Redemption for Dog Nation

Uptown Plaza Anniversary
August 24, 2013

Uptown Shopping Centre
Douglas St. at Saanich Rd.
Saanich, B.C.

Readers who have followed the thread about Dog Nation when James and I visited them will know we came down on them pretty hard. James has his reasons for not returning, but I felt that they deserved a second chance. After all, this issue was more with being an open air environment where the offending hair could have blown in from anywhere and about one poor choice to continue using buns that not everyone can take a liking to.

That decision can topple any country and send it into chaos. But in this case, British Columbia is safe for now, and I can’t say much about Canada since I don’t monitor politics, or all the back room dealings this government has with private corporations.

I’m no political science major either, but I can at least say I was far more diplomatic about this situation with how Two Hungry Blokes felt about Dog Nation. I had a short chat with Michael Ransom, one of the owners/operators, and he understood our type of feedback is important to make note of. He implemented the changes that James especially pointed out and he promises to his customers that the supply of buns will never fall short, or switched without the customer’s knowing.

In this case, it was a gluten-free bun that both James and I really did not like. This substitute should have been mentioned to us but it was not. And to taste this particular bun cold was not our cup of tea, and the products were probably rushed to meet with demand at the first annual Victoria Street Food Festival.

Since there was no queue at this Uptown shin-dig that I was at today, every food truck operator took the time to make their product right. Originally, my plan was to visit this trendy urban center to see if L’authentique Poutine and Burger would present some of their more crazy creations (shame on them for not doing so) and I saw no signage indicating the reason why there was a party going on. The parking around Future Shop was closed off to accommodate a few more other food trucks (Refiner and Puerto Vallarta were here too). While waiting for my hamburger poutine, I stopped by Dog Nation to chat with Mike.

He upheld his word about offering us a properly made hot dog and one Tijuana Danger Dog later, I was in the zone. The heat in the peppers and sauce was just right. And since our last visit, they have changed their hot dog supplier (they were cooking with longer 7½” sausages this day) and their regular buns are made with a sesame topping. It certainly had an improved taste but it was nothing too spectacular. The bacon could have been better (I could barely taste it over the jalapeño peppers), but overall this particular dog was a better, more flavourful, product. It had a better kick than the Persian choice I ate before.

Some toppings are definitely an acquired taste, and others will have the zest that should define a dog. If I was to pick what are the better designer hot dogs to order from here, I would recommend the Tijuana for the spiciness that can be adjusted to personal taste. The option to change the level of the heat from mild to “dangerous” is always a plus. The Spanish sounds like a good contender (who doesn’t like garlic?) and the Canadian (maple syrup? Hell yeah!) is a must.

The choice of the type of sausage used has never been an issue here. A little more playing around with what this cart operation can do with a bun can certainly make this business the United Nations of hot dogs. I’d like to see them partner up with a bakery to provide some really good buns, but I think that won’t happen right away until other changes are made. Mike told me they will be updating their digs. Their plan is to move away from the ‘cart’ style operation to a truck. They will be changing the type of grill used, so that a proper authentic smokey taste can be imparted upon the meats being cooked. If they start using an old school style of cooking, over charcoal grill, I’m sold. I love the taste of what charcoal or hard wood briquettes can bring to any kind of meat.

And on this day, I noticed that a spray can of cooking oil is now being used to intensify the flames from the grill they currently use.

Another nice thing I was told is that diners can ask to have their bun toasted. If a steamed dog is not your cup of tea, then it can be put on the grill instead. People shouldn’t be shy if they want something slightly adjusted on their dog. After seeing the various toppings nicely organized on a table for this operation, I have to wonder when extra onions, cilantro or other added toppings will be made available on top of what is already on the dogs?

3½ Blokes out of 5


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