Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
I’m sure you have either sampled Hank’s Haute Dogs or, at the very least, heard about his gourmet-encased meats. After all, Hank’s Haute Dogs was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives,” the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food Nation” and the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Eats,” along with regular appearances on local food blog videos.
However, in the event you are just emerging from your underground apocalypse shelter, Henry Ada-niya, or “Hank,” as most people know him by, first made a name for himself in the 1990s in the Windy City with a groundbreaking fine dining restaurant called “Trio.” The establishment launched the careers of many celebrity chefs, including Gale Gand and Rick Tramonto, Shawn McClain and Grant Achatz. After a 12-year run, he closed “Trio” in 2006 and moved to the birthplace of his parents’ — right here in the 50th. Then he proceeded to do exactly what his parents did in Waikïkï before they moved the family stateside — sell hot dogs. But not just any kind of hot dogs; Hank’s dogs were haute dogs.
You can get your haute dog fix at Hank’s seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On weekends only, Hank serves up his “Hankfast” between 10 a.m. and noon. It’s the only time you can order his Breakfast Dog, Ice Coffee Whip and Breakfast Fries, which is a decadent serving of French fries topped with sautéed garlic, green peppers and onions, cheddar cheese, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. It’s a bit messy to consume, but worth the mess and every calorie!
In the evening, however, Hank puts the dogs to sleep for some haute cuisine.
“The Good Table”
For the past several years, Hank’s Haute Dogs has been participating in the Lanakila Meals on Wheels “The Good Table” event. Many restaurants “sell” tables on the same night, with proceeds benefiting the Meal on Wheels program, which feeds the elderly and homebound. Hank initially recruited up-and-coming local chefs to prepare gourmet meals in his hot dog kitchen, but for the past few years, he’s been preparing these meals with his Haute Dog staff. He has also expanded his “Good Table” from eight diners to the current four tables of six. That still means, however, that only 24 diners get to sample his non-hot dog faire just once a year.
So, in the past year, Hank has been offering monthly Diner (pronounced “dee-neh” — the French word for “dinner”), changing the theme every three months from Italian to French to Mediterranean. But, once again, the non-dog Diner are limited to only 24 diners once a month — better than once a year, but still leaving many diners out in the cold since they would sell out the day of release. Hank also put the Diner on-hold when he moved next door to his new space.
Last month, he restarted his Diner service, selling two tables of six on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with plans for a DinerWich, placing the “Diner” protein in sandwich form for take-out or consumption on his outside picnic tables. Hopefully, the 36 seats per week, along with DinerWich, will satisfy the cravings for haute cuisine ala Hank.
The Trial Run
Since we’ve been supporting Hank’s non-dog effort since its inception, we decided to do a trial run of his Diner to help him iron out the bugs of working in his new kitchen and space. He invited us to be his “guinea pigs.” For the record, I’m always up to being a guinea pig, as long as food and wine are involved. His Diner Italia menu looked like this:
Tomato and Mozzarella
basil, sherry vinaigrette
Parmesan, egg, pancetta, garlic
Braised Pork Marsala
slow cooked ‘Osso buco’ style, polenta fries
Espresso Chocolate Cheesecake
BYOB Wine suggestions:
Albana, Trebbiano, Pinot Bianco, Barolo, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir
Hank’s Haute Dogs doesn’t presently have a liquor license, so the dinners are BYOB. Hank provides a large ice bucket to keep your chilled beverages cold. He also lists wines that he feels will complement the meal so that you’re not left guessing. Real silverware and standard place settings are utilized, including a wine glass for those enjoying vino with their meals.
Our meal started with sliced baguette with a red pepper spread similar to a Romesco sauce along with black olives. We then progressed to the Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, which was sliced cherry tomatoes with coarsely shaved mozzarella served in a tangy vinaigrette. The pasta course in the form of Spaghetti Carbonara followed — I thoroughly enjoyed Hank’s version, as most carbonara includes cream or milk as part of the sauce, while Hank’s sauce was made simply with egg and rendered pancetta fat and olive oil.
The final savory course was a tender Braised Pork Marsala — I would describe it as “falling off of the bone” tender. These loin cuts were boneless anyway, but they were so tender they could easily be shredded with just with the tines of the fork. The tomato Marsala sauce was divine on its own. Hank’s polenta fries were the best I’ve sampled to date. He said adding cheese to the polenta made it crispy on the outside maintaining its fluffiness inside.
The Mrs. enjoyed Hank’s Espresso Chocolate Cheesecake so much that she asked for an extra piece to take home (since I had finished mine) — and Hank graciously obliged.
Since it was the inaugural Diner in his new location, I made a Sourdough Rosemary Focaccia for Hank, which he served with the pork entrée. I didn’t know, of course, that local breadmaker-extraordinaire Chris Sy (who is opening his own boulangerie in Kaimukï) would also be dining, along with local celebrity chef Russell Siu of 3660 on the Rise. It reminded me of a wine tasting at Vino several years ago when I brought my sourdough loaf and shared it with winemaker Bruce Neyers and his wife Barbara. I learned that she managed and cooked at Chez Panisse alongside Alice Waters. I guess the best way to test your own cooking skills is to serve it up to the best.
Getting Your Own Diner
If you would like to arrange your own Diner, start out by subscribing to Hank’s Haute Dogs mail list on his website. His Diner for the month of April will feature the Provence region of France. As you read this, we have probably already reserved our table for April, and you should, too. Tables of six are $210, plus a $12.54 charge on Eventbrite.
Hank’s Haute Dogs
324 Coral St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Daily: 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
The “Hankfast” Brunch: Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.–noon
Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet.”