Japadog (Waterfront Station) – Vancouver, BC


Japadog (Waterfront Station)
600 W Cordova St
Vancouver, BC

Much is already out there about the Japadog phenomenon.  Your truly has had his fair share of dogs at some of their outlets, but this one at the Waterfront Station was a first timer.  Melding in with the throngs of visiting tourists fresh off the cruise ship and wandering around Gastown was interesting to say the least, and I could do some casual observing of how they interacted with our fair city.  A few minutes near the Japadog cart was a key highlight.  I’m sure many of them had no clue what was going on or being offered here.

I haven’t bothered to keep up to date with the latest flavor combinations but this #6 on the menu board, the Gokudare, seemed something fresh.  I should have investigated further.  But alas, I got drawn to the classics.  This time the #2, Kurobuta.  I love how they have dubbed it the MVP – the Most Valuable Pork.  I’m torn if that’s the result of a clever play on words or some odd Engrish creation…

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Japadog (Robson Store) – Vancouver, BC


Japadog (Robson Store)
530 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 569-1158

September 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Over the years, I can say I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made it to the front of the line at a Japadog stand and ordered something to eat.  If I were to add the occasions when I saw a lineup and avoided it all together despite wanting a ‘dog and the instances when I’ve actually gotten into the queue only to give up part way through due to time (and my thorough disdain for standing in lineups), I would need all the digits on both hands and feet.  With this in mind, upon hearing that the minds behind this incredible food business success story began planning and finally were able to open the doors to their first non-cart venture, I was anxious to see what the setup would be, as well as the new menu offerings…

However, my trips to the downtown core and becoming few and far between of late, as I simply detest the traffic (the auto and human kind inclusive).  Perhaps its the slowly warming weather that’s making me testy when I have to dodge traffic on both the roads and sidewalks – as well as growing numbers of out-of-town tourists gawking at maps, suddenly stopping and pulling suitcases too if you ask me.  But in spite of these obstacles and mental anguish, I decided to bite the bullet and see if the storm of their launch had subsided somewhat, which would enable me to place and order and get my food and spend as little time as possible waiting as I could.  Choosing a sunny Saturday afternoon when other people had the same idea apparently, was what destroyed my dream of a quick in-and-out visit.

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Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – Reykjavik, Iceland


Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Pósthússtræti
101 Reykjavik
No Phone

Within every food culture is a fast food identity. Foods of convenience. Cheap, quick, and often one of the tastiest experiences you can have. At a minimum, it provides very strong insight into a slice of a nation’s identity. In Iceland, that food is the Pylsur.

Near the Reykjavik harbour lies one of the most famous “hot dog” stands in the world. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur can claim Bill Clinton, and Metallica as some of their fans. But really, morning, noon, and night, this is THE place in Reykjavik to get a pylsur – and you’re likely to meet lots of locals and tourists alike.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur translates as “the best hot dog in town”, and it really is.

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The Hot Dog Corner (Crossroads Market) – Calgary, AB


The Hot Dog Corner
c/o Crossroads Market
1235 26 Avenue Southeast
Calgary, AB

Potato slices.
Fried crisp and golden, salted
Tantalizing taste

Potato chips. The under appreciated younger sibling of the french fry. Thinly sliced, crisp, lightly salted, with a satisfying crunch. Surprisingly enough, they are not all that difficult to make at home. A good oil thermometer and a mandolin pretty much do the trick. Yet, unlike the french fry, they are difficult to find fresh. My favorite in Calgary may have been L’Epicerie, though sadly, Dominique no longer makes them. I was ecstatic to find out that they do serve them at the Hot Dog Corner in the Crossroads Market.

Right in the middle of the food court in Crossroads market, I’ve never seen much of a lineup at The Hot Dog Corner. Loaded with odds and ends, they definitely try to offer a lot of different things that might be missing at other vendors. However, they do serve fresh chips. Fresh being a relative term. To be honest, they are pretty hit and miss – depending on how long ago they were fried. They sit under heat lamps after frying. A few hours doesnt seem to affect the outcome too badly. When they’ve been sitting out all day, or as i’ve suspected in the past when they are pre-boxed, maybe multiple days, they really suffer. However, when they are good, they are quite good. A little inconsistent on the seasoning, but crunchy, not too oily, crisp bites of potato goodness.

