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香港给美食装上车轮,却找不到顾客

更新时间:2017-2-20 18:53:24 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Economy Is Free in Hong Kong. Running a Food Truck Isn’t (See Annex C).
香港给美食装上车轮,却找不到顾客

HONG KONG — For the 23rd year running, Hong Kong is, in the opinion of the conservative Heritage Foundation, the freest economy in the world. With low taxes, an efficient government and private businesses running the city buses and its spotless subways, this place is a libertarian dream come true.

香港——香港经济连续23年被保守机构传统基金会(Heritage Foundation)评为全球最自由的经济。在这里,税赋低、政府高效、私营企业运营着城市公交和一尘不染的地铁,简直就是自由意志主义梦想走进了现实。

So the story goes.

据说是这样的。

Many people who live in Hong Kong beg to differ. This has long been a city of tycoons, with a few families holding sway over the supermarkets, drugstores and real estate market, limiting competition and keeping prices high. And in the past few weeks, four words have further shaken the story line that this former British colony is a free-market nirvana.

但在香港生活的很多人不敢苟同。这里向来是一个由巨头把持的城市,少数几个家族控制着超市、药店和房地产市场,限制竞争并维持高价。并且在过去几周里,七个字进一步动摇了这个前英国殖民地是自由市场天堂的故事。

Food Truck Pilot Scheme.

美食车先导计划。

Hong Kong, a culinary paradise that is arguably the dim sum capital of the world, was, until this month, sorely lacking in something that other financial capitals, like New York and London, have in spades: food trucks.

作为一个美食天堂,香港可以说是世界点心之都,但直到本月之前,香港一直非常缺一种在纽约和伦敦等其他金融中心随处可见的东西:美食车。

Something had to be done to close the yawning food truck gap.

必须做点什么来弥补这道美食车的鸿沟。

Enter the Hong Kong government, keen to draw in more tourists.

于是,渴望吸引更多游客的香港政府登场了。

After more than a year of preparation, and even cook-offs to pick the lucky few, the food trucks are finally here. Eight for a city of 7.2 million. There are plans for eight more.

在准备了一年多,甚至还为选出少数幸运儿而举办多场烹饪比赛后,美食车终于与民众见面。在一个人口720万的城市推出八辆美食车。还有八辆在计划中。

The trucks are sights to behold. Gleaming and new, they are brightly and imaginatively painted, with names like Ma Ma’s Dumplings and Mein by Maureen. One is emblazoned with a panda that bears a striking resemblance to Po of “Kung Fu Panda” fame.

这些美食车的样子美不胜收。崭新的车身闪闪发光,喷涂的颜色明亮且别出心裁,写着“有得饺”和“Mein by Maureen”之类的名字。其中一辆车醒目地印着一只熊猫,很像《功夫熊猫》(Kung Fu Panda)故事中的阿宝(Po)。

And the food — in the opinion of this hearty eater — is fabulous. The Shanghai barbecue pork bun from the Book Brothers truck melts in your mouth. The “five colored dumplings” at Ma Ma’s are delicious — an authentic taste of northern China.

在嗜好美食的本人看来,美食车提供的食物也堪称精美。来自“大师兄美食车”的上海红烧肉叉包入口即化。有得饺美食车的五色饺子美味可口,是正宗的中国北方口味。

Just one ingredient seems to be missing: customers.

似乎只缺少一个要素:顾客。

Food trucks in most cities are mobile. They can move from place to place. They are, after all, trucks. In New York, one might hit the lunch crowd in Midtown, then head uptown to Columbia University to catch hungry students in late afternoon.

大部分城市的美食车都是流动的,可以从一个地方转移到另一个地方。毕竟它们是卡车。在纽约,你可能在中城挤进吃午饭的人群,然后在接近傍晚时,到市郊的哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)看到饥肠辘辘的学生。

In Hong Kong, the government agency that devised the Food Truck Pilot Scheme had a new, bold and innovative idea: stationary food trucks that don’t park on the street. A spokesman for the city’s Tourism Commission explained why in an email:

在香港,设计美食车先导计划的政府机构想出了一个大胆、有创意的新点子:美食车不停放在街道上,而是固定场地。香港旅游事务署的发言人在一封电子邮件中解释了原因:

“Since the urban area of Hong Kong is already saturated with traffic, it would not be desirable from the traffic management and road safety angles to allow food trucks to park and operate on public roads. Moreover, as many locations in Hong Kong have already got a number of food establishments, it would thus be desirable to introduce food trucks away from those areas.”

