“Japadog” sounds like a word David Letterman would say for comic effect. In actuality, Japadog is a Vancouver street vendor that sells grilled hot dogs, both Japanese style and those referred to as “regular hotdogs” on the menu.
(If the name sounds familiar and you’ve never been to British Columbia, maybe you happened to watch the USA Network series Psych, set in Santa Barbara and filmed in Vancouver, in which Japadogs were discussed and consumed.)
Japadog carts are found in several locations, and I dined at the original Japadog, which is downtown on the corner of Burrard and Smithe streets. It’s in front of the Sutton Place Hotel, 845 Burrard St. Down the street at 723 Burrard is Tiffany & Co., for those who want to enact a revised version of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
There may be a line, but the smiling servers move quickly. On the colorful cart a board pictures celebrity Japadog fans – a roster that includes Steven Seagal and Ice Cube.
My first Japadog was a Veggie Terimayo ($4.75). Japadog’s terimayo is a combination of teriyaki and Japanese mayonnaise, which is made with ingredients including rice vinegar and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Toppings include onions and strips of seaweed that resemble emerald-green tinsel. It was a delcious combination of sweetness and saltiness.
My host had the Kurobuta Terimayo ($6.75). Kurobuta is Berkshire pork, which is known for juiciness and flavor. Also in the Teriymayo series are the beef dog ($4.75), turkey and bratwurst ($5.25 each).
The next time we hit Japadog, my host ordered the Okonomi ($6.25). This kurobuta dog pays tribute to the Japanese pancake dish okonomiyaki. It features smoked bonito flakes, fried cabbage, Japanese mayonnaise and special Okonomiyaki sauce. Ingredients include Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.
“I liked them both but I liked the Okonomi a little bit more,” my host said.
I again ordered the Veggie Teriymayo. While it was still delicious, equally important was the discovery when I returned home that Japanese offerings could be prepared with vegetarian hot dogs.
The Oroshi ($4.75) is a bratwurst served with soy sauce, green onions and grated radishes. The Ume is a bratwurst with plum sauce and red onions. The Edamame features soybeans on a bratwurst. ($5 each). The kurobuta hot dog is $5.50.
On the “regular hotdog” menu are jalapeno and cheese ($4.50), turkey smokie, bratwurst ($4 each), beef and veggie ($3.50 each).
Hours are Monday–Thursday, noon to 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12:30 to 7 p.m. Other locations include stands at Burrard and Pender streets, in front of Waterfront Station (601 W. Cordova St.) and a store at 530 Robson St.
Editor's note: in 2012, Japadog opened its first U.S. location in New York City.