Japanese Hot Dogs: The Definitive Guide

When it comes to Western food in Japan, strange things have happened throughout the course of history. I’ve seen the likes of ketchup rice, pasta with mayonnaise or deep-fried hamburgers filled with potato salad being born out of the craze called yoshoku.

While Western food has been a phenomena in Japan for decades, seeing Japanese ingredients on Western dishes was never a big thing. Until now.

One of the earliest adopters of the current Asian fusion trend we are now experiencing all over the world was – and still is- based in Vancouver, Canada. Crossing the unspoken boundaries of east and west are Japanese hot dogs, taking on the traditional sausage and bun, sprinkling it with Japanese toppings. What started in the Pacific Northwest over a decade ago is now slowly positioning itself across Western food markets, even becoming the center of attention of newly opened restaurants.

So what is the intrigue? What qualities does it have that seems to win people over across the world?

I present to you the definitive guide.

How It All Started

Vancouver, cirka 2005. A swarm of hungry Vancouverites are gathered around the archetypical sidewalk hot dog stand during lunch time in downtown. But this is not your ordinary run of the mill hot dog stand. With a sprinkle of paper-thin seaweed toppings, a good amount of teriyaki sauce and kewpie mayo on top, the Japadog took the Pacific Northwest by storm.

Without a single doubt in anyone’s mind, the Japadog has been the largest innovation to land on the city’s street meat map since the Yves Famous Veggie Dog made its way in the late 90’s.

When it get introduced, the Japanese hot dog was just another fusion that became popular across urban centers around of British Columbia. Local pioneers like Rob Feenie had already introduced a variety of crossover fusions to Vancouver a decade back, so when the Japanese hot dog came into play, there were really no need to explain what it was. Vancouverites embraced it naturally.

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How Hot Dogs Are Viewed In Japan

Eating hot dogs in Japan is a different animal compared to Vancouver. The Japanese usually slice the hot dog like they slice fish cake and eat it straight out of a bento box as part of something else. In Japanese history, there has been a lot of adopted and tweaked dishes from the West that eventually became Japanese standards. This particular food is labeled as yoshuku. An omelet with fried rice and ketchup, croquettes, or sandwiches are among the foods that are yoshuku, but hot dogs topped with Japanese condiments were not considered that.h

What the Japanese hot dog indeed is, is a grab-and-go fusion dish born on the street that grew up over the internet. Social media has helped many foods like this (think of the Korean taco), and the local Vancover sensation Japadog certainly helped. What started as a unusual sidewalk hot dog stand expanded to several, and the Japanese hot dog, which really is a mystery in Japan, became a sensation. Since 2005, its inventor Noriki Tamura has been the undisputed champ of street food in Vancouver.

Japanese Hot Dog Recipe: Different Variations

  • Served with an-all beef dog topped with fried onions, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and seaweed. 
  • Fried cabbage, bonito flakes, Japanese mayo and soy sauce.
  • Pork bratwurst, Daikon, green onions and soy sauce.
  • Homemade beef and pork meat sauce and flambeed cheese.
  • Yakisoba noodles and slivers of pickled ginger, Arabiki sausage.
  • Turkey dog with Miso sauce, topped with shredded cabbage.
  • Avocado, Cream cheese, Japanese mayo and soy sauce.
  • Shrimp and signature chili sauce.
  • Turkey sausage with mild Kimchi, topped with Kurogoma (black sesame).
  • Deep fried pork cutlet marinated in tonkatsu sauce topped with fresh cabbage. 
  • Sliced onion with special plum sauce. 

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