Street Food: Asia Dog
Asia Dog is no newcomer to the food cart scene. Mel and Steve, owners of the stall started the cart in the summer of 2008; since then, Asia Dog has popped up everywhere from the Brooklyn Flea to a Pavement concert to a bar in Williamsburg.
The concept of Asia Dog is simple: Mel and Steve fuse a classic American dish, the hot dog, with fresh-Asian inspired toppings. Mel is half Chinese; Steve is half Korean; and Asia Dog's flavors are accordingly lifted from several different Asian cuisines, including Thai and Japanese. Asia Dog's menu is also not particularly complicated. You choose your hotdog (beef, chicken, or veggie) and your topping from a big blackboard in front, pay your $4, and enjoy your dog.
The beef hotdog had a definite beefy taste (I appreciated that it tasted like real, once-live meat) in its garden-variety hot dog shape; it took toppings well, neither fading into the background nor overwhelming them.
For the eager meat-eaters, one topping is the Wangding, Chinese barbeque pork belly with cucumber and scallions. Tasted alone, the topping was a bit weak. The pork belly was on the dry side, despite the fact that each piece was sufficiently fatty; the sauce was a little more gelatinous than I would have hoped. Yet in the end, I enjoyed it; eaten all together (as, you know, most food gets eaten), the results were wonderfully meaty and rich. The scallions provided a well-needed touch of green, and the sauce counteracted what would have otherwise been a too-dry bun.
Next time, though, I would favor the Sidney topping, a "Thai-style relish with mango, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, crushed peanuts and fish sauce." Maybe it was just that pickled things and hot dogs are delicious together, but this seemed to me to be an ideal marriage of meat and veggie, heavy and light. The mango gave this hot dog just the right amount of sweetness, and the peanuts added texture and substance.
The Itotopping that made its way onto my veggie dog was more in the vein of the Wangding than the Sidney. Japanese curry with homemade kimchi apples, the Ito's primary recommending quality was that the combination of the sweetness of the kimchi apples and the spiciness of the curry added interest to a veggie dog that was, on its own, only okay.
Asia Dog was a bit hit or miss, but stick with the beef dogs and anything pickled and you'll be good to go.