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If puka means “hole” in Hawaiian, then what’s a puka dog?
It’s actually a hot dog that’s been completely revolutionized into one with a HOLE lot of flavor, and it’s something we get every time we’re on Kauai. I rarely eat hot dogs but always make an exception when it comes to puka dogs because of the unique “secret sauces,” as they’re called.
Instead of the traditional ketchup, mustard and relish combos, this hot dog stand got famous for its wacky list of condiments that transforms locally-grown fruits into relishes, mustards and garlic lemon sauces. There’s definitely no discrimination of fruits either; the expansive menu includes coconut, pineapple, papaya, banana and star fruit relishes; lilikoi and guava mustards; and jalapeno, chili pepper and habanero secret sauces.
Although the condiments give a plain hot dog a deliciously complex taste, the process to ordering one is simple. First, you choose white or wheat bread, then choose the type of dog (Polish sausage or veggie). The last two steps involve some creativity in personalizing your puka dog. Pick a garlic lemon secret sauce – which can be mild, spicy, hot or hot-hot – and lastly, top it off with a relish and/or mustard condiment. If you don’t like the way the flavors blend, then you can bring it back.
Back to the “puka” in puka dog, which comes from the way each dog’s made. The hot dog shop pierces a “puka” in one end of the freshly-baked bread before toasting it and filling it with a dog and sauces. Simple reasoning, right?
You can also check out Hula Dog if you’re in Waikiki. The second hot dog store opened recently to meet the needs of puka dog lovers on Oahu. So far, I’ve only been to the one on Kauai, tucked away at the Poipu Shopping Village, next to Papalani Gelato.
PUKA DOG KAUAI • Poipu Shopping Village, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr., Koloa, HI 96756 • Opens daily, 10am-8pm • www.pukadog.com
HULA DOG WAIKIKI • 2301 Kuhio Ave., #2, Honolulu, HI 96815 • Opens daily, 10am-10pm • www.pukadog.com