Hong Kong: Food trucks set to revive Hong Kong’s street food scene

By Roland Lim  | Channel NewsAsia

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HONG KONG: Plans to introduce food trucks in Hong Kong have been greeted with some scepticism, partly because of the high start-up costs and regulations that need ironing out. But others are hoping it will resurrect local street food culture in the city.

Korean street-food like fried chicken, kimbap rolls, crispy pancakes with toppings or popular Hong Kong staples like milk tea and pineapple buns are just some of the tasty possibilities when the city kicks off its pilot food truck programme in 2016. The government says the project is as much about drawing tourists, as it is helping caterers beat sky-high high rental costs.

Some, like 20-something sommelier Gordon Lam, have chipped in with some friends to get a food truck. Lam is hoping to inject some street level excitement with ideas like beer cheese hot dogs and Spanish omelettes.

“My idea is to have a food truck restaurant; I mean a few food trucks, one is for appetiser, one is for the main course, one is for coffee, dessert, wine,” he said. “So when you go to the food truck area, you can choose your appetiser, your main course, etc. It’ll be western-style mainly, and I will add some Hong Kong-style or some traditional food from China.”

His food truck costs around US$60,000, and he is presently hiring it out as an advertising tool, serving pre-packed food. To avoid breaking the law, there can be no cooking inside the trucks. The government has yet to address the stumbling block of amending existing legislation for the food truck business.

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There are also fears the food truck licences will end-up in the hands of big restaurant groups. So the city will be holding a cook-off to be judged by well-known food critics.

In the government’s pilot project, it has earmarked six popular tourists spots like at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai. Two food trucks will operate in each location, and the 12 trucks will get to rotate between the six locations.

Entrepreneur Simon Chung was ahead of the curve, when the government first broached the idea, and offers a one-stop shop from food truck sales and fittings, to rental and supply of ingredients.

“We used to have three, four calls a day,” said Simon Chung, Founder, Hong Kong Food Truck Association. “After the government announcement, we now take about 10 to 11 calls a day.”

He added: “The main difference is now we have a lot of big businesses that had previously been adopting a wait-and-see approach who now have the confidence to enquire about buying trucks.”

Chung has already sold 10 food trucks, at an average cost US$77,000 each. And just as street hawkers were aplenty back in their heydays, foodies are hoping food trucks will create new traditions with their tasty offerings.

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