Allen, the Dog Hunter

I’ve been on a secret dog hunting mission for several months now. When I visited Vancouver in January, I spent several days looking for the now infamous Japa Dog which Anthony Bourdain visited last year. The uniqueness of this hot dog stand is that it serves the dogs in a Japanese fusion style.

Unfortunately, I never found Japa Dog in January. I later read on Yelp that they don’t always open their stand each day. Depending on weather (or personal schedules), it can be hit or miss. While walking around the city, we’ve kept our eye out but have never seen the stand open. We tried again the other day, but alas no Japa Dog on the street corner.

Joe called me yesterday while he was running errands to say he spotted the hot dog stand open. Unfortunately, I had just finished leftover eggplant kuku so had to pass, but was pleased to learn they had been spotted in the wild.

Today, we decided to venture out in the rain (well, it’s always raining) and head over to the corner of Burrard and Smithe where Japa Dog sets up. After our 10 minute walk, we were fairly wet (no umbrella, that’s just how I roll), but our spirits were not dampened when we saw the stand ahead of us. Finally!

We lined up behind three people already in line and waited. And, waited. It took us a couple of minutes to realize that they were still setting up and no one had placed any orders yet. A girl and guy behind the stand were putting out condiments while we waited. And, waited some more.

After 10 minutes, they started taking orders. The line had grown to 10 or 15 people at this point, all eagerly waiting (to be honest, my eagerness was waning a bit as the rain finally penetrated my coat and was now seeping into my shirt). My first realization about Vancouver is that I really need to invest in a rain coat.

I ordered the Misomayo (turkey dog, radish sprouts, miso-mayo) while Joe had the Terimayo (beef dog with seaweed and teriyaki flavored mayo?). The dog looked good and I grabbed a squeeze bottle of light green color that contained wasabi flavored mayo and gave my dog a few shots.

Note: Misomayo is on left, Terimayo on right

We ran up to a nearby storefront to get out of the rain and to take photos (of course). I’m not sure what I was expecting … I’ll admit it’s good. I loved the wasabi mayo and toasted bun, but something about it just didn’t live up to the hype. Granted, this could all be due to the rain and my lack of patience with waiting for so long (as well as hunting for the dogs for so long). We both enjoyed them but agreed it wasn’t worth the effort — we will gladly wait until a sunny day occurs to have them again.

On both sides of the hot dog stand they have big signs showing all the ‘famous’ people who’ve eaten their dogs. Anthony Bourdain is probably the most recognizable one. Well, then there is Ice Cube. I don’t know why but the photo, caption, and idea of Ice Cube chowing down on 10 turkey hot dogs just makes me laugh every time I see it:

The Anthony Bourdain show likely helped give the hot dog stand a big boost since it seems many tourists know to look for Japa Dog. A second location at Pender and Burrard opened in February … but we haven’t been able to confirm this. We’ve looked but never found them there. It’s too bad because it’s even closer to where we live.

I am happy that I can now mark Japa Dog off my list of things to do in Vancouver. Now, I need to figure out what I should hunt for next … me thinks it will be banh mi. I’ve had one since coming here but it wasn’t very good.

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  1. My Terimayo was good all and all. The sausage was bigger than the bun which is a good start. The bun was perfectly toasted and the sausage was also nicely grilled. The wasabi mayo was great. I’d take shredded seaweed over relish anytime.

    I’m doing the Grace Adler’s I Told You So dance – get a raincoat!

  2. Sounds quite interesting Allen…I’d be curious to try this mix of flavours before commenting…but thanks for telling us about it.

  3. Ciopinno’s was very good when I was in Vancouver… one of Bourdain’s buddies in the Vancouver episode… I also went to Tojo’s… probably overhyped. Didn’t go to Vij’s, but the Sooke Harbour House was magnificently beautiful.. and.. good!

  4. I enjoyed your post!
    I’m a Vancouverite and have heard of Japa Dog. My thing is this…why wait in the rain and bother hunting these guys down when you can make a perfectly good version at home? T&T sells the Japanese kewpie mayo and all those sauces in squeeze tubes as well as all the other Japanese toppings. That being said, I prefer ketchup and relish still…
    Good Banh Mi…have you tried some of the places along Kingsway where all the Vietnamese restaurants are located?

  5. Joe: Yes, yes, yes … I turned down buying a rain coat when I had the chance (because I was being picky). I’ll get one soon!

    Peter G: They are definitely worth a try :-)

    Vince: Thanks for the ideas — I look forward to trying these out!

    Arundathi: Haha … I know, I know. I am a ketchup/mustard kind of guy but there is something about the wasabi mayo that made it all good. I’ve started liking mayo on fries too.

