Since the cronut's debut in May, chefs all around the country, especially New York, have been trying to replicate its recipe of innovation, scarcity and buzz. The latest challenger to the cronut's dominance of the foodie world will debut this weekend. Say hello to the ramen burger.
What is a ramen burger? Glad you asked. "The burger consists of a 75-25% blend patty, a generous slathering of shoyu sauce, peppery arugula and a scattering of scallions," explains Gothamist's Nell Casey. That sounds savory-salty delicious, but the real "wow" factor here is that the ramen burger's bun will consist of ramen noodles cooked and fried until they (allegedly) reach the perfect crustiness and consistency to hold a juicy patty.
And you'll probably have to ask your foodie friends how they are, because there's a large possibility that you won't be able to procure one—only 100 will be made this weekend, which sounds like a page right out of Dominique Ansel's cronut book.
So will the fusion-y ramen burger unseat the cronut as the summer's best food? Maybe. We've narrowed down the cronut's success to five major factors: scarcity (a bad business model, we're told, but what do experts know?), the portmanteau name, the difficulty in procuring one, good looks on social media, and the combination of ingredients. You'll notice that taste isn't really a driving factor—there have been some meh reviews on the cronut, but those haven't shrunk the lines one bit.
Given New Yorkers' love of all things new and fatty, we've sized up the cronut's latest challengers. Here's how they stacked up:
The Ramen Burger
Scarcity: There's only 100 of them to be made, at least for now. That's 100-150 less than the number of cronuts made per day. 10/10
Portmanteau: Ramen burger isn't really that inventive of a name. But the cognitive dissonance of a burger between noodles might just generate the necessary attention. 5/10
Difficulty: You have to get to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, which means a reliance on the notoriously packed L train. And then you have to wade through foodies at Smorgasburg in hopes that you can snag one of the 100 burgers. And they're only available for one day. 10/10
The Mashup: Ramen is delicious. So are burgers. But the combination might be a little strange for someone who is used to the flavors of ramen, which usually revolve around a chicken or pork stock. Certainly, this seems less intuitive than a deep-fried croissant. 6/10
Instagrammability: It only looks good from certain angles. And those angles cannot involve gloopy cheese. 5/10
Overall: 36/50 — The cronut might have something to worry about.
Scarcity: Not very. Unlike the cronut, with its infamous rations, or the limited-release ramen burgers, there are no reports of this Filipino bean ice cream selling out. 2/10
Portmanteau: There isn't one. But it sounds pretty funny — and catchy, too. And it makes some people think of Beyoncé, even though that's only if you pronounce it incorrectly. 6/10
Difficulty: You have to find a Filipino restaurant to get halo-halo. And you have to order it correctly (don't say hay-lo). And there are plenty of variations, so you may have to try a couple of them to find one that you like. 8/10
The Mashup: There are plenty of delicious ingredients in this dessert. As we mentioned in our previous coverage of this trend, there's stuff like shaved ice, ice cream, red beans, and sometimes even Cap N' Crunch in these guys, making every bite unique. 9/10
The Instagrammability: People like colorful things. People like showing people what dessert they're eating. Halo-halo fits both bills. 9/10
Overall: 34/50—If the New York food world is like Game of Thrones, and the cronut is King Joffrey, halo-halo is Daenerys Targaryen—sort of weird, comes from a different land, really pretty, and already has an army of people who love it and are ready to convert people who don't.
The Umami Cronut Burger (i.e., Luther Burger)
Scarcity: Umami Burger just opened in New York City, and is already seeing gigantic lines. Our own Dashiell Bennett waited over two hours to get a taste of this West Coast burger. Some have had the insane idea of eating an Umami Burger between cronut buns, a variation of the so-called Luther Burger, one of the least healthful foods ever devised. In order to achieve this feat, First We Feast's Matthew Schonfeld had to begin his journey at 5:30 a.m. Given the scarcity of cronuts and the popularity of Umami Burger, this one is no breeze. 10/10
Portmanteau: This could have been great. Cromami burger. A Cronumi. Umaminut. 5/10
Difficulty: Considering that Umami Burger only has one location, as does the cronut, and both are now subject to massive lines, a person trying to engineer an Umami cronut burger will have to be a sturdy soul. Of course, a second person to wait in line would make this operation easier. But the need for a partner only testifies to the difficulty of this concoction. 10/10
The Mashup: Obviously, this is the logical evolution of the cronut. Therefore it is perfect. Haters to the left. 10/10
The Instagrammability: Not so perfect. This is one fugly burger, though people will want to share it nevertheless. 5/10
Overall: 40/50—These bad boys are very difficult to procure and hit that sweet spot of trendy and delicious. Go forth and enjoy this gateway to diabetes.
Photo of Ramen burger via Ramen Burger Facebook; Photo of halo-halo by Flickr user: GunawanHaryanto; Photo of Cronut x Umami by First we Feast's Matthew Schonfeld