The food truck evolution

Fuelled by social media like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, food trucks have swept Americans out of restaurants and onto the streets, by featuring exotic recipes from Korean BBQ tacos to  Black Angus, grass-fed, organic burgers. Rejuvenated by well-trained chefs and known restauranteurs, food trucks have evolved from being a blue-collar low-cost lunch choice to a hip gourmet diner pick for the tech-savvy Gen-Y food lovers.

It’s an easy five-step to kick start a food truck business in America. It all starts with one asking whether she/he is a good cook with some original (and at best exotic) recipes. Next, go buy a cheap used truck. Find a good location and follow the local parking and food regulations. Use social networking technology to update followers on your location, daily specials and food quantities. Start serving the first customer!

At Asian Palate we ask: will food trucks shake up the Asian culinary scene next? So far, we have heard one engine roaring loud in Taiwan – Oden, a Japanese food truck serving an assortment of Japanese hot-pot ingredients like radish, tofu and fish cake, has been in business in the outskirt of Taipei since 2009. Ingrid Lee, the mastermind behind, has won customers’ hearts by her insistence on using excellent-quality authentic ingredients. Her success has been seen by the eventual opening of the Oden bar and more so, the replication of her idea by many copy-cat trucks that mushroomed in a short time on the market seem to seal the fate of food trucks in Taiwan. When asked about the future of food truck in Taiwan by The China Post in March, Ingrid has hinted the trend “fizzling out” eventually due to non-differentiation. It inevitably leads one to wonder why food trucks work magic in America. The unique success factors appear to be the dispersed cultural diversity of the U.S. (which make possible the serving of a diversity of food) and the lack of a street food culture. What grabs the heart of many an American and that of Anthony Bourdain, a best-selling food author and chef, is the emergence of a “low-end ethnicky” food scene.

Asia is a continent known for having a long-time street food culture with clustered ethnic diversity. Asian customers are accustomed to the availability and accessibility of low-cost street food. Every Asian nation has its own mature and unique street food sector which seems to leave food trucks not much room to manoeuvre, but rather to be a come-and-go four-wheel trendy newbie.

If you’re reading from Los Angeles, the trucks are thriving. Check out the LA food truck festival on the 24th of July. Featuring, you guessed it, trucks, trucks and more trucks.