Japadog – A Deliciously Reluctant Review

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Fusion food, sometimes it’s the best thing in the world… other times not so great.  Deep frying a mars bar was pure genius, while the desert “pizza” has always been a complete disaster (yet you still find it on the menu – why!?!?!)

If Vancouver has a food identity it definitely centres around fusion food, after all their national dish is poutine, a combination of the English chips and gravy and nachos, best enjoyed at 3am when your stomach is full of beer and wine. But a new craze has swept the city in the past ten years becoming a new institution and landmark must try when you are in the city.

I have tried in vain not to write another post about food – however the memories of this Vancouver staple have been seeping into my dreams and have forced my hand (no pun intended)

I am, of course, talking about Japadog! 

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Tell me about it: This unique fast food started out as a simple food cart on the streets of Vancouver.  It later became so popular that it opened up another stand in New York and in LA (however due to spreading resources rather thin, it closed down its stand in New York last year).  The food itself is completely unique being a fusion between Japanese styles such as okonomiyaki and teriyaki crossed with the infamous north American fast food – the hot dog. Most if the stores are food carts that are strategically placed around Vancouver. However there is one restaurant which serves a wider variety of choice including fries.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Your stomach is clenching and you are trying not to imagine what that might taste like.  I was exactly the same, I just couldn’t get my head around how that would taste.  To begin with I am not the biggest fan of hot dogs (processed meat kinda creeps me out) and Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines.  I was scared that in crossing the two I would not only be sick, but turned off wasabi for life (a horrifying thought).

My concern was completely unfounded – in fact after two bites I had quickly decided that it was one of the best things I had ever eaten.

Once when I was about to go on a “gorgefest”, a friend gave me a great piece of advice. She simply asked “will you remember this meal in a weeks’ time?” looking up at the McDonald’s menu I knew for certain that I would forget, if not repress, the memory of that particular meal.  To which she followed up with “then why eat something awful, your food should always be delightful and memorable, it doesn’t have to be the ultimate healthy food, you should just love it” so instead, that day we treated ourselves to a delicious Italian pasta (which I still remember).

My point is that two months later, I haven’t been able to suppress the urge to write a glowing review on Japadog because the memory of those first few bites is still so fresh and mouth-watering!

First Taste at the Robson Restaurant

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Tonkatsu: Deep fried pork cutlet marinated in tonkatsu sauce topped with fresh cabbage.

The bun was fluffy and fresh but without that sweet metallic cakey taste that most fast food buns have (cough… Subway… McDonald’s… cough). The pork was lean and without any gristle or fat, indicating that they weren’t just serving any old cut on their buns.  Then it was deep-fried to perfection with a crispy crunch outer and a lush and juicy meaty centre.  The cabbage was crispy and fresh which perfectly soaked up the tonkatsu sauce, pulling it through the whole bun.  I had a side of shaky fries to go with this – basically fries that are shaken in a bag of a collection of spices, garlic and salt – DELICIOUS!

Second Taste at the Burrard and Smithe St Stand

Japadog - Kobe Beef. Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Kobe Beef: Kobe beef in a hotdog. Flavors are enhanced with the best selected ketchup from Japan, and the maple leaf shaped bean curd.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my second hot dog, my first choice was still my favourite.  The hotdog was perfectly cooked and the strange wasbi flavoured mustard/ketchup was so tantalising that I licked my fingers to catch every drip.  Not to mention the beautiful presentation with the bean curd sauce made it feel like I was eating something that had taken a lot longer than 5 minutes to prepare.  But my favourite part was experiencing the novelty of the hotdog food cart, then sitting in the sun while I stuffed my face watching others struggle to choose which one they should eat.

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

I keep googling Japadog store locations on the hope that they will now open a store in Sydney – they would definitely find an appreciative market… even if I have to visit them everyday to keep them in business!!


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