Having indulged in perhaps too many hot dogs during a recent trip to Chicago (Portillo’s, Hot Doug’s and Byron’s), I wasn’t sure whether I’d be up for more encased-meat goodness heading into this weekend. Nevertheless, I found myself parked within 30 yards of the Blue Rooster Food Co. a mere 40 minutes before the official launch of their Summer Chef series, so I decided to stick around and try the Week 1 entry.
If you’ve not yet heard about the chef series, it works a little something like this: for 13 weeks this summer, starting today, Blue Rooster Food Co. will feature a specialty hot dog developed by a local chef/cook. Each week’s specialty dog will be unveiled at 5pm on Friday, and will be available through Thursday of the following week. A portion of the sales are being donated to the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Co-owner Ilma Lopez mentioned to me that Blue Rooster will also be providing punch cards and those who sample all 13 hot dogs will get a special prize of some type. (The cards are not available just yet, but if you remind them in week 2 that you had the week 1 hot dog, they’ll make sure you’re accounted for.)
The week 1 hot dog is Cara Stadler’s Tao Yaun Dog ($6). It is a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog topped with a miso/chili ssam sauce, cilantro mayo, kimchi, scallions and fresh cilantro.
So how does this spectacular-looking Tao Yaun Dog rate? I’ll admit that—upon viewing the list of ingredients—my initial impression was that it was going to be too many powerful flavors all competing for taste-bud attention. I shouldn’t have worried, as this wasn’t the case at all. The generous helping of fresh cilantro and the cool mayo atop the dog worked to balance out any heat coming from the ssam sauce (which was on the bun itself). Meanwhile, the kimchi was pleasant and much more mild than I anticipated. I really didn’t sense that the scallions had much of a presence on this hot dog, but I didn’t miss it in the company of the other ingredients. The best part was my second bite, when I got the first taste of bacon in tandem with that kimchi.
The Tao Yaun Dog is an innovative and great-tasting kickoff to this 13 week event, and it sets the bar high for those to follow. Perhaps an even greater testament to its awesome’ness is the fact that it has converted me from “I’ll try and check out a few of the hot dogs here and there” to True Believer status. I’m now re-organizing parts of my summer travel schedule so that I can try to be in Portland at least one day each week.