Last year, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in his budget to host a Cook-off Challenge in order to select operators for a two-year food truck pilot scheme. Only 16 food trucks would be selected to operate in eight different tourist districts from Ocean Park and Disneyland to Golden Bauhinia Square and Central Harbourfront. The scheme was deemed a tourism initiative to enhance and diversify Hong Kong's tourism industry by providing creative, high quality food to the public and tourists.
The Cook-off was held on the 26th July and the results was announced yesterday at the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute. During the Cook-off Challenge, each shortlisted applicant was required to send a chef and an assistant to prepare the food. The signature dishes made by the applicants are divided into three categories: Chinese, Western and International. The chefs had to cook their signature dish within a specified time for the selection panel to taste and assess on the spot. The panel was comprised of 17 members including representatives from the venues at which the food trucks are to operate as well as representatives from the Tourism Commission. The 16 winners of the cook-off were all rated high in terms of taste, menu and concept.
The following restaurants/businesses and their signature dishes won in their respective categories:
1. Soft pork bone with turnip rice (蘿蔔豬軟骨飯)
2. Dried scallop with fish maw soup (花膠瑤柱羹)
Quality of Life Product Company
3. Pineapple bun with fresh cream (鮮忌廉菠蘿包)
Tan Sing Cafe
4. Large Chinese chicken steamed buns (雞球大包)
5. Bamboo charcoal sandwiches with Iberico ham and fried egg (黑毛豬炒蛋竹炭三文治)
Capital Cafe, the Hong Kong-style cafe chain owned by Swadiq Khan
6. Maureen Lo Mein
by Maureen Loh
7. Five-coloured dumplings (五色餃子)
by Ms. Chan Kit Ling and Mr. Liu Chun Ho
8. Sakura shrimp umami sauce fried rice
9. BBQ pork burger (黯然銷魂漢堡)
10. 'The Spaniard" grilled cheese sandwiches
by Raymond Chu Wai-man and Tsang Pik-yu
11. New-style egg puff and mango pomelo sago with herbal jelly dessert cup (新派雞蛋仔及楊枝甘露涼粉隨意杯)
Xiao Tian Gu O/B Million Most
12. The Notorious P.I.G. (slowcooked pork shoulder sandwich)
Beef & Liberty
13. American-style BBQ steamed bun (美式叉包)
14. Super Grilled Squid
by Mui Conina Lok Man
15. Dragon Eye (Signature Dragon Fruit Bowl)
Angela's Foodtruck Co.
16. "Victoria Peak" (BBQ pork cru-batta-wich)
by Adrian Cheung and Adrienne Lam
Chinese category food critics from left to right: Chinese Dim Sum master Mr Mak Kwai-pui, Celebrity chef Ms Theresa Mak (aka Da Shi Jie),Chinese Executive chef Mr Lee Man-sing
Western & International category food critics from left to right: Patissier Mr Tony Wong, 'Beauty Chef' Ms Kit Mak, Renowned French cuisine chef Mr Ricky Cheung
During the Cook-off Results ceremony, the food experts were invited on stage to offer their opinions on the Food Truck Pilot Scheme. Kit Mak commented that she believes the scheme will be successful but highlighted the importance for respective food truck owners to create the best dishes with minimal cost. Tony Wong also added that there is still room for improvement for most of the contestants, especially in terms of presentation.
Out of the 16 selected winning dishes, a few stood out from the crowd. One of them was "The Spaniard" grilled cheese sandwich by Raymond Chu and Tsang Pik-yu. All the food critics from the Western category were in awe of this particular sandwich. They described the sandwich experience as perfectly crispy but when you reach the middle, the cheese slowly melts in your mouth and when paired with the freshly made fries that are also crispy on the outside and soft inside and the mango passion fruit juice, they felt made the entire experience a blissful one. Another favourite was the Dragon Eye (Signature Dragon Fruit Bowl), a healthy fruit dessert that Ricky Cheung commented on how the judges finished the entire bowl despite having eaten 30 other dishes already.
Although all 16 contestants have won the Food Truck Cook-off, there are still licensing and safety issues that need to be resolved. Therefore, all citizens of Hong Kong and tourists have to wait till the end of this year to be able to taste all the innovative dishes from the talented chefs now on wheels.
(Photos credits: Hong Kong Tourism Commission [cedb])