hot dog

Seoul Sausage had humble beginnings –Simple Korean BBQ sausage street vendors turned reality TV competition stars pretty much sums it up. The Great Food Truck Race season 3 winners immediately gained popularity, and in 2012, they opened up a small shop in Little Osaka on Sawtelle. Serving up their popular Korean BBQ style sausages and street food, the food is innovative and exciting. Never have I imagined Korean BBQ to be stuffed inside a sausage.

It is a sausage company after all, and I had my eye on the spicy pork. The Handmade Korean BBQ pork sausage was flavorful. It had great pork flavor, but a bit on the mild side. I am used to sausage that is salty and full of flavor. This just tasted more like spicy pork inside a tube casing, which by the way was missing the snap of good sausage. It definitely need just a pinch more salt and way more spice. I did enjoy the apple cabbage cole slaw though. It was fresh and gave it that crunch it needed. Served on a toasted soft roll, this was an interesting experience. Never would I have thought that Korean dishes would make its way into a sausage.

The flaming ball was a genius idea. I choose the kimchi fried rice ball. Inside was a cheesy kimchi fried rice with spicy pork served with DMZ sauce. This sauce was perfect — it is a garlic jalapeno kimchi sriracha aioli that went well with the slightly spicy kimchi fried rice. The outer fried batter held everything together. The fried rice inside was pretty standard, but the mixture of the crunchy outside and killer DMZ sauce made everything work together. It was a nice little snack.

The shop is small and only has limited outdoor seating. Situated on Sawtelle and Mississippi, it sits at the bottom of an apartment/condo. The food choices are limited, but with the addition of a fried chicken dish (Da KFC), and galbi poutine, hungry customers should be satisfied. If you’re hungry, or just looking for a little snack, Seoul Sausage Co. has just the right fix. This is what LA is all about — a mashup of ideas and cuisine that creates a fusion of food from different regions. Seoul Sausage Co. hits home for me because of my Korean roots, and spins it in such a way that something so familiar is transformed into something brand new. Creativity is the key, and Los Angeles is the most accepting of anything new.

Seoul Sausage Company on Urbanspoon

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The first Portillo’s hot dog stand known as “The Dog House” opened in 1963. The small trailer with dedication from the ownder to serving “the best food” and “the best service” available grew to such an institution today. Having a Portillo’s in the relatively close city of Buena Park, it is always a treat, Probably the coolest place in Buena Park, Portillo’s is always a spot for a fun environment and classic American fare. Everyone loves a good joint where health gets thrown out the window. Being the new year and all, I had a combination of healthy and “real” food. Overall, it was an awesome experience.

The hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches at Portillo’s don’t scream healthy healthy, so I opted to start off with a salad. I know. Something is changing insdie of me. Maybe it’s the new year that is making me make these “right” decisions. Their chopped salad was quite surprisingly good. The iceberg and romaine lettuce was chopped finely. It was tossed with cubed chicken, gorgonzola cheese, red cabbage, pasta, tomatoes, bacon, green onions and house dressing. The mixture made for a delicious salad that was somewhat healthy. The gorgonzola popped with flavor and the pasta inside gave it some substanance. The finely chopped greens made this salad easy to eat. Delicious!

At Portillo’s, they have an Italian Beef with Italaian sausage sandwich. This had both thinly sliced, succulent beef with Italian sausage on top. I got the salad just so I can eat this bad boy. Stuffed with either hot or sweet peppers (I opted for the sweet peppers), the sandwich had a lot of pronounced flavor. The Giardiniera on top finshed this sandwich off nicely. The beef with the zesty Giadiniera made this sandwich a top pick. Yeah, I didn’t get the hot dog at Portillo’s. Personally, their hot dogs aren’t that great. It is all about the Italian beef and sausage. Because of the Italian sausage, I ate this more like a hot dog than anything else. A little mustard on top to cut the fat, and I was all smiles.

I really wanted to get the cheese fries. The cheese fries was just french fries with a side of cheese sauce. What is better than french fries that a side of cheese sauce? Gravy, maybe? I settled for some onion rings. I haven’t had it in a while and I thought it would go nicely with my beef and sausage sandwich. I was right! The onions rings really hit the spot. It was crunchy and full of flavor. The cheese fries can wait for next time.

Portillo’s is a really chill spot. The food is greasy and delicious, and the price is reasonable. Inside and out, the design of it all is unique and fun. On the day that I went, there was a small group of old school cars parked outside. Car club? Just to go to this awesome eatery with a cool vibe made my experience special. Food and all, this is one of my favorite Orange County picks for good eats.

