Fancy hot dogs have gone global with Dognation.
Well, you won’t just find the American or German style hot dogs that you’d normally expect – Dognation offers you a Japanese dog, a Mexican dog, a British dog. Even Melbourne gets its own dog (yes there’s beetroot in it).
This tiny hole in the wall hot dog stand does brisk business in its lunch hour with its fancy snags, all under $9. Just line up, choose your bread, choose your dog and then see whether you’re lucky enough to snag (pun intended) a seat at one of two tiny tables edging The Causeway.
The simple sausage-in-a-bun concept belies the attention to detail that have gone into these hot dogs. Each sausage and its accompaniments have been designed from scratch (though the Berlin dog is the most traditional). The bread is from Schwob’s and made to Dognation’s exact specifications so that the sausage is resting snugly inside the bun – no dangling overhanging ends, no mouthful of dough and no dog. The lean sausages are handmade using their unique recipes by Hansa, Mordiallic butchers and continental smallgoods specialists.
They’ve even tested whether or not to divide their hot dogs in half when serving them (nope- they’ve decided to preserve the integrity of the original hot dog look).
Dognation also serve matching soft drinks from each country and there’s a reason they don’t serve chips. Not only do they not have room for a deep fryer, they deliberately didn’t want to get into a ‘best chips in Melbourne’ competition when their focus is quality hot dogs. So instead they provide a side of mashed potato with gravy ($2.90) if you need some starch with your meal. And it’s not even that unhealthy – apparently only 200g of butter goes into 3 kg of potatoes, plus some milk, salt and pepper.
I tried their most unusual hot dog – the Tokyo dog ($8.90) – plus a bottle of fabulously artificial Barbie-pink peach lemonade from Japan ($3.50). Never before have I seen seaweed in a hot dog and the Tokyo dog is a juicy pork and beef sausage wrapped in seaweed and topped with miso mushrooms, a kicking wasabi infused Kewpie mayo, okonomiyaki sauce (not sure what that was) and garnished with nori flakes. It is gloriously messy, sticky and hot on the tongue and a hot dog worthy of a return trip because you won’t be able to get it anywhere else.
The Ramune certainly had novelty value. In order to drink it you have to go through a semi-complex manoeuvre involving popping the lid, pushing a glass ball inside the bottle, fizziness and uncapping. Anyway, it’s fun to drink.
I was fully intending to try a second hot dog but was too full for even a taste of potato mash. For my return visit I’ve got my eye on the Mexico City Chilli Dog which contains beans inside the sausage. And I’m going to have a bottle of Bionade, an organic soft drink that I became familiar with during my visits to Germany and which has only just launched in Australia, with Dognation being their first retailer.
Come July Dognation are intending to get into the Olympics spirit with their hot dogs – maybe a challenge to eat each style of hot dogs in one sitting (finishing with the London dog, of course). Anyone who can eat five of their hot dogs in one go will certainly deserve a gold medal!
Mon – Sun: 11:00am-3:00 pm
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