The San Fernando Valley has long been a center of tubular cuisine in Los Angeles. The Stand, Carney's and the now shuttered Wiener Factory have been among Southern California's most vaunted practitioner's of the hot dog art form. For the last few years though, it's been all about Fab, a hot dog joint tucked next to a Pizza Hut in a big Von's anchored strip mall on Victory Boulevard in Reseda.
Fab has all manner of dogs and toppings, but they are best known for the ripper, a New Jersey style deep fried hot dog (pictured). I've never had a ripper before and had been meaning to make it to Fab for too long so when I found myself in the Valley, I made a lunch detour to finally check out a ripper.
Along with the famous ripper, the Fab menu includes practically every kind of hot dog from any geography. There are Chicago dogs, Manhattan dogs with hot dog cart red onion sauce, LA street dog style bacon wrappeds and even a "Fairfax Burrito Dog," clearly modeled on an Oki Dog.
Along with my ripper, I figured I should get something from this detailed list, so I picked the house specialty Fab Dog, a charred beef dog with tomato relish, bacon, mustard and onions. The dog itself was good, nice and juicy though not a huge snap. The tomato relish was very tasty, sweet but with a little bit of spicy zing, and the bacon was perfect. Rather than strips carelessly tossed onto the dog as you find at places like Pink's, these were chewy bacon strips sprinkled on top, more like lardons. You could tell from the deep, smoky flavor, that they're using good quality bacon. Now I tend to be more of a hot dog purist - just the dog and mustard, but the relish and bacon were pretty darn good as far as condiments go.
As for the ripper, well, put me in the camp that doesn't really get it. The Fab ripper had a different dog in it than the Fab Dog. It was larger and paler with a lot less spice, almost like a brat, and the deep frying makes the casing tough and chewy. And I should have guessed this, but it comes out of the frier mouth-scaldingly hot. Personally, I like the snap of a grilled or steamed dog. The hard, blistered skin of the ripper just didn't do it for me. I felt like I was eating a hot dog that had stayed out in the sun too long.
All in all, good dogs though probably not worth a special trip unless maybe you grew up in North Jersey and need your ripper fix.
Fab Hot Dogs
19417 1/2 Victory Blvd.
Reseda, CA 91335