Food truck scheme set for launch at eight Hong Kong tourist spots

Two-year pilot scheme features 16 operators offering both Chinese and Western delicacies

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 4:33pm

Pineapple buns with cream, BBQ pork buns and grilled squid are among the delicacies hitting the road from Thursday when Hong Kong’s much awaited food truck project comes to fruition. Will it be a hit or a miss?

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What is it?

The two-year pilot scheme unveiled by former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah during his 2015 budget address encompasses 16 food trucks. The vehicles are permitted to operate in eight districts as the city seeks to round out the local tourism industry.

Tsang said the idea was inspired by a feel-good Hollywood movie about a frustrated restaurant cook who finds creative and business success with a food truck.

How were the food trucks chosen?

A total of 192 applications were received, and 51 remained after the first stage of reviewing business proposals. The applicants later showcased their signature dishes at a cook-off challenge, and the top 16 contestants were selected by a panel of tourism industry practitioners, gastronomes, and city officials.

Where can they be found?

The food trucks are to operate on a rotating basis at eight locations popular with tourists: Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai; Salisbury Garden and Art Square at Tsim Sha Tsui; the Central harbourfront; Ocean Park; Hong Kong Disneyland, the Energising Kowloon East harbourfront; and the square next to Wong Tai Sin Temple.

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What they will be offering?

A mixture of Chinese dishes, Western cuisines are on offer, with local delicacies dominating.

For example, there is soft pork bone with turnip rice, dried scallop with fish maw soup, and pineapple buns with fresh cream.

Among the Western options, there are BBQ pork burgers, Spanish grilled cheese sandwiches, and egg puffs.

Why is the scheme controversial?

Critics said smaller players could balk at the cost as the government estimated a food truck project would require at least HK$600,000. This prompted officials to offer incentives to start-ups and small businesses to compete with larger rivals. In the end, seven of the 16 winners were smaller firms.

There was also criticism the government’s red tape meant a lengthy process to win approval. Licences from several different government departments are needed to run a food truck.

Others questioned the representation of food, with local snacks such as fish balls, wonton noodles and deep-fried bean curd left off the menus.