Located in the Poipu Shopping Village in Kauai, Puka Dog is a quirky hot dog stand set up like a surf shack in a small space that barely holds three wrought iron tables and chairs. The big line up out the door is usually a sign of a good eating place, but here the line is caused by people with poor decision-making abilities.
Inside the Puka Dog shack is a menu printed on a surfboard that hangs behind the cashier counter. A Puka Dog starts with a Hawaiian sweet bread bun, about 8” long that is hollowed out so the dog can be inserted from the top inside the puka (hole) fully encasing it. It’s impaled on a heating rod for several minutes to make the hole while simultaneously toasting the bun. Once you’ve chosen either the Polish sausage or veggie dog, the next question is how hot do you like your garlic sauce, with four heat levels ranging from mild to lava. Next comes a choice of six different relishes featuring Hawaiian tropical fruits: pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, coconut, and starfruit. Puka Dog has a secret mustard recipe that can be added to the bun. So many choices – fruity or spicy – no wonder people are lined up past the sidewalk to experience a taste of Hawaii.
A Puka Dog might not be gourmet food but it’s no 75¢ Ikea hot dog either. A Polish sausage will set you back $6.75 and add another buck if you prefer a veggie dog. Need a drink to wash that dog down? Puka Dog offers one beverage choice – freshly squeezed lemonade with a $2.75 price tag.
Is Puka Dog worth the hype? I wouldn’t want to eat one every day, but absolutely I’d have another one on my next trip to Kauai.