Deconstruction is all the rage these days, and why not? What better way to get in touch with the true nature of the foods you eat than by presenting them in an incomplete state of preparation? The eyes get to linger over the process, getting a peek behind the curtain at the magic of what the mouth is about to pulverize.
Nowhere is this rage more prevalent than in the burgeoning world of deconstructed hot dogs. Graduated from the humble franks of childhood, today’s hot dogs offer a degree of sophistication normally reserved for wines, cheeses, and salted caramel Red Vine varietals.
The Mission stalwart Chew naturally comes first to mind for defrankenfurtication. Master Chef Ian Golenz isn’t afraid to brandish his gritty Bronx roots while serving up 2,000 of his celebrated De-Dogs a day with an ironic sneer. Sometimes credited with the invention of the deconstructed dog, Golenz is more widely understood to have perfected its craft. “I like keeping it real,” says Golenz in between assaulting various members of the line of customers spilling out the door.
Golenz’ De-Dog is a classic, encompassing all four primary elements of the platonic ideal sausage: gristle, casing, filler, and meat, which may be enjoyed separately—with or without the housemade locally-sourced cracked wheat crouton “buns”—combined on the plate, in the mouth, or in the stomach.
The specific fillers and gristle components vary seasonally, but always playfully juxtapose under Golenz’ artful eye. This rainy spring’s ingredients include semi-organic fair-trade toasted genmai cha, an imported cloven “marshmallow” foam peanut, Swingline free-range staples, unherbed raw paleo-polenta, combed Persian-Siamese blend cheveux de chat, a spring-inspired inductive jacketed copper coil, partially nontoxic meat-inspired paste resting atop a bed of kaffir lemon leaf, young porchetta entrails casing, and housemade balsamic mustard and curried ketchup.
By popular request, Chew has also expanded its undogged offerings to include the vegetarian Vee-Dog, gluten-free Gee-Dog, and organic Oh-Dog.
But Chew is no longer the only hot dog undoer in town. The DogGoneDooDahDawgz truck, normally found a few blocks away, offers a strong beanless frank in a more portable package. Proprietor and weekend DJ Keira Von Houten takes a different approach, employing an Acme torpedo roll as her canvas, making for a contained sausage explosion that can be assembled into a conveniently carryable unit, for those who want to ruin the experience.
The DooDah Dawg centers on foraged fillers and innovative meatlike substances. The cageless Souris Ranch mouse lends it its truffulent earthiness, providing both the skeletal calcium and fuzzy texture reminiscent of the most humbly generic-brand wiener. While the seasonings vary from dawg to dawg, some recurring favorites have included paprika-infused salt-roasted Phillips-head screws, sidewalk-harvested urban baby greens, pickled rolled baby oats with knitted twine and root vegetable confit, prescription-strength locally distilled pseudoephedrine pods, and the unexpectedly bittersweet tang of Bavarian stoat-milk ghee. This plus Von Houten’s bold use of condiment packets in lieu of sausage casings emphasizes her willingness to offer a new spin on traditional ingredients.
Next time you find yourself fatigued by the Bay Area’s unrestrained deliciousness, it’s worth taking a break from proper quality to remind yourself of classic ballpark culinary masochism taken to its next logical stage.