In keeping with my theme of fast food, small bites, and hot dogs as of late; here is “Japadog”. What a coincidence that I mentioned it in my previous post, and today it rolled up outside my work. I was obviously obligated to pay it a visit.
The truck is pretty simple: red, like the rising sun? If it weren’t for the “Japadog” banner that they laid across the windshield, you wouldn’t know what they were selling from the left side. Luckily in Vancouver the name speaks and sells itself. Today two young Japanese girls worked the truck. They spoke with authentic accents and giggled and bowed as expected. The menu is to your right, each dog a different name with their picture above. No two looked alike and they all looked interesting enough to warrant a trying. One was served with pan fried noodles over the hotdog, another had a deep fried cutlet, and one traded out the hot dog all together for a large tempura-ed shrimp. The Japanese condiments were miso, bonito flakes, dried seaweed, and a special seasoned rice. And the sauces that complimented them included plum, teriyaki, soy, and Japanese mayo.
I always just order their main hotdog, the one covered in seaweed, that has won them all their accolades. But seeing as today I would need 4, and that I was feeling overwhelmed with the 14 options available I sought out help from the clerks. Together they choose their most popular 4, including their trademark dog.
“Kurobuta Terimayo”. Kurobuta pork, teriyaki sauce, seaweed, fried onions, and Japanese mayo. This was voted as one of the “101 things to taste before you die” by “Vancouver Magazine”. It had a good sausage, the meat was layered with spices. We found it similar to a Polish hot dog with its crunchy skin. It was aptly spiced without giving you too much heat. There was a good balance between the fried onions and seaweed, the perfect salty meets crunchy.
Another printed media mentioned hotdog was the “Okonomi”. Kurobuta pork, Japanese sauce, fried onions, Japanese Mayo, bonito flakes, and fried cabbage. It was like a mashed up Japanese pizza, but in a bun and over a dog. The wiener was same as the one before it, equally delicious in this assortment of ingredients. The crispy cabbage gave a nice crunch and the bonito flakes a light texture to enjoy.
“Love Meat”. Funny title aside, it was great for the lovers of meat. Arabiki pork sausage, cheese, in a beefy meat sauce. The hot dog was just another dog, the sauce is what set it a apart and tied it all together; and the cheese is what made all the difference. The texture was just right. Meaty and chewy with all the right juicy. For the meat lovers guy this is a great snack. It was inhaled in less than a minute.
“Croquette”. Arabiki pork sausage, fried cabbage, Japanese fried roll filled with mashed potatoes. This sausage was not as good a quality as the ones before it. It would have been better as a smokie. The high
expectations of it were not met, as the cheaper hot dog left you feeling a little short. Overall, it would have been a little better well done. And the croquettes would have been a little better on their own. They didn’t add value to the bun. The crispy nature of the croquette was lost in all the moisture from the heat of the meat and sogginess of the cabbage. And the cabbage only added a different texture, with no actual taste component. The solution would have been to add more sauce, which is an option with their help yourself sauce bar. Though most find additional toppings unnecessary.
I made one a combo to get a serving of their “shaker fries” for cheaper. “Shichimi” & Garlic”, spicy fries with roasted garlic. Six flavours, so well seasoned that the use of ketchup was made an afterthought. Be sure you eat them fast, the heat from the brown bag made things very soggy, very fast. Maybe shake it in the bag, then pour it out into a cardboard container? I left forgetting the fries and my drink and the girl chased me down. She was genuinely apologetic with panted breath. That was appreciated.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend? – Yes.
These aren’t your connivence store hot dogs. For those who like Japanese food, trying this Asian twist on an all American classic is a treat. A clever way to reinvent two already popular items into something exciting and new. With so many unique offerings multiple trips are needed to sample them all. And given that they have a stationary cart, a store front, and now a food truck you may not travel far to get your fix. It really speaks to the success of their quality tube steak, their business must be better than ever. Don’t deny your cravings.