I don’t know who invented the “Asian fusion dog”, but Vancouver certainly made it famous! According to the history of Japadog, it all started in 2005 when a Japanese couple immigrated to Vancouver with the dream of opening a world famous food stand. For several years, Japadog enjoyed local fame. Then the 2010 Winter Olympics provided international exposure, followed by media hype and a visit from Anthony Bourdain. There are now at least 4 carts located around Vancouver, an airport location and a storefront restaurant on Robson St. In 2012 Japadog opened a location in New York City, bringing this west-coast hot dog style to the east.
I’ve had the opportunity to eat at Japadog on two occasions, and these are some of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had.There are a variety of meats, including kobe beef and kurobuta pig (and veggie dogs) that you can choose to accompany the toasted bun, and they have a nice snappy casing. Most importantly, these hot dogs are topped with Japanese ingredients, like nori seaweed, daikon radish, and wasabi mayo. The signature dog is the Terimayo, which is a beef dog featuring teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and shredded nori seaweed. Other variations involve korubuta sausage or a spicy cheese infused hot dog instead of the beef.
Every location of Japadog has slightly different offerings, and as you can see, the terimayo dog at the top of this post looks different from the one directly above. Why did I get my second hot dog in a styrofoam container? Why does the first hot dog look so neat and tidy, while the second hot dog looks drunk? These are mysteries that can only be solved by a thorough Japadog tour of Vancouver.
Another hot dog I got to try was the Okonomi, a kurobuta pork sausage topped with Japanese mayo, fried cabbage, dried bonito (tuna) flakes, and okonomi sauce.
This dog was just okay. The bonito flakes did not impart as much flavour as I expected, and I don’t see what the big deal is about korubuta pork. However, that toasted bun and that snappy casing truly outplay most hot dogs you’ll come across. Even regular ballpark toppings on one of these dogs would be a winner. But I’m not one for ketchup and mustard. I can’t wait to try the Avocado Dog, the Kurogoma Kimuchi (topped with kimchi and black sesame), and the Oroshi (grated daikon and soy sauce). Japadog also sells a deep fried hot dog bun filled with ice cream (black sesame anyone?) at its Robson St. location. I have heard that the French fries are relatively mediocre, but vastly improved by seaweed sprinkles or butter and shoyu. Next time I’m in Vancouver (or New York, yay!) I’ll be all over these hot dogs. Strictly for research, of course.
I wish Halifax had a signature style of hot dog. For now, we’ll have to settle with the donair.