Today, we review
all most of Japadog’s current offerings, even the fries. All in one place, no flipping back and forth, no nonsense, no reservations. Enough said? Onwards!
If you can find yourself to this page, I don’t think Japadog needs any introduction. But if you are out of town, stuck in a time wrap, or a Chinese person that will never eat anything that isn’t Chinese, Japadog started in Vancouver back in 2005 serving up unique hot dogs with Japanese toppings and seasoning. Now they had expanded to 4 carts, 1 brick-and-mortar store, and 1 store in New York.
Unlike 7-Eleven, each dog was cooked to order: chapter one, verse one, of the foodies bible. This means that there could be a lengthy wait, especially if it is busy, and it usually is during the lunch rush. Even so, I like how the operators could keep their cool even if they were busy, as though they could concentrate and ensured each dog was served delicately.
Let’s just go through the menu, shall we?
Terimayo – The iconic dog that put Japadog on the map. Though they had their humble origins of using Kobe beef, today they scaled back and uses regular beef with teriyaki sauce, seaweed, Japanese mayo, and fried onion. Still a winning combination. I just love that mixture of the sweetness from the teriyaki sauce and the creaminess of the mayo on the salty, piping hot dog. Every ingredient on that bun had a purpose and pulled their weigh to achieve a wonderful blend of flavors.
Oroshi – Bratwurst Pork with freshly grated radish and green onion, another classic topping in Japanese cuisines, with special soy sauce. To my surprise, the meat was tender and juicy, and the flavor was further improved upon by the soy sauce marinade. The grated radish topping was served cold on the dog, but it contrasted well with the meat. Another winner.
Negimiso – Juicy turkey sausage with special miso sauce, topped with fried cabbage and green onion. I was skeptical about their use of turkey meat because generally it is a bland meat, but it was drenched in a lake of delicious miso sauce, making it impossible to be dry or bland. The meat itself was surprisingly juicy and succulent. The green onion and fried cabbage was well placed to break away the concentration of richness that the meat and sauce provide.
Okonomi – Juicy Kurobuta pork sausage topped with special Japanese sauce, Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, and fried cabbage. Besides that classic combination of mayo, teriyaki sauce, and pork that I fell in love with, the bonito flakes and fried cabbage played some contrasting crunchy texture on the dog – almost like eating potato skin or chips, which was unlike other Japadog’s sauce-filled offerings.
Tonkatsu – Deep fried pork cutlet with fresh cabbage, special sauce, Japanese mayo. I was a little skeptical when it was served to me so quickly. Just as I suspected, the deep fried pork cutlet wasn’t and didn’t taste fresh. It was dry and tasteless. Other bells and whistles like the sauce and cabbage just didn’t do enough to salvage it or bring out the taste. This almost tasted like airline food or something out of a high school cafeteria. Pretty disappointing.
Croquette – Arabiki Pork Sausage, fried cabbage, Japanese fried roll containing mashed potatoes. Just as I thought the Tonkatsu was a one off mistake, and then there was this. I didn’t know what to make of this, but its components, the sausage, the cabbage, and the fried roll, just didn’t work together. The fried roll was crispy on the outside, but it had this strange spongy texture on the inside, kind of like fish balls. None of the elements seemed to set off any flavor or wow factor. It is sort of like when you’re in a buffet restaurant, and you’re trying to fit different sorts of food on to one plate? This was pretty much the hot dog rendition of it.
Love Meat – Arabiki Pork sausage, cheese, meat sauce (beef and pork). The presentation looked like baby’s vomit. Thankfully, it tasted better than it looked. The cheese was nicely melted and I love the sear, which created some smoky flavor to it. It was spongy and didn’t create a long string when you bite into it. The meat sauce reminded me of those minced meat dish from Hong Kong style cafe’s, almost like bolognese.