Portillo's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

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The hot dog — it is such a simple thing, and everyone loves them. For me, I always liked it simple. A nice steamed bun, good quality all beef dog, and a little bit of mustard and onions – simple and delicious is all I needed. No ketchup please. Once I met Dog Haus in Alhambra, it all changed. I realized, new waves are coming through and my old school classic hot dog combination was no longer king. Dog Haus makes some crazy creations with both their hot dogs and burgers. Burgers being a close cousin to the hot dog, it was naturally an item on their menu. The best part about Dog haus is that their hot dog and hamburger buns are all made from King’s Hawaiian bread. Genius! The familiar bread rolls mixed with awesome ingredients make for good eats.

My whole life, all I knew was mustard and onions. Dog Hauses Old Town Dog changed my life and it changed the way I see hot dogs. This massive thing had a bacon wrapped 1/4 lb. dog, caramelized onions, sautéed spicy peppers, chipotle mayo, cotija cheese. Not only was it large in size, it was huge in flavor. The bacon wrapped hot dog was so LA, and so delicious. Smothered in caramelized onions, and spicy peppers, it had a nice crunch and bite to it. The chiopotle mayo gave it a nice smokey flavor and the cotija cheese was a nice touch in my opinion — it gave it that nice salty flavor and made everything perfect.

Put blue cheese on a burger, and call me happy. Add bacon on top of that, and you own me. The Blutarsky hands down has to be the best burger they offer. It’s not on their regular menu yet but I hope they put it on the menu permanently — this burger is bomb, my favorite Dog Haus burger hands down. I’m just a sucker for blue cheese, maybe that’s why. But this burger, with the patty, bacon, bleu cheese, and arugula, it has a great flavor. DO TRY. Blutarsky from Animal House, John Belushi’s character had a lot to do with this thing I suppose. Nonetheless, if you are a blue cheese fan, and a bacon lover, and just a fan of a good burger, get this one.

At Dog Haus, you can kind of guess that they like to do things a little different. They have fries, but why get regular fries when you can get tater tots! Yeah. Remember those yummy little nuggets of crunchy, greasy potato clusters? They got those! You can even put them in your pocket and eat them later (Napoleon Dynomite). All kidding aside, the tots were too reminiscent of elementary cafeteria days that they were impossible to dismiss. They were crunchy and crispy. I even dipped it in ketchup, and I’m not even a fan of ketchup. I guess holding onto that memory as a kid was more important.

Dog Haus is an awesome spot. Their food is familiar done in a radical and new way. I mean, the King’s Hawaiian buns are amazing in it of itself. The flavors are on point and the price is just right. Come here for exactly that — the Blutarsky, Old Town Dog, and tots. What more can you ask for?

Dog Haus on Urbanspoon

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This by far is the most interesting food truck I ever came across. Not that the food truck looked different, but I guess it was because they served Singaporean food. I never really had Singaporean food so this was interesting to me. The flavors and style of the food was unique enough to the point where I just had to try it. Natively located in Orange County, the truck can be found all around OC for lunch and dinner.

I saw softshell crab on the menu and instantly knew that I had to order it. Fried too? Score! The softshell crab sandwich was seasoned with Singapore Chili and spices. It was topped with a sweet chili crab sauce and Tiger Slaw. Served with a side of Raffles root chips, the sandwich was near perfect. I wish the softshell crab was salted more. The spices and flavors were there — it just lacked the savory taste. The crab though was cooked nicely and had a good texture. The slaw and sauce took away from the crunch a little, but it wasn’t a huge deal. The crunch from the interesting root chips made up for that.

The hot dog in it of itself is an amazing thing. You can add or simplify it to however you want — it is a vessel that can handle anything — a blank slate. I have had some great hot dogs, and I usually prefer the simple kind. A little mustard, onions, and sauerkraut. Think Costco. When I ordered the Hawker Dog at Comp Comp Nation, I wasn’t expecting this. The flavor was so different and so unique — I never had anything like this before. The tiger slaw has 10 fresh ingredients, some of which are cilantro, lime, and chili dressing. The crispy slaw mixed with the meat mix inside and the hot dog made for a nice balance of taste and texture. This is what a $5 hot dog tastes like.

The Singaporean food at Chomp Chomp Nation surprised me. The taste was unique and balanced. Though not traditionally Singaporean, meaning not heavy on the rice and meat style dishes, the “burger” and “hot dog” approach was nice. It made for a nice vessel to try the food. If you ever find or come across this truck, take a chance.

