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Originally published Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 7:00 PM

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Gourmet Dog Japon: Hot dogs with a Japanese twist

Gourmet Dog Japon, which has two Seattle locations (a stall inside Pike Place Market and cart between Second Avenue and Pike Street) does hot dogs with a Japanese sensibility — meat with wasabi, bonito fish flakes, dried seaweed and other toppings.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Gourmet Dog Japon

Japanese

Two locations: a hot-dog stall inside Pike Place Market and a cart between Second Avenue and Pike Street.

Hours: Pike Place Market stall, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; cart between Second and Pike, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Etc: Cash preferred (50-cent charge on credit-card transaction; Visa and MasterCard only).

Prices: $

As its name suggests, Gourmet Dog Japon does hot dogs with a Japanese sensibility.

How about wasabi, bonito fish flakes and dried seaweed on them dogs?

It chooses to take on the French spelling of Japan. But never mind that. Gourmet Dog Japon, which has two Seattle locations, is the latest to put a Japanese spin on an American favorite. It's a fusion that has not been as widely loved as Korean tacos or pork-belly banh mis. But it has a cult following.

The menu: There are eight to 10 hot-dog variations, about $5 each, with toppings such as ginger, cabbage and sweet mayo. Meat options include beef sausage, chicken-apple sausage, kielbasa and vegan tofu. A meatball sub ($4.99), on the board menu, also gets the Japanese treatment with teriyaki-glazed onions.

What to write home about: The "Kabuki," a beef sausage with bonito, katsu sauce and ginger — an exotic balance of fishy, sweet and salty.

Most popular is the creamy "Matsuri," a meaty kielbasa topped with carrots, dried seaweed (nori), sweet mayo and teriyaki-glazed onions.

A similar variation, less toppings but better, is the "Shogun," a kielbasa with salty bacon balancing sweet mayo and topped with onions.

What to skip: The "Chili Maru Cheese and Bacon" beef-sausage dog was too salty from all the bacon and cheese. It lacks the sweet and sour balance of the other dogs.

The setting: The hot-dog stand (inside Pike Place Market) and cart (between Second Avenue and Pike Street) are typical looking. It's not until passers-by glance at the board menu that they do a double-take, seeing wasabi-mayo and radish as condiments and toppings.

Summing up: The Japanese hot dogs are more filling than your typical mustard-and-relish version, with their meaty, creamy and sweet flavor combinations. Five hot dogs and a meatball sub totaled $31.50.

Tan Vinh: tvinh@seattletimes.com

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