The Shaka Dog - Palm Bay - 3 Stars
"Surely food addiction shall stalk me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Damned forever." - Anonymous
Since having immersed myself in the Central Florida food scene, I have seen a wide array of restaurants from the pitiful to the outstanding. That being said, my in-depth research into food over these last nine months has given me something other than an additional 60 pounds. I am no longer a gaby when it comes to culinary appreciation.
Upon entering The Shaka Dog, I immediately noticed the upbeat and happy theme of the restaurant. The decor is well thought-out and, well, downright fun. The menu is original and eclectic. Whoever designed this menu obviously has a creative side and they appear to be successful with it. The Shaka Dog has been here for three years and the owners have obviously been doing something correctly in the short time it's been open. When I dined here, there were no employees; on this day, the two owners were manning the counter. Regrettably, neither one was blessed with an overabundance of personality and it was hard drawing out information from either one.
The food was a mixed bag. It was an interesting juxtaposition of recipes that have loads of inventive, leading-edge creativity but have an unfortunate lack of execution that made me question the training of the cook as I ate them. The Kalua Pig and cabbage included a generous portion of pulled pork with onions and cabbage. There is zero - and I mean zero - seasoning in this offering. The same goes for the macaroni salad, which is a bland, flavorless side that clearly has no salt or other flavoring.
Now for the good parts: The Hawaiian Dog with garlic cilantro is a stunning presentation. It is a perfectly cooked hot dog prepared pig-in-a-blanket style wrapped in semi-sweet Hawaiian bread. However, I find the imbalance to be in the cilantro sauce. This aioli could be a really savory counter-balance to the sweetness in the bread, but instead it adds very little to the dish. The pièce de résistance is the Tuna Tacos with Mac Salad. This is a taco made with some of the best tuna I have had, which was perfectly cooked, but slapped on a flour tortilla with greens and a bland salsa. Unsurprisingly, the dreck salad is on this plate as well.
I suggest if you are looking for creative, different food that is prepared well but needs seasoning this is a fair place to try - just know going in you are going to need some salt and pepper. This shindig is only a small step away from five star. With just a tweak here and a poke there, they could be on television with this menu. If you are in the Palm Bay area, the Big Boy says stop in and give The Shaka Dog a shake.