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Meet Bubbledogs Co-Founder, Sandia Chang

Meet Bubbledogs co-founder, Sandia Chang

You'd be forgiven for thinking caviar a more suitable match for champagne than the humble hotdog. After all, champagne-hot-dog bar, Bubbledogs, is the first of its kind.

We met sommelier and chef, Sandia Chang, to find out how she dreamed of pairing luxury bubbles with the American staple street food - and why her gourmet hot dogs are actually closer to caviar than a dog's dinner…

Champagne, all the time...

"Originally what I wanted to do was open a champagne bar," Sandia explains when we meet her - quite fittingly - at the bar of her intimate Fitzrovia Bubbledogs restaurant. It backs onto the Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, where her husband is Head Chef.

"But I'd always hated the pretentious champagne bars around town, with their crystal chandeliers and tacky velvet couches. It frustrated me that people were reluctant to drink champagne, as it's placed on this pedestal, reserved exclusively for birthdays and anniversaries. I wanted to advocate that champagne is a great wine with bubbles and you should drink it all the time."

It's two-thirty on a random Tuesday afternoon and the bar is at least half full with champers-sipping City-workers, so it looks like Sandia's ambition could well be realised. Though they're not just drinking any old champagne...

"I advocate grower, artisanal champagnes. The farmers grow their own grapes and make their own champagnes. There's a lot of care and love there and I know all the producers behind the champagnes we pour."

OK, so now on to that all-important question - why hot dogs?

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It's all in the doggy details

"Personally I love champagne with french fries - they're salty and greasy, like caviar - it's the best pairing. Cheese and charcuterie also work really well.

"But then I was like, 'why not hotdogs?' I'm American and everyone understands a hot dog, it's very approachable, it makes people relaxed. I wanted to create an environment that was down-to-earth and not at all pretentious."

But - Sandia is quick to reassure us - it's "not just a hot dog".

"People will say they go down the street and can get a hot dog for £4. And we say, sure you can, but not with the level of ingredients or quality you get from us.

"The little details make all the difference. Our own-recipe sausages are made under a rigorous process at a butcher's in Kent - the diameter, texture, everything is strictly monitored. Our buns are hand-rolled and delivered fresh daily, and we check them ourselves everyday - the size, colour, the 'pouffness'. All our toppings are made fresh too."

To top it off...

Ask Sandia which dog she's most proud of, and it's the all-American Mac Daddy.

"When I was at university and on a tight budget, we used to eat packets of macaroni and cheese, and for protein, we'd cut up bits of hot dog and just put more cheese on it, and it was the best thing ever. So I thought, 'Well, why don't we put mac n cheese on top of a hotdog?', and it's turned out to be our most popular one yet."

Sandia tells us she comes up with all of the hot dog toppings - except for the monthly specials, which are designed by a guest chef.

"We have many friends in the chef industry - a lot of them Michelin-star chefs who don't have a creative outlet like this and they jump on the opportunity. Some of the chefs we haven't even met, they've never been here - they only know us through reputation. It's a great feeling when chefs all over the world trust you with their recipe."

Sandia's next creative venture is Johnny the Van (created in Condòm in France, hence the name Johnny), a vintage 1973 Peugeot J7 painted in mustard yellow.

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Look out for Johnny this summer, where Sandia and team will be serving up their dogs and champers, street-food style.

If you're craving your very own hot dog right now (possibly also with bubbles), find out what's cooking on Deliveroo.

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