Battle of the Dishes: LES Egg Creams

Katz's egg cream

Russ and Daughters' egg cream

This week's Battle of the Dishes concerns the most classic New York soda fountain drink--the egg cream, a simple concoction of chocolate syrup, seltzer, and milk that somehow tastes rich and creamy. There are a good handful of places to get a proper egg cream on the LES and in the East Village, including Sammy's Roumanian, Gem Spa, B&H Dairy, and Yonah Schimmel's. But Fork in the Road wondered how the egg creams of two iconic neighbors would stand up against each other--so off to Katz's Deli and Russ and Daughters to suck down the magical carbonated chocolate milk.

Both Katz's and Russ and Daughters use u-bet chocolate syrup from H. Fox & Co., a 104-year-old, family-owned company--that syrup has been used in egg creams since 1904, and any authentic egg cream is made with it.

Honestly, pretty much any egg cream is going to taste good. But if we're going to get technical about it, an egg cream is supposed to show three distinct layers: chocolate syrup residue on the bottom, chocolaty, carbonated milk in the middle, and a cloud of froth on the top. It was hard to tell if Katz's version had the layering, because it's served in an opaque cup. But the seltzer from the soda fountain didn't create much froth. Russ and Daughters, on the other hand, uses old-fashioned seltzer in a glass bottle, and the seltzer comes rushing out of the spigot with such force that a white cap of froth dramatically bubbles up on top.

Both egg creams are refreshing on a hot day, sweet and creamy from the carbonation, and too easily gulped down in a second. But the egg cream at Russ and Daughters is definitely better, mainly because of the high quality of the seltzer, which gives you those fat bubbles and a wonderful milky-prickly texture.

Any other nominations for the best egg cream in the city?

Russ and Daughters 179 East Houston Street 212-475-4880

Katz's Delicatessen 205 East Houston Street 212-254-2246

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