Yasai – A lot of vegetable and Japanese special sour sauce with veggie dog. These words screamed nightmare to me, and this is why I left this dog last on my taste list. But it actually wasn’t that bad. The veggie dog tasted like those snack fish sausage you could get at an Asian supermarket. The fresh greens on the dog were quite refreshing with the sour dressing. Pretty much a salad that looked like a hot dog, a decent one too.
Hot Spicy – Beef with special spicy sauce and lettuce. There was something on the menu for everyone, and this was obviously for people with half asleep taste buds that needed to be waken up, or people that just prefers spicy stuff – I know a few. The special spicy sauce was indeed spicy, but if it was something that I could handle, I guess it was not THAT spicy. However, it is spicy enough for me so that the sauce overpowered the meat a little bit. If this dog’s intention was to send my taste buds into Defcon 4, then it did its job.
Kurobuta Pork – Terimayo with Berkshire pork. Same thing as the Terimayo, but the beef sausage was replaced by the extremely scrumptious Kurobuta. It was piping hot, juicy, tender, and came with all the topping goodness from the Terimayo.
Spicy Cheese Terimayo – Terimayo with three types of cheese (swiss, cheddar, havarti) and jalapeno inside the sausage, which was a mixture of pork and beef. Pretty much the same as the Terimayo, except now it had a more creamy texture due to the spicy cheese mixture oozing out of the sausage as I bite into it. I thought the spice was just right, compared to the Hot Spicy dog.
You would think that should be the end of this blog post, but it isn’t. How can we not end a Japadog food blog post without mentioning the fries? These are not your everyday fries…
Butter and Shoyu (soy sauce) – Now this was an interesting treat. The seasoning itself was salty like soy sauce, but it was not as salty as soy sauce because the taste had been smothered by butter. So what I got was an interesting mix of butter and soy sauce, with the taste of the soy sauce slightly overpowering. On paper, it sounds disgusting, but in reality, it works. It was incredibly addicting, and this was the first time where I thought that dipping these fries on any type of condiment or sauce would be just blasphemy. Quite fragrant too.
Shichimi and Garlic – A blend of seven Japanese spices. Another interesting treat. First taste in and it was salty, then I let it disseminate and I could really taste the spice. Again, it was an interesting blend of salty and spicy with the spice slightly overpowering. By the time I finished the bag, I could really feel the heat lingering in my mouth. I love it! Smelled good, tasted like kimchi.
Aonori – Dried ground seaweed. I could devour dried seaweed packages like Godzilla with civilians, so in theory, this could work. Unfortunately, the flavoring on these fries just wasn’t strong enough. You really need a good palate to taste the seaweed on each fry, but all I taste were about 90%+ potatoes and less than 10% seaweed. Maybe if they could use more seasoning or a different grade of grounded seaweed, that could improve things.
Teriyaki – Didn’t taste like teriyaki at all. It was sweet, and it was from this weird sugary seasoning (teriyaki, I suppose). Didn’t work on the fries either. It was like dipping fries in sugar. It was just not working for me.
Curry – Tasted what it advertised. A bit of heat with a hint of cumin. A little bit sweet, a little bit salty. This required an acquired taste, but I like it.
Ume Shiso – A relatively new member of the Japadog fries menu, I was excited to see this when it was listed new. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to its more tasty cousins. This tasted like regular fries with salt and pepper.
Japadog is fast becoming my favorite food truck. In Vancouver’s Toyota Camry food truck scene, it’s hard to find something that creative and tasteful. Despite that this is probably the oldest food truck in Vancouver, it is still standing strong. What really surprised me was the fries. The seasoning that they bought in with the fries was just beautiful. It’s like saying, I’m an adult now, and this is the way that I should be eating my fries. A word of caution though: not all of its location serves these delicious fries. I know its main brick and mortar on Robson does, and so does the trailer that is near my office (Burrard and Pender). A bag of Lay chips replaces the fries for the combo option (a joke) at its other locations.