The VanCan ScranVan Diaries: Japadog

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After a couple of hours at the Rogers Arena watching a free-to-all Vancouver Canucks training session I had decided to embark on journey two of the VanCan ScranVan Diaries, there was a slight problem though. It was absolutely belting it down and I, being Scottish, was woefully under-prepared for bad weather on my holidays and as such the prospect of wandering the streets and getting a good drenching for my troubles wasn’t really revving my engine and it was at this point I remembered the stories I’d been told of Japadog.

As the name, suggests, a Japanese themed hot dog truck that now had a fully enclosed shop somewhere in Downtown Vancouver, I could get the ScranVan experience whilst not running the risk of pneumonia.

So with the intro done, let’s have some Van Scran fun!

Where: Static location in Robson Street with other carts and vans available.

wpid-20150413_121703.jpg

On entering I was greeted with the kind of scene you would expect to be greeted with in the bustling market of east Asia. A wall splattered with brightly coloured descriptions of food all lit up and laminated whilst the accommodation consisted of a smattering of small tables, after assessing the situation I realised I was a bit phased by the menu.

Would you like fish with your hot dog?
Would you like fish with your hot dog?

The general theme seemed to be a hot dog of some variety topped with some kind of fishiness, whether that be seaweed or bonito flakes. One of the boards on the walls championed the ‘Kurobuta Terimayo’ as the their number one best seller and so never one to shirk a food related challenge I placed my order, making it a combo deal with a portion of sachimi & garlic ‘shaked’ fries and a bottle of water. Due to the mental way bills are calculated in Canada, where bits and bobs of tax are tacked on afterwards, my order cost a rounded down CAD$10.10, (£5.75).

A Kurobuta Terimayo Hot Dog with teriyaki sauce, fried onions, terimayo and crispy seaweed with a side order of sachimi & garlic 'shaked' fries.
A Kurobuta Terimayo Hot Dog with teriyaki sauce, fried onions, terimayo and crispy seaweed with a side order of sachimi & garlic ‘shaked’ fries.

The first thing I noticed was that it didn’t smell like a hot dog but more pungent of the sea thanks to with the shredded seaweed topping, it was pretty off-putting to be honest but never the less I took my first bite.

Frankly it was all just a bit weird. Looking at the main event first let’s start with the positives, the dog itself was nice. It was billed as ‘Berkshire Pork’, but not really knowing what that is the closest comparison I can come with up is that of a Polish kielbasa, salty with a firm texture and an outer casing that popped when bitten for the first time. The bun was a little over toasted but was nice and soft without being stodgy but is at this point the positives end. The teriyaki sauce and terimayo were a strange combination, contrasting instead of complimenting each other. A good teriyaki sauce is a joy to behold but a bad one, oh boy, a bad one is like somebody has dispersed napalm onto your taste buds, this sauce was more napalm than joy and almost had a plasticky mass produced feel to it. The onions were fried but quite greasy and the seaweed apart from adding the smell of the coast added nothing to the overall taste. I ate it all but by the end I had decided I didn’t really like it.

It wasn’t all bad though, the sachimi & garlic ‘shaked’ fries were fairly tasty. The ‘shaked’ name apparently linked to the method of preparation where a portion of skinny fries are thrown into a brown paper bag along with the requested spices upon which the cook closes the bag and gives it a good shake. They were pleasant but paled in comparison with some of the cajun fries that do the rounds in burger joints back in Glasgow.

I left Japadog thinking that this was a gimmick that just didn’t work. I had been told stories of hour-long queues during the Vancouver Winter Olympics so there clearly is a cult following for the product but for me it was a disappointing take on the often glorious hot dog.

If somebody ever asks, ‘Would you like your hot dog with or without an array of ill-fitting Asian ingredients?’, politely say ‘without’ and ask about the fries instead.

VanScran Rating: 5/10 (3 of which were for the fries)

This was my second disappointing ‘new’ food experience in a few days. I had spent the weekend in Whistler and had my first ever Caesar. A drink made with Vodka, Celery, Celery Salt, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco, Lime and Clamato Juice which, as the name suggests, is a combination of clam and tomato juices.

A Clamato.
A Caesar.

Garnished with a rim of salt and pepper it was a strangely hot and pickly mixture that started with promise before building to a crescendo of flavour that confused your palate so much that you felt compelled to almost instantaneously take another sip only to then curse that decision seconds later. All the components were there for this to be a taste sensation so I may give it another bash before I leave but as it is…

Until next time, Find a Van. Eat Some Scran!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

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