Although there is a lot of weird stuff going on in Japan, one of the strangest places (I think) is an area called American Village near a town called Chatan. It is near a few of the bases in the middle of the island of Okinawa, and so there is a high concentration of American military members and English in general.
Ballpark Hot Dogs, Chatan
This, right away, sets it apart from anything else on Okinawa. Add to this more “foreign” restaurants; Indian food, Mexican food and Thai food are scattered amongst the more traditional Japanese offerings, add a sprinkling of some “American size” clothing shops, a Starbucks outlet and a huge ferris wheel and there you have American Village. I thought it would be so horribly kitschy and touristy I could not stand it, but I guess I have been away from home long enough that I enjoy it. Your standards change when you move overseas.
Standards change when it comes to food as well. A friend recently asked me how I was coping with the different food. He meant cooking at our place, as he knows I think Japanese food is stellar, but sometimes you just need a taste of home.
You can get pretty much everything here if you look hard enough and pay enough money. Or, if you are willing to experiment, you can substitute. So the cheese is not as good as it is back home, but that’s okay, your tongue has a way of forgetting.
That brings me to hot dogs. I have not had a good hot dog in some time. I did not make it a point to even stop in at Costco or Fat Franks before I jumped ship in Edmonton, let alone make my own, so it has been a while. However, while we were in American Village a few weeks ago, we saw a new restaurant had opened; Ballpark Hot Dogs. It opened early in February 2011.
I was skeptical. I have had good burgers here, but not every burger is automatically good. Would a hot dog be any good?
Turns out it wasn’t good…
IT WAS AWESOME.
Perhaps this is a result of my tongue forgetting, but I really do think these hot dogs were quality.
Mike got the dog with chili, melted nacho cheese and sauteed onions. I got “The Nationals” or the dog with onions, chili and cheddar cheese. The buns were soft, the dogs juicy and plump and the toppings pretty fresh. They really pushed up my sodium intake, but they WERE delicious.
At the suggestion of the clerk, we also got some ranch bacon fries. The fries were a little underdone which made things a bit soggy but the bacon and ranch were a great combination.
Ballpark Hot Dogs is basically a take out hole in the wall, but there is ample indoor and outdoor seating on the top deck of Mihama Carnival Park, where the restaurant is.
The hot dogs are named after baseball teams and feature different toppings like nacho cheese, sauerkraut, salsa, onions (raw and sauteed) and various sauces.
Hot dogs run 390-450 yen which is a decent deal, since the hot dogs are made to order with fresh toppings. They also have sets with fries and drinks. The menu is bilingual and the guy who helped us had extremely good English.
Ballpark Hot Dogs
2nd Floor, Mihama Carnival Park (by Freshness Burger, by the ferris wheel)
American Village Chatan
open 11am-11pm everyday