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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.

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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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The VanCan ScranVan Diaries: The Fat Duck Mobile Eatery Ltd.

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As I mentioned in my last entry I’m currently spending some good times with friends in Vancouver and as such my life of pie has taken a slight detour while I recharge my batteries and figure out exactly where I want my life to go next but I’m not going to bore you with that…instead I’m going to bore you entertain you with my tales of the best that Vancouver’s Food Trucks have to offer.

The idea to do this was actually floated to me by my host a couple of months ago, advising me that native Vancouverites (Is that right?) pride themselves on their culinary diversity and quality and that the food truck scene is something not to be missed. At the time I hadn’t really given it much thought, in fact it wasn’t really until last night that the conversation cropped up again but as I woke up this morning with no real clear plan it dawned on me to download the ‘Street Food Vancouver’ app and have a proper look. Imagine then my joy as 27 locations popped up open for business. The die had been cast and I would grab some lunch and then see where the day would take me.

Before I get started as followers of Meat Filled Pastries will tell you it is usually at this juncture that I will roll out the tried and trusted phrase of, “Without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!”, however since pies are not necessarily the order of the day it would be remiss of me not to pull another literary gem out of the bag.

So, with the intro done, let’s have some Van Scran fun! (That’s rubbish, innit?)

Where: Corner of W Cordova St. & Howe St. The Fat Duck Mobile Eatery Ltd.

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I had decided to head to the Downtown district of Vancouver for my first food truck foray, partly on the recommendation of my hosts but also because that was where all the arrows were pointing me too on the app. Initially I was going to start my journey blind heading towards which ever venue appeared first but knowing my mass indecision when it comes to food (I will pretty much try anything once), I thought it would be better to put a bit of planning into this maiden voyage and so the decision to visit the Fat Duck Mobile Eatery Ltd. was made helped by the fact that on hitting a click-through on the app a menu was provided.

The Menu
The Menu

My eye was immediately drawn to the Duck Confit ‘Philly’ Style. A rift, I assumed, on the classic Philly Cheese Steak. At CAD$10 (Approx. £5.50) it looked an absolute bargain and so I placed my order ignoring the tempting allure of something called a ‘Dirty Bowl’ whilst also trying not to giggle like a school girl while the young fellow in front of me asked if the woman behind the counter’s Dirty Bowl was spicy. I’m such a child!

As part of the ordering process I had to make up a name for myself as over the last few days it has become apparent that the Canadian ear seems to struggle with somebody saying ‘Chris’ in a strong Glaswegian accent and so ‘Marshall’ (These may get more intricate as the week goes on) awaited his order. When it arrived in its large boxed container it smelt amazing and on opening I wasn’t disappointed. The saliva glands were working overtime and I walked away looking for a place to devour my scran.

Duck Confit 'Philly' Style with Marinated Mushrooms,  Pickled Onions, Swiss Cheese, Scallions (Spring Onions to you and me) and Parmesan Mayo, with Chips (Crisps) and Chilli Mayo
Duck Confit ‘Philly’ Style with Marinated Mushrooms, Pickled Onions, Swiss Cheese, Scallions (Spring Onions to you and me) and Parmesan Mayo, with Chips (Crisps) and Chilli Mayo

My initial thought was to stroll along to Canada Place, a long pier just off the city centre, however as soon as I sat down a seagull the size of a Shetland Pony promptly sat itself down beside me and so I relocated to a less coastal location in the hope of eating my lunch in peace. As I hope the picture shows this was bursting to the crusts with meat and veggie goodness, served on a ciabatta bun I was concerned that any bite I took would end in disaster due to the occasionally chewy nature of this bread but luckily my bite was masterful as always and a couple of chews later and the party had started!

The first thing that struck me was how well the duck had been confit and the fact that there was very little fat amongst the meat, it was seasoned well and was speckled with lovely dark crispy bits throughout that added a deeper duck flavour. Next up on the palate was the wonderfully sweet and tangy pickled onions, using red instead of standard white onions should be considered a masterstroke as the sweetness complimented the duck superbly and the fresh scallions added a bit of additional crunch and a fresh, but light, onion back note to the sandwich. The marinated mushrooms added extra bite and pleasingly tasted of mushrooms. That may sound daft but an overcooked mushroom is a travesty to food, my only problem here is that as I write this a few hours later I am unable to pinpoint the marinade used.

The final part of this sandwich, and perhaps the most interesting to me, was the addition of the Swiss cheese and parmesan mayo. My natural instinct was to dismiss duck and cheese as a combination too far but I was sorely mistaken. The mild Swiss cheese melded really well with the tender pulled apart duck just melting and adding a smothness to the rich meat whilst the parmesan mayo added a salty seasoning to the entire thing that I really enjoyed.

The crisps were nicely baked and seasoned whilst the chilli mayo was a pleasant accompaniment, smoky with a mild heat but the sandwich was clearly the star of the show, if everything from a Vancouver Food Truck tastes as good as this you’re going to have a very happy pie man.

VanScran Rating: 8/10

I’d love to get some feedback on this, much like the first ever pie review this was an idea after the event so there will be some things getting changed for next time anyway. Although this is slightly outside my comfort zone in terms of writing it’s something I’ve always wanted to give a bash so we’ll see how it goes, until next time….

Find a Van. Eat Some Scran! (That’s better)

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.