    Cakebrain: I’ve been wondering which bloggers are located here! We actually discussed the fact that the dogs were easily made at home. I forgot to mention that the dogs cost around $5 so they aren’t cheap. I love T&T and have made many trips to both International Village and 2nd St. locations. I’ve found a recommendation for a Banh Mi place on Kingsway near Knight that I’m hoping to try soon – will let you know if it’s any good :-)

  6. I love your hot dog expose! I don’t think I would have been a fan of anything after waiting in the rain for 20 minutes, but I also agree…there’s something not quite right about a hot dog without plain old ketchup and mustard.

  7. Those hot dogs look pretty good. I’m always hesitant to try a place that’s been featured on TV. The hype never really lives up to the real thing. Either way, it makes for a great story.

  8. The hotdog stand is about the same as what we have in Malaysia but the hotdog they serve is a bit different. You can see our hotdog stand on my blog and please comment the difference if you don’t mind. Thank you.

  9. Those hotdogs look great! How creative and interesting. I love Asian-inspired anything, but this may be the first Asian-inspired hotdogs I’ve seen. Too bad I’m all the way in Boston — too far from Vancouver!

  10. Loved reading about your hunt and sorry to hear it was disappointing. I hate it when that happens, all that anticipating and then being let down. Oh well, it doesn’t take away the excitement of the hunt and I guess that is why I can’t stop doing it. All those great food and travel shows have me running around like crazy now when I travel. Best wishes for your next find!

  11. Congratulations on your new home, and new adventures! I am quite impressed with your dedicated hike in the rain! :-) Your photo is fantastic – all the dog-toppings are beautiful!

    Thank you so much for your congrats comment… :-) It means so much! :-)

  12. Allen I didn’t see this specific episode of Anthony Bourdain but the Japa Dog looks a simple place with a tasteful Japanese-street flavor….I’d like to enjoy the Terimayo one :)

    Keep up with your food new adventures there!


  13. I always worry that things I hear are so good aren’t going to live up to the hype. Buy a raincoat & the sun will come out! I bought one to take London & it was sunny everyday. Glad to have you back!

  14. Welcome to Vancouver! How’s all the rain and cold treating ya? I hear that people are harvesting citrus in California these days…, in their short sleeves and sandals…

    I second the banh mi recommendation on Kingsway near Knight. For a really good sandwich, there is the Social Butcher Shop and Deli in Gastown and La Grotta del Formaggio on Commercial Drive. For a true Westcoast experience, visit Go Fish at Fisherman’s Wharf on a rainy day and order some fish n chips and/or salmon tacones.

    We’ll talk noodles next…

  15. Thanks for everyone’s comments and sorry for my delay in responding. The weekend turned out sunny so I had to take advantage of it!

    Erin: Agreed — ketchup and mustard :-)

    Culinary Cory: It’s possible (just possible) that I also hyped them up in my mind … shame on me!

    My Taste Heaven: I’ll have to take a look at your post. I love food stands :-)

    Christina@DeglazeMe: Just whip out some mayo and wasabi and you can make them at home!

    Lori: So very true — but I still fall for it every time.

    Astra: Thank you!

    Gera: A terimayo dog is on its way to you :-)

    Kat: My complaining about the rain seemed to make it go away for this past weekend (hooray!).

    Cynthia: Now I can move on to exploring more of the local food!

    Helen: Oh, Helen … I like the way you think (i.e. noodles next)! I’ve been enjoying all of Vancouver … even the weather. The consistency of California weather can be boring. Although it wasn’t quite warm enough for shorts, I was harvesting meyer lemons and oranges from the trees in our yard right up until the day we drove away ;-)

  16. Yes investing in a good raincoat will be an excellent idea living in Vancouver. But when the sun shines, it really does shine!!!I live 5 hours from you in the Okanagan so am out of the loop. Check out Eat magazine ( line for suggestions of foodie haunts in your area.

  17. Welcome to Vancouver Allen !!
    I’m also moving to Vancouver from CA, even though I was from there originally. Good to see you are back to the blog ….
    For the best Bahn Mi in your area, Ba Le in chinatown. There is another location on Kingsway but this is much better. Just ask for a sandwich and they’ll know. I usually ask for extra cilantro and jalapenos as they kinda skimp on them.
    If you haven’t already, go to Richmond for some really great chinese food !!

    Bon appetit !

  18. When you like mayo on your fries, you know you’ve moved out of the US, huh? :-)
    Reminds me of Pulp Fiction – how in Amsterdam, they drown the Fries in Mayo! lol!

  19. Nice to have a backlog of posts from you coming home from our trip!

    Anyway, I havn’t been to Japadog, but I don’t think I’ll make a special trip for it. It has to be when I’m in the area. So I guess that means I’ll get to have one… eventually. =)

  20. Man, I missed this when I was in Canada.

    There is a place called Walters by me in New Rochelle that makes the best dogs I’ve ever had. Check them out when you are in the area.

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