Shop 2, The Causeway
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 423 083 287
Melbourne is in love with the hot dog at the moment but no, not the humble sausage in white bread roll combo that we oldies are so used to. No, we want pork and fennel sausages, we want wagyu beef sausages and we want truffle mayonnaise. And lots of it, too! Oh really? You want all that? Sure, just give me $10 but don’t expect much change from it!
Not a problem, said most of Melbourne, as they tucked into ‘haute dogs’ from the likes of Snag Stand and now, Dognation, the newest gourmet hot dog stand in Melbourne. Located in The Causeway, just off Bourke Street Mall, Dognation is literally a hole in the wall operation with a tiny kitchen inside and one table and two chairs outside. Yeah, very helpful if you happen to be one of the many office workers queuing up for a snag during the working week.
I was under the impression that Dognation was only open on weekdays (don’t ask me why) so I didn’t think that I was ever going to try it for quite some time. In addition to working on the opposite side of the city, all my monthly RDOs for the next few months were already reserved for long weekends interstate. Thinking that I would be the last foodie in Melbourne to try this place, I was bummed. That is, until Winston told me that they were actually open seven days a week. Woohooo!
I was in the city one miserable Sunday afternoon when I decided to stop by for a quick late lunch. It was pissing down rain, but the single table with the two chairs was strangely occupied. Takeaway was to be my only option.
The menu at Dognation is pretty simple – there are only five hot dogs and only one side dish (a tub of mash and gravy for $2.90). Each hot dog represents a country and if you were really keen, you can choose a different hot dog for each day of the week. In addition to the hot dogs, Dognation also sells a soft drink from each of the countries on the hot dog menu. So if you were getting a UK-inspired bangers and mash hot dog, you can get an Irn-Bru from Scotland or if you were to commit treason, a Jaritos from Mexico may tempt.
Heaps of people on Facebook love the Tokyo Dog ($8.90) so I decided to go with that. A big, fat pork and beef sausage was wrapped in nori, sprinkled with more nori and miso-infused mushrooms, drizzled with wasabi mayonnaise and that lovely Worcestershire sauce-like ingredient, the ‘okonomiyaki sauce.’ A crunchy multi-grain rolled tied the whole thing up neatly, though I must admit that it was messy to eat with my hands.
The hot dog may look and sound nasty and gimmicky, but it actually tasted pretty damn good! It was literally like eating an okomiyaki and a hot dog; it was sweet, Moorish, earthy and spicy at the same time and as for the umami, hell, it was there in leaps and bounds. What really amused me was the amount of horseradish that was used in the wasabi mayo. I only like wasabi in small doses so I was afraid that the mayonnaise would be too much but surprisingly, I managed alright – hell, it even cleared up my blocked nose!
New Order once sang about the Axis powers fighting the allied nations in ‘State of the Nation.’ While I don’t like Hitler at all, I do like German cars, rieslings and Daniel Brühl. Therefore, I decided to go German with my soft drink. I chose the elderberry-flavoured Bionade ($4.20), which is made out of natural and organic raw ingredients. Now, while it’s still a soft drink, I found it a lot better than a bottle of Coke – it wasn’t as sweet and one-dimensional. And it tasted alright, too. Too bad they didn’t offer anything Italian at Dognation, though.
Although gourmet hot dogs are, yes, a little bit gimmicky, I do like them and Dognation does them brilliantly. Next time, I will order the Berlin Dog (bratwurst, sauerkraut, onions and mustard) to see if it is any better than the bratwursts sold at Queen Vic Market. And then I will order the Melbourne Dog (Aussie beef sausage with tomato sauce, mustard, onions, cheese and beetroot relish) to see if it is hotter than any of the bitches you see around the Melbourne CBD on a Saturday night. As for drinks, I will stick to my Bionade, though.