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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 24, 2007

Dog Town: Weiners star at these two new spots

Video: Best of the wurst

By Lesa Griffith
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

At Hank’s Haute Dogs, a large pickle tops the Chicago-style frank with everything on it.

Photos by GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Rating: Three forks out of five (Good)

324 Coral St., between Auahi Street and Ala Moana; 532-4265, www.hankshautedogs.com

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays

Prices: $4.50-$6

Recommended: Andouille, Chicago with the works, veal-and-rabbit special, fries, onion rings, PacifiKool ginger ale


Rating: Two forks out of five (Fair)

Waikiki Town Center, 2301 Kuhio Ave.; 979-2405, www.pukadog.com

10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Puka dog: $6.25

Recommended: Puka dog with mustard, lemonade

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Opening: Wasabi Bistro, which closed for a few months, is now reopened as Wasabi and Nadaman (1006 Kapahulu Ave., at Kaimuki Avenue; 735-2800). Owner Kumi Iseki has partnered with 147-year-old Tokyo restaurant Nadaman, known for its kaiseki cuisine, and which has branches from Malaysia to New York. So look for upscale, "real Japanese cuisine," says Iseki. Hours for now: 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays.

Amazing dish alert: Town has added duck to its menu. The kitchen serves chunks of breast, the skin crisp and the meat moist, in a reduced duck jus with an earthy farro salad.

Event: Mixologist Mark Sullivan, who tended bar at Indigo Eurasian Cuisine, launches his book, "Hawaiian Tropical Cocktails Created with the Fruits of the Islands" (Mutual Publishing), from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Holokai Grill (Waikiki Beach Walk; 924-7245). Sample Sullivan's creations and chef Eldon Ricardo's matching pupu.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Tiana Hand serves a customer, while Michael Adaniya and Ashley Brooks (farthest back) cook at Hank’s Haute Dogs.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hank’s Haute Dogs owner Henry Adaniya.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dominic Green adds liliko'i mustard to a Puka Dog.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Puka Dog buns are toasted from the inside on a custom-made machine designed by owners Rick and Dominique Quinette.

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Eight years ago, a hot-dog renaissance started in New York, with places such as Crif Dogs and F&B Gudtfood putting the spotlight on the weiner. Each had it's own selling point — lauded Thumann's dogs "imported" from New Jersey, house-baked buns, Scandinavian style. And the trend has spread.

With the opening of two new wiener spots, Honolulu is set to be the latest Dog Town. But in a city where Costco has become a destination for its $1.50 hot dogs, can the upscale tube steak find a home?


Henry Adaniya is a name — as the owner of the critically acclaimed Trio in Evanston, Ill., he made national food news. His restaurant was the launching pad for star chefs Rick Tramonto and Grant Achatz. But after 12 years of setting dining benchmarks, he closed its doors and moved to Honolulu last year — to get into the hot-dog business.

Although he was born in California and raised in Chicago, the change is a return to his roots, in a way. His parents ran a hot-dog stand in Waikiki in the 1940s, before decamping to the Mainland.

Adaniya's upscale experience is apparent in his new place. The whimsical logo (by hot Chinatown ad shop Wall-to-Wall), custom packaging and slick Web site speak volumes about his restaurant savvy — all the necessary elements to make an eatery fly from Day 1 are in place. The space is kitted out in budget materials — two-by-fours, corrugated iron — in a sparely stylish way. Two walls are lined with counters. Sit at the one looking out onto sun-baked Coral Street, and gazing through the screened window feels so mid-20th century.

And the dogs: Adaniya and his team have gone through zillions of possible combos, settling on the current menu. Leave your Oscar Mayer-and-French's-in-a- marshmallowy-bun preconceptions at the door.

The signature is the Chicago-style dog with the works. Hot dogs are all about the snap — and these Vienna beef versions flown in from Chicago (along with the radioactive-green pickle relish, sport peppers and poppy-seed buns) have a lot of it. The extra-thick casings may cause eaters to make a couple attack-dog head swivels (but also seal in hot-dog juice that drips out when you bit into it).

