Jul 5, 2012
Hello mates! Welcome to another exciting edition of THE RICE IS A LIE, or TRIAL for short. In this segment, we’ll be giving you insight on what’s hip and what’s not when it comes to an otaku’s daily sustenance. We’ll scour the metro for the best and worst food stuffs, most especially Japanese delicacies.
For this edition of TRIAL, Anonybear and I, The Mistress, headed to Alabang Town Center in Las Pinas, Manila to check out their newest wing. We were lucky enough to find a new hotdog in town, namely Hapadog.
You might ask, “what in tarnations is Hapadog?” I’ll leave Hapadog’s Facebook page and official site to explain everything. So, to keep things short, let’s just say Hapadog serves Japanese-style gourmet hotdogs. Still confused? Alright, get your daily dose of franks, top it with Japanese ingredients, and you got Hapadog! There, I hope that cleared things up.
In our visit to Hapadog, we tried out 5 of their gourmet hotdog sandwiches. Three drinks also joined us for the feast: peach flavor and melon flavor Ramune, and a tall glass of Lychee Iced Tea. Plus, a small tray of french fries graced our table as a delectable side dish.
The Drinks: Ramune & Lychee Iced Tea
Before we get our grubby hands into the 5 gourmet hotdogs on the list, the drinks we got deserve some mention.
Ramune, as some of you may know, is a carbonated drink sold in Japan, and is well-known for its oddly-shaped bottle. Its trademark narrow neck and glass marble inside makes it, not only a drink, but a novelty item for Japanophiles and curious people alike. Ramune has a lot of flavors to choose from. In Hapadog however, the only flavors they served were Original (lemon-lime), Peach, and Melon.
Ramune tasted like diluted fruit juice… but in a good way. We’re so accustomed to heavy carbonated sodas, or strong fruity tastes in juices, that Ramune’s diluted mix of fruit and soda was actually much more refreshing. The smell of fruit (in our case, peach and melon) was really strong yet sweet, that it was actually enticing and appetizing. The carbonated content of Ramune wasn’t so strong that it left us with a bloated feeling after downing one bottle. The fruit flavors were sweet, but not too sweet to get our taste buds in a bunch. The flavors were… just there. It’s like carbonated water, with less of the fizz and sugar, but more of the fruit. No wonder a lot of people love this drink.
The downside to ordering Ramune is the price. It costs PhP85 (or an estimated USD2.00) for a small bottle.
The Lychee Iced Tea also tickled our tastebuds. Served on a tall glass, the iced tea’s scent was fragrant enough to make us thirsty for more. Obviously, it had a dominating lychee taste (duh). The upside to this drink is that the sweetness level wasn’t excessively prickly to the tongue and throat. It had the right amount of sweetness, the right amount of tea-flavored “kick,” and had a whole lychee fruit sinking down to the bottom of the glass too! The drink was so refreshing, Anonybear actually had to order another one.
Unfortunately, the iced tea had no bottomless option. It doesn’t come cheap either. It’s an additional PhP75 (or ~US$1.80) on top of your hotdog order to make it a meal (additional fries + drink).
The French Fries
Anonybear’s order had a siding of french fries in it (included in the PhP85 meal option when you order a hotdog). The fries were cut in thick slices, prolly comparable to the size of the fries from KFC. The fries were lightly cooked, as evidenced by its pale color and lack of golden brown ends. The pale fries didn’t disappoint in taste, however. The potatoes had a soft texture, with a light crunch on the outside, retaining that fried taste that isn’t overwhelmed by the oil or salt. The fries were also lightly seasoned with shredded nori flakes (correct me if I’m wrong here though), giving it a slight kick complementing the fresh potato taste. Their fries can be eaten on its own, but Hapadog is serving it with a Japanese Mayo dip, infusing a salty and tangy mayo taste in a marriage of french fry heaven. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a big bucket of this.
Hapadog’s main attraction are their hotdogs, born from the American traditional frank topped with Japanese ingredients. We’ve tried 5 varieties of their hotdogs, and here’s what we got! (The first three hotdogs on the list were half servings only)
I’m no veggie aficionado, so please blame Anonybear for ordering this. Never in my life have I tasted spinach, and this is actually the first time I’m trying one, and it’s a hotdog topping.
You read that right. Popeye’s Dog isn’t the magical creature, Eugene the Jeep, from the sailor’s comics. It’s one of Hapadog’s gourmet doggie sandwiches. Popeye’s Dog has a hotdog topping made of… you guessed it… SPINACH. It also includes a roasted sesame dressing, and black & white sesame seeds.
Taking a bite out of the hotdog, the spinach flavor was overwhelming. The sesame dressing tossed on the greens didn’t make its presence known, and the sesame seeds had little help in adding to the taste too. Popeye’s Dog is “just another gourmet hotdog sandwich.” When combining the taste of the spinach and the hotdog, the sandwich, as a whole, had nothing special going on. It needed a bit more kick to excite the taste buds… a kick we found after adding chili paste on it (the chili paste was from the other hotdog we ordered, Nihon Chili). The additional spice of the chili paste blended the veggie and meaty tastes together. At the very least, it’s one of the healthiest dogs in Hapadog’s menu.
