Hong Kong’s food trucks roll out, but will be fixed to designated locations over space constraints

Three of 16 trucks to start operating on Friday, while another eight will open in the coming weeks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 11:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 February, 2017, 9:36am

The first three of 16 food trucks will hit the road on Friday – in a manner of speaking, as space-starved Hong Kong’s maiden foray into the mobile commercial kitchen business means the vehicles will be rooted at designated locations rather than cruising around the city.

Eight trucks will gradually start operating in the coming weeks, while the remaining five, which are still waiting for their licences, are scheduled to commence by early March.

The 16 operators approved by the government will take turns to rotate between eight designated locations, beginning a two-year pilot scheme first proposed in the 2015-16 budget.

Hungry for success, Hong Kong’s food trucks hit the road

Already, some operators are concerned about challenging business prospects.

Book Brothers, known for its American-style barbecue meat in steamed bread, will be among the first three operators cooking from around 11.30am to 7.30pm at Golden Bauhinia Square, Wan Chai.

The operator, which runs seven food trucks in the United States, said the set-up in Hong Kong was less flexible.

“We can park anywhere in the US as long as the truck is not blocking the road ... but here in Hong Kong we can’t park around,” said Raymond Wong Wai-man, general manager of Atlantic Sunrise Food, which will operate the Book Brothers truck.

Starting from February 20 the truck will move to the quieter Central Harbourfront Event Space, with fewer tourists, which has Wong worried about getting enough customers. His company has invested around HK$1 million on its start-up.

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Operator Carrie Lam Kit-wai’s Pineapple Canteen food truck will start selling pineapple buns with fresh cream in Salisbury Garden, Tsim Sha Tsui, at around noon today. She admitted that customers would be charged 10 to 20 per cent more than at her family-run cha chaan teng, or local-style tea cafe, to cover the cost of her truck.

But she said she considered it a good opportunity to promote her business brand.

Ma Ma’s Dumpling, the third food truck operator launching today, will start by 11am at Wong Tai Sin Square.

One operator waiting until the middle of this month to commence business said liaising with different government departments would be difficult.

“We have to go through inspections from [departments for] electricity and mechanics, environmental protection and fire safety ... but there is no example for us to follow, unlike opening a cha chaan teng,” said Gavin Chan Chi-wah, whose food truck will be selling its signature “sorrowful burgers” – pineapple buns with thick slices of pork.

The Tourism Commission launched a free mobile app yesterday named “HK Food Truck” to help customers locate the food trucks. Commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung, who officiated the project launching ceremony, said the government would be in close contact with operators to develop the concept further.