Recent policy changes in the city are allowing for street food businesses to grow. The types of food allowed, the locations at which the businesses can sell, and the permitting fees required are being changed to allow for more flexibility. It’s a pretty costly enterprise, though it’s cheaper than opening a full restaurant. As a culinary student, I am fascinated by the types of foods that street food trucks serve and by the ability of the staff to keep up with the long lines during mealtime rushes. Kamala of Marination says that they expect to serve over 200 guests in less than two hours. Wow! It’s a less expected direction for a culinary student to pursue, but it’s an expanding piece of the food industry. The trick is to find something that sets you apart – like a Japanese hot dog.
Street food is popular in Seattle, and there are a few notable farmers markets that play host to well-known food trucks, like Skillet or Maximus Minimus. Not to be left behind, some other smaller businesses are also cropping up with their food truck offerings. I found Gourmet Dog Japon on 2nd Avenue just before the Pike Place Market, and they serve Japanese hot dogs.
What’s a Japanese hot dog? It’s a hot dog covered with Japanese condiments, pickled ginger, pickled vegetables, and furikake, a blend of nori and spices. Sounds totally strange, unless you’re in the habit of adding those types of seasonings to your other foods. I would have been surprised, but I have a dear Japanese American friend who regularly keep furikake nearby regardless of what’s for dinner. So, of course, I had to try the hot dog.
I am not usually a fan of hot dogs, though there is something about indulging in one during the warm summers. I often will choose a different food, because I find that hotdogs are overpriced and unimpressive. I also cringe at the sodium and fat content — and sometimes the types of meat products added to the links. Being a nutritionist, I know that some hot dogs can give you most of the sodium you need for the entire day! These hot dogs aren’t cheap, costing about $5 per dog, and they’re not fancy, other than the assortment of unusual seasonings. These hot dogs probably win points on creativity and ingenuity, and the flavors were good. The hot dogs are grilled, so they’re crisp and brown, not moist and pale. I was glad to see that, because boiled hot dogs just don’t appeal to me.
I ordered the “everything” dog, so my hot dog was laden with all sorts of pickled specialties and some squeezes of spicy, salty, fishy sauces. Pretty tasty. It was like topping your hot dog with all of the condiments available from the toppings table at a ballpark hot dog stand. Some of the sauces clashed, and most of the pickled, curling vegetables fell off when I bit into it. It was satisfying, salty, and filling.
The location of the Gourmet Dog Japon is unusual. It sits on the edge of a parking lot, one that frequently fills up with tourists flocking to the Pike Place Market. It’s probably a good location, because it’s a mere block to the Chase bank business offices and multiple other offices. The truck also catches the tourists who are wandering around downtown Seattle and who may be experiencing sticker shock at the lunch prices in some notable but somewhat costly restaurants. The smell of grilling hotdogs does entice the walker-by, even in the rain, you can usually see a customer or two stopping by to get a hot dog during lunch break.
If you have a fairly daring palate and solid stomach, then stop by Gourmet Dog Japon. It’s an entertaining one-in-a-lifetime hot dog experience.