Finding myself downtown for a little shopping, a stop to Japadog’s restaurant location on Robson seemed in order. Accompanied by a couple of friends, we managed to catch a break in the usually long line up in the late evening.
Japadog began as a humble hot dog stand on the corner of Burrard and Smithe, and has since grown to include several locations, including a restaurant in New York. Predating the mad rush of food trucks and carts we see in current times, Japadog has a special place in the hearts of many Vancouverites who have enjoyed their particular brand of Japanese style hot dogs over the years.
Contrary to the impression I may be giving, I have not been a common face around Japadog. This occasion marked only my third interaction with them, with the first being at the original stand, and the second being shortly after they opened the Robson location. I enjoyed my prior experiences, but lines tend to put me off, and meal at Japadog can come with a wait.
Keeping things simple, I skipped the combo and ordered the Oroshi, which is a bratwurst topped with grated radish, green onions and a smattering of special soy sauce. The combo adds a can of pop as well as fries, which come in a variety of flavours including butter, teriyaki and garlic, just to name a few. As much as I enjoyed the butter fries on my last visit, I had to skip them this time as it was late, and I wanted to keep things in “snack” territory. Immediately after we ordered the line grew to approximately ten people, reaffirming my joy in having missed it.
My hot dog arrived in a toasted bun, complete with grill marks, and accurately resembled the photo on the board, which seems rare these days. Upon taking my first bite I found the bun tasty but dry, as there were no sauces between it and sausage. Wasabi mayo, which is regularly available on the side counter, did more than remedy this, as the spices from the mayo further accentuated the flavours that sat in the bun.
I enjoyed the flavour of the green onions, but found the radish detracted from the experience. In contrast to the dryness of the sauce-less bun, it was quite wet and did not contain enough flavours to make up for the mushy consistency. One would think the dry bottom half and wet upper half would cancel each other out, but the elements did not combine in such a fashion for me. The special soy sauce also did not make a strong impact, making things soggier without adding significantly to the flavours presented. While a bit hit and miss, I certainly would not go so far as to call any of the toppings bad. It is more so a case that they were just not as a good as they could have been.
The sausage itself was cooked well and tasted great. Juicy and flavourful, the bratwurst did more than enough to elevate the entire package into something I enjoyed. As I came closer to the end of the bun I contemplated ordering another, no longer to satisfy my hunger, but simply out of food lust.
To those who have never been to Japadog before, I would recommend the Terimayo, due both to its status as an original offering, and it’s solid flavours. While the bratwurst in the Oroshi is great, the toppings are more exciting to look at than actually eat. Be sure to grab that wasabi mayo regardless!
Unique hot dogs that back up novelty with proper flavour. A Vancouver food cart original that deserves your attention when craving something a little different.
Japadog, 530 Robson Street, Vancouver
Oroshi (bratwurst topped with grated radish, green onions special soy sauce)
$4.75 before tax