Today the real reason for our trip was fulfilled. Yes, we flew 5500 miles for a hot dog. When we decided to go to Hawaii, Firecracker said things like, “I wanna go horseback riding!” but only one thing came to my mind: Puka Dog, the Hawaiian hot dog joint that Anthony Bourdain went to on his show.
Bourdain also liked Hiram’s, so I knew his hot dog cred was golden. Puka Dog is nestled in the Waikiki town center, at the mall entrance. They have a huge sign now announcing “as seen on the Travel Channel,” and they sell t-shirts and such. But they still serve up a unique and delicious dog.
They do things differently here in Hawaii. For one, the pizza comes with pineapple and Canadian bacon on it, but that’s nothing new. The hot dogs at Puka are Polish sausages, and they are cooked well-done on the rolling metal cooker that they use at Nathan’s and cafeterias. The dog gets a crispy shell of burnt skin, like a weller at Rutt’s. Then there’s the bun- a long soft hollowed-out roll that gets toasted on the inside by a special skewer that looks like a violent dildo.
Then there’s the choices; you can get a veggie dog if you must, and then you choose the heat level of your garlic sauce, from mild to habañero hot. I chose “spicy,” #2 on a level of 4, and it was still very mild. Next time I’ll try the hottest. Then you choose your relish- pineapple, mango, coconut, guava- I think they also have a sweet pickle relish, but why would you get something mundane if you’ve come all the way to Hawaii? Then finally, you choose your mustard, which is golden and seems mixed with mayo, actually. The lilikoi or passion fruit mustard is a lot like sweet mayo and is the perfect topper. Go hog wild. I went for a pineapple-lilikoi.
Your dog might take 5 or 10 minutes to cook this way. I had to run and feed the parking meter, since in Waikiki you get ten minutes for a quarter- like a Magic Fingers bed. I mean, come on. But by the time I got back, the dog was done, and so was the fresh lemonade they make. You know, the kind so fresh there’s half a squeezed lemon and a sediment of sugar in your cup. The best kind there is.
Was the hot dog worth the transcontinental flight? You bet your bippy. The gummy roll is the perfect pocket for the crisp and juicy dog. The toasted inside gives it a real crunch, and they squirt the relish and sauces inside. They tend to collect at the bottom, so you get a volcanic eruption of sweet sauces at the end.
The only bad thing about Puka Dog is that the dogs are so big you might only be able to eat one. I had a cheeseburger for breakfast this morning, so I could only manage one Puka Dog. Next time I’ll have a super-hot one with coconut relish or mango. And that just may be Monday… so Mahalo, Hawaiians, for introducing me to a new hot dog unlike any I’ve had before. They may not be as decadent as Crif Dog’s bacon wrapped franks, but they are one of a kind and bursting with tropical flavor. Like my pants.