Dog Fight

The humble hotdog, I have to be straight up here and just come out and say I've never been a huge fat of a traditional hotdog, the texture of this boiled meat that is stuffed into some kinda filthy skin dervied from the intestinal tract of an animal that I don't usually eat the 'good' parts from was just not an appealing or appetising prospect for me. However in recent years with the general awareness of fast and junk foods and the reactions of the industries to try and respond to this awareness and alertness from the general consumer by removing lots of chemicals and additives from the food manufacting process, making meat products that come off an assembly line contain actual parts of an animal that you may want to eat is a big step, and the hotdog has also benefited from this revolution. Don't get me wrong, there are of course hotdogs that are still made from lips and arse and they would be the better ingredients in them, but along side this there are many hotdogs that are made from actual proper cuts of beef and other animals that are used by outfits that want to provide a quality hot dog experience and charge appropriately for that experience. I actually fell in love with this concept many years ago, it must have been around the early to mid nineties and it was from an establishment called Ruebens street food, this store was very inconveniently located in the international terminal of Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport, luckily it was before customs so you could waltz on in as an ordinary, non-flying member of the public and go to the food court to feast on these delicious dogs.

Fatman and I used to go mental here, perhaps once a fortnight we'd go for a mission, jumping into the two4two and cruising down to the airport, which at that time was alot less policed, and I mean from a parking perspective, you could easily stop outside for five minutes race into the food court get a few and get the hell outta there to a much nicer location to feed. The old lady behind the counter must have thought we flew alot but never really bothered making much conversation and just got our usual dogs, a pork and veal for fat man and my usual of a lamb chilli and a pure beef number. However with the relocation of fatman to Prague and my schedule changing bigtime we stopped going and suddenly a short time after they seemed to have closed down and to this day I have not been able to track down another branch anywhere in the world, Ruebens and their amazing grilled dogs seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

Now after twenty years of abstinence, therapy and acceptance that I will not find Ruebens again I'm willing to venture out to see what the hotdog scene is like well into the 21st century. I'll be only trying hotdogs that are claiming to be 100% beef and deliver a somewhat different experience through fresh ingredients. I'll be judging these based on the taste and appearance of the meat and the overall flavour with the bun and condiments. Let the dogfighting begin!

** Best so far - Five Guys **

Posted 14.03.2016

Five Guys - Dubai Marina Mall

Someone reminded me the other day that Five Guys, the makers of a pretty darn good hamburger also do hot dogs, now my initial reaction was nope, not gonna try them, after all this is a proper dog fight, not every man and his dog can be a contender, but I did some research and there's quite alot of fans out there for the hot dog offering by Five Guys, this coupled with my pretty high regard of their burgers sealed the deal. The branch at the Dubai Marina mall is probably the quietest in Dubai, especially for an early lunch, which makes an ideal environment to test in. I ordered the cheese hot dog with jalapenos, relish and onions and added ketchup and mustard. I was also convinced to go a large fries and as they only have soft drinks I opted for a water. It was hard to resist cancelling the whole thing and getting myself a burger, but after I saw the chap on the grill cut the dog into two and place it inside down on the hot plate I was starting to get excited. Another fellow was toasting the bun, which looked pretty small, he then meticiously put on the sauces, onions, relish and jalapeno slices, which looked fresh rather than pickled.

He looked at me watching him and pointed at the dog on the grill then to the bun he had just dressed, giggled and said 'your one, your one', I kinda laffed a bit as nobody else was in the store at that point so it was pretty obvious, anyway at least he was keen. Finally the cheese was put onto the grill for a few seconds, sliced into two, then onto the dog and then transported to the bun where in true Five Guys style was then wrapped in foil and served to me in a brown paper bag that had a ridiculous amount of fries in it. I found a nice corner table and got seated, after unwrapping the dog I have to say, out of all the hot dogs I've had so far in this quest this looked the best, the slightly charred dog, the melted cheese and glistening bun all yell out to you that this shouldn't be eaten, there is nothing good for you here, apart from taste, first bite to last it's hard to put it down, probably coz it's quite a small one too, but here, truly size doesn't matter, this was a very nice hot dog, the bun was perfect, so soft and squishy, the onions had crunch, the relish supported well and the jalapenos, man you could taste them, I honestly don't think these were pickled either, they crunched and really gave a good kick, and despite the dog being butterflied it popped nicely as you bit into it, and its here where this hot dog excels above the others, the fact it had been grilled gave the meat a much nicer texture, sure it was a little less juicy than some others but the flavour was so much more intense. The whole experience kinda shocked me, I didn't expect a hot dog from a place like Five Guys to be as good as it was. The cajun fries were as they always are... fantastic.

Bun 7 | Meat 6.5 | Condiments 7 | Sides 7 | Overall 7

Posted 05.04.2016

The Hot Dog Stand - Dubai Marina

Here I was at the Hot Dog Stand, it's not so much a stand as it is a proper store albeit a smallish one. The menu has a distinct American feel to it, no doubt helped by the fact the first thing you see is the 'Cheese Coney' hot dog, it's one of their three signature hot dogs, it seemed closest to what I wanted to try but I still decided to make my own as it has beef chili, which I think will mask the flavour I'm trying to test. So I ordered a beef hot dog with white onions, relish and jalapenos with shredded cheddar, avoiding all the other choices like nachos and potato sticks, much to the dismay of the order taker. The beef they use is angus, could still be lips and arse though, just off an angus cow, they also offer chicken sausages, I don't want to think where these come from. I also got some of their fries, a beans salad and a traditional lemonade. I saw a young chap come out from out the back and open a container, he fished out this wet sloppy looking sausage and threw it onto a grill!

