The hot and sultry weather has banished the usual Vancouver evening chill, sending us out of our stuffy rooms to prowl the night. One of these walks took us past What’s Up? Hot Dog! on Hastings, and we decided to indulge in the great hot dog trend. Hot dogs are having a moment on the West Coast these days, perhaps as a counter-point to the great East Coast upscale hamburger wave. A recent article in Oregon Live highlights the explosion of specialty dogs in Portland and Vancouver follows Portland’s trends fairly closely. But is a trip out for a hotdog worth it? Can an East Van hotdog compete with the monolith that is Japadog?
What’s Up? Hot Dog! is a fun place, with a low key retro decor. I am happy to say the food is excellent, and the innovative toppings take the average dog in new directions. We tried the Hanzai dog, which was a great example of Vancouver creole with its combo of pickled ginger, wasabi mayo, tempura crunch, and black sesame seeds. The flavours complimented each other well. Other dogs feature local ingredients, and complex flavour mixtures. What’s Up? Hot Dog! also has made a solid effort to provide vegan options, including vegan sauces and a version of pulled pork made out of jackfruit. The whole experience was a reminder of how far cuisine has come from the bad old days when plain hotdogs on dry buns were the only street fare Vancouver had to offer. The restaurant is now renovating to qualify for a liquor licence, and I will go back when I can pair my dog with a local craft brew.