Top Dog

10 months ago


Pink’s Hot Dogs brings an American classic to Manila.


Words by Ceej Tantengco

Photographed by Miguel Abesamis of Studio 100


When Pink’s first opened in 1939, homes with TV were a minority in America. Nearly 80 years later, we’ve got smartphones in our pockets but Pink’s specialties remain unchanged: eight-inch hotdogs topped with classic chili and cheese, or iconic combinations from different cities across the United States.

“It all began with a simple question,”
says Chef Allen Buhay, who lived in Los Angeles before coming to Manila to work
in Wild our in 2012. “Our partner Walter [Manzke] is the chef of République, the LA- based sister of Wildflour. Richard and Gloria Pink are regulars there, and when they found out we were doing stuff in the Philippines, they approached Walter and said, ‘can you help us bring Pink’s to Asia?’”

The best thing about Pink’s connection to a concept like Wildflour is that the principles of the detail-oriented café and bakery carry over. “Obviously, we make the bread,” says Buhay. “In fact, before we even got close to designing the restaurant and finding a place, we were already buying an oven.”

Their hotdog buns, toasty and dense enough that they don’t lose their shape even when topped with sauce, form the base.

Meanwhile, the hotdogs themselves are far from the crayon-red links many Filipinos are used to. These are done from scratch using choice cuts of beef—whole pieces of loins, not random parts—made with good fat and natural sheep casing for a crisp bite.

“When we first started, I thought the staff might think ‘ano ba ito, hotdog lang pala,’” Buhay admits. “Yeah, it is a hotdog but you could say it’s technically a sausage because we use natural casing and good meat. It’s the best iteration of a hotdog that we could come up with.”

Pink’s most famous dog is The Hollywood Legend with a generous helping of chili, cheddar cheese, and chopped onions. Their chili steals the show—thick, intense, and possibly the best we’ve tried in Manila. Go all-out by pairing it with their hand-cut Chili Cheese Fries.

Meanwhile, Buhay’s favorite is the Sonora Dog, named after a locale in Mexico and made with bacon, pico de gallo, refried beans, guacamole, and fresh salsa. “It’s like eating a taco with a hotdog inside,” notes Buhay.

The Sonora isn’t just a recipe Pink’s made up. It’s a classic American hotdog, as is the Chicago Dog. Chicago is crawling with hotdog stands, and locals treat Chicago-
style dogs like a religion. Fresh tomato slices, pickle spears, and neon green relish. “I don’t know why [it’s neon green]! But it’s a Chicago staple. It had to be that,” says Buhay, who also lived in Chicago for a couple of years.

His tip for your Chicago dog: Never put ketchup. “Books have been written there about why you don’t put ketchup on hotdogs. If you buy a hotdog and ask for ketchup, they’ll stare at you,” he laughs.

Breakfast lovers will enjoy the Breakfast All Day Dog, with its bacon-wrapped hotdog, crispy potatoes, cheddar, hollandaise, and runny sunny side-up egg. If that sounds 
like a mouthful, wait until you try Don’t Mess With Texas. It’s 100% Southern
 excess: bacon, American cheese, coleslaw, homemade BBQ sauce, and crispy onion rings. What we like to do is pick o the onion rings and eat them in between bites
of the hotdog.

The Pinks themselves came to Manila to give the green light to their first Asian branch. The condition was that the Filipino-made hotdogs must taste just like their American counterparts, but there are a few things that make Pink’s Manila unique.

First off, there’s a bar. “There’s this really cool concept in LA that we love that serves sausages and beer,” shares Buhay. “So what we wanted to do was set up a bar so people can have drinks with their hotdogs.”

Try the Calamansi Sorbet Mojito and Bailey’s Rootbeer Float, sweet concoctions that Filipino drinkers will jokingly call “traydor.” Both are made with Farmacy Ice Cream, another first for the Pink’s brand.

Despite being located in the ground floor of a high-end hotel, Pink’s interiors recreate the feel of eating at a food park. Picnic tables, food truck-like kitchen where you can watch them prepare your hotdog, and a combi van where you can order Farmacy’s acclaimed ice cream to go.

This approach to the interiors mirrors Pink’s secret to success: Everything is rooted in history, from the recipes based on state favorites, to the business that remains family- owned after seven decades.

“No offense to people who make trendy food, but that will end,” says Buhay. “Hotdogs are not a fad. They’re not coming out of nowhere and they’re not going away.”

Pink’s Hot Dogs

Shangri-La at The Fort

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

(02) 772-1147

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