Monday, July 5, 2010

Cultural Cuisine: Le Hotdog

One reason we all love to travel is checking out the fused combination of foods inspired by the various local populations. It’s hilarious that the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Tokyo serves popcorn chicken sushi, for example, and Argentina is known for its European-evolved pastries. In Lima, you’ll find chifa, the local fusion of Chinese and Peruvian foods, thanks to a substantial Asian population. The combinations are astounding and -- oftentimes -- outstanding.

A few weeks ago I visited Vancouver and was surprised to discover that Canada has one of the largest Japanese populations outside of Japan -- which means that Canada also has some pretty kickin’ sushi. But perhaps more interesting than the upmarket food is the local favorite hot dog stand, Japadog.


Japadog takes an originally German food that has migrated to America, and then adds a Japanese spin. Um, how’s that? Simple: The meats and buns are the ballpark standards, but the gaggle of toppings offer interesting Asian-style flavors, textures, and combinations. Take Japadog’s most popular item, the Spicy Terimayo. It’s a spicy dawg topped with teriyaki sauce and dried seaweed, two standard Japanese ingredients. We also tried the delicious Oroshi, a brat covered with grated radish, green onion, and a thick soy sauce. Perhaps our favorite, though, was the Edamame Dog, a brat slice diagonally and stuffed with steamed edamame. Looking for ketchup, mustard, onion, and relish? No way -- Instead, Japadog offers teriyaki, wasabi, plum, and soy sauces.


Houston’s Hispanic population has evolved the standard hot dog into the spicy Mexican hot dog, and Vancouver’s Japanese population has developed its own cultural collision -- which begs the question of how many other populations have done likewise. Is there an Italian hot dog topped with marinara? An Ethiopian hot dog wrapped in injera? A Korean hotdog covered with kimchi?

As odd as it sounds, has the unassuming hotdog become a blank canvas for global cuisine?

10 comments:

JennyG said...

Serious Eats has a great series on regional hot dogs: http://www.seriouseats.com/tags/Hot%20Dog%20of%20the%20Week/1


They touch a bit on international styles, like El Completo from Chili, with saurkraut and mashed avocado and the Danish hot dog with fried onions.

Amber Ambrose said...

It is my dream to open a restaurant where the only thing available is hot dogs - but an array of toppings that would vary from seaweed (will be trying that soon) to mashed potatoes (Brazilian style). Those sound awesome!

Ruthie Johnson said...

JennyG -- Thanks for the link! Had no idea Serious Eats did a Hotdog of the Week. Hotdogs are a 2x/year thing for me, but some of those sound amazing.

Amber -- You've got my business! For those two yearly occasions in which I have a hotdog :D

Kelly said...

My boyfriend sent me this page after I went crazy looking at an old Bon Appetit article about Global Hot Dogs http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/2009/07/international_hot_dogs?mbid=synd_yshine_bon

Love your blog!

Ruthie Johnson said...

WOW. Those sound/look amazing. Thanks, Kelly! And dang, I guess this is not a theory. [Sigh.]

Steve said...

We just came back from Vancouver and also stumbled across Japadog. We didn't stop to get any (now I wish we would have), but they certainly looked interesting and delicious.

Val and Mani said...

Great. Now I'm hungry. I've been seeing a lot of "global" hotdogs on food television lately. I have yet to try one myself, but it'd be nice if we more exotic hotdog offerings in Houston.

Steve Romero said...

Lucky Dog (NOLA), Devil Dogs (Brenham - owned by a former Marine), and now Japadogs! Too cool.

Val & Mani said...

You can NEVER go wrong with a hotdog! Great article!

dining room table said...

This sounds amazing. I would really love to own a hotdog stand! That would really be great for me!