Ho Chi Minh City’s food and beverage market has become more vibrant with the introduction of food trucks on city streets.
Food trucks, which are mobile kitchens hosted in the back of a truck or van, typically sell more than one kind of food or drink such as coffee, meat or vegetable skewers, along with light snacks.
While they are often seen at sporting events, concerts or college campuses, food trucks ican be spotted along streets in Districts 1, 2 and 7.
The concept of a food truck was initiated by Mexican immigrants in the US and later embraced by many countries worldwide for the last decade.
Many food-truck owners said it was far easier to secure start-up capital for a truck than a restaurant. In fact, many food-truck businesses have been opened by Vietnamese who live in other countries.
Le Thi Trang told Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper that, in Australia’s New South Wales where she lives, she owns one of the two food trucks selling Vietnamese food in the area.
Trang was born in Hue and later moved to Orange city, Australia in 2012.
Though she had always wanted to open her own restaurant, she could not because the business is tough.
In 2017, however, when she was randomly scrolling her Facebook feed she noticed a US food-truck model, and then began pursuing her passion.
Trang’s food truck offers cha gio (spring roll), pho (beef noodle soup), bun thit nuong (vermicelli with marinated char-grilled meat), and banh mi (baguette), among other dishes, with each dish ranging from 3-13 AUD (2.1 - 9.2 USD).
Her mobile kitchen travels beyond Orange City and to other cities in New South Wales, attracting many locals, Trang said, adding that she plans to expand her business and open a supermarket specialising in Vietnamese products.
“In addition to earning income, I hope that Australians via my truck can learn that Vietnam has wonderful dishes,” she said.
Don Le, who owns a similar food truck business called Hanoi Boy in New Zealand’s Cambridge Town, agreed with Trang.
“Despite many challenges, I would love to introduce authentic Vietnamese cuisine to people living in Cambridge Town. I would love to let them feel Vietnam’s heart and soul,” he said.
In Vietnam, particularly HCM City, professional food truck businesses remain a fresh yet promising field.
Truong Toan Thang, 31, a food truck owner on Ven Ho Trung Tam street in District 2, told Viet Nam News that he is positive about his new venture.
“I’ve been running my food truck about two months. When I first started out, I only served during the weekend,” he said.
“When I realised that locals love to fly kites on afternoons, I opened my trucks more regularly to attract more customers.”
Thang’s food truck initially had items such as coffee, milk tea and snacks. However, he has added fried chicken together with ice cream.
“I find this business quite flexible. What I enjoy most is that I have saved a lot of cash on furniture. Besides the truck, I only had to invest in some small tables and chairs, and that’s about it!” Than said.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the beginning, but the stable income has encouraged me to try even harder,” he added.
Since Thang loves Korean food so much, he plans to introduce a new menu consisting of tobokki and kimchi noodles.
In addition to small entrepreneurs, Pizza 4P’s, a professional pizza restaurant chain based in HCM City, has jumped on the bandwagon and opened its own food truck at The Vista An Phu in District 2.
At this food truck, Pizza 4P’s offers pizzas and light bites as well as fun activities such as face painting.
“This activity brings joy to both children and adults,” said Duong Lan Khue, 37, who attended the event with her family last week.
“We’ve been a fan of Pizza 4P’s for a long time. Great food as usual. But what made us really excited was the chill vibe of this event, which can be seen in Western movies,” Khue said.
Nguyen Tran Van Anh, 37, Khue’s husband, said that he was looking forward to seeing more professional food trucks as they add to the vibrancy of HCM City.
“Vietnamese food is already delicious and a different way of dining via food trucks might enhance the experiences of both locals and tourists,” he said, adding that he is also interested in tasting cuisines from foreign cultures.
|With new food trucks rolled out in districts 1, 2 and 7, HCM City is now offering outdoor dining experiences to both locals and visitors. (Photo courtesy of Pizza 4P’s)