream.
Traditionally, an authentic New York egg cream is composed of just three readily available ingredients: Fox's-U-Bet chocolate syrup (no other brand will do and please, don't use vanilla, and, please, not coffee, strawberry, or any other flavor), ice-cold milk, and seltzer (preferably dispensed from a soda fountain or at least a pressurized seltzer siphon bottle).
But, as they say, just because you have uranium, doesn't mean you know how to construct a nuclear bomb. It's the way those ingredients are combined that makes the difference between a gloppy sweet chocolate fizzle and the "echt"-stasy that is a genuine egg cream. The following are my current top 10 spots in New York City for egg cream. (Sammy's Roumanian is excluded only because it is a do-it-yourself version). And, of course, depending on the particular soda jerk (that's a respected professional title, not an insult), your results may vary.