International Hot Dog Search, Part One
This post is not for the hot dog purist—let's just get that out of the way right now. Those of you who are offended by anything other than a mustard-topped dog, look away.
Many countries around the world have taken what we North Americans think of as distinctly ours, the hot dog, and made it their own. This food fusion is fascinating, and I began to wonder, out of every country or culture that has adopted and adapted the hot dog, how many representations I would be able to find in Queens. And that's when it began to spiral out of control.
The more I researched, the more I found. These hybrid hot dogs cannot be contained in one post! So this week, we'll go around the world in whole dogs, from six different countries; part two, coming next week, will feature dishes that contain hot dogs.
This Korean supermarket in Flushing contains a small restaurant—a fast food-like place, that has, right at the entrance, a hot box full of these cylindrical items on sticks—stacked five high on sheet pans. They look like corn dogs, and that's not far off; they're battered, panko-crusted hot dogs. Already fried, once ordered the whole thing is tossed into an oil-filled wok for a minute or two, just to reheat and re-crisp. And they are crisp, or at least mine was. A thin layer of panko crunch gives way to a softer dough layer, and then the hot dog. The condiment of choice here is ketchup. Salty, crunchy, greasy. Not the best hot dog, but fun on a stick.
150-51 Northern Boulevard, Flushing (map)
Hot dog buns can be had at many, many Chinese bakeries across the city. I choose Taipan in Flushing (having also stopped at Fay Da Bakery, but they were already sold out of their hot dog buns). So simple, and yet so good. An eggy, impossibly soft roll encasing a plump hot dog. Again, not the highest quality hot dog, but a hot dog nonetheless. And for $1.00, an inexpensive and filling snack. What's not to like?
37-25 Main Street, Flushing (map)
The last of the sauce-less dogs, Knish Nosh's franks in a blanket are wrapped in knish dough and baked. They aren't much to look at, but the kosher frank (no pig in this blanket) was the highest quality and best tasting hot dog I ate all day. Strong beef flavor, classic taste; the thin pastry wrapping did not distract from the main meat event. Not the most exciting variation, but a good representation of a classic kosher dog, outside of a bun.
107-30 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills (map)
San Antonio Bakery 2
If all Chilean hot dogs are like the ones at San Antonio, that'd be enough for me to fly to Chile and eat more. Seriously good stuff. The hot dog is nestled in a freshly toasted and particularly good bun, topped with sauerkraut, chopped tomatoes, avocado puree, and mayonnaise—then, as if that weren't enough, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce are placed on the table. I chose to forgo the ketchup and mustard, but the hot sauce was great. Vinegar and spice with fresh chopped cilantro and onions.
Warm bun, hot dog, cool, creamy avocado and mayo for the texture/temperature contrast. Fresh red tomatoes, sourness from the cabbage, and then spice and sharpness from the hot sauce—I enjoyed every bite.
36-20 Astoria Boulevard, Astoria (map)
Toda Nossa is very Brasilian. I was greeted in Portuguese (which, unfortunately, I do not speak). But I ordered my hot dog in English and watched, waiting for my food, as one of the waitresses folded piles of green and yellow bandanas, and even donned a green and yellow wig at one point. Interesting.
But even more interesting was the hot dog, once it arrived. The hot dogs (yes, more than one) are split and griddled, and placed on bread that has been smeared with tomato sauce, a slice of melty cheese on both sides, a sprinkling of crunchy potato sticks, and a handful of corn kernels. Then the whole concoction is pressed flat and grilled. It sounds strange, but it somehow works.
The hot dogs are charred and smoky, the corn adds crunch and sweetness, the potato sticks are crisp and mild, the tomato sauce is smooth, and the cheese rounds it all out. They also placed squeeze bottles of ketchup and mayo on the table, but the sandwich was enough excitement without them. This was the most unique hot dog preparation of the day, and the most expensive.
44-04 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11103 (map)
Colombian hot dogs are so over the top that it's almost impossible not to love them. There is much already written about these delightful dogs, so I had only planned on going to one of the many hot dog/burger/arepa places on Northern Boulevard for this particular post. But I did not love Xtasis' hot dog.
The Perro Xtasis that I ordered had, aside from the dog and the bun: bacon, cheese, crushed potato chips and five sauces. The problem that I had with the dog was caused by the placement of the toppings. The bacon was fine, the small pieces were salty and crispy—but four of the five sauces (which I was barely able to identify as yellow mustard, green mayo, pink mayo, and maybe ketchup) were first squeezed onto the bacon-topped dog, then the chips, then a sweet yellow pineapple sauce, and finally a square of American cheese, which was melted on top of the whole thing. The cheese became plastic-like and shiny, which made the chips soggy, and the whole thing tasted like yellow mustard. I don't want to give up on Xtasis, but left with a bad taste in my mouth, so I decided to walk over to La Perrada de Chalo.
Price: $3.00 plus tax
82-12 Northern Boulevard, Jackson Heights (map)
La Perrada de Chalo
Now this is the Colombian perro that I know and love. The Showy, my personal favorite, is done in just the right way so that the chips remain crunchy, and the sauces highlight, and don't detract from the hot dog flavor.
The Showy has: bologna bits, onions, cheese, crushed chips, ketchup, green sauce, pink sauce, and pineapple. Everything is evenly distributed so that each bite has some crunch from the finely crushed chips, sweetness from ketchup and pineapple, an herb-y element from the green sauce, melted cheese that's evenly distributed around the hot dog, salt and snap from the hot dog and bologna (somewhat redundant, but why not?), creaminess from the pink mayo sauce, and the soft steamed bun as a base. Why does it work at La Perrada? It's all about placement and distribution. So much going on, but the ingredients don't fight, they harmonize.
83-12 Northern Boulevard, Jackson Heights (map)
The one thing that I could not find, and would love to, was a Mexican-style hot dog. Either the bacon-wrapped Northern Mexican kind or the kind with sour cream, tomatoes, and pickled jalapenos. I also went twice to Hot-Dog & Coffee, (150-46 Northern Boulevard, across from Hanyang), but they did not have their kimchi bulgogi hot dog either time.
Next week I'll be exploring the world of chopped hot dogs, but I know there must be more whole dog delights out there, so I need your help, Serious Eaters. Where else do you find your favorite fusion hot dog?