We were in Vancouver last week, and one of the places we had heard a lot about that we were excited to try was JAPADOG. Japadog was originally started by Japanese businessman, Noriki Tamura (田村 徳樹), in 2005 as a way to get around Vancouver’s strict street meat regulations that only allow hot dogs to be sold as street food. Tamura had wanted to introduce a unique variety of Japanese street food to Vancouver, and so created Japadog: Japanese-inspired street meat using a variety of ingredients including seaweed, bonito flakes, edamame, fried cabbage and more.
Each location features a different menu. Below is a portion of the menu from the original cart at Burrard and Smithe Street:
We went to the Robson and Seymour Street storefront location. This location has a larger menu that even includes dessert hot dogs and six different flavours of shaken fries as sides. It was packed when we arrived, which was okay in the end as I’d say that the line moved moderately fast. It probably took us about 10 minutes to get our order – not too bad.
Most of us got the Tonkatsu, which replaces the hot dog meat with the popular breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet with fresh cabbage, a mildly salty tonkatsu sauce, and Japanese mayo as toppings. I got the Okonomi, a Krobuta pork hot dog topped with bonito flakes. All in all, different, but tasty. The flavours and different textures worked well together. (My only regret was that I’d forgotten my camera – so for this post, phone pics will have to do.)
To finish, we picked up a side of the “Butter-Shoyu” flavoured shaken fries. After trying them, I wish we’d chosen the seaweed or Teriyaki-flavoured fries instead, which would likely have tasted a little more unique. The butter-shoyu, their most popular flavour, is still good, although tasted very much like popcorn to me. An old faithful, but lacking the little extra something-different we were expecting.
The Robson-Seymour location also has a grilled meat “hot dog” that comes on a folded rice cake instead of a traditional hot dog bun (Yanniku Rice). None of us had chosen that one, but I had to admit, I considered going back for a second when we saw someone else’s order come out. It looked so fascinating. How does the rice stay together!?
Something to try next time, I guess.
If you’re interested in trying Japadog, they currently have 4 locations, although they are looking to open a location in Richmond.
530 Robson St
Corner of Burrard and Smithe – the original Japadog cart
845 Burrard St
Corner of Burrard and Pender
510 Burrard St
In front of the Waterfront Station
600 W Cordova St
Monday to Thursday: From 12:00 p.m to 7:30 p.m
Friday and Saturday: From 12:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m
Sunday: 12:30 p.m to 7:00 p.m