First things first – this has nothing to do with basketball.
Now that that’s cleared up…let’s chat about this new spot in Hell’s Kitchen.
Kings of Kobe started out as a pop-up/takeout only service inside Pounds & Ounces (now closed). After discovering that the food was really resonating with people, they decided to take the concept and run with it…directly into a brick & mortar spot on 9th ave between 52nd and 53rd.
What’s the vision behind Kings of Kobe? To make hot dogs great again? You could say that. The owners say that they wanted to bring hot dogs back and put them right alongside some of the best culinary creations out there, so they are doing away with a lot of the junk and introducing fresh toppings like stone fruit relish, caramelized apples and frisee, and cherry pepper aioli.
The dogs (and burgers) are made with all-natural, antibiotic-free, “Kobe style” wagyu beef. If the name “Kobe” is throwing you off, just realize that Kobe is an actual place in Japan, and “Kobe beef” is a strain of Japanese Wagyu from Kobe. “Wa” means Japanese and “Gyu” means cow. Real Kobe beef is something you can only get in Japan and a few select places in the US. Last year, a report for Inside Edition put quite a few restaurants on blast for advertising their beef as “Kobe” (cough cough Le Bernardin cough cough), meanwhile only 8 restaurants in all of the US are certified real Kobe beef sellers (and you’ll pay tippity top dollar for it). So am I glad that Kings of Kobe is not ACTUAL Kobe beef? Yes. Yes I am. Because I like to afford hot dogs.
Now that we’re done with #themoreyouknow portion of the program, here’s what I ate during my visit, and let me just say up front that the “Banh Mine” is worth the trip alone. And you know my feelings on cilantro, so that’s saying a lot.
Kings of Kobe - Feeding List
- Banh Mine – a beautiful and plump wagyu hot dog topped with marinated cucumbers and carrots, cilantro, and sriracha aioli. The bun is toasted slightly, so it comes out warm and a little crisp, and that first bite is all kinds of glorious. You get that “snap” (hot dog lovers, I know you feel me on this), and then the cool cucumbers/cilantro and spicy aioli just come together so nicely. Can a hot dog be “refreshing”? Because that’s how I would describe this. Drool city. I’m telling you.
- Waffle Dog with Spicy Maple Syrup – Imagine a corn dog, but with a thin waffle casing. Here’s what’s great about this creation: it’s not massive, and the waffle is not overwhelming. You know sometimes you get a corn dog and it’s ALL corn and very little dog? Not the case here. I actually didn’t feel too guilty eating this. Maybe I need to reevaluate my guilt placement, but it was worth every bite!
- Better Than Caesar Burger – This burger was good, but not as good as the dogs, in my opinion. I really loved the burrata and stone fruit (peach) relish, but I think the burger could have had a touch more salt/seasoning. Still solid, but I’ve become a bit of a burger snob now that I eat about 12 of them a week. My heart is fine, I think.
- Banana Pudding with Cinnamon Toast Crunch – does this really need an explanation? I will caveat that this is not the banana pudding you grew up with or the banana pudding of Magnolia bakery. It’s a thinner consistency, not too sweet, and very banana-y. I liked it a lot, but I think some people might have an issue with the texture. That’s just my foresight. But CTC on top of anything is a win in my book immediately.
Kings of Kobe
790 9th ave
Website/Menu: Kings of Kobe