Papaya King and the Tourism Hype Machine
Anthony Bourdain likes Papaya King. Kramer likes Papaya King. Ted from How I Met Your Mother likes Papaya King. Everybody likes Papaya King. But will I like Papaya King? I do like hot dogs.
I liked the Mexican hot dogs I had in Tucson. I like Chicago-style hot dogs. I’ve liked the hot dogs I’ve eaten on the streets of New York. I pretty much always like hot dogs. But Papaya King? Meh.
Not that it’s a bad dog, but there’s just too much hype around the experience. It’s a hot dog, man. Just a hot dog. It’s not even wrapped in bacon or covered in sport peppers. Sure, I like sauerkraut and onions … but why’s the mustard by the door instead of at the end of the line where you get your dog? Why’s the place so damn narrow? There’s barely shoulder room, so why are there useless window-side counters? That’s precious space, why waste it?
And what’s the fascination with the papaya, really? I drank the juice. It was fine. Lisa almost spit hers out, but I got mine down. Not as sweet as I was expecting and a hell of a lot more foamy. Where’s that foam come from anyway?
I was expecting more. I shouldn’t have been. It’s a hot dog shack. It’s New York’s version of The Wiener’s Circle — a shithole that serves encased meat, just with juice instead of milk shakes. I left feeling not hungry, but I didn’t leave feeling amazing. I don’t know why I was expecting to be amazed. Maybe it was something I saw on TV.
At least it’s cheap.