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Rick Moonen plans rm seafood, Moon N’ Doggies expansion

Cult seafood hot dog, created on “Top Chef Masters,” could become more widely available

Las Vegas chef Rick Moonen is working on a deal to bring a second location of his rm seafood concept to Hawaii, along with a kiosk that will feature his Moon N’ Doggies, a seafood hot dog with a cult following.

Paul Fisichella, managing partner of Moon Fish Inc., the restaurant’s Las Vegas-based operating company, is working on the development of an rm seafood location at the Royal Hawaiian Center in the heart of Waikiki.

Unlike the first unit in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, which has a fine-dining menu upstairs and a casual option downstairs, the Waikiki location would toe the “fine-casual” line, with an average check of $60 to $70, Fisichella said.

“We look at fine dining as a dinosaur at this point,” he said, noting the challenging economy.

Also at the mall, the company would open an even more casual Moon N’ Doggies kiosk featuring hot dogs, with the namesake dog — made with shrimp and tilapia — as the star of the menu. Moonen is planning to add other gourmet hot dogs into the mix as well, Fisichella said.

Moonen was inspired to create the Moon N’ Doggie as a contestant on the chef-competition television show “Top Chef Masters” in 2009. The item has since taken on a life of its own.

The hot dog is one of the most popular appetizers at rm seafood, where one Moon N’ Doggie sells for $8 and two for $15, Fisichella said. It’s served with Asian slaw, toga chips and various sauces, such as a “Chipotle Dude” sauce, “Horseradish Hell,” or “Honey Ginger Goo.”

Fisichella said guests sometimes come to rm seafood specifically for a Moon N’ Doggie, even though Moonen cooked other items on Top Chef Masters the following season.

“It’s scary the number of people who still come in and talk about that show,” Fisichella said. “They just want to try it.”

The hot dog has also made guest appearances at sports arenas across the country, in partnership with foodservice contractor Levy Restaurants, including the U.S. Open in New York, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and for VIP seats at Oklahoma Thunder basketball games.

Fisichella said the company is also looking into larger batch production of the Moon N’ Doggie to expand its availability.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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