Saturday, February 6, 2010

“A Hole Lot of Flavor”: Puka Dog Waikiki

Oh, Puka Dogs—I traveled across oceans to eat you, to taste your delicious meat slathered in tropical relishes and spicy sauces all wrapped up in a toasted bun. For weeks before going to Hawaii, I dreamed of you Puka Dog. I talked about the moment when I would finally wrap my lips around you. After arriving I was tempted several times to venture to your little stand, but I resisted temptation until I had company to join me.

And then the day came, and you were everything I’d dreamed of. Some of you may remember that my motivation for trying Puka Dogs was from witnessing my culinary traveler hero, Anthony Bourdain, eat one on his No Reservations show in Hawaii. When I found out that there was a Puka Dog just minutes away from my hotel, I knew it was destiny.
As soon as my boyfriend arrived fresh off the plane, I dragged him over to the Waikiki Town Center so we could try our first Puka Dog together. Interestingly, the meat was not a typical hot dog, but it was a polish sausage. They also had a vegetarian dog option, but we both went for the polish sausage. On mine I got Hot Chili Pepper sauce, Kuai Special (mango) relish, and Lilikoi mustard. My boyfriend got the Garlic Lemon Original Secret Sauce and guava mustard.
So here’s genius of the Puka Dog—first of all, puka means hole in Hawaiian. Imagine taking a hot dog bun, but instead of slicing it down the middle creating a hole in the center. The bun is actually impaled on these spiky metal rods that put a hole in the bun and toast it from the inside. Then the sauce is squirted into the hole. The dog is inserted and it’s topped off again with some sauce. So you end up with a completely encased dog. This method could save the hot dog problems of the world—no more mustard, ketchup, or relish spilling everywhere! You could walk down the street chowing down on one of these dogs without a care in the world.
And the taste is absolutely delicious. The meat was definitely better than mystery meat hot dog (though that has its place in the food world as well). And the sauces were amazing. Whether you like spicy or mild, you can have your pick. First you start of with the Garlic Lemon Secret Sauce, which comes in Mild Original, Spicy Jalapeno, Hot Chili Pepper, and Hot Hot Habanero. Then comes one of the amazing tropical relishes—Kuai Special (mango), Pineapple Field (pineapple), Polihale Sunset (papaya), Coconut Beach (coconut), Waimea Canyon (banana), and Na Pali Cruise (star fruit). If you’d rather go for traditional rather than tropical flavors, you can also get ketchup, mustard (yellow, Dijon, or Hawaiian Lilikoi), and Guava sweet pickle relish. The sauces I tried were wonderful—even though they are fruit based, they are not overly sweet and the Puka Dog maintains a nice, savory flavor.
Until the rest of the world realizes the amazingness of the Puka Dog, it looks like you’ll have to travel to Hawaii to try one out. And it’s completely worth it.
You can check out their Web site here:

Puka Dog (Waikiki Town Center) on Urbanspoon

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