Tucked away in a small nook in one of Melb's laneways...
I think hotdog stands are one of the "in" things to hit the Melbourne food scene.
Anyone notice the trend that went from macarons (thanks to the likes of Masterchef and La Belle Miette), which led to the creative desserts/pâtisseries (at places like LuxBite or Burch & Purchese) and now, to hotdog stands (what with the increasing popularity of SnagStand, Phat Brats and so on).
But, hey. Not that there's anything wrong with "trends". In fact, I like how it reflects the ever-changing and dynamic nature of the Melbourne food scene.
I first heard about Dognation after seeing several friends post pictures of their signature "Tokyo Dog" on Facebook. The photos were unlike any hotdog that I've seen before and it honestly made me drool... So I went. And have to say... It was GOOD.
Causeway Lane... The little alleyway between Forever New & ANZ Bank on Bourke Street
I had actually been to Dognation twice already with some friends before I received an invitation to come in again to sample more of their products and have a chat with the owner, SL, about their business, products, ideas and so on. Besides just tasting the food, I'm always eager to hear about people's ideas and inspirations behind the dish so this was an opportunity that I happily accepted.
Besides, my first two experiences there were so enjoyable that I'd be CRAZY not to have another go, lol...
Like the arrangement and display. Cute.
Dognation offered a very unique variety of hotdogs inspired by flavours from around the world. BUT, I had my mind set on the Tokyo Dog even before I stepped foot (nyehehe)...
Tokyo Dog -- $8.90
(taken with iPhone)
The Signature Tokyo Dog...!
Beef+Pork Sausage, wrapped in nori seaweed, topped with Miso-flavoured mushrooms, Wasabi mayo, Okonomiyaki (Jap BBQ) sauce and more nori flakes... NOM!!!
I honestly couldn't have imagined a better combo for this Japanese inspired hotdog. Every ingredient was perfect and delicious. I especially liked how even the Wasabi mayo had a "kick" and that they wrapped the entire sausage in seaweed so you can really taste it. Really enjoyed every bite. YUM.
Yeaaaaaahhhhh!!! Can you see the tasty mushroom bits too?!
(taken with iPhone)
A couple of people actually came up to ask us about this hotdog when we were eating this on a bench on Bourke Street... =D
Mexico City Chilli Dog -- $8.90
(taken with iPhone)
Delicious! First, I was quite surprised to find BEANS in my sausage but really enjoyed that. Also, the chilli con carne here itself was reaaally good... Bold, robust and good depth of flavour. Mince was really smooth too. SPOT ON. Heck, I kinda wished that I could have them on their own with a big bowl of pasta. You get the occasional "kick" from the jalapeños too, which was nice.
As I was happily tucking away my yummy Mexican Chilli Dog, SL was just telling me about how it took him a long time, but he truly believes that he's finally come up with the perfect recipe for the mash potato and gravy to sell at Dognation.
"Would you like to try?", he asked.
I prolly wouldn't have come across as loopy if I had just waited 1.5 seconds to respond, as any normal person would...
Potato Mash & Gravy -- $2.90
I know that everyone's got their own mashed potato recipe and I've had some really good ones before... But WOW, this was exceptional! The sensation was somewhat unexpected but utterly delicious. Thick, creamy, BUTTERY, well seasoned and with a lingering aftertaste. It brought a smile to my face and I couldn't help but keep taking one spoonful after another until they were all gone... Sigh...
You guys have GOT to try their Mash & Gravy. SO delicious. Won't regret it.
Bionade (from Germany) -- $4.20
Jarritos (from Mexico) -- $4.20
SL also insisted that I take home some of their drinks to try, how nice...
The Elderberry Bionade tasted like a less sweet but carbonated version of Cranberry juice...
The Jarritos, however, I LOOOVED. And can see why it's his favourite too. It had just a nice amount of fizziness and it honestly tasted like REAL mandarins. Nice!!
To sum up, I really enjoyed the meals I've had at Dognation (even before the invite).
EVERYTHING was homemade and delicious. Flavours were great. Bread was warm, crusty yet soft in the middle. Even the sausages were grilled till the skins were snappy while the meat was still incredibly juicy. It tasted very high quality and homemade, as it should.
After talking more to SL, I now see why Dognation is thriving so well. First, they spent a LOT of time in the kitchen to improve all the recipes over and over again until they were completely satisfied with everything. I have to admit, they nailed it.
On top of that, everything was extremely well thought out. From developing each flavour, to making the perfect bread (with their bakery supplier) and sausages (with their butcher) for each product. Was also interesting to hear that even things like bun to sausage ratio or type of sausage casing used had been discussed and continuously improved. Finally, I also liked how intentional they were about having not more than 5 flavours on their menu and also serving MASH instead of your usual fries (to set themselves apart from their competitors)...
Overall, I must say that I really like this place and can totally see myself coming back (again) and recommending people to try... And as I've said before, if you do, please order their mash! ;p
After hearing about some of their potential flavour ideas and promos that they've got in the works, even I can't help but feel excited for them! Let's just say, that they sound seriously interesting and I can't wait. Once again, thank you SL and team at Dognation for the chat and a great meal.
You can find out more about their menu, opening hours and location on their website: HERE
Disclaimer: Winston attended a tasting at Dognation as a Guest. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.