The corner of Robson and Richards is bustling with life. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic is continuous, and a steady stream of people wander through the sidewalks. Me and my foodie companion are among those people. Amidst the bustle of street vendors, schizophrenic people talking to themselves, and the yuppies, students, and hipsters, something stands out. JAPADOG. Having seen their carts scattered around Vancouver and Richmond, I was excited to finally visit their store.
“I do my best to act dignified despite having said ‘Love Meat Dog’ a few moments ago.”
Walking inside, it’s probably the fanciest hot-dog store you could probably ever ask for. Mind you, it doesn’t have the interior of a five-star restaurant, but it’s far from the hole-in-the-wall that I was expecting. A sizeable menu touting a variety of Japan-themed Hot Dogs gleams overhead the cash registers at the front of the store. Hmm. So much variety. So much exotic flavours. So little time. My partner has made up his mind though.
The cashier repeats the order to the rest of the staff busy cooking at the back with an amicable and super authentic Japanese accent. This place is the real deal. I make up my mind and place my order.
“Love Meat Dog Please!”
I pause. God that sounded awkward. But it’s an item listed on the menu above. I’m not making this up. Seriously. Hesitant and awkward from embarrassment, I continue my order.
“…Uh…with…Butter and Shoyu Shaken Fries!”
I do my best to act dignified despite having said ‘Love Meat Dog’ a few moments ago.
We take our numbers and try to find a table. This task is harder than you could imagine; the place is literally almost filled to the brim with people. It’s practically a struggle to breathe around here, let alone walk around. After what feels like a soul-searching journey, we finally take a seat.
The awesome, super-authentic Japanese accent rings through the air. Pick up time.
We grab our entrees and quickly begin to disembowel them at our table. These Hot Dogs are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. They’re exotic to the point of being gimmicky, but they still deliver amazingly when it comes to taste.
The Okonomi Dog Meat is made from Kurobata, which I gather is a sort of Japanese Specialty Pork. Tender, juicy, and quite savoury. Bonito Flakes and Fried Cabbage line the sides of the Bun, and provide a fantastic but light crunch, and a subtle but very noticeable Oriental touch to the dish.
The Love Meat Dog (haha, still awkward to say) sports an Arabiki Pork Sausage covered in Cheese Sauce. It’s kind of like a Japanese Pizza sitting on top of a Hot Dog. A fine quality Hot Dog. Savoury, cheesy, and soft, resting atop a slightly charred Bun, it’s filling and satisfying.
Whatever. Push and shove works just as well. Get those elbows out at face-level and keep walking.
We emerge from the sea of people, satisfied and full. I open the door, smiling. Haha, ‘Love Meat Dog’. That phrase is still making me grin like an idiot.