When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher introduced the whole class to her favorite treat from her hometown in Florida – chocolate covered potato chips. Now, as a kid who loved nothing more than dipping her french fries in her milkshake and always had to have something salty after she ate something sweet, these chips seemed like they had been invented just for me. Every so often, my mom would order me a box as a gift, but they’ve never been very readily accessible, often resulting in strong yet always unsatisfied cravings for their salty sweet goodness. So, when a friend told me last summer about a place that sold chocolate chip cookies with bits of potatoes chips and pretzels in them, I was sold – I didn’t even have to look at the rest of the menu to know that this was going to be one of my favorite dessert spots in New York. And that it has certainly become.
Momofuku Milk Bar, a dessert restaurant attached to David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village, offers some of the most creative, if not shocking and bizarre, desserts I’ve ever had. And my least favorite that I’ve tried has actually been the aforementioned cookie, called the Compost Cookie, which should indicate just how good the other items on the menu are. I pretty consistently take friends or family members who visit New York to Momofuku Milk Bar to try one of their unique desserts – whether it’s because they’ll actually love what they’re eating or if it’s just to take them somewhere kind of kooky and fun.
The first time I ever stopped by Milk Bar, it was a weeknight around 9 and what I thought was going to be a quick trip to buy some cookies turned into a 25 minute experience. I have only been here once when it wasn’t packed – and I’ve been at a lot of different times: weeknights, weekend afternoons, weekend evenings, etc. There is always a fairly long line, oftentimes out the door, of people waiting to get their hands on any number of the desserts – but it isn’t painful waiting in line here because the décor is cool and there’s always upbeat, trendy music playing. The space itself is minimalist cool with a touch of homestyle appeal. The floors are poured concrete, the tables are all high, long slabs of natural wood, and there is graphic photography on the walls; however, the very traditional dessert cases with their cheerful contents, some chalkboard menus, and a wall covered in photos of dogs tone the edge on this place down a bit.
When you finally get up to the counter, the choices are a little overwhelming – there’s soft serve, pie, cake, cookies, flavored milk, cake truffles, and bread. Of the desserts, it’s hard to pick out the most “famous items” because there are a lot of them, but the highlights are the Cereal Milk soft serve, the Crack Pie, the Compost Cookie, the Cornflake-Marshmallow-Chocolate Chip Cookie, and the Blueberry & Cream cookie. Nonetheless, there really isn’t anything on their standard menu that people haven’t tasted, loved, and written glowing reviews about.
My personal favorites are the Cereal Milk soft serve, the Red Velvet soft serve (never on the menu but on a fairly regular rotation), and the Cornflake-Marshmallow-Chocolate Chip cookie. The Cereal Milk is actually a really odd favorite for me, since I’m the kind of girl who never drinks the milk left over at the bottom of her cereal bowl; furthermore, my friends have pointed out that they think it tastes like malted milk balls, which I also don’t like. And yet, there’s something about this soft serve that I just love. It is the most blatant combination of sweet and salty, it’s creamy and smooth (not too icy like some soft serves can come out), and the flavors are robust. They also serve it overflowing in this cute little white cup with a wooden spoon stuck in. The Red Velvet, however, is even better than the cereal milk – though, since it’s available less often, I eat it less often. Though it’s a cold soft serve, it is actually even creamier and less icy than the already smooth cereal milk. In fact, it has more of the texture of red velvet cake batter than ice cream, and yet it’s definitely cold, yummy, creamy soft serve. And like red velvet cake batter, it has that amazingly rich chocolate-y flavor and red coloring.
The cookies are all really awesome as well. Like I said before, the Cornflake Cookie is the best in my opinion. It’s a little bit crumbly because of the cornflakes, but it’s also kind of sticky and gooey like a rice krispy treat due to the abundance of marshmallow. And I love it because, like the cereal milk soft serve, it blends saltiness and sweetness beautifully – you get a bite of pretty salty cornflakes coupled with lots of butter as well as sweet marshmallow and chunks of semi-sweet chocolate. If you leave this cookie in its paper bag for a few hours, you’ll notice spots of butter on the bag – this cookie is that decadent.
I also really like the Compost Cookie, though I find it a little dry – there’s just so much stuff in this cookie, like chips, pretzels, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and oats, that this cookie really requires some milk to wash it all down. The Blueberry & Cream cookie is also quite yummy. I was a little bit unsure about it when I first purchased it, as I don’t tend to like fruit in desserts, but the blueberries inside are large and sweet, the cookie is soft, and the milk crumbles add a richness and creaminess to the cookie.
One unique thing about Momofuku Milk Bar is that they’re always striving to push the boundaries of what “dessert” means. Currently, they’re offering the following soft serve flavors: creamed corn, purple drink (or “drank,” as I’d like to call it), and BBQ. I couldn’t even bring myself to try the BBQ flavor, but the other two were horrendous – and yet, they really do taste like their names, so props to Momofuku for that.
Overall, Momofuku Milk Bar is a super fun spot to hit up with a group of friends after dinner or before going out, and the desserts are so unique and delicious that they’re worth their inflated, New York prices (I mean, nothing is outrageous, but cookies are $1.85 and soft serve is $4.15). I would taste the weird stuff, but stick to the more standard menu items. And if you taste any of the cake truffles or pies, let me know how they are – I feel like I need to branch out!