Keep on food truckin'

Updated: 2017-03-03 07:02

By Maggie Beale(HK Edition)

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Hong Kong's entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and looking forward to the latest innovation to hit this city known for its love of good grub - food trucks.

The idea, as Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So who announced the project had indicated, "was to complement the existing food landscape as the food trucks will provide diverse and creative dishes in designated tourist spots".

So far, there are 11 kitchen-fitted trucks on wheels in Hong Kong - posted at eight designated spots including theme parks and the Golden Bauhinia Square, operating at fixed hours during the day.

The trucks offer various food styles such as barbecue pork buns or five-coloured dumplings. Another might offer American-style barbecue meat steamed bread, and yet another will have fresh cream pineapple buns on the menu.

And the trucks aren't low-end, run-of-the-mill catering ventures. They are all carefully vetted by experts.

With impeccable culinary credentials Uwe Opocensky, (ex-executive chef at Mandarin Oriental, 1 Michelin Star) and now group executive chef at Beef & Liberty in Lan Kwai Fong, says he is "super excited for the possibilities being offered". Items on the truck menu list include the Notorious P.I.G. hamburger (HK$58) as well as a newly introduced sandwich, the Little pecker chicken sandwich (HK$58).

Selected as one of the 16 representatives to participate in the Government Food Truck Scheme, the Beef & Liberty truck is at its first site in Ocean Park between February 20 and March 19. Later it will move to other sites as will the other trucks.

Going by the initial feedback, it seems the trucks are generating interest from different audiences. The consumers appreciate the convenience and the novelty value of buying from food trucks. Restaurateurs looking to start a venture could cut down drastically on overheads. I've often heard staff in catering outlets say they would love to have their own place for which they are saving money. The food truck option could be the answer to their prayers.

Although starting a food truck takes much less initial investment they do not necessarily come cheap. To be operational a truck requires being fitted with grillers, heat lamps, and the equipment for the particular food type. Food truck exhaust fans must comply with local code unless you're planning to serve only pre-cooked food.

There are other restrictions too. Once set it will be difficult to change the menu. Government guidelines state: "If the operator wishes to change dishes other than the signature dish, he should obtain prior written approval from the venues and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department."

Opening a restaurant is a massive undertaking for any individual or group - you need more than just a longing to be an entrepreneur. Even with good financial backing and operational know-how in place you're essentially forced to stick with a particular location which may or may not work out in the long run.

With a food truck one could at least move elsewhere.

During the launch commerce secretary So had also said the truck operators' passion will make Hong Kong "Asia's gourmet paradise".

Personally, I believe Hong Kong has deserved that reputation for some time already.

Keep on food truckin'

Beef & Liberty is one of a fleet of 11 food trucks now doing business on Hong Kong's roads.

(HK Edition 03/03/2017 page1)