Japadog, the wildly popular Japanese-style hot dog chain from Canada finally opened a location in New York last week, and I have to say I’m hooked. In the past week, I’ve been twice already. A lot of people find the toppings weird, but I don’t get it. We’re not talking jellied moose nose or maggot cheese here, just good ol’ Japanese toppings like miso, nori, and mayonnaise. Pretty benign stuff that’s also freakin’ tasty.
There’s twelve different hot dog variations at Japadog, but I keep going back to the Terimayo ($4.81), an all-beef hot dog with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, sautéed onions, and nori strips. The beef sausage leans on the salty side, but with mayo, sweet teriyaki sauce, and onions, it works. David feels the seaweed adds an unnecessary fishy taste, but I have no complaints. I’ve been eating sausage kimbap my whole life, so I’m used to the combination of seaweed and sausage. As for the bread component, Japadog uses larger hero-size buns instead of regular hot dog buns. The buns are hefty in size but are also airy so they don’t overwhelm the sausages. I like the buns because they develop a good crust on the grill and the larger size prevents topping loss. You don’t want to lose any toppings at Japadog, they’re often the best part.
I’m also partial to the extremely carb-friendly Croquette ($9.14 with fries and a drink), an Arabiki hot dog (coarsely ground Japanese pork sausage) topped with a deep-fried potato croquette or korokke, sautéed cabbage, and tonkatsu sauce. The croquette on its own isn’t so great (it tastes like the generic frozen variety), but cut up, drizzled with tangy tonkatsu sauce, and eaten with the fatty, slightly sweet pork sausage, it’s fantastically satisfying.
Whatever you do, just don’t order the Negimiso ($4.81), a chicken sausage topped with sautéed cabbage, miso sauce, and fresh chopped scallions. The sausage is smalll, and whatever there is of it is extremely dry and tasteless. Even the bright, vinegary miso sauce couldn’t save it.
Fries ($2.39) can be ordered regular or shaken with spices. The fries tend to be soggy and wimpy, so it’s best to liven them up with some seasonings. Schichimi & garlic (pictured above) is the most obvious choice (and not a bad one), but butter & shoyu is the real standout. The shoyu adds some umami tinged saltiness, and the butter…well it’s butter. What’s not to love? There’s nothing to love about the curry, however. It’s surprisingly sweet and full of cinnamon à la cinnamon sugar mall pretzels in the worst possible way. On pretzels, OK, on anything savory, awful.
Wasabi mayo is another way to doctor up the fries. I love the extensive condiment station at Japadog. Not only do you have ketchup and mustard, there’s also the aforementioned wasabi mayo, relish, sauerkraut, and gherkins. I wish the gherkins were more sour, but hell, it’s free. Eat them anyway, it’ll help cut the grease of the hot dogs and fries. And my favorite thing to do? Dip the fries in wasabi mayo and stick them in your Japadog of choice. Nothing’s weird at Japadog.