If you live in Sydney or Melbourne, you might have noticed people eating them on the streets. They look like a crazier version of a Dagwood Dog or a Pluto Pop, with stretchy cheese oozing from the chip or ramen noodle coating.
These Korean hot dogs are all the rage in their home country where hundreds of stores are dedicated to the street food. People also queue for them in Japan, the US, and since last year, Australia.
They might be trendy, but Korean hot dogs are not exactly new. "They've been on the Korean market for a long time, since after the Korean War," explains Charles Park, one of the co-founders of Chunky Town, the Australian offshoot of Korean brand Chung Chun.
James Sun is the managing director behind Sydney's MR Hotdog (Myeong Rang Hot Dog, in South Korea). He remembers eating these hot dogs every time he travelled back to South Korea to visit family.
"Koreans would see this as their most famous street food, a staple, soul food.
"Korean food is the underdog in Asian cuisine, but I think it's trending very quickly."
"As a kid, it's quite common to eat the hotdog on a stick. It's cheap, it fills you up and it's easily accessible. And then, you keep eating it growing up," he says.
But both Park and Sun explain the street food that became popular in recent years is slightly different from the one they grew up with.
They say the ingredients are better quality now and the batter is prepared fresh every day, left to rise for several hours.
The interior is filled with cheese (stretchy mozzarella or cheddar), a sausage, or both, and covered with a glutinous batter and a dry flour coating. That outer coating can be taken to the next level with chips or crisp ramen noodles. Each hot dog is made and deep-fried to order.
"It's not only about the cheese, it's also the dough, softer inside, crispy outside. We can add toppings so it's more fun than a Dagwood Dog," says Park.
Park also offers a sugar condiment, which he says confuses some people. "In Korea, after we deep fry, we sprinkle the sugar and add tomato sauce on top, it's the typical Korean way," explains Park. "But in Australia, many people try to avoid sugar so it's not compulsory, but we do recommend you try it."
Once you get your hot dog, it's time to cover it in sauce. Every stand has tomato sauce, mustard, and a range of other options like aioli, peri-peri and chilli.
A Korean hot dog, which costs between $5 and $8, is bigger than you'd expect, but still more of a filling snack than a meal.
Several new Korean hot dog stands have launched in Australia since last year, and Chunky Town is planning to open more in the coming months.
Sun doesn't think that this boom could have happened until recently. "Four, five years ago, single-item stores would not have survived in Australia. But now, people are ready to line up for a store selling only cheesecake, Korean hot dogs, or bubble tea. It's getting really popular with the younger generation," he says.
He also believes it's finally time for Korean cuisine to have its moment. "Korean food is the underdog in Asian cuisine, but I think it's trending very quickly. You see more and more Korean food and restaurants popping up, especially in Sydney.
"Japanese, Chinese and Thai food have all become standard, and I do see Korean cuisine becoming like this too."
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