Chomp Chomp Nation (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

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After having my first Dog Haus experience at the Alhambra location, I had to see the place where they serve alcohol. The vibe inside is geared towards the drinking crowd. There were TVs everywhere, it’s dark, and there was alcohol everywhere. Not a big drinker by any means, I took advantage of their happy hour menu. I came here for the delicious sliders. I mean, making sliders on King’s Hawaiian bread is pretty standard nowadays, but Dog Haus seems to get it right each time.

Their sliders are so simple, but so delicious. I crave them. With only a beef patty, cheese, mayo, and grilled onions, these mini burgers don’t seem special, but they are. The beef patty is fully cooked all the way through, something I usually dislike. Surprisingly, the meat still retained its juciness. It was the juciest well done burger ever! You must be thinking to yourself, “well, that means it has a lot of fat”. Well, yes it was greasy, and it was delicious. The grilled onions were perfect as it gave it a nice crunch and savory flavor. Topped off with melted cheese, it was gooey and crunchy perfection — with a little mustard inside of course.

I was intrigued by their Grand Slam dog, so I ordered one. If the name doesn’t give it away, the Grand Slam dog is their rendition of a breakfast style hot dog. With bacon, hot dog, tater tots, and an egg, the whole thing was pretty much breakfast on top of a hot dog. It was tasty on its own, but together wasn’t anything special. The egg was awkward just sitting on top, and the bacon and hot dog clashed a bit. The addition of the tater tots, which were soggy inside, was just too much starch. A little sauce could have helped a lot on this, maybe I should have put some ketchup on top. I know, I hate putting ketchup on a hot dog. Maybe my stubbornness made this one not as tasty, but I will never put ketchup on a hot dog. Never!

One interesting thing I had was the sweet potato tots. If the name doesn’t suggest it enough, these are tater tots made with sweet potato. Genius! If sweet potato fries are popular, sweet potato tots are sure to be a hit. You know how sweet potato fries are never really that crunchy? The story doesn’t change for the tots. Though fried, it still never got crispy on the outside like their normal tater tots. It was a bit mushy and wet inside. The taste was very mild — not too sweet, not too savory. A nice sauce, maybe ranch or some kind of cinnamon pumpkin dip would have been perfect. Still worth a try I guess.

Having a Dog Haus in Alhambra was a blessing. I mean, yes, it is only a few minutes away, but the drive to Pasadena can be annoying. When you are in need of a drink though, Dog Haus Biergarten is the only one that serves alcohol. The atmosphere and vibe there is more about drinks than food, which isn’t a bad thing. They offer the same goodness as Dog Haus in Pasadena and Alhambra, but with the convenience of a bar. I’m sure there are a lot of happy hungry people out there.

Dog Haus Biergarten on Urbanspoon

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The Pint House – Oktobeerfest Is On And Poppin’

by Franklin on October 25, 2011

I was in Downtown Fullerton, and I came across The Pint House.  From the back, where the parking is, there were lights outside streaming across the dining area. There was a smokey smell coming from this place and it looked nice.  We wanted to give it a try.

The inside was like an upscale pub with a bar and nice seating area.  I was surprised to see all of the prices so low.  The interior was really nice.  You can get the nice quiet and quaint inside or the live music filled air, a little rowdy outside. Check the bottom for the video of the live band playing fun German style music.

Lucky for us, Oktobeerfest was going on.  Every Sunday in October, from 4 to 8, they had a special going on for food.  $6 got you parmasan fries and a bratwurst, and all appetizers were 25% off.  Awesome if you ask me.

The bratwurst was really tasty.  It was juicy on the inside and it had a nice snap. I did not like the bread they used — too much bread for the amount of sausage.  Also, the bread was a bit chewy.  I kind of liked the chewiness, though others might not like it.  The parmasan fries were tasty as well.  It was nicely seasoned and the cheese was a great addition.  For 6 bucks, you would expect just regular fries, but the fact that they give you parmasan fries was a plus.

What is better with bratwurst than some beer.  We ordered a beer in the take home pint class mug. They surprised us with any kind of beer, but we had an inkling it was Blue Moon.  We got to take home the mug as a souvenir.

You can also substitute the parasan fries for onion rings.  Their onion rings were surprisingly tasty.  The batter was light, and the flavor was definitely there.  Dipping it in the ranch dressing was great.  I was expecting maybe 6 to 8 pieces, but the plate was filled with onion rings.  This too was only 6 bucks. Amazing.

