For my birthday, my wife took me on a mystery trip into the belly of Hollywood and we ended up at the new Papaya King location; I have never been to the NYC location, so cannot judge this version against the original. Be that as it may, I enjoyed my birthday lunch at this new local spot immensely (though as I have mentioned time and time again in most of my 'reviews', I am exceedingly easy to please, eat nearly everything, and estimate a less than 5% disappointment rate in my meals away from my own kitchen). Papaya King is good!
There was a small 2 minute wait to order, with about 5 people ahead of us. The staff move things along nicely, though there is a bit of confusion as to which of the two doors to enter and in which direction the line-up flows. Not a big deal; a 2 minute wait to order and another 2 minute wait to get our chow.
I ordered the #1 Original/combo, which is: two grilled hotdogs (each in their own bun, that is), both topped with saurkraut and NY-style 'red/onion sauce; I think you can swap out relish, if you don't care for the red/onion sauce; get the red/onion sauce - it tastes like the right choice to accompany the mild kraut. The hotdogs have a mild-to-moderate snap to 'em (but not the snappiest I've ever had), are not huge (meaning, they are fine for people less gluttonous than I), and the buns are soft and most importantly _just_ large enough to provide a carb cradle for the dogs and condiments to nestle. You begin and end each dog and bun with a 1:1 ratio, bitewise. The dogs are grilled just enough, are juicy, and taste like beef. Along with the 2 hotdogs/buns/condiments, the #1 Original also comes with a beverage - I got the papaya juice and my wife got the mango juice (there are others as well). The beverage is poured over pebble ice (good), but is smallish; the cup states that it is 16 ounces, but is likely closer to 12 ounces, and goes down the gullet so smoothly and quickly that it feels like 10 ounces. It's just fine to wash down the chow. The total cost of this #1 Original/combo is about $5.50, nice. Two condimented dogs and buns and a unique drink for just over $5. I was hungry and could've easily ordered the whole thing again, but reeled myself in. For $5 and change, it's a very good lunch.
They sell a crazy yellow & red t-shirt in there, with the crazy Papaya King logo of a simpleton Happy-Face cartoon character wearing a crown and holding a hotdog in one hand and a drink in the other. It's cool and I want one... Oh, and I forgot to yell "Hail to the King" or whatever the magic phrase is that gets you free curly fries, despite having heard some other lunatic yelling said magic formula. Unaware of this, the wife ordered and paid for some of those fries, which are served conveniently in a sturdy paper cup. They're fine, but nothing special. Just get the dogs and the t-shirt, says I. The place feels NYC-ish, what with distracted cops loitering outside wolfing down their dogs, and the joint's staff charging in and out of the front door(s) with supplies. The customers seemed overly polite (like I tend to be), so maybe that is not very NYC-ish authentic (no offense, NYC expats!). By the by, there are more choices on the menu, but I didn't even bother looking farther than the #1 Original combo. Like others have said, set expectations accordingly. It's a small bustling indoor hotdog stand, nothing more. But I really like Papaya KIng. All hail the King!
1645 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028