Papaya King at 86th and 3rd
I live in MD but on EVERY trip I take to NYC I stop at the Papaya King on 86th and 3rd and get a special - two dogs with mustard and kraut and a Papaya drink. I've done this since I left New York in 1980! The last time I was there on July 3rd it was horrible. The trash cans were overflowing, the counter condiment jars were filthy and the hot dogs didn't even taste the same. It's always been messy but this was really bad. Has anyone experienced the difference? Can anyone let me know what's going on? I'll be back in September and would hate to have to stop this tradition.
I live by the 86th street Papaya King and, as a hot dog lover, I will say this about the location:
a) The service is effective yet not very personal, and any special considerations or requests are generally not met. The guys running it are really just not nice. They serve hot dogs and don't seem happy about it at all. But they get the job done.
b) The hot dogs themselves vary based on when you go. Believe it or not, the best experiences I've had there were actually at peak times, not off hours, as you tend to get the freshest, most recently cooked dogs which makes all the difference. In off hours you'll get a dog that has potentially been sitting for hours and it gets bitter and chewy.
c) The dog, in my opinion, is the best of the "papaya" franchises (Grays, Chelsea, etc.). But, it does not rival the New Yorker found at Crif Dog.
d) another poster mentioned that they recently changed their recipe, so that may be why you think that they don't taste the same.
Where did you read that Papaya King changed their recipe? They use 10 to a lb natural casing dogs; same as Gray's Papaya. Some of the knockoffs use a smaller skinless dog. Years ago when I visited NYC (I live in N.J.) I preferred Papaya King to Gray's. But when I went back the last time, the roll fell apart at Papaya King and Gray's dog was fresher. I guess it depends on when you go and how long the dogs have been sitting on the grill as well as other factors.
I do know that Papaya King is one of the 10% of accounts that gets their dogs delivered fresh, not frozen. Maybe this makes a difference. We have a Papaya King in N.J. and the owner is always there to make sure the dogs are fresh and consistently good.
The New Yorker at Crif's is very good. It is a Thumann's all beef natural casing frank made in N.J. A little less spicy than the beef dogs served at the Papaya places and Nathan's. I happen to prefer the other dogs to the Thumann's, but I see how some can prefer the Thumann's. They (Thumann's) also make 2 other dogs. The regular beef and pork dog made for deep frying that is also served at Crif's as well as Rutt's Hut and many North Jersey places that deep fry their dogs. The New Yorker is prepared on a griddle like Papaya King, Gray's, Katz's, and Nathan's. Thumann's also makes a beef and pork griller, which, in my opinion is the best one they make. The best German style beef and pork dog I've sampled. It comes in a blue and white package.