Everything is Starbucks-ized these days.
This highly personalized concept seems to work. You choose skim or soy milk for coffee, you select whole wheat bun over white, you mix match colors for your new sneakers, you can even choose what kinds of news you are going to consume.
The idea of personalization in this rather categorized world retouches dull 21st century consumers. Many options do not necessarily celebrate one's free will or desire, but we still do think that way, when we see an array of choices. (I didn't mean to be philosophical before introducing a hot dog joint, but guess I just did.)
So why not, individualized, personalized hot dog, people?
AsiaDog famed itself driving & parking around New York City. Dogs, buns, and Asian inspired toppings delighted New Yorkers. Energized up with dog eaters' enthusiasm, Asia Dog recently opened their first brick and mortar shop in NoLita, New York.
Its simple entrance without a big sign, a toned-down, heavy use of woods interior, an exposed brick wall, an open kitchen, big clean open-able window... It's a chic place, indeed.
Let's Starbucks-ize dogs. First, choose your dogs from beef, chicken, or veggie for $4.5. Feeling organic? Organic beef is available for $5.5, too. Then choose your bun. White or Wheat? Then go for your toppings. They offer 7 different kinds. We ordered 4 hot dogs (with all wheat buns) and 1 corn dog. "It's just a hot dog" is what we thought when ordering.
With a refreshing freshly squeezed Limeade Soda ($3), we were ready to 'dog' in.
First one was Vinh with beef. This Bahn Mi style dog was well balanced between sweet pickles and jalapeno spice-ness. Toppings were fresh bringing out another level of it. Generally its taste was mild, but balance was the word to describe this one. Good start.
Mel+Steve with beef was chosen only because I liked the name, but the taste was not memorable. Its toppings were Asian sesame slaw, scallions, and sesame seeds. The taste just didn't live up to the name or the vibrant color. If slaw was more sour, it might've been better?
Ginny with beef was all about homemade Kimchi. Surprisingly well fermented kimchi stood out. It's not super spicy nor smelly; it's well controlled version for non Koreans, you know. Dried nori didn't do much for the taste, but looked good. I'm still not convinced if kimchi+hot dog combo brought something new out. It's like 1+1=2 rather 1+1=46. It didn't wow me.
Ito with chicken was my favorite. Japanese curry (like chili on hot dog) worked well. I felt familiarity, and it was tasty. Oh, apple kimchi on the top of that? Fresh ideas, new interpretation, bold application of ordinary things... I finally welcomed the Starbucks-ized hot dog.
However, the very best discovery of the day was yet to come. Kimchi Pancake Corndog ($6) was absolutely delightful. Kimchi pancake flavored batter (thinly applied) on the dog was solid. Korean chili dipping sauce was a killer. I kept thinking of buying more of those (if possible) for my bibimbap. Just so good.
AsiaDog is lovable. Somewhat it is intellectually stimulating, too. Did I enjoy their dogs 100%? Not so. Am I going back there again? If I happen to be around NoLita. Am I still against to the concept of that Starbucks-ized thing? Probably. But it's more complicated than that.
Try your hot dog with chopsticks, as they display in their menu. It's certainly a new, fun way to do it, but is it the most comfortable thing in the world? You know what I mean.