When Jeff asked me where I wanted to go for lunch on my birthday I answered ‘Japa Dog’. He said that I was a very cheap date, but having both read and heard about the stand on the corner of Burrard and Smithe I wanted to give it a try. We headed down Robson and as soon as we turned the corner onto Burrard the Japa Dog stand was visible by the long line up. We took some time to ‘assess’ the situation and figured out that one line was for ordering and the other was for picking up. We also noticed that we had better decide what we wanted before we got to the front of the line because everyone present – both those in line and the guy taking the order – was expecting a speedy transaction. The two staff at the stand were working feverishly but were relaxed, happy and smiling and thanking everyone for coming which I love!
The menu consists of both Japanese style options and regular hot dog stand options including All Beef, Bavarian, Turkey, Jalapeno & Cheese and Veggie. The Japanese options were much more complex for a ‘newbie’. Being only an occasional meat eater I first thought about having the veggie dog but when in Rome…I chose the Okonomi dog which consisted of Kurobuta Pork topped with fried cabbage, dried Bonito flakes and Japanese mayo. The flakes had a very strong flavor that I was not accustomed to and so decided to remove about half of them. This was a good decision and allowed me to enjoy the flavors of the cabbage, spicy mayo and the hot dog itself which I enjoyed.
Once home I did a bit of checking to find out that Kurobuta pork is also known as Berkshire pork which is more common in Japan than in North America and has finer marbling but also shorter muscle fibers that translate into more tender meat. I also discovered that Bonito is a preparation of dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna and is typically found in bags of small pink-brown shavings which is exactly the type found on the Okonomi dog and that Okonomi translates to ‘what you like’ or ‘what you want’. For the first try my selection was not bad. After watching the rest of the line up receive their dogs as we ate, I had my eye on the one topped with some type of seaweed for next time. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Jeff, the adventurous eater that he is, had an all beef hot dog with mustard and ketchup.
Food – DIFFERENT AND GOOD, Service – GOOD, FAST, FRIENDLY, Atmosphere – GREAT EXPERIENCE