One of the best parts about eating in Hawaii is that a lot of food is really unpretentious, which is a little different than what we are used to in San Francisco. Case in point: Puka Dogs in the Poipu Village Shopping Center in Poipu, Kauai. Featured on the Travel Channel twice (Anthony Bourdain enjoyed Puka Dog on Oahu on No Reservations, although that location is now called Hula Dog, and Hot Dog Heaven also discussed Puka Dog’s deliciousness), it is worthy of multiple appearances because it is not only delicious, but also unique and relatively affordable for Hawaii.
There are several options for dressing a Puka dog, but what sets them apart from a more traditional Chicago or New York-style hot dog, is the garlic lemon sauce that comes in mild, hot and spicy, the option of tropical fruit relish, plus the availability of a Hawaiian-style mustard to go with your polish or tofu sausage.
I went with the polish sausage with spicy garlic lemon sauce, the pineapple relish and the Hawaiian mustard, and it was a great combo. I thought the pineapple was a relatively tame choice, since it was sort of like a ham and pineapple pizza (which I usually think is an abomination), but other fruit options include mango, papaya, coconut, banana and star fruit. The garlic lemon sauce adds a lot of flavor, and while it may sound like a lot of sauce to have pineapple relish, garlic lemon sauce and mustard, the Puka dog comes in a bun that completely envelops the hot dog, through the use of a special machine, so it isn’t as messy as it sounds, although it is a little bread-y.
For anyone who just wants a taste of home, Puka Dog also has more traditional toppings like ketchup, regular mustard and sweet relish. The fresh-squeezed lemonade is amazing, so if you make the trip, be sure to get at least one. It is the perfect combo of sweet and tart – a hard medium to perfect.
When you are in Hawaii, life already feels a bit more casual, so a hot dog at Puka Dog is a great lunch pick, especially before or after you visit Poipu Beach.