{America: Eat} Eating at Vancouver’s Famous JAPADOG

japadog cart

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: JAPADOG stand (899 Burrard St Vancouver, BC V6Z 2K6) and JAPADOG store (530 Robson St Vancouver, BC V6B 2B7)
  • When: June 14-15, 2013
  • *Notes: Website, Japanese fusion hot dog, Kurobuta Terimayo is delicious!, make sure to try the Butter & Shoyu shaked fries

Full Report:

A couple months ago I went to Vancouver for the very first time.  A number of people had given me their recommendations on where I should eat when I was up there.  But I had known for weeks leading up to the trip where I would be going: JAPADOG!  This hot dog joint is famous for serving up a variety of Japanese-fusion hot dogs with such funky toppings as seaweed, bonito flakes, kimchi, and even yakisoba.  And we went not once, but twice during the weekend we were there. 

There are currently 5 JAPADOG locations in Vancouver: 3 stands, 1 trailer, and 1 actual store.  For our first visit to JAPADOG, we went to the stand on Burrard and Smithe.  It was a Friday night and downtown Vancouver was busy, busy, busy!  Unable to find parking, M and I were just going in circles for a while until I suggested that he drop me off in front of the stand.

japadog stand on burrard and smithe

japadog menu

Decisions, decisions!  At first I had no idea which one to get, they all looked so good.  But then I realized I could rule out #9 (sold out), #5 + #6 (wasn’t feeling the turkey sausage), and #8 (not a big fan of ume which is a sour pickled plum).  I made up my mind to just get 2 of the #1’s (Kurobuta Teriymayo) for M and myself.  I put in my order with the friendly vendor and checked out the celebrity pictures on the cart while I waited:

japadog cart celebrity pictures

Right when I was getting the hot dogs, M came strolling down the sidewalk.  He said that he’d found a space for the car but wasn’t exactly sure if he was parking illegally.  So we hurried back to the car and I took this picture of my hot dog in my lap:

japadog kurobuta terimayo

While I was busy taking this picture M was putting on his seat belt, peeling away from the curb, and eating his Japadog all at the same time.  He’s one of those people who can do a million things at once without breaking a sweat.  I, on the other hand, was realizing that putting the hot dog in my lap was a bad idea as terimayo sauce had dripped on to my jeans.  And a quick search in my purse revealed that I had forgotten my Tide to go pen, grrrr.  But all worries over my stained pants disappeared as I took my first bite of Kurobuta Teriymayo.

Now I like to think that I’ve eaten some pretty good hot dogs in the past.  Pink’s, Oki Dog, Portillo’s, and Dogzilla’s are the first to come to mind.  But this was the best hot dog I had ever eaten in my life.  The hot dog itself was just stellar, juicy and flavorful with a real snap when I bit into it.  And the toppings, mmmmmmm.  Forget ketchup and mustard, teriyaki sauce + mayo is my new winning combination.  The fried onions and nori added some texture and just tied the whole thing together.  Oh, and who doesn’t love a toasted bun?  M loved his hot dog too and said he wished that he had gotten another one.  He was seriously considered making a u-turn to go back to the stand but we decided against it given that we were waking up fairly early the next morning to drive to Whistler.  We agreed that if we had time we would go back to JAPADOG again the next night.

Well, fast forward 24 hrs or so and I really wasn’t feeling the JAPADOG.  We’d had a long day at Whistler with a visit to Stanley Park and I felt like something more hot and filling.  So we agreed to do ramen and deliberated for a few minutes on whether to do Kintaro or Santouka or Motomachi Shokudo.  We decided on Kintaro and had a great ramen dinner which I will definitely go into in more detail on a future blog post.

Well, jump ahead another couple of hours after Kintaro Ramen and, all of sudden, M said he really had a hankering for JAPADOG and wanted to try their shaked fries.  Since the stand didn’t do fries, we headed over to the JAPADOG storefront on Robson.

japadog storefront

japadog store menu

Sorry for the glare on the menu.  #7 is actually the Love Meat hot dog, an Arabiki Pork sausage with cheese and meat sauce.  The menu here featured some different items than the Burrard stand.  Pretty smart as it encourages patrons to visit each of the locations so they can try all the different types of hot dogs.  While we were waiting in line I snapped a couple pics:

japadog posters

japadog shaked fries

japadog ice cream

I really wanted to try that ice cream but I was still too full from Kintaro’s and practically had noodles coming out of my ears.  M ended up ordering the #5 Combo: Tonkatsu Dog, Butter & Shoyu shaked fries (most popular!) and a Canada Dry.

japadog tonkatsu dog

Even though I was super full I had to try at least one small bite.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t think the Tonkatsu Dog was going to be all that great but it really surpassed my expectations.  A lot of tonkatsu I’ve eaten in the past has been dried up and rather tasteless but this one was juicy and tender with loads of flavor.  It was also nice and crispy on the outside.  The tonkatsu sauce and purple and white cabbage were the perfect condiments.  But what really got to me were the butter & shoyu shaked fries:

japadog butter & shoyu shaked fries

I am telling you, if movie theaters start adding buttered fries to their menu their revenues will go up by a gazillion percent.  These were so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating them despite my protesting stomach.  The butter gave the fries a creaminess and the shoyu provided a light saltiness that was a welcome change from normal salt.

Since we got home, M has been talking nonstop about how JAPADOG needs to open up stores in our neck of the woods (Orange County, Southern California).  A quick search on the Internet revealed that JAPADOG has obtained a business license at LA City Hall and may be headed to a mall near us soon!  We’re so excited, I’m crossing my fingers that one will eventually end up at South Coast Plaza!