Country of origin: Canada
Locations worldwide: Six in Canada and NYC
NYC locations: One in the East Village
The new year has already seen the arrival of a delicious foreign invasion. Vancouver's Japadog is proving that there's more to Canadian fast food than Tim Hortons. Right at home with the ramen and yakitori on Saint Marks Place, these Japanese-style hotdogs are already attracting lines out the door of its first US branch.
Seaweed, bonito, daikon, miso: all traditional Japanese ingredients. And at first glance, all strange on an American frank-stuffed bun. These are no mere stunt dogs, though. Despite the seemingly outre toppings, the flavor combinations make perfect sense after you taste them and the proportions remain on the sane side of overstuffed.
Explorers should start with the signature Terimayo ($4.75) to acquaint themselves with the concept. The beef frank is drizzled with slightly sweet Japanese mayonnaise and sprinkled with bonito flakes and porcupine-like slivers of nori. The hidden bed of caramelized onions and teriyaki sauce add another layer of sweetness, but the overall flavor is beefy with a hit of pleasant fishiness tempered by the mayo's fat. It's kind of like a surf and turf in tube steak form, but very Japanese.
The Croquette ($5.98) pairs crispy fried potato cakes with Arabiki, a snappy, smoked pork sausage. The two star components are accented like a traditional Japanese croquette, with tangy Worcestershire-heavy tonkatsu sauce and livened-up with a small amount of sauteed cabbage. Carby or not, this hotdog was a good little meal in a bun.
Fries ($2.39) can be ordered with a variety of seasonings like aonori (seaweed powder), curry, butter and shoyu, and lightly spicy shichimi and garlic (pictured). The fried potatoes aren't anything special, but they are a nice starchy vehicle for the wasabi mayonnaise.
Along with said spicy mayonnaise and standard pickle relish, ketchup and yellow ballpark mustard, you can also find cornichons, barbecue sauce, and Sriracha to dress fries or dogs, the only two categories on the menu.
Japadog promises rich and fatty Kurobuta pork wieners soon. In the mean time, high-rollers can order a $13.04 Kobe beef dog dressed with caviar, a special exclusive to the NYC outpost.
About the author: Krista Garcia is a freelance writer and reformed librarian. Being obsessed with chain restaurants and Southeast Asian food, she would have no problem eating laska in Elmhurst and P.F. Chang's crab rangoon in New Jersey on the same day. She blogs at Goodies First.