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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wurstkuche: Decent but not Great Dogs

Update: I recently returned and tried the Austin Blues, the other spicy dog and liked it a lot better. The fries were also better. Maybe it's because when I went to Top Dog in Berkeley a few months ago, I was let down by its Hot Link -- inconceivable and tragic. I love this place's beer selection. The hefeweizen was very good and good value too, at $5.50 a pop for a very tall glass! I'm a fan.

Wurstkuche sounded promising as a hot dog joint in the artists' district in Little Tokyo, so I went and tried a Louisiana Hot Link with sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. When it comes to hot dogs, I'm in the purist camp where too many relishes and toppings are considered mere distractions. The dog was decent but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, not as good as Top Dog in Berkeley.

Let's talk flavor. The bun was serviceable enough -- soft and warm. But the sausage itself, which I consider the most integral part of the dog, was not as juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside (that squirting first bite!) as I would have hoped. I could taste the spicy flavors but it was a bit on the dry side. The sauerkraut was probably the best thing in terms of texture and flavor, but that's not an overwhelming endorsement. The green chile and cilantro chicken and turkey dog topped with stir-fried onions was rather bland and unremarkable.

The "Belgian Fries" were a big disappointment. They were practically room-temperature and not in the least crispy. Overall a bit overpriced for what it is. $6.75 for a Hot Link? On top of that, you have to pay for the sauerkraut and dipping sauces? Haven't you been to a Mexican place where all salsas and condiments are free? Might as well charge for the mustard too, which it thankfully doesn't but outrages me nevertheless.

I liked the ambiance a lot. It's a converted loft-type space so it's open with communal tables and the exposed brick walls add a nice touch. I may still return to try some other dogs, like the Austin Blues that has hardwood smoked pork and spices. For the adventurous eater, may I suggest the rattlesnake and rabbit hot dog with jalapeno peppers or the alligator and pork Andouille sausage.

Another reason to return: its extensive beer selection. Interesting German and Belgian beers like Koestritzer Schwarzbier, described as black beer sweet malty and Affligem Noël, a seasonal strong dark ale.

Wurstkuche

(213) 687-4444

800 E. 3rd St.

Los Angeles, CA 90013

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