July 23 is National Hot Dog Day. It’s also Woody Harrelson, Slash, and Daniel Radcliffe’s birthday, so of course we celebrated with the most unique hot dogs we could find in the Bay Area (apart from making our own). Doggy Style Hot Dogs in Alameda serves Asian fusion hot dogs, drawing from the cuisines of many cultures. They say on their website that they “are second to none in [their] innovative style” and after trying six styles of doctored kosher beef frankfurter hot dogs, we agree.
All dogs come on the same seeded French roll, soft and grilled. There are many links to choose from, like linguica, calabrese, and veggie, but being National Hot Dog Day, we had to stick strictly to classic frankfurters. Doggy Style uses links made by a local company with decades of experience, and we tasted a finely tuned recipe for quality meat. Large, smoky, slightly spiced, and flavor packed, the dogs were delicious and the different assortments of toppings just made them enchanting. We started with the All American, with toppings of cole slaw, cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce. The crunchy cole slaw with a vinegar base was super crispy and fresh, offering an excellent texture contrast. The shredded cheddar cheese and bacon were both abundant, piled almost to the tipping point! The bacon was crispy in its own way and even lean, and its smokiness was highlighted by the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.
The next dog took us to Japan, and it was very umai – August looked it up, it means “delicious,” a very fitting name. The umai dog has seaweed, pickled radish, teriyaki sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise. It tasted like hot dog sushi, and as weird as that sounds, it tasted fresh and flavorful. The teriyaki added a bit of tang to the sea and earth essences of the seaweed and radish, respectively. It’s the standard teriyaki sauce you’d have with sushi, and you’d never think it works with a hot dog, but it does.
Continuing on our globally inspired hot dog tour, our palates visited Vietnam for an interesting twist on the traditional sandwich. Pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeño, cilantro, and mayonnaise adorned this dog, with a dash of sriracha on the side. This is kind of like everything you’d want in a bánh mì sandwich – soft but crunchy French roll, exceptionally fresh vegetables, and a bit of kick. We’ve seen some bánh mì with interesting meats (liverwurst, anyone?), so in all honesty, hot dogs aren’t so big of a stretch.
There were a few specials today in honor of National Hot Dog Day, so we couldn’t pass them up. Probably our favorite savory dog of the evening was the ka-re dog (sounds like curry). With homemade Japanese curry and pickled radishes, this was a beautiful combination of Japanese, Indian, and American flavors. The curry is slow-cooked with potatoes, carrots, and onions, resulting in a sauce that is mildly sweet with all the spices of curry but zero heat. The pickled radishes, also Japanese (Takuwan and Fujin Zuke, as per the menu description), were an amazing pairing with the curry, not just for flavor but also for contrasting crunchy mouthfeel. It was a flavor symphony of sweet, tangy, and spices.
The other special threw us for a loop – a dessert dog! The Nut-n-Jelly “Crunch” has Chex cereal, peanut butter sauce, strawberry jelly, and a granola mix with almonds. The peanut butter sauce was special with the addition of just a touch of honey, making it very rich and decadent. The house-made strawberry jelly was naturally sweet and tangy. All the crunchiness of the cereal, granola, and nuts made this quite a mouthful, like eating a crazy version of Chex Mix.
Even after trying five dogs, we had to do one more because, well, it’s a waffle dog! Doggy Style’s take on the corn dog is dipped in waffle batter and griddled in a waffle iron shaped specially for a hot dog. If you like fun food and/or waffles, you’ve got to try this. It’s highly recommended that you use the maple syrup; think of this as bacon or sausage in maple syrup, something that more Americans do with their breakfast than would admit.
We had the luck of meeting Mike, one of the owners, who made all of our special hot dogs this evening. He’s a very talented guy with a creative mind, and we cannot wait to go back to try more dogs (once we recover from this binge for National Hot Dog Day). Eight varieties are standard on the menu but with various specials, we’re sure there will always be something to surprise and delight us.
There really is a little bit of every cuisine in the Bay Area. Last night we went out with friends to Speisekammer to see for ourselves if the German food merits the good reviews – and it does. Four distinct menus with tantalizing options (specials, regular items, beverages, and desserts) are fun to read, and potentially embarrassing to pronounce when ordering, making for an all-around enjoyable meal.
We contemplated writing a Specialty Brews post for the boot, but thought instead we’d feature it in its proper context. Radeberger Pilsner clocks in at 4.8% ABV and was too hoppy for most at the table, so it was up to August to make a dent in it but she didn’t get very far at all. It’s just so much beer in a 2 liter boot! Check out the Radeberger website; it’s almost like a movie trailer.
The escargot on the day’s specials menu were stuffed in button mushroom caps with garlic herb butter. Typically we see tiny snails but these were gargantuan in comparison! Protruding from the mushroom caps, they were tender and not like eraser bits that we’re accustomed to expecting. The butter sauce was rich and hearty with garlic and fresh herbs, and the mushrooms were a nice change from plain escargot or puffed pastry wraps.
This was an appetizer that everyone dug into, for all at the table liked seafood and there was plenty of variety here. Poached shrimp, gravlax, pickled herring, and smoked trout came on a mound of greens. The shrimp were very fresh and slightly warm still actually, prepared in a good, spiced boil and somewhat buttery. Gravlax, or raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill, was different – none of us expected fish to be sweet, but regardless it was a pleasant flavor. Pickled herring is one of August’s favorite snacks from childhood, so she took full advantage of having it here. The smoked trout had a relatively flaky texture with its smoky flavor and a hint of sweetness.
