In a town dominated by Sonoran and Chicago-style hot dogs, a couple of restaurants are trying something a little more far out by going Far East.
Two months ago, The Bamboo Club at Park Place introduced Asian-style hot dogs to its bar menu. The selection of six hot dogs at $4 apiece is influenced primarily by cuisines found throughout Central and Southeast Asia.
Among the options: A beef dog dressed in kimchi, a fermented vegetable treat that is popular in Korea; and an Asian Dog, also beef, served with a layer of marinated diced cucumbers, a spicy Sriracha sauce and a wasabi mayo.
Around the same time, Umi Star opened in the Campbell Avenue Shops just north of East Grant Road with its own selection of dogs.
Umi Star specializes in sushi but features a wide range of different menu items, including specialty hot dogs, Asian tacos and salads.
The Rhyno dog is the restaurant's take on the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich. It's a pork dog covered in a basil aioli, pickled carrot, daikon radish, jalapeño and a cucumber cilantro relish.
Umi Star's second dog, The Ned, switches to beef and is topped with a sweet and sour mustard, shredded nori (seaweed), fried onions and crushed salt and pepper.
Both dogs sell for $7.
Mary Ellen McBee, general manager for The Bamboo Club for the last eight years, said the idea for putting Asian dogs on the menu came from an evening watching television news.
She recalled seeing a segment about the growing popularity of Asian-inspired hot dogs in New York City.
"It was a big deal over there," McBee said. "A lot of the dogs used ingredients that we already had in the restaurant."
McBee took the idea to Bamboo owner Paul Lakers, who thought the hot dog selection would make an excellent addition to the restaurant's fast-and-easy bar menu.
"People can stop in for a quick bite then go shopping at the mall," Lakers said. "They don't need to have a full meal. They can have a hot dog and a beer, watch some sports and have a good time."
Umi Star owner Jason Anderson was inspired to include dogs on his menu through his travels.
Anderson had tried different specialty dogs in several major metropolitan areas, including in New York City and at the popular Japadog chain in Vancouver.
As a native Tucsonan, Anderson knew how popular hot dogs were here.
"I grew up on Sonoran dogs," Anderson said. "I think I was really trying to do my own version of that."
Anderson said the hot dogs are an important part of Umi Star's offerings.
Many of the ingredients for the dogs are sourced within the state. The sausages come from Schreiner's Fine Sausage in Phoenix. The bread comes from La Baguette Bakery on East Prince Road.
"The goal is to kind of balance out the menu so this is not considered just a sushi bar," Anderson said.
"We do specialize in sushi, but we have a whole back line, including the hot dogs, that is just hot food. We've taken a lot of time to develop and source custom ingredients for them."
"They don't need to have a full meal. They can have a hot dog and a beer, watch some sports and have a good time."
Paul Lakers, The Bamboo Club owner
Asian-Style Hot Dogs
• Umi Star, 2502 N. Campbell Ave., umistar.com Umi Star has two types of Asian dogs for $7 apiece, including a bánh mí hot dog, with jalapeño, a basil aioli, daikon, pickled carrots and a cucumber cilantro relish.
• The Bamboo Club, 5870 E. Broadway at Park Place, rimrestaurants.com The Bamboo Club has six hot dogs on its bar menu, most of which incorporate Asian influence. Each dog is $4.