“鉴于香港市区的交通已经饱和,从交通管理和道路安全的角度考虑,允许美食车在公共道路上停放和经营不可取。此外,因为香港很多地方已经有大量餐饮场所,因此引导美食车远离那些地区是明智的。”

It’s all explained in a raft of guidelines. There are seven annexes in all, including licensing requirements (Annex D), special government loan programs (Annex B) and fixed venues (Annex F).

大量指导方针解释了美食车计划的方方面面。总共有七份附件,包括领取牌照需达到的要求(附件D)、政府提供的特殊贷款计划(附件B)和固定的经营场地(附件F)。

Then there is Annex C — “Mandatory Requirements for a Food Truck” — that lists in painstaking detail what each truck must have. Some examples: The kitchen floor space must be at least 65 square feet. Each truck must have a potable water tank with a capacity of about 32 gallons, and a wastewater tank at least one and a half times that size. The sink must be at least a foot and a half in length. And so on.

附件C《美食车的强制要求》细致入微地列出了出每辆车必须满足的条件。比如:配制间的最低总面积不得低于六平方米,各车必须配备一个容量约为120升的食水箱和一个容量至少是食水箱1.5倍的污水贮存箱、洗涤盆的长度不少于450毫米等。

To meet all of those regulations, Hong Kong food trucks must be custom vehicles, bearing little resemblance to the decades-old trucks that congregate near the National Mall in Washington, the capital of a country that has only the 17th freest economy in the world.

为了符合上诉所有规定,香港的美食车必须是定制车辆。它们和聚集在美国首都华盛顿国家广场附近的那些有几十年历史的卡车几乎没有相似之处。而美国经济的自由程度仅位列全球第十七位。

All these rules and regulations have Liu Chun-ho, the owner of Ma Ma’s Dumpling, very worried. To meet the stringent requirements, he paid about one million Hong Kong dollars ($129,000) for his new Isuzu truck.

所有这些准则和规定让有得饺的老板廖震豪(Liu Chun-ho)非常担心。为了满足严格的要求,他花了大约100万港币(约合88万元人民币)买了一辆新的五十铃卡车。

On a sunny afternoon recently, his truck was attracting a trickle of customers in a square near the Wong Tai Sin Temple, one of eight places where food trucks can operate, with the venue maximum set at two food trucks (see maps in Annex G). The trucks must pay a monthly service fee to park. At Wong Tai Sin, it is 17,000 Hong Kong dollars a month or 15 percent of the gross revenue, whichever is higher (Annex E).

最近一个阳光明媚的午后,在黄大仙祠附近的一个广场上,他的卡车吸引着稀稀落落的顾客。这里是允许美食车经营的八个地方之一,最多可停放两辆美食车(见附件G中的地图)。美食车须按月交纳服务费才能停车营业。在黄大仙祠,服务费是每月1.7万港币或总收入的15%,以较高者为准(附件E)。

Mr. Liu illustrates his challenge in units of dumplings. He needs to sell 200 bowls a day, at 40 Hong Kong dollars each, just to cover his fixed costs, he said. He is barely making that now, and fears business will plummet once summer comes with the monsoon rains and pounding semitropical sun that will keep customers away from the treeless, concrete square.

廖震豪以饺子为单位衡量自己面临的挑战。他说,他一天需要以40港币一碗的价格卖出200碗饺子,才刚够收回固定成本。做到这一点已经非常吃力了,还要担心一旦进入夏天,季风雨和毒辣的亚热带阳光会让顾客远离没有树木的混凝土广场,生意会暴跌。

“The government needs to loosen up,” said Mr. Liu, 43. He has been to Thailand and Japan, and in those places, “you can set up shop anywhere, on the roads, on the streets,” he said.

