REVIEW w/ pics: Hot Dog Sampling at The Slaw Dogs
For the past month, I've been hearing a slow buzz about a new hot dog joint called The Slaw Dogs. I finally decided to Google it and see what the fuss was about. When I read about the unique ingredients that made up their Specialty Slaw Dogs, I was intrigued and when I found out that The Slaw Dogs was in Pasadena, a mere 15-20 minutes away from me, my mind was made up. I had to check this place out and brought along some of my dining club members for the ride.
Since I never know when I'm going to make a return visit to a restaurant, I thought it would be a fun to set up an impromptu hog dog sampling and between the 7 of us, we tasted 8 different hot dogs along with a few sides. Before I talk hot dogs, let me just briefly mention the sides we shared, starting with their Beer Battered O-Rings. I'm an onion ring fan and these were awesome. Light, crispy and not too oily. If you love onion rings, too, you definitely should order these.
Our sweet potato fries were first served to us lukewarm, but after pointing that out, they graciously cooked us up a new batch. Those sweet potato fries were also light, crispy and sweet, but if they were topped with chopped fresh herbs, they would go up a notch even higher.
I'm not exactly sure what makes a Belgian french fry different from regular fries. Is it the fact they're double-fried and/or come with dipping sauces? I liked the Belgian french fries we ordered, but I'm not sure what it is about them that make them "Belgian". In general, all the fried items we tried were cooked just right. I don't think you'll go wrong with either the fries or the onion rings as a side for your dog.
Now let's get to the meat of the matter. Pun intended. As mentioned, we tried 8 different hot dogs, starting with the Picnic Dog. The ingredients for the Picnic Dog included a grilled Vienna all beef link, BBQ sauce, onion rings, potato salad and pickle. This actually wasn't one of the more memorable hot dogs for me although I liked the idea of it; however, about half the group named it as one of their favs.
Next was the Thai Slaw Dog with chicken sausage, spicy peanut-coconut satay dressing, cilantro-carrot slaw, crushed peanuts and siracha aioli. I loved the chicken sausage. It was juicy and had good flavor, but the rest of the ingredients didn't pop for me as much as I thought it should have. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe, the flavors seemed a little to spread out or competed with each other? Along with one other hot dog that I'll mention later, the Thai Slaw Dog was one of the least favorites of my hot dog loving crew.
Life definitely started looking up when I took a bite of the Caesar Dog which was comprised of chicken sausage, chopped romaine, roast garlic, Parmesan, garlic crouton and Caesar dressing. Again, that chicken sausage was wonderful and I can tell you right now that this was my favorite hot dog of our sampling. I loved the freshness and crunch of the romaine, the slight saltiness of the Parmesan and of course, the garlic, from the roast garlic to the garlic croutons. I would definitely order this again.
The yay train continued with The Reuben Dog with a butterflied spicy polish sausage, pastrami, swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing on grilled rye. With that pastrami and hot dog duo, it brought me back to the time I had an Oki Dog, a "burrito" that also had hot dogs and pastrami as part of its filling. All the ingredients just went so well together. I liked that there was just the right amount of sour to the sauerkraut and I loved that the bread was grilled to a dark brown versus a pale brown with patches of yellow that I've seen with other grilled sandwiches at other restaurants. This was simply a great sandwich.
Hot dog number 5 was The Green Monster with roasted green chili, chipotle mayo, grilled onion, pepperjack, spicy garlic salsa. This particular wasn't the hit of the Monster Mash. In fact, it was the least favorite of the bunch. This was actually the one I was looking forward to the most, too. The general consensus was that the chili was just too mushy. One of my dining partners mentioned that when these particular chilis are roasted, that the consistency is supposed to be softened; however, that piece of knowledge did little to change our mind. Perhaps, if a crunch component was added to counterbalance the texture of the green chilies, it might be much improved.
Our sixth hot dog was one of the specials for the day and not on their regular menu. The Market "Cali" dog was made with spicy polish sausage, kumquat chutney, habanero pickled onion, mint grilled onions and curry ketchup. I loved, loved the addition of the kumquat chutney, which I never would have imagined on a hot dog. It added fresh, tart, citrus notes. I did think that there were just too many onions. I couldn't really taste the mint from the grilled onions, but loved the kick of the habanero pickled onions. Though subtle, the curry ketchup did shine through.
You'd think we'd be done by now, but nope, two more hot dogs to go with the seventh one being The A.B.L.T Dog with double bacon, chopped romaine, tomato, avocado, roast garlic aioli. With B.L.T sandwiches being one of my favorite sandwiches, the A.B.L.T. dog was definitely a hit with me and I really liked the addition of the roast garlic aioli. I'd rather have that over just plain mayo anytime.
To end our hot dog feast, we had the Country Breakfast Dog which was a special for the day along with the Market Dog "Cali", which I mentioned earlier. Originally, my plan was for us to just try 6 dogs, but when I heard the words"fried egg", all bets were off and that's how we ended up adding the two specials to our hot dog line up. The Country Breakfast Dog was simply a hot dog topped with gravy, bacon, cheese and an over-easy fried egg. Over-easy, of course, meant egg with yolk. Cutting into the egg and letting the yolk soak through to the bun made this one of the messier hot dogs to eat, but it was definitely worth it.
Also with each hot dog came little yellow peppers, which I absolutely loved. A nice hit of heat never hurt anyone. Overall, with a couple of exceptions, I really enjoyed the hot dogs at The Slaw Dogs. I thought the creativity that went into coming up with the unique ingredients really was stellar. A Caesar Dog and a Country Breakfast Dog are definitely not something I would have thought of, nor would I have ever considered topping a hot dog with kumquat chutney or potato salad. The one thing that I do want to nitpick about is the bun. It needs to be a bit firmer to hold the all the ingredients, but I think that's fixable and hopefully, something The Slaw Dogs will look into improving.
What's also nice about The Slaw Dogs is that if you're feeling creative, you can even choose your own toppings as well as from 11 types of hot dogs. You can even choose if you'd like your hot dog simply charbroiled or "rippered", which means deep fried until the meat pops out of the casing. I don't eat hot dogs on a regular basis, but if I was feeling it, you'd definitely see me chowing down at The Slaw Dogs.
The Slaw Dogs
720 N Lake Ave, #8
Pasadena, CA 91104
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I was there Saturday (my 5th visit, I think) and just had to try that market dog. I had to bring mine home (along with one for my wife, and a cheeseburger for the girl) but I'm pleased to report that they didn't seem to suffer at all from the 7 minute ride back home.
The curry ketchup was a revelation, and I think I could eat that kumquat chutney straight up. I love onions, but two different kinds may have been a bit of overkill. The habanero ones dominated. Perhaps just some fresh chopped mint (without additional grilled onions) would have been a better compliment, but I ate every last bite (including a few onions that fell off my plate onto the table).
The girl was pleased with her cheeseburger, which was ordered medium rare. It probably was when it was packaged, but by the time I got home it was more like medium. Obviously, that's not their fault. She ate it all, without complaints.
The ABLT dog is next on my list.