Reimagining the Humble Hot Dog

By Beryl Shereshewsky

Jul 19, 2013 5:25pm

The hot dog is an American staple. From New York City’s street dogs to the pickle-speared Chicago dog, we are one nation united under this mystery meat. But, to the chagrin of some and delight of others, this classic is getting a reimagining.

Steve Porto, part owner of AsiaDog in New York, makes hot dogs with Asian-inspired toppings. Steve opened Asia Dog with his partner Mel back in 2008 and it’s taken off. They have their main location in NoLita, are regulars at Brooklyn Flea and can be found slinging dogs near the South Street Seaport come rain or shine.

HT hot dogs nt 130719 16x9 608 Reimagining the Humble Hot Dog

Mel & Steve dog at Asiadog

But you won’t find ketchup and mustard here. With toppings like kimchi, mango relish slaw, pate, pickled daikon and nori flakes, these dogs may not be for everyone. “Some people say it’s the best dog they’ve ever tasted and others say…this is too Asian for me.” What do the hot dog purists of New York think? “They come in and not even looking at the menu, they’ll say yea I want sauerkraut, cooked onions and ketchup and mustard, and we’ll just look at them and be like……we have none of those things.”

Heading to the Upper West Side of Manhattan we find a very different take on the traditional dog. Chef and owner of Ditch Plains, Marc Murphy has forsaken the traditional toppings and gone somehow…more American. “I think most of our customers are used to the regular hot dog and we just wanted to put a different spin on it,” he said. You can get your dogs here topped with either Mac & Cheese or Sloppy Joe mixture.

“Our Ditch Dog was created by mistake. Somebody just decided to put Mac and cheese on top of the hotdog and I tried it and I was like this is great let’s do this!” For the adventurous at heart, Ditch Plains hosts a hot dog eating contest, the champion so far has finished six Ditch Dogs.

Brian Shebairo, part owner of Crif Dogs in the East Village, knows what his customers want. “Here at Crif Dogs we are known for wrapping our dogs in bacon and deep frying them.” The menu boasts over 14 different kinds of hot dogs with toppings like cream cheese, avocado, pineapple and fried eggs. “At first people in New York were a little reluctant to Crift Dogs but then I think the taste spoke for itself.” The menu took over five months to complete and 13 years later, they are still going strong.

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