43岁的廖震豪说,“政府需要放松。”他去过泰国和日本。在那些地方,“任何地方都可以开店,公路上,街道上,”他说。

The result is that small-business entrepreneurs, the mainstays of food trucks in other countries, find it forbidding to enter the market in Hong Kong. One truck is owned by an American company with a fleet of trucks in California, another by the heiress to a local noodle chain, which also won the rights to operate one of the next eight food trucks set to go into operation.

结果就是,在其他国家是美食车中坚力量的小本生意人发现,它们无法进入香港市场。其中一辆美食车的所有者是一家美国公司,该公司在加利福尼亚州拥有一支美食车队。另一辆美食车的所有者是本地一家面食连锁的继承人,在即将投入运营的另外八辆美食车中,还有一辆是这个连锁运营的。

Despite these problems, Hong Kong’s government has rolled out the program with great fanfare. There has been an endless stream of news releases, and the city has hired a public relations firm to drum up interest. Mr. Liu had just finished giving an interview to two reporters from People’s Daily newspaper. There’s even a phone app, Hong Kong Food Truck, that shows which trucks are at which of the eight designated locations.

尽管存在这些问题,香港政府仍大张旗鼓地推出了该计划。新闻稿源源不断地流出,该市还雇了一家公关公司来刺激外界的兴趣。廖震豪刚刚结束来自《人民日报》的两名记者的采访。甚至还有一款名为“香港美食车”的手机应用,列出了哪些美食车在八个指定地点中的哪些地方。

Mr. Liu hopes, perhaps against hope, that he’ll be able to make more money at a venue his truck will occupy in the future — a patch of landfill jutting out into Victoria Harbor called Golden Bauhinia Square.

廖震豪抱着一线希望,但愿自己的美食车在未来的一个场地——经过填海延伸进入维多利亚港的金紫荆广场——赚的钱能多一些。

To get there, pedestrians must take a zigzag of narrow paths through a giant construction project. The square, whose main attraction is a golden statue of a bauhinia flower, an emblem of the city, is also frequented by buses filled with tourists from mainland China.

要去金紫荆广场,行人必须走弯弯曲曲的小路,穿过一个大型建筑项目。该广场的主要景点是一尊金色的紫金花雕塑,常有载着大陆游客的巴士来该广场。

There, on a weekday afternoon, four employees of Book Brothers waited for customers to buy their delicious barbecue pork sandwiches, which come with a Hong Kong flag planted in the bun. Over a 15-minute stretch, they had one sale.

一个工作日的下午,在金紫荆广场上,大师兄美食车的四名员工等着顾客买他们美味的烤肉叉包,包上还插着一面代表香港的旗帜。在15分钟时间里,他们只卖出了一个。

One woman from mainland China balked at the price, 38 Hong Kong dollars ($4.90), for the small sandwich, saying she thought that was the price for three. That’s a problem, said Chen Qiuling, one of the workers, who said two-thirds of their customers were from China.

一名来自大陆的女子因小小一个叉包卖38港币的价格而放弃了,称她以为那是三个包的价钱。一个名为陈秋玲(音)的工作人员说,这是一个问题。这名工作人员称,他们三分之二的顾客来自大陆。

The workers at Book Brothers hope that their next location, closer to the city’s central business district, will be busier. And if they can’t sell their pork buns, they could always try something else, right? After all, that’s what capitalism is all about.

大师兄美食车的工作人员希望,接下来他们在更接近香港中环商务区的点能更热闹一些。如果猪肉叉包卖不出去,随时可以试试别的,对吧?毕竟,这正是资本主义的本质所在。

Not so fast. Please refer to Answer No. 8 of the government’s “Frequently Asked Questions: Application of the Food Truck Pilot Scheme (Pilot Scheme).”

且慢。请看政府“申请美食车先导计划(先导计划)的常见问答”中的第八个答案。

“No alteration of the signature dish proposed by the applicant in the application form will be allowed after the submission of Application and throughout the Scheme,” it declares. “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.”

“申请人于申请表格内所提出的招牌菜在递交申请后及先导计划期间不可做出更改,”答案中写道。“营运者如欲改动招牌菜以外的其他菜式,须事先获得场地和食物环境卫生署的书面批准。”

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