Dining out at some of Seattle’s finest restaurants serving dishes made with delicate fresh ingredients prepared by the hands of some of the most talent chefs around can really take it out of you. It’s tough work, but we’re doing it all for YOU. Sometimes it’s nice to head back to your roots and take a break from the rigors of fine dining and eat the same foods that helped create who you are today both literally and figuratively. That’s right, we’re talking about hot dogs, the edible building blocks of 20th century America. But, since this blog has standards we’re not just talking about your run of the mill Oscar Mayer wieners slathered with mustard, we’re talking dogs loaded up with toppings such as bonito flake, corned beef hash, nori and yakisoba. Welcome to Dog Japon.
If you’ve ever ventured past 1st and Pike you’ve probably seen an Easy-Up tent with people hanging around it staring at a man furiously tending to a grill on a small cart loaded up with hot dogs, corned beef hash, caramelized onions and plenty of other ingredients tempting passers-by with his Asian influenced creations. Dog Japon has become somewhat of an institution in downtown Seattle and autographed headshots and napkins signed by athletes and celebrities taped to the cart and trailer clue you in that this is not your grandpa’s street-cart hot dog.
The toppings are purely Asian and at first glance seem more odd than tempting when imagined perched atop a hot dog. “A kielbasa topped with nori, carrots, Japanese mayo and teriyaki glazed onions? That sounds weird.” Well, you’d be wrong, ya big dummy, because it’s popularity #1. As we’ve stated
numerous two times before, good signs when visiting an Asian restaurant are menus with pictures of the dishes and a majority of people from that culture eating the food. As you can see, picture menus are standard at Dog Japon and although the toppings are Asian, hot dogs are a decidedly American food and we’re happy to report Americans all over the spectrum from svelte and sexy (obviously us) to not-so-svelte but still somewhat sexy (most everyone else) were waiting for their gourmet Asian dogs. (sidenote: a 3rd positive indicator you’re going to get some awesome Asian grub would be strange translations and misspelled words, with bonus points for Comic Sans font…all found in the photo above)
As we had the uber
opinionated discerning super fan of the blog Dougie Fresh with us, we sampled three different dogs. It should be noted that the dogs are huge; each one would most certainly make for a full meal and at $5 each you’ve literally got one cheap and delicious meal on your hands. No seriously, they’re messy…it’ll be on your hands. The Jaga Beef Hash was sloppy with katsu sauce and a meaty corned beef hash atop the dog and tasted great. The katsu sauce really took over here and the dog probably could have used a little less to better accentuate the taste of the corned beef hash and cheddar cheese, but that’s nit-picking; it was still super tasty. Bonito flake looks strange and stranger still sitting atop a hot dog, but it works with the Kabuki. Combine it with red ginger, cabbage and the aforementioned sloppy katsu sauce and you’ve got a dog you most certainly wouldn’t have touched with a whiffle ball bat when you were a kid but absolutely should try as an adult.
Leaving the best for last–it IS popularity #1, after all–you’ve got the Matsuri. Translated as “festival” in Japanese, the Matsuri was a festival of sweet and tangy, contrasting the Japanese mayo against the teriyaki glazed onions. Throw in nori (dried seaweed) and crunchy carrots and you’ve got texture contrasts to accompany your flavor contrasts, which we are huge fans of. It’s not hard to see why it’s popularity #1 and may have won the race to see which dog would be finished first. To be fair, none of us were really doing anything but focusing on our individual dogs and not really wanting to share so it was totally the honor system on who finished first. (editors note: there’s no honor amongst this group…we’d each eat each other’s arm off, even if it were not necessary for survival.)
You deserve a break from sit-down meal service and to go back to your less healthy, more awesome days of yore as a
twenty-something child where eating a hot dog for lunch was standard operating procedure. Dog Japon is the perfect opportunity to feel like a kid again, but a kid who has the bravado to try a hot dog topped with seaweed and dried/flaked fish…and LOVE it.
1st and Pike (downtown)
Open for lunch