Just as the name implies, Korokke Dog is a reimagining of Japanese croquettes in a hotdog. So far, this hotdog is the closest we can get to a heart attack in Hapadog’s menu. The hotdog is actually wrapped inside a panko-breaded mashed potato and a hefty serving of tonkatsu sauce. Japanese or wasabi mayo (depending on your option) is drizzled on top of the breaded hotdog, with a sprinkle of nori flakes.
Korokke Dog looks unassuming and typical, at first glance. It doesn’t matter though, because the eating experience is entirely different! Taking a bite out of the hotdog, the tonkatsu sauce simply oozes out. The panko breading is very much crunchy, then suddenly terminates to a chewy, palatable mashed potato texture like no other. It’s like taking a bowl of tonkatsu and compressing it in just one sandwich. It’s also probably the heaviest we’ve eaten among the 5. The hotdog is a carbo-loaded extravaganza, with all that breading, bun and potato on it! Half serving was enough for us to earn our fill.
The Korokke Dog’s disadvantage is also its taste. Though the sweet and salty taste of the tonkatsu sauce and mashed potato effortlessly impress the taste buds, you eventually get tired of its taste, and a drink will be the most common solution to break that fatigue. We suggest taking this in half a serving instead. It’s enough to keep you going until your next meal ticket comes.
The Nihon Chili (stylized as Nihon Chiri) is the spicy hotdog of the bunch. It’s a flame-grilled sausage smothered with spicy chili made from Azuki beans, topped with onions and fresh tomatoes. Additional extra chili paste can be ordered by request (which we did, by the way). Wrapping the hotdog in breading is also optional, if you swing that way.
First and foremost, Nihon Chili is not as spicy as you think. The spice is not in the same level as kimchi, wasabi, or tabasco. It doesn’t make your taste buds itchy, and it doesn’t leave that dreaded indelible spicy aftertaste. Suffice to say, the Nihon Chili dog is lightly spiced. The hot flavor from the Azuki chili is there to tickle your tongue with a light singe. Putting the added chili paste gives off a spicier treat, but still not extremely spicy enough to warrant a glass of water after every bite. The tomato and onions give it a sweet taste that complements the spicy flavor. The breaded sausage added a little salty texture to the mix, making the whole Nihon Chili bite a burst of wonderful flavors.
Believe me when I tell you that taking a bite out of the Nihon Chili dog gave us one of the day’s “Cooking Master Boy” moments. We were awestruck in visualizing all that flavor rushing in our palate. I bet Liu Mao Hsing will feel the same way.
The Californippon was an entry in the menu we expected from a Japanese restaurant. There will always be a California maki-inspired entry in local Japanese-inspired diners.
The Californippon is probably the hotdog with the most number of toppings in the bunch we ordered. It had nori flakes, Japanese mayo (wasabi mayo optional), ebiko, kani, tamago, cucumbers, and avocador or mango (depending on the season).
Just as expected, the Californippon looks and tastes like a California maki. Its only difference is that the toppings are spread throughout the sides of the hotdog. Californippon tasted really fresh and organic, thanks to the crunchy cucumber and sweet mango strips lining the bun. The kani strip was thankfully a thick slice, while the tamago and ebiko were located dead center of the bun and hotdog. This is one hotdog sandwich you can actually enjoy even after the dog has gone cold already. The added meaty taste of the hotdog completed the whole essence of a California maki inspired-meal.
Its only flaw is that the Californippon takes some time to enjoy. The first few bites are a lacking, since the rest of the ingredients are pushed towards the center of the hotdog bun. You’re therefore left with cucumber, mango and hotdog on the sides, which isn’t as exciting. Nonetheless, the Californippon succeeds in giving us a unique take on the well-known maki.
The Hapadog is, obviously, Hapadog’s signature hotdog sandwich. Aside from the Nihon Chili, this one’s a personal favorite too.
The Hapadog is a smorgasborg of yum, combining caramelized onions, nori flakes, spring onions, japanese (or wasabi) mayo, and their super special “Hapasauce.” I seriously have no idea what’s in the Hapasauce, but I certainly want more of it in my Hapadog! This hotdog, being the first of the sandwiches we tried, was the other hotdog that gave us that “Cooking Master Boy” moment. The undesirable aftertaste wasn’t present in the onions after that caramelization. Instead, it gave our palates this sweet and delectable feeling far (and I mean waaaaaay too far) better than the caramelized onions found on Wham Burger (if I recall right). The nori flakes, spring onions, and the wasabi mayo neutralize the sweetness down to a palatable notch, making the whole sandwich balance itself out on taste.
The Hapadog has become a personal favorite, and I won’t mind going back for seconds.
Oh my, that was a very lengthy post. Pardon the long read, but the accidental visit to Hapadog certainly deserves a spotlight here on our TRIAL segment.
We tried out 5 of Hapadog’s signature hotdogs, and we were very much satisfied. TL;DR? They’re all delicious, and we won’t hesitate to come back for another round of hotdog binging.
Oh and yeah, we were also impressed by the overall presentation. The waitress had a mini kimono thing going on as her uniform, the food was served on wooden trays, and the menu had katakana and hiragana on them. Hapadog’s branch at Alabang Town Center was quite small though, seating only around 10 people or less. A take-out option is available however, and they pack the dogs in specially-made, easy-carry boxes.
Hapadog is also located in the Skydome area of SM North EDSA, with another branch in Makati City opening soon.