“Welcome to the Dojo,” reads Dojo Dog’s colorful, anime-inspired menu. “Please begin your training by choosing a combat technique.” What follows is not instruction in martial arts, but rather a flavor battle that pits an all-American favorite against Asian-inspired toppings, such as wasabi mayo, katsu sauce, and flash-grilled cabbage.
The brainchild of Michael Koh, a UC-Berkley undergraduate and Taiwan native, Dojo Dog began after a night of “inebriated revelry,” when Koh and his friends returned home with a late-night hot-dog snack, only to realize that they’d forgotten to add condiments. As Koh told Laurie Song of Hardboiled magazine, the crew improvised with a nearby bottle of teriyaki sauce, producing “surprisingly tasty results.” Further experimentation with the flavors of his home continent yielded the combinations that now appear on the menu of his cheerful blue truck, all piled atop all-beef or vegetarian hot dogs from local vendors and cradled within french hoagie rolls. Koh supplements his wares with tall, cool glasses of Tranquilitea, a mango-jasmine green tea served over ice.
Though Dojo Dog’s ever-evolving roster of fusion fare is no secret on campus, Koh has kept word of his entrepreneurial feat from his parents in Taiwan. Koh plans to surprise the pair when they visit him for graduation, and until then he asks that diners sign a nondisclosure agreement in soy sauce before he hands over their orders.