After two months’ worth of pigs’ breakfast-level stress, I was finally able to get some serious time for myself over the weekend and found myself traipsing over to the Alabang Town Center where, in the two months and more that have passed since I was last there, a number of new restaurants have sprung up for the enjoyment of the dining public. (And the new Metro Gaisano Supermarket is open, too. Dear Lord, what a wealth of gourmet goodies they have on stock!)
I’ve been meaning to try Hapadog, the Japanese-Hawaiian fusion hot dog stand for ages – except, at the time, the only known branch was far off at the SM City – North EDSA on the extreme northern end of Manila’s MRT route! I’ve tried the wannabe version over at Sumo Dog (which, alas, has closed its doors), but felt it was somewhat soulless because all you got was either a sarnie or a tube-steak on rice and nothing in the way of either drinks or sides.
I decided to check out Hapadog’s ATC outlet despite the other new eateries in the area. (I mean: FINALLY! We southern suburbanites are getting branches of those cool nosh-joints that used to be found only in the QC/Mandaluyong/Greenhills zones!) The shop itself is a tight, wee place: a couple or so tables, a high bar with chrome and plastic stools, faux-bamboo paneling, and a projection screen where they flash J-pop/J-rock and anime videos during peak hours.
Part of the wall is dominated by a pictorial chart featuring the store’s combo meals which can feed everyone from a solo diner to a whole gang of hungry folks clamoring for some Japanese (or Japanese-inspired) grub.
I opted for a full-sized version of the eponymous Hapadog, a sarnie that brings together an American classic and throws in some serious Japanese flavors.
Here, a grilled pork sausage gets snugged into a fluffy-textured wheat bun like any classic Yankee dawg. However, in lieu of ketchup, mustard, and relish, this one got dressed with sweet caramelized onions, a generous shower of shredded nori, minced spring onions, and a splash of the store’s signature Hapa sauce – a condiment that brings to mind a sweet and peppery teriyaki marinade. The waitress will ask you if you want standard-issue Kewpie mayo or the wasabi-infused mayo; go for the latter.
What you get is a richly porky sausage that goes beautifully with the sweet onions. The seaweed shreds add a bit of smokiness that amps up the charred taste of the grilled dawg and the wasabi mayo adds a refreshing sharpness.
The fried potatoes (furaido-poteto as it’s written on the menu, a phonetic rendition of the words in katakana) are the perfect partner for the sarnie as these are magnificently chunky spud slices deep-fried till crunchy on the outside and fluffy within. (Brit-style chips, not scrawny Yank fries for the win!). They come to the table with a generous dusting of crushed nori and a wee dish of nori-dusted Kewpie mayonnaise.
One last thing: don’t order a canned soda with your meal. The sweet and refreshing lychee iced tea is the only way to go – and, yes: there’s an actual lychee floating in it. 😀