Two years ago, we walked into Dong Phuong Bakery, picked up a king cake from the shelf, and went on our merry way. Not this year, my friends. A James Beard “America’s Classics” award and local word on the street have changed all that. It’s an honor well-deserved, in my opinion. Their king cake is the best I’ve tasted so far.
So, once again this season, we made the pilgrimage again to New Orleans East, the bakery’s physical location. Nondescript exterior, but with a line out the door. It was somewhat jovial chaos, as their lunchtime crowd was already gathering. “Come back at 12:45,” came the helpful word from a patient cashier. After lunch at Cafe Aquarius, a Chalmette outpost dispensing good vibes and yummy food, we returned to another long line. Realization dawned, after some conferring with those assembled, that we were not actually waiting for the king cake itself, but only for a number that would allow us to return at a later time for an actual cake. Foiled! We had to jump ship.
In the days to follow, we followed a rumor about a stash discreetly being sold at Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket, but arrived one day too late for this bonanza. After being met with a “CLOSED” sign at Pizza NOLA in Lakeview, we made an actual plan for an early morning encampment (with coffee), but a late-breaking NOLA.com article derailed that plan as well. “Overwhelmed by demand, Dong Phuong now only sells king cakes at its New Orleans East bakery,” advised the discouraging headline.
Robert had the stamina to take this thing to its logical conclusion and placed an online order. Earliest available? Saturday the 10th, limit 5. I will believe it when I am sinking my teeth into that creamy, cinnamon-y goodness.