Hong Kong’s dai pai dongs, or outdoor food vendors, were once common among city dwellers but are now on the verge of extinction. The outdoor stalls sold delicious Chinese food at reasonable prices. Despite their success, dai pai dongs have a bleak future. According to Abbas, Hong Kong had hundreds of outdoor stalls in the 1960s, a number that has now been reduced to about 28. (12). According to Jack Kivela, decades of urban renewal have demolished Hong Kong’s tradition of dai pai dongs, replacing them with elegant malls and five-star hotels (117). According to Abbas, the disappearing Cantonese culinary tradition is a pity because new restaurants lack flavor and culture (14). Unlike modern restaurants, outdoor food stall dishes had distinctive flavour, which can only be derived from a sizzling work. Additionally, the food is imbued with a rich taste, which gives the city a unique culture. Much as the popular culture of outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong is vanishing, this tradition is worth preserving as it offers tasty and cost effective foods that are convenient for ordinary citizens
The main reason for the disappearance of outdoor food stalls is lack of government support. Hong Kong government has significantly encouraged the fading of outdoor food stalls, which are perceived by some government officials as public nuisances, fire hazards, and health risks. In view of Jack Kivela, the Hong Kong government has paid several outdoor food stall owners to hand over their licenses, and has failed to grant new licenses in decades (118).
The second reason as to why outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong are disappearing is that the children of vendors are not interested in continuing the trade. These children contend that the work is extremely difficult, adding that the weather is too hot (Abbas 18). In light of this, when the vendors die, the new generation does not take over the business. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government permits only family members of the licensed vendors to take over the business if the owner dies. Therefore, due to the lack of interest by the children of these owners of outdoor food stalls, such businesses disappear.
Despite the continuing disappearance of outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong, these outdoor food stalls are worth preserving, following the benefits that come with them. The foods sold in such stalls are not only cheap but also tasty and friendly (Jack Kivela 120). Additionally, one gets more food choices when he or he visits these outdoor stalls. The stalls are hence convenient for ordinary citizens who do not have much money to spend in hotels all the time. It is therefore imperative that the government protect the outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong, to preserve the tradition.
Overall, the Hong Kong culture of outdoor food stalls continues to disappear with each generation, and if not preserved, the popular green tin stalls are likely to become a thing of the past. The disappearance of the outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong is attributed to lack of government support and lack of interest to continue the trade among the children of the vendors. In spite of the vanishing culture of outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong, this popular culture is worth preserving as it offers tasty and cost effective foods that are convenient for ordinary citizens.
Abbas, Ackbar. Hong Kong: Culture and the politics of disappearance. Hong Kong University Press, 2009.
Jack Kivela, Jaksa. “Restaurant marketing: selection and segmentation in Hong Kong.” International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 9.3 (2012): 116-123.