The Weekly Eater


Sunday, July 29, 2001

Jarrod Takesue, left, parks his hot dog cart, Jake's, on Pohukaina Street.

A few days remain
to make the most of
Hot Dog Month

DON'T USE KETCHUP on your hot dog after the age of 18, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council advises on its Web site. That's because surveyors have found that most adults nationwide prefer the taste of mustard, according to Josee Daoust, public affairs manager for the Virginia-based organization. I suppose, the theory goes, that after a certain age we should set aside childhood's inexplicable passions in favor of more worldly, exotic flavor sensations.

Rules, schmools, go ahead and eat those dogs any way you please, for what are hot dogs but a portal to childhood? Those were the days when the little wieners were part of every memory: the ambience of school lunches (pigs in a blanket!), movie theaters, trips to the zoo, ball games and backyard barbecues. And who didn't know the lyrics to the Oscar Mayer wiener song?

Hot dogs became the first food I could cook all by myself, rolling them around in boiling water so they would cook on all four sides, squared from being packed so snug in their plastic wrapper. They were the No. 1 food at home on the days Dad was in charge of lunch, with instant saimin as the second runner-up and takeout pizza from Shakey's in at No. 3.

Takesue's all-beef and Polish dogs get dressed with your choice
of mustard, ketchup, onions, relish and sauerkraut.

And such innocent times they were, before the poor hot dog became the butt of jokes about pig snouts and tails, before it became a phallic symbol. Get your mind out of the gutter now, for these are the last few days of National Hot Dog Month, and some people would like to celebrate without the guffaws.

>> At Dixie Grill they're celebrating by offering chili-topped mini-dogs in buns at $3.95 for two, $5.95 for three with french fries and $15 for a dozen. The 3-inch all-beef mini-dogs are cute as a pig's ear, but I'm afraid that in this case, size does matter. With all that chili on top, you just can't taste the main attraction. Besides, once they sit you down with that huge menu, you'll likely be distracted by the beer-batter fish and chips ($8.75), garlic-and-onion-tossed soybeans ($4.95) and ribs ($11.95-$17.95).

>> Do you ever feel like you're so old, parts of your own life seem surreal? That's how I feel about dancing my way through the disco era by night and sizzling on the beach by day. My friends and I worked up an appetite lying in the sun, and we'd hit Ala Moana Center in search of sustenance in the days before the food court was invented. Our only choices were Patti's Chinese Kitchen, Lyn's Delicatessen, McDonald's, Little Sicily and Orange Julius, where we gravitated to strawberry Juliuses, teri burgers or chili dogs. The fresh-diced onions made the latter dish, and still do, although at $3.19 it's a little more than we paid back then.

I had forgotten all about this until a friend talked about the Orange Julius pizza dog he finds "messy." True, the pizza dog is slathered in a mild tomato sauce, then layered in pepperoni and mozzarella that melts from a short stint in a steamer, but spills are really no problem for anyone who can master use of a knife and fork, which, by the way, breaks another of the NHDSC rules about using hands only.

>> Meanwhile, on Pohukaina Street, just past Pipeline Cafe if Ward-bound, Jarrod Takesue has set up a little cart named Jake's, where he offers a choice of all-beef or Polish sausage dogs, also known as the part-pork, part-beef, mildly spicy kielbasa. A single dog is $2.25. Add chips and a soft drink, and it's $3.25. Add another dog and it's $4.75.

He's there weekdays from about 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is one of the many vendors who seem to have been inspired by Costco's success in renewing the dog's popularity. Just when we thought we outgrew them, Costco packaged the dog with a soft drink and all the condiments you could pile on, and had people lining up as many as 50 bodies at a time. They still do, for a mere $1.56.

The other solo vendors seem to come and go, and if you're so inclined, the NHDSC will even lead you to cart vendors so that you, too, can make the move from being hot dog consumer to entrepreneurial top dog.

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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

very good, exceeds expectations;
below average.

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