Lobster bun vs six-minute sandwich – what will Hong Kong’s first 16 food trucks be serving?

Fifty-one applicants battle it out in signature dish cook-off

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 9:42am

Fifty-one chefs vying for a place in one of Hong Kong’s long anticipated food trucks took turns to showcase their best dishes in a final cook-off to decide the 16 operators to run the first batch of vehicles.

The contest kicked off early on Tuesday at the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute, where contestants were called on one by one to present their signature dishes.

They were given 25 minutes to cook in front of a jury of nine. This was followed by a group tasting and question and answer session.

The final results will be ­announced on Wednesday.

Raymond Chu Wan-man, a professional chef who worked in the UK for more than a decade, said he returned to Hong Kong last year to prepare to enter the competition.

Food trucks are very popular in the UK and US. Hong Kong also should give opportunities to people who are interested in making their own dishes.
Raymond Chu

“Food trucks are very popular in the UK and US. Hong Kong also should give opportunities to those who are interested in making their own dishes,” Chu said before meeting the jury.

He intended to present a ­special sandwich that takes only six minutes to make, Chu said.

The two-year food truck plan, heralded in Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah’s budget last year as a way to boost tourism, will allow 16 trucks to run in eight districts. The government said the city’s tourism industry had relied too heavily in recent years on shoppers from the mainland.

The first fleet of food trucks are expected to open for business in late 2016 or early 2017.

Besides professional chefs, amateur cooks looked to stake their claim.

Renice Lau Yuen-yee, a fashion designer with a passion for cooking, hoped her home-made bun would impress the jury.

“There is nothing like our dish in Hong Kong. It is totally new,” Lau said.

“I am a little bit nervous now,” she admitted as she walked ­towards the competition area. She had been testing the taste of the dish until late Monday night.

Bon Leung Wan-pong, a ­manager at Mama Burger & ­Lobster, felt relieved after he ­completed his presentation.

He said he showed the jury a fresh lobster bun, which he planned to sell for HK$168 if he won the slot.

“Hong Kong needs some freshness,” said Leung, adding that the lobsters he used were all imported from Canada.

During the cook-off, 18 applicants made Chinese food, 17 intended to cook Western food and 16 pitched international dishes.

The winners will be selected from 51 shortlisted applications, of which 25 were from start-ups or micro-enterprises. A waiting list of eight applicants will be drawn up as well.

A spokesman at the government’s Tourism Commission said winners would have to apply for the relevant licences from various departments before operating at the designated sites.