Friday, August 29, 2008

Hot Dog Happy Hour

Asia Dogs

I visited Trophy, a bar on Broadway in Brooklyn, for a new twist on Happy Hour.

Tuesday night there is "Asia Night," aka Asian hot dog night. Proceed directly to the back yard for an alfresco hot dog extravaganza. Mel and "Tall Steve" have a large grill, buns, and coolers of toppings, as well as a chalkboard listing the available hot dogs that evening (I overheard that the list is pretty much the same each Tuesday, except for one "special" offering that changes from week to week).

It's a good idea that has been well executed. The only weakness, in my eyes, is the exclusion of the turkey dog, but one can hardly expect those to be standard on the grill. It's not that I don't appreciate being given a choice between beef or veggie dogs (or sausage or a burger). It's especially generous of the Asian Night hosts to have a veggie option. It's just that I am not a vegetarian, and while I choose not to eat beef (or pork) hot dogs I also think vegetarian hot dogs taste...well...gross. I've tried around 6 different brands and have only enjoyed vegetarian corn dogs from Morning Star farms. It was pointed out to me that the problem I have with veggie dogs is one of texture, not flavor (and that most brands of veggie hot dogs do not grill prettily or well). The toppings on the Trophy Dogs just can't surmount the veggie dog texture for me, as good as they are. If only there were turkey or chicken dogs available. I guess I'll just have to keep upping my tolerance of sausage.

Still, the dogs we tried varied from good to excellent. All hot dogs are $3 each (but not 2 for $5, as the sign linked to suggested) and "while supplies last" (roughly 8-10pm). It sounded like the veggie dogs ran out before the beef dogs. And, as can be seen in the chalkboard link given above, there are several more options not listed here which I haven't tasted yet.

Ginny (kim chi and seaweed flakes): B
I've had kim chi of the ultra-hot variety before, and I'm not mad at it, but this kim chi tastes more mild and vinegary, which I liked. It's hot without burning the tongue. The seaweed flavor is strong, so if you're not a big fan I'd skip this dog.

Bangkok (mango, red onion, and cucumber): A-
If this had more mango (and was on a turkey dog), I would give it an A+. The onion was strong and crisp, the cumber tasted fresh and clean, and the mango was their perfect foil. More mango, please!

Vinh ("Banh Mi Style"): B+
This should be your choice if you like hot sauce. The spice here gave it that "tastes like burning" je ne sais quoi. It was dark, so I couldn't identify exactly which "Banh Mi" vegetables were included, but they tasted fresh and fine.

Ito (Japanese curry and apples): B-
The curry on this dog was good, but slightly too mild or bland for me. I don't think it needs to be spicier, but it was a little lacking in flavor (and I heard this from friends who ate it on a beef dog as well). And, like the Bangkok dog, it did not look like but tasted like it was short on fruit. The apple is such a good counterpoint to the curry when you do taste it. Needs more apple! Maybe on the bottom of the bun, under the dog?

Finally, Dan and Matt tried what we assumed was the new "special" hot dog, each ordering a beef "Mel and Steve Dog." I can't give this one a grade (I was full + the beef thing), but I did observe the guys eating theirs. They (the hot dogs) looked handsome in the buns and on the plates, covered in Asian slaw, scallion, and sesame as they were. Vinegar and butter were identified as strong flavors, though an opinion that the "butter" flavor may actually have been the richness of sesame was also voiced. "Where would this hot dog be without sesame, I ask you," an enraptured Matt exclaimed at last. Sounds like Mel and Steve could add this one to their regular rotation and have at least one weekly taker.

Update: Apparently, the "Mel and Steve" dog has been on the menu before. Matt, you may be in luck.

p.s. The dogs pictured above are, from left to right, the Ito, the Vinh, The Bangkok, and the Ginny

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