In New Orleans, King Cake is basically a religion. Everyone has their own traditions and values for what makes a good king cake - is it more like bread or more like cake? Can you eat it before twelfth night? Is lemon filling even acceptable as an option? (no.) Is it acceptable behavior to pretend you don't see the baby arm hanging out of one slice? (also no.)
I myself am only a moderate fan of king cake, but there is one king cake that I'll go down swinging and preaching from the rooftops for - the famous, beautiful culinary creation of the DONG PHUONG KING CAKE.
Only problem is - everyone else in New Orleans apparently feels this way too, making the Dong Phuong king cake now the most exclusive baked good in all of New Orleans.
The Dong Phuong king cake first came into my life in 2016, when a co-worker picked one up at Pizza Delicious in Lakeview and it proceeded to change my view on king cake forever. Let's just get this out of the way now - Is it a fully traditional cinnamon twisted bread inspired piece with hard royal icing on it - no. Is it still probably the best Mardi Gras thing you'll ever get to eat? Yes.
The Dong Phuong king cake is like a giant buttery cinnamon brioche croissant with gorgeous layers, topped with a sweet buttercream cream cheese icing that I'll be dreaming about until the day I die. It 100% lives up to the hype and is 100% worth the work of getting it.
The trouble with Dong Phuong king cakes is that they are extremely hard to come by. In year's past, the New Orleans East based bakery cranked out thousands and thousands of cakes, leading to overtime concerns for their staff. Now in 2019, Dong Phuong demand is higher than ever, only a limited number made and pick up options are limited.
Here's all the knowledge I've gotten this year on how to acquire the most exclusive king cake in all of Mardi Gras:
HOW TO GET A DONG PHUONG KING CAKE IN 2019:
1. FORGET ORDERING ONE FOR DELIVERY
Early in the Mardi Gras season, Dong Phong launched their online ordering system for king cakes. The date options for these filled up almost instantly and as of February, there are no delivery slots left.
2. FORGET RESERVING ONE ONLINE
At the start of the 2019 season, Dong Phuong offered a limited number of king cake reservations for in person pick up. It was so popular that I had to wait three weeks for my reservation date. As of February there are no reservations left.
3. FORGET THE KING CAKE HUB
Dong Phuong king cakes are not sold at the really cool new King Cake Hub at the Mortuary.
4. DRIVE TO NEW ORLEANS EAST TO WAIT IN LINE FOR A DONG PHUONG KING CAKE
If you are dying to get one of these king cakes, this is the most dependable way to get one. The Dong Phuong bakery - located wayyyyy out in New Orleans East, past the old Six Flags - opens at 8 am and sells a set number of cakes per day. Once they are gone, the day is over. There is a limit of three king cakes per person!
As the season progresses, the lines will get longer for popular dates (think parade days, office Fridays, weekends, the entire week leading up to Mardi Gras). At the start of February, the 8 am line on a Friday had about 40 people in it. On a Monday, the 8 am line had about 10. Choose wisely and think with your local mind first - don't let the king cake mania get to you!
5. SHOW UP EARLY TO ONE OF THE LIMITED DONG PHUONG DROP OFF STORES
This year, the bakery delivers some stock to five (yes, just five!) other stores. Word on the street is that these sell out almost instantly, with places like Poeyfarre Market using a wait card system to ensure the people in line get the cakes first.
Try your luck at:
Zuppardo’s Supermarket in Metairie
Poeyfarre Market in the Central Business District
Mr. Bubbles Sandwich House on the Westbank
Pho Cong in Covington
Jeanfreau’s in Chalmette
6. OUT OF TOWN? START BEGGING.
With the limited options above, you need a good friend in Nola to make it happen. Know that it's going to take a good bit of effort and be hella appreciative of anyone willing to ship to you!
Take solace in knowing that you're not the only one dreaming of this cake- the demand is even making headlines on Nola.com! Got any other tips for tracking down one of these cakes? Leave us a hint in the comments below!
May the Dong Phuong odds ever be in your favor! Don't forget to subscribe to our THIRTY NINETY LIVING email updates for more Mardi Gras insider ideas.
Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!