We were a bit hungry so we ordered the cheese quesadilla.  This was only 5 bucks, plus 25% off.  That is less that 5 bucks, if my math is correct.  The quesadilla was supposedly grilled, but that was not the good part.  Their fire roasted salsa was amazing.  It made this normal quesadilla taste so much better. A quesadilla is a  quesadilla — melted cheese between tortillas.  The fire roasted salsa had a deep dark color from the char, and it was amazingly delicious. If not, I would come again just for that salsa.
I was surprised at this place.  The menu was was impressive and the prices for the Sunday Oktobeerfest was even more appealing. What was cool to me was the live band playing Planning where to eat isn’t the best.  You sometimes stumble upon something new and something great.  I tried The Pint House, and I was happy to find their menu to be tasty and cheap.  The food was delicious and the salsa was memorable.

The Pint House on Urbanspoon

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It took 80 years for Papaya King to come to the West Coast.  Anyone who lives in New York knows what Papaya King is all about.  This is their right of passage.  The Hot Dog of NYC. It went through countless years of media, press, and New York culture, and here it is now.  Just a few minutes drive to Hollywood, California, and there it was.  Go all the way to New York for some authentic NY hot dogs?  No thanks.

As a die hard Southern Californian, and a die hard Pink’s fan, I had to see what all the fuss was about.  In a word, prejudiced.  I don’t know if my California pride or my West Coast ways are clouding my judgment, but this wasn’t fantastic.  Maybe I hyped it up too much in my head. In all honesty, the hot dog was tasty, but nothing really popped.  The NY style onions were too sweet, though I liked the sauerkraut — The chili was a bit salty.  I am just a guy who wants a nice all beef dog with some mustard.  That is it.

I did enjoy the papaya drink.  It was like nothing I have ever had in my life.  It wasn’t too sweet, and the bits of papaya were really good inside. I felt like I was treating my body right.  It was healthy and delicious.

Look, maybe all of the New York people will be mad at me for not liking Papaya King.  Let me just ask you, do you have massive lines outside of your hot dog stand?

Papaya King on Urbanspoon

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Pink’s hot dog is up with the best of Los Angeles.  When you think of LA, what comes to mind?  Hollywood, beaches, In-n-Out, palm trees.  Somewhere in that list, Pink’s should come up within the top 10. Pink’s is a Hollywood icon, and have been a Los Angeles landmark for years.  By the way, being in Los Angeles all this time, I don’t know how we got the rep of being such a healthy town.

It all started with a man named Paul Pink in 1939.  Back then during the depression, a fully loaded chili dog was only 10 cents.  Started on the corner of La Brea and Melrose, it still stays in the same location after all these years. In 1946, the wagon was sold for a small building, and that building is the same building that is up in present day — In those 50 + years, the building looks exactly the same.  Pink’s is truly a Hollywood landmark.  It became such a famous Hollywood landmark, it even has a wall of fame of famous Hollywood actors.

With Pink’s being so famous and delicious, there is a high demand for this stuff amongst Angelinos. Never have I driven passed Pink’s and not seen a line. The line usually coil around the building, and waiting times are usually almost an hour or more.  Like a good foodie, I waited patiently for my Pink’s hot dog.

As we waited in line, I read the pink menu over and over.  Everything sounded amazing.  I had made my decision.    I wanted the Planet Hollywood dog which included a Polish sausage with grilled onions and mushrooms, bacon, and nacho cheese.  That all went out the door when I saw them making the America the Beautiful dog. This one had a huge 12 inch jalapeno dog, pastrami, bacon, lettuce, and chopped tomatoes.  I’m sorry, but this hungry carnivore patiently waiting wanted his meat.

My girlfriend ordered the sensible Rosie O’Donnell Long Island dog.  This just had mustard, onions, chili, and sauerkraut.  We also had to order the fries, and it was a complete meal.  My meaty, meat on top of meat hot dog made her hot dog look like nothing.  Mine was so covered in meat, I couldn’t even find the bun.  I had such a hard time eating this thing.

But honestly, it wasn’t good.  I was surprised.  I thought I would love it.  It was just too messy and too large.  I couldn’t taste the flavors all together. I either took a bite of the bacon only, pastrami only, mustard and dog only.  I couldn’t enjoy it.  Interestingly, I loved the simple, more sensible hot dog my girlfriend got.

