One thing that terrifies me = New York City hot dogs.
Ever since watching numerous specials on the Food Network or Discovery Channel about the sketchy cooking conditions of New York's "dirty water dogs" I have been beyond skeptical, and hesitant to indulge in any form of "street meat." While I do love a good frank, when buried on a menu alongside other offerings, I have to admit that a hot dog is rarely my selection when ordering...
Until I was introduced to New York Hot Dog & Coffee Company...
New York Hot Dog & Coffee Company is tucked on Bleecker Street in the West Village. Though it is certainly neighbored by its fair share of competitors, I can honestly say that it rivals them in both uniqueness and value. If you are up for trying something other than shellfish risotto or pizza, and you don't want to dish out top dollar or take up too much of your day, I couldn't recommend a better option. I made the trek out in our recent blizzard, and would gladly repeat the venture in a heartbeat.
Their first store was developed by a Korean hot dog enthusiast in 2002 in Seoul, Korea. Now with over 240 locations in Korea, they decided to bring their delectable franchise to its namesake, New York City, in 2008.
Each beef dog is made with brisket, and is significantly leaner than the average hot dog. The sausages are also available in either chicken or veggie.
Though you order from the counter, the dining room itself feels much more like a cafe, making the joint conducive to great conversation, savoring a coffee with a good book, or a relaxing fill-up when walking through the eccentric shops of the Village. They're even open late night should you require a nocturnal replenishing.
If you're seeking the ultimate New York dog, these puppies are absolutely delicious. First steamed, and then grilled, they combine just the right amount of initial crispiness with mouthwatering juiciness inside. But if you're bold enough for one of their creative variations, get ready for the ultimate fusion dish.
My absolute favorite was the kimchi-bulgogi hot dog: a hot dog topped with thinly sliced, marinated beef and spicy pickled cabbage. The bulgogi is marinated for up to 24 hours in a mixture of pureed radish, fresh fruits, and honey. Though kimchi used to be traditionally fermented by burying the vegetable combination in the backyard, NY Hot Dog has developed their own tasty recipe to achieve the same effect, sans the dirt.
The result was one of the most delicious sandwiches ever to cross my lips. Imagine a juicy, salty, seasoned hot dog, with ridiculously tender beef harboring hints of apple, pear, and honey, and then a pleasantly spicy and crisp relish on top. It's definitely a lot going on in one bite, but somehow it all harmonized perfectly.
If your brain exploded at the possibility of all of those flavors, you might enjoy the bulgogi burger... a juicy beef patty, topped with the exquisitely marinated sliced beef, on a semolina bun with spicy mayo.
The dak-kalbi dog was a chicken dog topped with sweet and spicy cubed chicken. Both the frankfurter and chicken were delicious, but I might recommend trying the dak-kalbi by itself in a wrap (which they offer for only $2.29).
Though I stuck with the Korean fusion dogs (the place was, after all, developed by a Korean hot dog enthusiast), they also offer chili cheese dogs, a pizza dog, and even a caliente dog with jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and a bacon strip. The Korean offerings are available on a hot dog, burger, or wrap, and they offer a variety of hearty soups and home brewed coffees. Make it a combo (sandwich+drink+fries for $7-$8), and be sure to ask for one of the special dipping sauces for the french fries (spicy mayo, cheddar, or sweet chili sauce).
Halfway between 6th and 7th avenues on Bleecker Street, New York Hot Dog & Coffee is not too far off the beaten path. So whether on the way to a cabaret or piano bar, shopping at one of the neighborhood's colorful array of stores, or even for a unique casual date... this place is well worth giving a try.