“A variety of domestic and imported cheeses served with seasonal fruit” was super impressive. Surprisingly, Zach the Supertaster wasn’t able to identify immediately all the cheeses; for example, we had to look up the sage derby with mild flavor and bright green veins. We added a pretzel for a tiny upcharge, and one of our friends who loves pretzels highly approved of this one. All the fruit was exceptionally fresh and great pairings for the cheeses.
August and the pretzel-loving friend both tried the sautéed venison medallions in plum sauce served with spätzle and red cabbage. Be prepared, this is game meat, so it’s not the most tender but it is full of flavor because it is very lean. The sauce was sweet but not sugary, blending in well with the buttery and tender spätzle. The red cabbage took our friend by surprise because she didn’t think it would be more sour than sauerkraut, but August grew up with red cabbage so she welcomed the pucker.
Our other friend got the bratwurst with cracked spices, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. He ate every morsel and was so distracted he didn’t say a word, therefore it must have been good!
For a side we got creamy spätzle baked with caramelized onions and European cheese, plus we added bacon for a fair upcharge (black forest ham was another option). Like what came with the venison plate, the spätzle was tender but amped up, made super creamy and gooey with cheeses and smoky with the bacon. The caramelized onions added a sweet/savory flavor. For basically being a German-style mac n cheese, it puts a lot of American versions to shame.
With five different sausages and a grilled smoked pork chop served over sauerkraut, this is a platter easily for two to three people, or Zach and a whole lot for Bea the Dog back at home. It included bratwurst, thürlinger, bockwurst, two kleine nürnberger sausages, and a mystery sausage that wasn’t on the menu nor could the server identify it. Each was very high quality with no gristle chunks, very juicy, and great snap to the natural casing. Bockwurst is Zach’s favorite in general, and here was a good version and he liked that he could see actual chives in the mix. Being a ham fan, the smoked pork chop was essentially an extra lean pork loin with a bone, smoky yet tender and juicy. The sauerkraut didn’t have an overwhelmingly processed sour flavor; he could tell it was made in house, and it had a slight sweet flavor that set it apart from other sauerkrauts we’ve tried.
We will definitely come back to Speisekammer another day. It’s worth multiple visits to enjoy the food, and also the live music that plays two to three times a week starting at 8:30. Despite having a very, very extensive alcoholic beverage selection, this is for sure a family place, welcoming to all ages.
We actually drove loops around Alameda tonight because we didn’t realize that the restaurant where we had intended on eating is closed on Mondays. Twenty minutes of GPSing and googling around the Park Street area finally brought us to Scolari’s Good Eats, an unassuming establishment with one every-day menu and one daily-changing menu, both of which are impressive. Unfortunately the fryer was down for the day so we weren’t able to try any of the famous fries, therefore we “settled” on splitting four items (one from the every-day menu, and three from the daily-changing menu because they looked soooo good). We couldn’t tell you when you’ll be able to see these specials again since a lot of what’s made is done with what’s on hand and in season. For example, when there are fries, instead of plain ketchup each day there is a different flavor of aioli for dipping!
First up was the special BBQ slaw dog. The house-made barbecue sauce was spicy, but sweet enough to keep August coming back for more. The cabbage was particularly crunchy for the vinegar-based slaw, and cilantro was a nice touch. The dog was made in San Leandro by an old gentleman who gets his pork meat from Modesto, so we’re happy for the use of local sources. It had a spicy and savory bite with crispy skin and a good snap. The bun supporting it all was grilled and buttery, from Semifreddi’s like most of the bread products here.
Stromboli is one of the items that you can get here any day, either Classic or “Whitey” (white sauce, goat cheese, you get the idea). We got a Classic with daily house-made marinara, and this was pretty close to how we picture an Italian turnover, even though stromboli is technically from 1950s American cuisine, not Italian of any era. With pepperoni, ham, and salami, the high quality meats weren’t greasy at all and had the taste of fresh spices. The mozzarella was nice and gooey with some stretch like mozzarella should. The crust was crispy but thin enough so that it wasn’t doughy. We’ve only had stromboli at one other restaurant, and so far here has the best one!
A burger with bleu cheese, red onion, arugula, and strawberry jam? Oh yes, August immediately zeroed in on this. The brioche buns are made with a special recipe developed by a baker just for Scolari’s, and it makes a difference – the light but thick bread, split and grilled, was perfect for holding the patty all the yummy burger toppings. Bleu cheese, red onion, and arugula have all been done before, and bleu cheese with strawberries isn’t new, so the leap to put strawberries on a bleu burger wasn’t so hard to make, and it turned out delicious.
Zach’s pork sandwich had tender, thinly sliced meat with a light sear and the same coleslaw and barbecue sauce as the hot dog. In addition, it had mild, gooey white cheddar cheese, which made the sandwich a little more rich in flavor. Same as what was used for August’s, the brioche bun was split and grilled, providing a texture contrast and helping so that the barbecue sauce didn’t soak through and make the sandwich soggy.
Kim, Chris, and JJ, on shift tonight, run a tight ship. Kim at the register graciously took our orders, along with all the others’ in the steady stream of people walking into the tiny shop (it looked busy to us, but the crew agreed that it was a slow night!). Chris and JJ consistently cranked out delectable meals for eager diners, and still found time to be personable and chat with us. During winter hours they’re open until midnight but during the summer, with a bar next door, they crank out fresh food until 2:30 am. If you’re not immediately near Alameda, you could follow Scolari’s wherever they go with their food truck; just like them on Facebook and pop by when the mood strikes you, even late hours at night.