When you think of the most typical "American" food one of the first things that will generally pop into your head is hot dogs and hamburgers. It really doesn't get more much American than a good old Oscar Myer Weiner.
Japanese are known for having an affinity and curiosity for everything American. Naturally, it wouldn't be long before they would take the most quintessentially American food item - the hot dog, and cover it in the most Japanese things possible, like ramen noodles. Some call it sacrilege, I call it inspiring.
About two months ago, circulating on the streets of Montreal was word of Japanese-born fast food spot HOTTO DOGGU setting up shop downtown. I originally wrote about the opening when the news first came out.
Today, I decided the time had come to try this bubbly Japanese spot myself, so I headed down to Saint-Catherine Street with an open mind and an empty stomach.
Considering it was Monday afternoon and I was still recovering from a Saturday evening which involved a few too many, the idea of eating a sandwich constructed of mostly carbs sounded like pure heaven to me.
I wandered into HOTTO DOGGU at around 1PM, while the street was buzzing with downtown foot traffic, the restaurant itself was relatively quiet, especially for lunchtime.
The attendant at the counter greeted me with a friendly smile when I told her it was my first visit. She then showed me a menu of all the items available and pointed out the best sellers.
I already had my mind set on the ramen hot dog and ordered it as a trio - comes with a fry and canned drink - and it came out to a reasonable $10.
Now, let's get to the good stuff.
The ramen hot dog - which can be ordered spicy or not - looks amazing. It seems very unique, decadent, and ultra-photogenic in a brightly colored street-food style basket and bubbly logo adorned wax paper.
The taste, however, was on the disappointing side. While I love the concept of blending street food from the east and west, the final results were relatively bland. Maybe the results would have been different if I had ordered the spicy version? Who knows.
That being said, considering the concept is intended to be "fast food" style, and this sandwich took all of 3 minutes to come out of the kitchen, the time to quality ratio seemed pretty reasonable.
The hot dog tasted like your standard Oscar Myer frankfurter just a little bit larger in size. And the ramen itself was well cooked, but the seasoning lacked a punch that you generally hope to get out of Japanese food.
The side of thinly sliced spiralized fries covered in Japanese mayo was actually quite good, albeit a bit cold. But sadly, after eating the hot dog, I didn't have much appetite left for the generous portion of mayo-covered potatoes.
In the end, I would still recommend that you visit HOTTO DOGGU at least once, if only for the novelty of the experience. The concept and food items are unique for Montrealers, so it's definitely a fun thing to do. Despite the novelty, this is spot probably won't make the cut for your weekly restaurant rotation.
Check out HOTTO DOGGUs Facebook page HERE for all the info!