If you are a gendai (non-Japanese) like me, ordering at Japadog, the new Japanese hot dog sensation on Robson street in Vancouver, is always fun (and terrifying too!): you’re never sure what you are going to get!
The menu is written in Japanese (Terimaki, Okonomi…) except for a brief description which always includes Japanese words, usually for condiments, flavors or vegetables that are typically Japanese and can not be translated into English.
On my second visit to Japadog I ordered Japadog #2 Okonomi. The description was: pork sausage, mayo and bonito flakes. What exactly are bonito flakes? Is this going to taste good on a hotdog? I was going to find out soon…
The waitress put a pork sausage in a bun, sprayed a zigzag of Japanese mayo, and added flakes that looked like very thinly sliced dried bacon. However, I knew right away this was not bacon, but most likely fish.
As I bit the hotdog, my assumptions were confirmed. It definitely smelled and tasted like fish. I resisted the urge to remove the flakes. After all, I paid $7 for a Japanese hotdog, not a regular hot dog!
When I took a second bite, it was hard to ignore the smell: the bonito flakes were right on top, right under my nose. Euw. I forced myself to a third and fourth bite.
As the steam from the hotdog escaped, the fish flakes started to wiggle and contort because of the heat. They moved like real fish! That did it for me. I removed all the flakes and enjoyed the rest of the hotdog “au naturel”. What an experience!
The weird thing is… I can’t wait to go back again and try Japadog #3 as part of my challenge to try all Japanese hot dogs on their menu. So, stay tuna!
Update: I googled Okonomi and found out it means “what you like”. As for bonito, it’s a word used to describe various fish similar to from the tuna. Fish hotdog anyone?