Naughtea, a Korean corn dog and bubble tea shop located in a strip mall in quintessential suburbia, smells of fresh, high-class corn dog breading.
Rabbit imagery hangs on the walls of this Ankeny business, which debuted at the end of 2022, including bunny versions of the Mona Lisa and Girl with a Pearl Earring. A bright pink neon sign lights up the white interior, and K-pop videos play on the lone TV as customers come and go. On a Friday afternoon, it was so busy I had to wait for a booth.
The K-Dog, Naughtea’s mouth-watering take on a corn dog ($5.48-5.88), was worth the wait. Though the hot dogs inside are pretty standard for quality corn dogs, K-Dog breading is less crispy and more substantial, dressed with a range of flavors and textures (and even more add-on options for 10 cents each).
The first one I ordered was the Potato Fries K-Dog. My Pizza Ranch palate was too weak for a sriracha dip, but after dribbling ketchup on my K-Dog, the heavens opened. The fries, breading, hot dog and ketchup fused to make a delectable delight — like a high-class county fair corn dog.
Next up was the Hot Cheetos K-Dog, leaner than the first but still massive. The Cheetos flakes added a nice crunch to the breading, and their hot kick is sure to entice more spice-tolerant eaters. I ordered this one “with half and half,” meaning it was half filled with hot dog, half mozzarella cheese. The cheese was perfectly melted and very stringy. If you plan to try multiple K-Dogs, bring a friend; one K-Dog is plenty to fill the stomach.
In addition to the K-Dogs, Naughtea lives up to its name with a variety of iced teas — boba, milk, brown sugar, smoothies, slushies — with 15 topping options ranging from lychee to strawberry cheese foam. I ordered the Cookies and Cream smoothie with aloe vera jelly. It was a delicious surprise, lighter and fresher-tasting than a typical shake, and provided a perfect complement to the K-Dogs’ heaviness.
Naughtea is the only Korean corn dog joint in the state, and a bright spot in the land of similar-looking houses. At the end of the day, all their menu items and flavor combos are worth a try.
There are plenty of burger joints, fine dining restaurants and fast-food places to find in Ankeny and throughout the Metro, but there is no food establishment like Naughtea.
This article was originally published in Little Village Central Iowa issue 014.