Gourmet Dog Japon at Seattle's Pike Place Market
There's no denying that the Japanese have some seriously bizarre food treatments, particularly when Western food gets involved. Referred to as yoshoku, they include things like the ubiquitous ketchup rice (or spaghetti) pizza with pasta and mayonnaise on top and shrimp stuffed into the crust, deep-fried hamburgers filled with potato salad (apparently sticking two American things together makes it extra American), and perhaps the weirdest thing I've seen in Tokyo: a wax model of a what I took to be a German bratwurst described on the menu simply as "Mr. Boo."
That said, what you don't often see is the addition of Japanese ingredients to otherwise foreign foods. In this way, their odd culinary tinkerings are segregated along country lines.
But what happens when cross those unspoken boundaries?
Gourmet Dog Japon in Seattle's Pike Place market goes there, and as it turns out, there is a uniquely delicious place to be.
The stall, which uses the Japanese spelling of Japan, but serves beef sausages, meatballs, chicken sausages and Polish kielbasa with a slew of Japanese toppings, was opened last August by Shinsuke Nikaido, a Tokyo expat (they've also got a cart version that sets up over on 2nd Avenue). They run at around $5 apiece.
Of the several suggested topping combinations offered, the most interesting was the Kabuki, which combines grilled cabbage, bonito flakes, pickled red ginger, Japanese worcestershire, and a few squirts of Kewpie, the sweet, thick Japanese mayonnaise that should probably go on everything.
Biting into it, the initial impression is very similar to that of takoyaki, the Japanese street snack consisting of batter-dipped chunks of octopus cooked in spherical cast-iron molds. Like these dogs, you can get them with a diverse array of toppings, most of which combine sweetness in the form of teriyaki or worcestershire, pickled elements, and intensely savory notes from bonito flakes or nori.
It's difficult to even see the sausage underneath all that action, but it's robust and flavorful enough to come through when you make your way to it through all the toppings.
Gourmet Dog Japon
Pike Place Market, 1000 Pike Place, Seattle WA 98101 (map)
Pike Street and 2nd Avenue, Seattle WA 98101 (map)
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