The chili at Pink’s is what they are know for.  The chili and the sauerkraut was so good together.  The chili was thick and delicious. It was something I couldn’t point my finger on.  It wasn’t like a chili you eat with a spoon, it was more like a chili sauce topping.  I always thought that chili at The Hat was top notch, but Pink’s chili is in its own class.  Don’t make the mistake of getting the biggest or the most over the top dog here.  As long as their chili is on it, it will be good. I promise.

Pink’s is a treat for the rich, famous, and for the average Joe.  Eating these hot dogs really is being part of Los Angeles history. Your grandfather ate it, your dad, and you and your kids kids will. It’s was a part of LA and Hollywood, and it always will be.

Pink's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

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Oki-Dog, World Famous

by Franklin on March 18, 2011

World famous you say?  It’s not quite gourmet, nor is it really a classy place to go for a first date — Possibly not classy enough for the next 10 dates.  Before I come off as sounding too snobby, I want to say that this quirky little restaurant is actually famous. Well it is popular among Angelinos. It was popular enough for Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Chanel to eat here – Though, he wasn’t too fond of the Oki-Dog.  As for me?  I do think the Oki Dog is tasty and a good snack, but I wouldn’t eat it as a complete meal.

So what is inside the Oki Dog?  It’s basically chili, cheese, 2 hot dogs, and pastrami, all wrapped inside a flour tortilla.  The chili was really good — It was creamy and smooth.  The hot dog was actually really good.  It had that snap that I really like, and had a nice beef flavor.  The pastrami was good, but it was quite salty.  This burrito dog is rich.  I would probably not want to know how much sodium and fat is in this burrito, which is probably why I only ate half of one.  Either way, this is a guilty pleasure I wouldn’t mind treating myself cautiously.

The inside of the Oki-Dog restaurant is pretty amazingly horrid — I don’t know if I’m saying that this is good or bad.  I’m not talking about the tamed version on Pico either.  You have sketchy furniture, Christmas lights, old school arcade games, and a menu that could possibly have been written by a first grader.  Serves them right to only accept cash.  The truth of the matter is, this is what makes Oki-Dog what it is.  It is as unrefined as it can be, yet the taste is like no other.  This is the only American restaurant I know that serves up more burritos than anything else.  Do they even have a standard carne asada burrito on the menu?  Who cares?  Just give me an Oki-Dog already and leave me alone. :)

Oki-Dog on Urbanspoon

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Berkeley Dog – Casual Gourmet Hot Dogs

by Franklin on February 21, 2011

The hot dog is snack food.  Something about the hot dog is satisfying.  In LA, it’s all about the bacon wrapped hot dogs.  Its fast, its easy, and its somewhat filling.  The hot dog is well known as “mystery meat” — it’s street food.   In Orange County (Brea, CA), they do it a bit differently.  Berkeley Dog in Downtown Brea, it’s a classier approach to the hot dog — it’s gourmet.

I know gourmet and hot dog is hard to use in the same sentence.  I’m the type of guy who will eat a Costco hot dog and say “Wow, this is my favorite hot dog”.  What can I say, I’m a simple man.  With that said, Berkeley Dog’s approach to the gourmet hot dog is refreshing and delicious.  They offer up many variations of the hot dog.  They not only have different toppings, but also have different kinds of sausages.  One look at the menu, and you realize that you won’t be eating an everyday hot dog here.

We tried the bacon hash dog and Philly cheese steak sandwich.  The hot dog was good but I wish the the potato strips were seasoned more (I should have taken advantage of the condiments station.).  The whole hot dog sandwich was kind of bland (I should have ordered one of their other sausages.).  Also, instead of actual strips of bacon, it was tiny bacon bits (real bacon of course).  It would have been nice to have a full strip of bacon, or even wrapped like they do in L.A.    As for the Philly cheese steak, it was flavorful and the cheese was melted nicely.  I’m a sucker for melted cheese.  It was impressive that they were able to do a Philly cheese steak sandwich right considering its a hot dog joint.  All in all, it was a great experience.  Next time, I will have to order some of the regular Berkeley dogs.

The bread they use aren’t regular hot dog bun we are all familiar with — they place each sausage on artisan  bread which gives it substance.  I think this is what sets them apart from other hot dog establishments.  Next time, I will try their sides and definitely get a different hot dog sausage.  It was a mistake to get a regular hot dog at a place where they have various types of sausages.  Until then, I guess I am stuck with Costco hot dogs.

Berkeley Dog on Urbanspoon

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