Weekendnotes review – Dognation Hot Dog Restaurant

Hot-doggery! Melbourne has gone manic for hot dogs. Hot dogs with fancy schmancy toppings, that is. The simple sausage in bread with tomato sauce (and some onion if you were feeling gourmet) is now a thing of yesteryear. And Dognation is the latest snag joint to jump on the bandwagon.

Dognation is a hole-in-the-wall establishment with exactly five different hot dogs on offer, each inspired by and dedicated to a different capital city from all over the world. But don’t be fooled by this seemingly meagre fare – this pup-sized menu has bite.

The feisty favourite is, hands down, the Tokyo dog. Punchy and original, this combination boasts a pork and beef sausage wrapped in seaweed, sprinkled with miso-infused mushrooms and “nori” flakes, and is covered in okonomiyaki sauce and spicy wasabi mayo to give it that extra kick. Or if you’re feeling like something milder, try the homely potato, smashed peas and gravy combination inspired by ye olde London towne (you can even get more mashed potato and gravy on the side for $2.90 more). If you like spice, the chilli-infused Mexico City chilli dog is bound to keep you as happy as a hound.

Unfortunately, the home-town Melbourne dog (beef and tomato relish sausage, tomato sauce, mustard, onion, cheese and beetroot relish) does little to inspire patriotism. The multitude of different sauces is unexciting and bland, combining to create more of a dog’s breakfast than a tasty Australian fare. In addition, the well-known bratwurst, sauerkraut, onion and mustard combination – the Berlin dog – is, in my opinion, better done elsewhere (check out the Bratwurst Shop & Co at the Queen Victoria Market for this famous German treat).

But whichever dog you get, the bread rolls (multigrain or white) are fresh and crisp, and you can be sure that your hot dog will come absolutely slathered with topping. A word from the wise: this will get messy. You have been warned. Make sure you have plenty of serviettes at the ready.

To round out your worldly hot dog experience, Dognation also offers popular soft drinks from its five chosen nations (although Australia gets “Thank You Water”). Try the Irn Bru for a taste of England, or the Jarritos to conjure images of exotic Mexico.

There are three Dognation spots at which you can get your hot dog fix – the Causeway off Bourke Street, Freshwater Place in Southbank, and on the corner of Russell and Little Collins Streets. Hot doggin’ hours are during lunchtime, Monday to Friday. However, the Causeway location also caters for the Saturday lunchtime crowd.

Although some of Dognation’s hot dog combos are a little hit and miss, this is definitely a gourmet snag joint to try at least once. Even if it’s only to say that you’ve eaten a hot dog with seaweed in it.


This article originally appeared on Weekendnotes, first published on 15 December 2012.

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