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Puka Dog – Honolulu, HI


Puka Dog
Waikiki Town Center
2301 Kuhio Avenue #2
Honolulu, HI 96815
Tel: (808) 924-7887
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10AM to 10PM

Refreshing twists to orthodox food or dishes is a delicate balancing act when it comes to yours truly…

For some things, I am a devout traditionalist and really appreciate those who respect the “old way” and cringe at words like fusion, or “east meets west”.  At other times, I am much more lenient with a chef’s creative inspirations and open minded to trying something “different” from the classic interpretation.

I can’t say I have a hard and fast rule to describe where this fine line exists, but it could be that it rests with just how “common” a food item may be.  The more “everyday man” food it is, the greater the probability that I will accept a variation that is above and beyond the standard image I hold of it in my mind.  Dear readers, would you say you hold a similar or contradictory mentality when it comes to “new ways of doing food”?

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It was by just sheer chance that I came across Puka Dog while strolling along Kuhio Avenue.  Previous to me stepping in front of the doors, I had never heard anything about this place and thus was unaware that it had a cult following and had received some press from the likes of the Travel Channel (as the manager of the store keenly mentioned to me when he asked what brought me to his counter).

I responding that the lettering on the glass window facing the street suggested to me it was something unique and thus curiosity got to me.  The influence of Japadog in Vancouver probably got me thinking this way –  another way of presenting and flavouring simple hot dogs?  That’s something I just had to try.

The ordering process is your basic conveyor line approach.  Walk inside and the cashier takes your order.  Step one, choose either the Polish sausage or Veggie dog –  the latter being a much thinner wiener from what I saw (and apparently harder to get cooked right in their grill).  Next, select the heat level of the “garlic lemon secret sauce”: Mild Original, Spicy Jalepeno, Hot Chili Pepper, or Hot Hot Habanero.

Then the flavouring choices diverts into two paths: Tropical Relishes or Traditional (ketchup, mustard, regular relish).  Not sure why you’d want to go with the latter, as that doesn’t really make the whole experience happen, but some in line I heard did.  The Hawaii-influenced relishes include Mango, Pineapple, Papaya, Coconut, Banana, and Star Fruit.   I elected to try the Mango relish and added a side that came in a small cup of the Hawaiian Lilikoi mustard, as recommended to me, and it indeed was a good match when pasted in with the small ice cream cup wooden spoon.

Watching the construction of the dogs is interesting.  As seen from the above image, the buns first of all, are not your regular hot dog type.  The soft texture reminded me of the delicious Filipino bread rolls better known as Pan De Sal.  Each long single bun is wrapped in paper and literally pierced on one side down the middle (with “puka” meaning hole in Hawaiian) by placing it on this rack of hot steel tubes that look like mini missiles that heat and toast the core.  The sausages are placed in a grilling deck that shoots them out once they are fully cooked in a nearby resting tray.  The key here that really surprised me was just how evenly crispy the sausage was, even at both ends.  Taking that first bite, it was like a cap tearing off the tip of the dog – great for crispy food lovers.

Once the bun is ready, some squirts of the garlic lemon sauce (from plastic bottles) and the relish (from the multiple relish taps that line the counter much like beer taps in a bar) is deposited in the bottom of the bun.  Next, the wiener is inserted with some tongs, and then more of the sauces are added in from the top. With multiple orders, I could see how painstaking a process this is, in making sure you are putting in the right type of garlic lemon sauce and relish into each dog.  Nothing worse than expecting a mild tone and finding an erroneous inclusion of hot Habanero sauce!  Eating it feels very much like consuming a donair or Shawarma as you work your way down the bun trying to keep all the insides from dripping out of the paper envelope.

As much as I enjoy your standard fare hotdog with ketchup, mustard and relish, this Puka Dog was so unique not only in its flavoring combinations but the texture and cut of the bun and the all-around crispy wiener, that makes me proclaim that perhaps its my new favourite type of hot dog.  I only wish they had an outlet on the west coast of Canada.  If you are ever on Oahu, or Kauai (their first branch), I recommend you give it a try as the hype is well deserved!  Oh, and don’t forget the fresh squeezed lemonade.

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