So it’s a ‘sandog’?
Very good. That’s certainly more imaginative than the Tóu Dog, but then again, it’s not the name that has our tails wagging.
What is it then?
Tóu, which operates out of the ‘incubation’ kitchen at the Arcade Food Theatre in London’s West End, has helped breath a new lease of life into London’s sandwich scene over the last year with its Insta-famous Ibérico katsu sando. So news that owners Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng have now created their own hotdog is certainly something that’s made our ears prick up.
Give me the sell
Similarly to the katsu sando, the Tóu Dog is made using Iberian pork neck (known as the ‘cabezada’) that’s served in a thick brioche bun with butter, barbecue sauce, mayo, mustard. It’s then topped with raw onions, shredded cabbage and a healthy sprinkling of curry power, and served at £9 a pop.
Sounds more sophisticated than your standard hotdog…
It is, in much the same way that the sando is more sophisticated than your standard BLT sarnie. And that’s what makes it so exciting. While burgers and (to a certain extent) sandwiches have gone through a sort of gastronomic evolution, hotdogs appear to have been left behind. Sure, they've always been a staple of US-style fast-food menus, but it regularly feels like a footnote tacked onto a more comprehensive and exciting burger selection.
Why is that?
Hard to say. There have been various attempts to bring the humble hotdog into the mainstream before, but few have managed to capture the imagination of the consumer. Top Dog hoped to corner the market with its ‘all meat and no mystery’ approach when it opened its restaurant in Soho back in 2015. Meanwhile, street food trader Rockadollar, owned by former Hawksmoor chef Richard Sandiford, promised ‘pimped and posh’ dogs when it launched its own bricks and mortar site, also in Soho, in 2016. Top Dog lasted little more than a year before it closed its doors; Rockadollar just a few months (although the brand does continue to operate as a residency at The Adam & Eve pub in Homerton, but without hotdogs on the menu it would appear).
Are there any success stories?
James Knappett has certainly bucked the trend with his gourmet hotdog and grower Champagne concept Bubbledogs, which opened along with the chef’s now two Michelin-starred Kitchen Table restaurant in Fitzrovia back in 2012. The hotdog menu hasn’t changed much in the years since it launched, and features a number of dogs including one that’s topped with shaved foie gras, sherry vinegar jelly, Maldon sea salt and Tellicherry black pepper; and another with maple and black pepper-glazed bacon chips, gem lettuce and truffle mayo.
Could the Tóu Dog help herald a greater reinvention of the hotdog?
Who’s to say. A cursory glance at the Tóu Instagram account suggests that fans of the brand are impressed, although whether it can dominate the social media space in the same way the katsu sando did remains to be seen; it doesn’t quite have same aesthetic impact. But they do say that every dog has its day, so don’t be surprised if you see the Tóu Dog dominating your Insta feed in the months ahead.