It's a great classic hot dog, but where Adaniya wins best in show is with his sausages — andouille, chorizo, Polish, chicken, and daily specials such as a veal-and-rabbit number from Canada — all served in buns baked by Bale.

Adaniya freely admits he's borrowed the concept from Chicago eatery Hot Doug's, opened by Doug Sohn three years ago. The place is known for its Chicago-style dogs and exotic sausage compositions such as smoked shrimp-and-pork sausage with caper-roasted garlic butter and smoked gouda cheese.

"We emulated the same kind of thing. I've talked to Doug many times and borrowed things from him, not only in the product but in the manner you do business — it's done with pure joy."

Seeing Adaniya in the open kitchen preparing hot dogs with his son, Michael, and his son's girlfriend, Ashley Brooks, it looks like good times.

Best is the andouille — gooey, sweet sauteed onions balance the spice of the Cajun classic (that's made in San Francisco). Reportedly, it's Alan Wong's favorite — he likes it topped with sauerkraut.

The chorizo has a nice addition of fresh Chinese parsley sprinkled on top, and the veal-and-rabbit special is subtle sophistication with house-made green tomato relish. (Future specials to look for: duck sausage and foie gras, and seafood sausage with miso mayo and daikon relish.)

The one disappointment is the chili dog — the Vienna beef makes a nice base, but "Hank's recipe" for chili is extra tame.

There's a "no dog" on the menu — avocado and stuff — but this reviewer didn't bite because, really, what's the point? It's just an escape hatch in case you have a pitiful vegetarian in your crew.

Forget about bypassing the sides. You're eating hot dogs, for chrissake — now's not the time to count calories. The fries are tied for the best in town (with Cassis by Chef Mavro). Adaniya says it's a two-day process making the Belgian-style frites — crisp batons that make one yearn for a little flatiron steak on the side. (Dip them in curry ketchup, 50 cents extra.) And for once, there's more onion than batter in the crunchy Maui onion rings.

Judging by the number of burly guys in rubber slippers standing in line for a Chicago dog or Portuguese sausage, imaginative ingredients and hot-dog soul just may trump Costco price-cutters.


While Adaniya glamorizes the dog, Rick and Dominique Quinette have reinvented it. The couple designed their own dog-and-bun heating machine, made by a Mainland company that also constructs stuff for McDonald's.

Started on Kaua'i, Puka Dogs are a cult favorite on the Garden Isle and have been featured on the Food Network. The company opened its first O'ahu location in the seen-better-days Waikiki Town Center last month.

Buns, mini loaves baked from Dominique's European recipe in Mapunapuna, are impaled on one of 10 heated spikes on top of the machine, which looks like a medieval torture instrument. Underneath, the Polish sausages roll through a grilling tunnel. While the meat cooks, the bun, now warm from the inside out, is filled with three different kinds of sauce — you choose a secret sauce (garlic-lemon that runs from mild to "hot hot"), pick a "relish" (such as mango, banana or star fruit — all house-made with real fruit) then finally a mustard — yellow, Dijon or Hawaiian (liliko'i or guava). The "relishes" are so syrupy that they flow out of a row of red taps.

The flavors may seem outrageously incompatible, but if you like a sweet-and-savory combination (like sweet-and-sour pork or Roy's fruit-glazed ribs), you'll like the Puka Dog. The signature mix is original garlic-lemon secret sauce, mango relish and liliko'i ketchup — it's like dessert and lunch in one bun.

The thing is, the flavorful Polish dog (there's also a veggie dog) from Utah's John Morrell is grilled to such perfection — even though it's skinless, it comes out of the machine with a nice crust — it's good with just a touch of mustard.

One things isn't up for discussion: The fresh lemonade —squeezed and mixed before your eyes — is the best in town.

Reach Lesa Griffith at lgriffith@honoluluadvertiser.com.