First Look at Happy Endings
Don't tell me bonito flakes don't belong on a hot dog.
It only seemed fitting to visit a new food truck called Happy Endings in the throes of Valentine's Day season, I reasoned as I headed out to Bo Concept this afternoon. But really, I was only it it for two things: hot dogs and sunshine.
Happy Endings is one of the newer food trucks in town, only on the streets since January 14. It's been setting up shop for lunch lately at the fancy furniture store that's been a welcoming home to many a food truck getting on its feet in Houston. Some day soon, I'm going to have to figure out the story behind Bo Concept's endless support of the city's food truck scene. If I could afford to purchase its furniture in a reciprocal show of support, I totally would.
The bright-blue truck is a joint venture between husband-and-wife team Emily Ng and Ryan Javier. Ng is Chinese and Javier Filipino, and their fusion marriage translates over into the fusion cuisine at Happy Endings, where the menu careens cheerfully between American, Korean and Japanese ingredients and flavors. Here, hot dogs are topped with bonito (which I swear to God is the new bacon; watch and see), kimchee, cream cheese, scallions and more, such as the Tsunami dog with seaweed and mayonnaise.
"We've always been into trying foods from different cultures and love 'hole-in-the-wall' places," says Ng, of their decision to start a food truck that specializes in this kind of fuss-free fusion. "Our inspiration comes from the diverse flavors of Asian foods mixed with American classics, such as the hot dog."
Click for a larger look at the menu.
I ordered Happy Endings' bonito-topped hot dog today, with thoughts of the bonito flake-crowned cauliflower at Roost still ringing in my mind more than a month later. I thought of the way those fine, wispy flakes melted like butter into the roasted cauliflower, of the way that the bonito dances crazily and doubles over into itself on other hot dishes like agedashi tofu. The spicy mayo and Katsu sauce on the dog were mere afterthoughts.
Unfortunately, there was no crazy bonito flake dancing atop my dog: I think the dish has to be much hotter, and the flakes much finer for that intricate choreography to happen.
The bonito flakes that Happy Endings tosses on its hot dogs are fat, broad ribbons that smell of the briny sea and at first seem incongruous with something like a beef hot dog. Regarding the mess of fish ribbons, I could see how the dog might be off-putting.
In taste, however, the bonito flakes more or less melted on my tongue with each bite, reducing to a salty pool of umami flavors that brought out the beefy swagger of the hot dog. Each bite was a punch of meaty joy, with bright pops of heat from the spicy mayo and a subtle sweetness from the Katsu sauce.
I could have eaten two.
I love finding new flavor combinations like this as much as I love finding people fearless enough to combine them in the first place, at places like Happy Endings as well as fellow food truck Good Dog Hot Dogs. Good Dog does so in its own, Americanized way with beautiful creations like its Sunshine Dog covered in cream cheese, dill and pickled red onions, but the spirit is still there.
And although part of me is tempted to crack on the eyebrow-raising name and its sexual connotations (surely Ng and Javier are aware of its denotation in massage parlor parlance, and it's a slyly funny name at that), another part of me -- the one that's happily full of lunch right now -- is simply content with its own happy ending, the version that involves finding yet another favorite food truck to visit and the prospect of kimchee-topped hot dogs still to come.
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