SAN JOSE — There’s a new dog in town. No, it’s not top dog. No it’s not Der Wienerschnitzel. No, it’s not a hot dog. It’s the “Nikkei Dog” created just for the 2010 Nikkei Matsuri and premiered on April 25 in the festival food court.
The Nikkei Dog has two varieties. One is a teriyaki dog with shredded cabbage, nori with either wasabi mayonnaise or plain mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun. The “suno” dog includes daikon, carrots and “suno” slaw or cilantro garnish with mayonnaise. The third choice, for the less adventurous, is called the “traditional” dog, and has mustard and pickle relish.
According to Viki Inouye, the youth director of Wesley United Methodist Church, the concept for Nikkei Dog “came from a street vendor in Vancouver who calls his creation ‘Japadog.” While it lacks historical sensitivity and was thought to be a racial slur, it was the invention of a less-than- aware Japanese national and was seemingly quite a hit during the 2010 Olympics. It was noted on a YouTube video that people would stand in line for hours just to get one of these Japanese-style hot dogs. Each dog was unique with different Japanese toppings and marinades.
With that idea in mind, Inouye got her creative juices going and she along with brother-in-law Larry Inouye crafted together two uniquely-styled Nikkei dogs for the festival.
Sandi Kaneshiro, one of the first to try both kinds of Nikkei Dog choices, remarked, “It looks so good. It is an unusual combination [of condiments] that you wouldn’t think to put together, but this is absolutely yummo! You can tell everyone it ‘broke da mouth!’ ”
Emily Kawaguchi took her first bite and with a mouth full of this tasty choice, the 19-year-old said, “It’s good!”
Her mother, Cyndi Kawaguchi, remarked, “It’s messy, but it’s excellent. All these ingredients separately are different, but together, it’s really good. It’s the best I’ve ever had at this festival.”
From beginning to end, this new food item was the hottest seller. In fact, at the height of the lunch hour, indeed, there were lines, but this line stretched out into the street. And the Wesley Youth food booth was sold out by 2 p.m.
It was good to the very end. Mona Otomori got the last two dogs, and relished her good fortune, stating, “It’s onolicious!” — meaning better than delicious in pidgin.
There were perhaps only a few in the whole festival, my cousin being one of them, who ordered the plain, ho-hum, “traditional hot dog” because, according to him, “That’s exactly the way I like them, and it was good.”
Not to worry. With such a success, the Nikkei Dog is here to stay.