What is a Puka Dog? It’s not your ordinary hot dog, that’s for sure! Puka dogs are Hawaiian-style hot dogs served at, of course, Puka Dog in Poipu on Kauai. “Puka” is Hawaiian for hole – as in puka shell necklaces, where many small shells with holes in the center are strung on a necklace. Puka dogs start out with large buns that, instead of being sliced down the center as traditional buns are, have a hole poked lengthwise right in the center. Each bun is closed at the bottom, to hold in the hot dog and all the relishes topping it, and open at the top so everything can fit inside.
The toppings are what make these dogs unique. The dogs themselves are polish sausages (or veggie dogs). They are topped with one of three sauces – mild, medium or spicy – one of a variety of tropical relishes, as well as with mustard. The relishes include coconut, mango, banana, papaya, starfruit and pineapple. They are all very sweet, very tasty and very tropical. You can even get a tropical mustard if you choose the lilikoi option (passionfruit) over yellow or dijon.
I’m not kidding when I say these dogs are sweet. The relishes are so fruity that it’s almost like you’re eating dessert. But the combination works well for such a tropical location. You will find yourself thinking back about all the combinations you didn’t try once you’re back from Kauai. I tried pineapple, cococut and mango and couldn’t pick a winner from those three because I liked them all. I loved the lilikoi mustard.If I could change anything, I think a slightly spicier polish sausage would have been even better than the (still good) sausage that was in these dogs. I also wish I had gotten pictures that make the dogs look as good as they taste. I have to note that it is very difficult to photograph a puka dog because of the way that they are served, although it does make them very easy to eat.