Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hot Dogs - Hong Kong style!

I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Far East recently, namely the former British colony of Hong Kong. Despite the many local food attractions, I was surprised to find a lot of places selling... you guessed it... hot dogs!

What many people may not know about Hong Kong is that the locals love cakes, pastries and baked goods, and throughout the city there are bakeries such as Maxims and Yamazaki. In fact, most shopping malls and Hong Kong underground rail stations seem to have a branch of one or the other.

And it seems that one of the most popular items is a Hong Kong version of a hot dog. Basically its a frankfurter sausage (it always seems to be the same variety of frankfurter) inside a roll of dough or a bun. Garnishes can include a mayonnaise-like sauce, sesame seeds or ketchup.

You can get foot-long versions:

Bite-size mini versions:

Even double sausage versions!:

The dough is quite rich and fatty and aromatic, whist the sausage becomes pretty soft and mushy after baking. It's not what you'd expect to find in a place like Hong Kong but pretty much every cake shop sells these, so they are very much a part of the street food/fast food scene. They taste pretty good but there is a richness to them (I think they use lard in making the dough) that means you need a tea or coffee to wash it down.

Besides the 'cake shop hot dog', you can also get a more conventional type of dog in certain cafes or fast food outlets. These are usually brightly coloured and display their menu on plastic placards near the entrance. Despite the infinite variety of amazing Asian food on offer, I still managed to find time to try a hot dog!

The best way I can describe it is, this was a hot dog a long way from home. The sausage was okay. Meaty texture, although it had that nitrate-y flavour to it. The bread was fine too but overall the hot dog didn't really come together. Underneath the sausage there was some lettuce and other vegetable matter I can't quite remember. The sauce on top was some kind of mayonnaise, a little bit like Heinz salad cream. Some more thoughtful condiments would have transformed this into a quite decent hot dog. Shame. I should point out that I bought this hot dog in a fast food restaurant that was serving dozens of other dishes (noodles, rice dishes, sandwiches etc.) and the hot dog probably isn't something they spend too much time on.

Back to London for the next update....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dolce Cafe, corner of Wardour St. and St. Anne's Court

This is a really good cafe. In fact 'cafe' almost doesn't do the place justice since it does some good lunches including roasts and bangers and mash (Their roast pork baguette with apple sauce is excellent). They are definitely a notch above the usual Soho sandwich bar.

Their sausage baguette was pretty good overall, with the sausage and bread both griddled (no microwave used). The brown sauce was a little sparse but the sausage was better than average quality - herby and meaty. Not bad at all, and I highly recommend the cafe.

3.5 out of 5.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Heston Blumenthal's perfect sausages (and mash)

Famed chef Heston Blumenthal, whose 3 Michelin-starred restaurant is frequently placed amongst the top 2 in the entire world, recently came up with a set of recipes for his 'perfect' versions of traditional British foods (e.g. fish and chips etc.)

Here's his take on the classic British dish Bangers and Mash.

Interesting ideas, like the use of golden syrup and the importance of smokiness in the flavour. His condiment choice of Guinness mustard sounds interesting too.

But Heston, you really missed a trick there! The sausage and bread combo is much more rewarding and subtle than sausage and boring old mash. Ah well.

I have to hand it to Mr. Blumenthal, though. His version of this dish, complete with star anise flavoured onion gravy and gelled butter for the mash, sounds top notch.