Friday, September 03, 2010

Thursday, Sep 1st - Japadog's new Dog House - Not super Veggie Friendly

Japadog Robson Store
When you read the title of the post, you may be tempted to say 'Duh!'.  But hold on now!  Let me dispell the misconception that Vegetarians cannot appreciate a good Hot Dog.  There is something quite comforting about 'Street Meat' for me.  Toronto, where I grew up, is fantastic for the choice and the ubiquitous Hot Dog stand.  Even in London, UK, they come out of the woodworks after the clubs start to close.  They take it to the next level by frying Onions to lure the teetering patrons over.
In Vancouver, they are quite limited and for a Vegetarian, quite disappointing.  They are Shorter, Skinnier and lacking flavour.  If you are an Omnivore, you know the nice fat Tubes that are at least 3 cm in diameter than the vendors will slice on the bias along the Dog to create more nooks and crannies in which loads condiments can nest.  If you try that on the Vegetarian Dogs in Vancouver, they'd simply fall apart.  They are basically the same ones I could buy myself in the supermarket. 

Even the world renown and much lauded Japadog franchise treats the Vegetarian Option as an after thought.  I could try to convince myself that the Veggie Dog used  to be bigger when I bought them from the Street Stall on Burrard but it might have just been the experience.  If you look at the famous menu with unique and creative fusion of the North American Hot Dog with Japanese flavours and condiments, each has been designed with a particular type Dog inside.  You can request that any of them be served with a Veggie Dog and for those dogs where you are replacing an standard Dog, you will get a close approximation of the intended flavour.  Otherwise, it's a miss.  That makes J sad and makes her buy more Sushi at lunch.  It is so strange they have not considered designing a Vegetarian Dog in a city like Vancouver.  Come on!

I chose the new Robson Store for lunch today.  I don't have to speed walk or cop a squat on the planters in front of the hotel who likes to turn the sprinklers on at lunch to scare Japadoggers away.  I can order and be back at my desk within 15 minutes.  And now that they have a store, they have started offering French Fries or as they call them Shaken Fries.  They offer three types of fries shaken in a paper bag with three types of toppings.  I ordered the Anori (Seaweed).  The other two were Butter and a indeciferable Salt of some sort.  I read the description twice and am not sure if I read a chapter from some Manga cartoon or a TV manual but I do not understand what is on the third.

The Store took nearly a year to complete.  I watched every day as it seemed to near completion and then regress into construction mayhem.  It missed the Olympics entirely and when it finally opened in the spring, it was rather disappointing.  It is small with seating for 5-6 at most.  There is a take out window as well but the same people come inside and order from the same person.  There is alot more room in the kitchen so I reckon the biggest improvement is for the staff.  There is a proper grill and no one is teetering in on a small stool or serving cans of soda from a camping cooler.  One noted improvement is the condiment area.  There is a wide variety lined up and you can top your Dog with extra Mayo, Pickles or Peppers to your heart's content.  But you will still wait in long line ups during the peak meal times.  I mean really, I guess for that end of Robson, it was a much needed dash of variety.  We're just that block too far from Yaletown or Burrard for a quick bite and there is only so often I want Falafel.

One thing that did not change is the staff.  The owner still uses a regular stream of Japanese ESL students.  Be patient.  The staff's knowledge of the English language pretty much extends to the contents of the menu.  They're terribly friendly and want to be helpful but they cannot understand more than the simplest of requests.  Perhaps, that is meant to add to the charm. 

Oroshi Vegetarian Japadog and Anori Shaken Fries
As I mentioned I ordered the Fries.  The offer 'Lunch Combo's with fries and a drink.  I ordered the Oroshi Dog, Anori Fries and a Tea.  The fries are a pathetic little sack.  Really a puny serving considering that the standalone prices is over $2 before tax!  My little combo cost me $8 and I had the least expensive Dog!  You know how much Lunch Sushi I could buy with that? :^P   Seriously, it is quite over priced particularly for the limp, sad, little Vegetarian weiner I got. 

It looked like the sad little kid trembling in line to climb the rope in gym class on the grill next to the plump Berkshire Pork or Bratwurst dogs on the grill next to him.  I have had the Oroshi before and I seem to have forgotten how awful it was and ordered it again.  What was I thinking!?  I remembered the minute I got it but it was too late.  The Dog comes topped with Grated Asian Radish, Scallions and some Soy mixture.  I doused it in Wasabi Mayo and in the end it was the only thing that helped.  The Grated Radish is like chewing on a wet sponge and it falls out as you bite it.  It does not even have the nice spicy kick that Asian Radishes have.  There is also a very unpleasant after effect that I recalled only too late.  Do not plan to spend any time in a crowded place after eating the Oroshi Dog.  You will be volcanic.  Let me leave it there. 

I think the next time I tire of my other options, I might have the Okonomiyaki Dog again.  I like the Bonito Flakes.  Too bad it will still be the same Veggie Dog.  They do sell better and fatter ones even the market!

Cost: $$$ (for a hotdog and fries, FCOL)
Service: Comical and confused
Ambiance: Cute but missed the mark on why people go there.

Japadog (Robson Store)
530 Robson St
Vancouver, BC V6B
(604) 569-1158
Japadog (Robson Store) on Urbanspoon


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