story by Deborah Boehm
photo by Ann Cecil
“This is garlic aioli—it’s like a deconstructed tartar sauce,” says former five-star restaurateur Hank Adaniya as he accessorizes the house-made lobster sausage that has become a destination dish at Hank’s Haute Dogs in Honolulu. Hank’s surprising midlife career change—trading fusion cuisine for frankfurters—is actually a DNA-deep dream come true. Back in the 1940s, his parents operated a hot dog stand in Kapi‘olani Park before relocating to Chicago, where Hank grew up with a penchant for that city’s iconic Superdogs. Later, while James Beard Award-winning chefs were conjuring up $185 tasting plates at Hank’s A-list showplaces Trio and Trio Atelier, their boss was fantasizing about someday hanging up his tux and opening a “slow fast food” eatery in Hawai‘i that would celebrate the delights of his beloved hot dog with fine-dining panache.
The vision-made-reality, christened Hank’s Haute Dogs, opened in September 2007 and has been thronged with locals and visitors ever since. Sandwiches range from classic Chicago Dogs and a vegetarian No Dog to exotic daily sausage specials (alligator andouille, rabbit, buffalo, duck and foie gras, Kobe beef and that ambrosial lobster), all presented with creative flair. On Friday and Saturday evenings, when Hank’s stays open until 9, there’s a different sort of treat: truffled macaroni and cheese, a holdover hit from Trio Atelier. The menu is constantly evolving, and the list of sides—sweet-onion rings, Parisian bistro-style pommes frites—will soon include duck-fat french fries and homemade potato chips. The originality extends to the drink list (fresh liliko‘i-lime soda, hibiscus lemonade, peach-jasmine iced tea), and Hank will happily suggest, with gourmet gravitas, the perfect BYOB wine or beer to complement, say, a Spam Dog.
A Waikiki branch is in the works, but Hank’s Haute Dogs will continue dispensing slow fast food seven days a week at its convivial Kaka‘ako location at 324 Coral St.—and Hank and his talented staff will go on hitting all the old “humble frankfurter” and “lowly hot dog” clichés right out of the ballpark, with relish. Or—better yet—with garlic aioli. HH
Hank’s Haute Dogs