Corn dogs are best avoided if you can’t help wondering when the actual hot dog last saw the light of day before it was encrypted in a wall of starchy, mysteriously cylindrical corn breading. Last month? Or several millennia ago?
So it was with some trepidation that I ordered the kimchi pancake corndog ($6) at the new eight-seat restaurant and takeout joint Asiadog on Kenmare street. Theirs was no machine-made corn dog, however, but a reassuringly asymmetrical dog, pictured right, much like an actual kimchi pancake would look when recently wrapped around a beef hot dog and deep fried until golden brown. The results were astoundingly delicious, drizzled with a sweet and spicy homemade sauce a lot like the addictive sauce in a good bulgogi.
Asiadog is one of several new storefronts that started as food trucks or flea market stands. Originating as a food stand in the back of a friend’s bar before going on to conquer the Brooklyn Flea and Central Park Summer Stage, Asiadog is a true mash-up in the vein of LA’s Kogi Korean BBQ. The new space with exposed brick walls and birch banquettes isn’t much bigger than a food truck, but the laid-back atmosphere and retro tunes (think old school hip hop and ’80s pop) make it worth angling for a spot at the tables. Another reason to stay inside: this stretch of Kenmare Street is just as grimly industrial as it was in the early ’90s.
For a hot dog place, Asiadog is surprisingly veg-friendly. You can choose from beef, chicken or vegetarian dogs ($4.50 each, two for $8) before adding on with topping choices like he “Mel+Steve,” with Asian sesame slaw, scallions and sesame seeds, the “Wangding,” with Chinese BBQ pork belly – and many more. Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influences are all at play here.
“The Dog,” left at top, a special with Asian slaw and fresh raw edamame, was a fresh and mild alternative to the spicy kimchi pancake corndog. The toppings were quite good, though the dog itself was more chewy than snappy.
On another day, the beef hot dog in the “Vinh,” a banh mi style dog with pork pate and other classic banh mi trimmings, top, was quite snappy and juicy. This time the spiciness of the beef hot dog overwhelmed the subtle taste of the pate, though the sweet pickled carrots and daikon still shone through. If I had to do it over again, I would try the Vinh with a milder chicken dog.
“Ginny,” foreground in the photo above, a hot dog topped with with homemade kimchi and nori flakes, was a real winner. Turns out that vinegary, slow-burning, crunchy kimchi is the best thing that’s happened to hot dogs since sauerkraut, especially when it’s this fresh.
If you need yet another choice, Asiadog even has a Korean BBQ Bulgogi burger ($6) for die-hard burger fans. So no more excuses: With a great variety of dogs at prices this cheap, you can’t afford not to try this place.
66 Kenmare Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets
New York, NY