Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Japadog and Guu

Vancouver is to Japanese restaurants as Portland/Seattle is to coffee shops. Which is to say, there is a fuckton of Japanese food here. We sort of knew this; I mean, we knew we couldn't afford to spend as much time in Japan this fall that we feel the flight warrants, and we heard that Vancouver has the largest Japanese population outside Japan. So we did the math, and it turns out to be true. Lucky us! And only an hour flight from home.

Let me tell you about Japadog. You might remember Japadog from such No Reservations episodes as Tony in the Pacific Northwest. We weren't actually intending to come here. In fact, it wasn't until we were in line that we remembered that Bourdain had been here. So, apparently, had Ice Cube. Ten times. No, starfucking wasn't our impetus, it was the smell of kurobuta pork served up as the Misomayo (hot dog slathered in a mix of miso and kupie mayo, with radish sprouts on top) and Oroshi (hot dog with daikon relish and scallions). I wasn't feeling brave enough to try the Okonomi (pickled cabbage, sweet sauce and mayo with nori shreds), but there's always tomorrow.

Kurobuta is called the "kobe beef of pork", and the dog tasted like a really good weisswurst. The toppings were fresh and not really out of left field - pickled crucifers, onions and sweet/salty condiments are all familiar tastes with a hot dog, but this was somehow still quite Japanese. We were lucky to stumble upon this cart (there is a shocking dearth of street food here), and are a steal at only a couple bucks each.

899 Burrard St
Vancouver, BC

Japadog on Urbanspoon

Guu Izakaya (the O - distinguished from its three other locations) was one of those places that look so great from the outside that you make an audible cooing noise and can't wait to come back when it's open. We did come back later, and after being greeted with enthusiastic screams of "Irrashaimase!" we were seated at the bar.

An all-Japanese staff, mostly Japanese clientele (the English-speakers next to us returned to Mandarin when the waitress left) and the din of knives, grill and wok really reinforced that we were in the right place. Typical of an izakaya, the menu consisted of small plates: a verdant pea shoot salad with slivers of red and yellow bell pepper, pine nuts and soy vinaigrette; grilled squid legs (the tips of the tentacles were charred-crispy) with sriracha mayo; ethereal tako yaki, perfect tender nuggets of octopus within steamy soft dumplings with golden brown exterior and the house udon (suggested when I asked for their mebutsu) - earthy/smoky from the grill, with chunks of beef and scallion. Many glasses of the house sake were consumed, and we stumbled back to our hotel three hours later with wide smiles. I literally have not had such a bliss-inducing dining experience since Honjin in Tokyo.

I, tragically, forgot my camera and didn't remember until we were done eating that I could just use my phone. Scott pulled his out and snapped a few shots of the smiling chefs. But we'll go back again before we leave - it's worth a repeat. Maybe we'll even be brave enough to try the beef liver sashimi.

Guu Izakaya (with Garlic)
838 Thurlow Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 685-8817

Guu on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Konichiwa! Nice eats. Jealous.

Peter M said...

Look...the sun's shining in Vancouver!

Good to know they have alot of street food. We're lacking in that, due to the City's anal ways about health regulations and food carts...Pfft!

peter said...

I've never been the the PNW, and now I have yet another reason to go.

Syd said...

That hot dog with sprouts is the absolute faggiest hot dog I've ever seen.

Manggy said...

Looks great-- rare that I eat a hotdog without ketchup, though. Blasphemy for some, I know!
The takoyaki sounds really good... I've only had that once. I wish I had the proper molds for it :)

Emily said...

I think the hot dog looks good.

What happened to your camera?! I saw your update on Twitter.

Heather said...

Abadeeba - And konbanwa to you!

Peter the Greek - No, there isn't any good street food! Just this and a couple other hot dogs. Not even any donair or kebab. :(

Jube - You really should come on out. It's nice.

Syd - Was it the giant peen pointed at you that makes it seem faggy?

Mark - Scott likes hot dogs with ketchup and mustard, so I ain't mad atcha. Also, that sweet sauce is practically ketchup. (#^-^#)

Heather said...

Em - Otto! I missed your comment. A waitress at a French bistro last night accidentally bumped it off the table and its guts are broken. Sad.


omg -- I couldn't agree more on how GOOD their pork wieners are!

That's funny though, the wiener with the sprouts. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! We make multiple visits to JapaDog whenever we are in Vancouver. I love the oroshi (sp?). Don't know how long you'll be there, but if you get a chance, check out Feenie's in Kitsilano. I swear he makes the BEST burgers ever. Ever!

Núria said...

You are having a fantastic holiday up there in Vancouver!

I've tried Kobe beef and it's out of this world! I could only afford it once though! Wonder how the pork tastes??? Is it that good?

Alicia Foodycat said...

Why are there so many Japanese in Vancouver? Nice for the food but what drew them there? Bugger about the camera.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

They don't call Vancouver Hongcouver for nothing. It has its fair share of Japanese shops, eateries, etc

Laura Paterson said...

Very nice - I didn't know Vancouver had such a high Japanese population!

Can't believe your camera's broken :(

Lo said...

... I am finding myself making rude slurping sounds in response to your post. Bum camera and all.

Glad you're having a good holiday!

Heather said...

Traci - I wish I could get those in Portland! I'll have to try making this with German sausage instead. :P

Saffoula - Thank you for the suggestion! I'll put that on the list.

Núria - It is pretty good, but nothing like kobe beef. :)

Foodycat - I think it's because it's the closest major city to Japan in North America? And the climate is somewhat similar (maritime climate).

Valli - Hongcouver is funny! And apt.

Kittie - I know! There's no macro on my phone. I'm only barely surviving. :(

Lo - Slurp away! I can't say I blame you.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

As a lover of hotdogs, I have to say I was rivited by the Japadog. I'm wanting to try some now.

Anonymous said...

NICE! we're off to canada next w/e too - but the other side of the country. those dogs look great... i thought so when i saw them on no reservations. damn, anything that ice cube eats 10 times (in one sitting?), i'm eating.

glamah16 said...

That looks really intersting and tasty.Vancouver sounds like a blast

Brittany said...

sorry to hear about your camera's untimely death : (

Japdog is something I most definantly need to try. Like right now.

Jen said...

Wish I'd known about these places when WE were in Vancouver. Cool.

Thistlemoon said...

Glad you are having a good time and those hot dogs look right up my alley!

cookiecrumb said...

Totally cool!
We have nothing this cool in San Francisco. Well, that I know about. Because if we do, and I don't know, I'm a big fat stupidhead.

Nikki @ NikSnacks said...

...You're turning Japanese...I really think so...

Anonymous said...

Wish we had this in Chicago. That kurobuta dog sounds great.