Needless to say I was quite excited, but not for long, I didn't hear a sizzle or see any smoke, nothing, it was just sitting there on what was perhaps a lukewarm surface. After a short time my meal came to the table, I was instantly shocked at just how much cheese they pack onto this hot dog, I felt like removing some but I didn't want to mess with what they serve up, the beans salad looked decent and the lemonade looked refreshing, I also like the crinkle cut fries, even though they are just the frozen variety. The bun was typically soft like a normal hot dog bun, and straight down the middle you see the hot dog, which again looks pretty typical but leaning toward a better looking one, at least the meat was kinda dark pink and what else is clear is the cheese is really piled on and as it's not melted it feels like it's gonna be too much in the mouth... but it isn't too bad, the first bite with the dog, relish, onions and the ketchup and mustard was pretty decent, I couldnt really taste the jalapenos but I'm glad as I'm not sure why I even asked for them, I didn't want any heat or spice getting in the way here, the sausage again was clean and neat, no complaints apart from the usual wishing for more flavour inside the meat and one that's nicely grilled. Overall quite ok, this hot dog is just as good as 'this is hot dog' and after taking into consideration the bean salad which was really nice, quite tangy and slighty sweet which accompanied the hot dog very well, and the refreshingly cool and not too sweet lemonade I'd say this is a slightly better experience.

Bun 5 | Meat 5 | Condiments 6 | Sides 7 | Overall 6

Posted 30.03.2016

This is Hot Dog - Dubai JLT

I'm not sure if there's any particular claim going on here, apart from the fact they do call themselves 'this is hot dog' perhaps implying anywhere else isn't a proper hot dog? I have also found out that they do in fact grill the dogs on lava stones and are also claiming the beef is 100% grass fed. usual I didn't go with any crazy combinations on the menu, although I will say these guys definitely have a 'cleaner' menu without too much over the top stuff going on, I still however opted for a basic hotdog, which they call the 'Franky' it has ketchup, mustard, sweet relish, cheese, onion and sweet corn, it also has mayonnaise, something I missed when selecting it otherwise I would have definitely told them to hold on that. I made this a meal by choosing fries and a bottle of water, I paid extra and also got a ginger tea, just for something different.

Ten or so minutes later my meal arrives at the table, first impression was it's pretty small, second was those fries look pretty good, as I was cutting it in two I notice how soft the bun was, like a proper hot dog bun, I liked the way it felt alot. The inside of the hot dog looked OK, I mean the inside of a hot dog will never look amazing to me, but this one at least didn't look too bad, and as I took the first bite it also tasted pretty good, a clean, non greasy or grisly feel in the mouth, no funny bits and also, very importantly not slimy, it actually was semi reasonable. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like biting into a moist burger patty or a rare bit of fine steak but for what it was I thought it was nice. The bun honestly does a fantastic job here, adding so much to the experience, together with the cheese, the onions, relish and sauces, I'm actually thinking I would maybe eat this again, and this is when I discovered the mayonnaise, this white sauce at the bottom, I was taken a back for a second before realising that I wasn't even tasting it, with all the other things going on I didn't notice it and that is exactly how I like my mayonnaise. The side of fries were covered in this delicious sprinkling of powder that I had to get extra of as it was so nice and the ginger tea really hit the spot after the meal, almost like it cleansed me from the filth I had just put into my body.

Bun 5 | Meat 5 | Condiments 6 | Sides 6 | Overall 5.5

Posted 15.03.2016

Mustard - Dubai JLT

These guys claim 'The HotDog Revolution' with a many different versions of a hotdog that are customised with various toppings to make up their signature dogs. They use a 100% beef brisket as their hotdog meat, which apparently gives a lighter colour to the sausage, something I had no idea about. Anyway none of the signature dogs interested me, they seemed so packed with other non hotdog type ingredients and condiments that you wouldn't really get the proper taste of the hotdog, now ordinarily that would be a good thing, but not here I want to see how the hotdog has evolved and check out whether I can find anything close the goodness that is Ruebens. So I chose to make my own hotdog, starting with classic white bread, I selected ketchup and mustard with onions, relish and jalapenos. I made it a meal and got their fries which is a mix of normal and sweet potato.

After a little wait my hotdog arrived at the table, it looked neat, packaged in a box, I took it out and cut it in half, immediately noticing the very light pink meat, something that honestly scares me, I confirmed this was infact beef. I got stuck in and the first feeling I had was 'meh'. There's nothing special going on here with the flavour of the hot dogs, it's basically a frankfurter, with that familiar tight plastic skin and extremely processed looking meat inside, I was quite disappointed. So their idea of revolutionary is to use a standard hotdog sausage, load it up with all kinds of toppings and sauces so that you can no longer tell you're eating a filthy boiled piece of meat that is tasteless and boring and suspiciously like a frankfurter in appearance, put it some silly completely unneccesary cardbox box (for eat-in) and serve it with a smile. Nope, sorry, not for me, the only thing revolutionary about this experience was me learning to not go here again.

Bun 3 | Meat 3 | Condiments 4 | Sides 4 | Overall 3.5

Posted 14.03.2016

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