Thursday, February 18, 2010

Honolulu: Hank's Haute Dogs

We continue our encased meats tour with a stop at Hank's Haute Dogs in Honolulu, HI. Hank's owner, Henry Adaniya, is a prominent restauranteur with a history of launching careers of prominent chefs. One of them being my fav Chef Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea.

In 2006, Henry closed his world-renowned restaurant, Trio, in Evanston, IL to start a consulting business and pursue his life dream of opening a hot dog stand in Hawaii. The concept: An authentic Chicago hot dog, followed by regionally and specialty sausages with exceptional quality.

Sounds good me!

Hank's has two stands on the island. One near the Ala Moana Mall off of Coral St. (named Kaka 'Ako) and another in the International Market Place (IMP) near Waikiki Beach. We decided to drop by both stands since the IMP stand had specialty dogs served at that location (shown above).

By the time we got to the second stand (the following weekend), I got camera lazy and didn't take a photo of the stand (oops!). This post will feature both stands and I will indicate which items were served at what stand.

The first thing I noticed was each location had different menus. The Kaka'Ako location served the Foie Gras dog & duck fries on the weekends and had more specialty drinks. The IMP stand had limited selections but served the Hawaiian dog and Chili Dog. Both stands were CASH ONLY.

I started off with their Lilikoi-Lime Soda (Kaka'Ako stand only). The drink was nice and refreshing. The lime soda was prominent with a hint of lilikoi. I don't drink soda but I made the sacrifice since I LOVE the flavor of Lilikoi (part of the passion fruit family).

Hawaiian Hot Dog (IMP stand)
with pineapple relish, passion fruit mustard and grilled sweet Maui onions

Here's a close up. Ok, I know pineapple in a hot dog doesn't seem appealing but it really worked well here. The pineapple relish with passion fruit mustard gave this Chicago hot dog that extra "umph" of sweetness. The sausage was nice and juicy and the bun was large enough to hold in that Hawaiian goodness. I liked it.

Chicago Hot Dog (IMP & Kaka'Ako)
Genuine Chicago Vienna all-beef hot dog with all the fixings (tomatoes, mustard, relish, onions and pickles)

Regular French Fries (IMP & Kaka'Ako)

I admit the main reason I had to come here was for a Chicago Hot Dog Throwdown. This wasn't about tasting different hot dogs. It was to determine who's Foie Gras Sausage Dog and Duck Fries reign supreme. Let the battle begin!

First off, Hank's Haute Dog:

Duck & Foie Gras Sausage
with honey mustard and dried fruit confiture

Duck French Fries
Castle Rock potatoes, cooked in rendered duck fat

Comments: Tasty but where's the foie? I didn't like the shredded lettuce. The duck fries were addicting. They were gone in 60 seconds. Wish we had a larger portion.

Next, Hot Doug's from Chicago, IL:

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage
with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris
Duck Fat Fries
Pommes frites deep fried in duck fat

Comments: Loved the truffle aioli. I thought the foie would be overpowering but it was simply perfection. It's like savoring a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Opus One preferably. The Sel Gris gave the sausage an extra touch. A little bit goes a long way. Duck fries, a large portion but was not as crispy as I hoped. Still a solid presentation.

The Verdict: Hot Doug's. Both were excellent sausages but I give the edge to Hot Doug's with the Sel Gris.

Afterthoughts: Although Hot Doug's is the clear winner here, Hank's Haute Dogs is worth pursuing. Some of the selections were surprisingly good (e.g Hawaiian hot dog) and the duck fries were on point. I don't recall seeing a large line at both stands but in due time, you might have to wait an hour for this dog.

Things to know:
  • CASH ONLY at both stands. No ATM on-site.
  • The International Market Place stand is small. Only a few chairs and tables. No specialty drinks except for the pineapple slush.
  • Must do both stands to try specialty sausages.
  • Price range: $$ (in terms of Costco standards). Definitely not a $1.50 hot dog. Sausages alone range from $5-$8. Bring lots of cash.
Hank's Haute Dogs
Kaka'Ako: 324 Coral Street, Honolulu, HI 96813
IMP: 2330 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815


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