Letter from London: Rumaki had forwarded to me the following, posted some time ago by DARKWHITE on the Vendor site: ‘I’m quite central, the address (building next door) is 239 Old Street London EC1V 9EY. I trade Tues-Fri 12:30-7 p.m.’
We’ve had weeks of gorgeous sunny warm weather here in London (seriously! no kidding!) though today was somewhat more typical: overcast, a bit breezy, not quite rain. I wanted a hot dog. So I went.
DARKWHITE is the Roadfood ID of Abiye Cole, a/k/a Big Apple Hot Dogs. He has a cart at that Old Street address in east central London, which is about a block and a half (a two minute walk if that) from the Old Street Station on the London Underground. Not quite around the corner from Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, but worth the short trip out there.
Abiye’s mission is to convert the English to American hot dogs. Hot dogs are not just something to eat late at night when you’ve had too much beer at the pub. Like good sausage and mash, they are a destination item. Abiye has A-frame signs promising the best hot dog in London, and he delivers.
Dressed in red, Abiye himself is fun, outgoing, interested and interesting. It was obvious that many of his customers are regulars. Even the ones en route to meetings who could not stop to eat nevertheless stopped to chat. Abiye wants you to have a good time, to enjoy stopping by his cart. He loves what he’s doing and what he’s doing is, at the moment, four different kinds of hot dogs each made locally (without preservatives) by his chosen sausage maker who obviously knows the secret to a good hot dog is in the quality of the meat and the absence of additives and preservatives. There’s the Big Frank (a mixture of pork and beef and about the size of a Minneapolis Brat), the Frank Junior (and thinner more sleek version of the Big Frank), the Big Dog which is a Polish dog (thick, plump, juicy, more meaty than fatty and not at all greasy and with a hint of spice, garlic and smoke), and a yet-to-be-named smoked Brat type dog which was not at all like the other three in flavour but like the others not fatty so you get a good amount of meat for the price (£2.50 for the Frank Junior, £3.50 for the others). Some were grilled, some grilled after being steamed (and Abiye constantly checks the temperatures with a digital thermometer), all had a nice crunch to the natural skin with a moist inside. The buns are steamed (or not, your choice), slit vertically not horizontally and also made locally. In fact, they’re made around the corner. Fried onions, not prepared ahead of time but shaved through the mandolin by Abiye directly onto the grill. Sauerkraut, soft drinks and water, and the usual condiments which in England means more than one choice of mustard.
If you’re in London and want a hot dog, you should stop by. As far as I can tell, it is, in fact, the best hot dog in London. And it’s fun. And he’s planning a July 4th celebration, of course! And tell him you learned of his cart from the Roadfood Forums and see what happens. He couldn't have been more grateful to the Vendor posters, whose advice helped him get started.