February 11 & 12, 2017
The food truck craze is spreading from the States to seemingly everywhere, even Hong Kong where the government has long tried to force its open-air food stalls off the street in the name of hygiene and traffic control. As most of these dai pai dong disappear, the city is ironically trying to cash in on the street food trend by introducing food trucks offering overpriced and bland food. It is early but the reviews haven’t been favourable.
Over in Denmark there wasn’t much of a street food culture until the opening of Copenhagen Street Food in May 2014, turning an abandoned warehouse on Papirøen (Paper Island) into a food hall with 39 food stalls. The concept is scheduled to end in 2018 — this prime piece of land next to the opera house could be converted into something else. The setting is indoor but most of the stalls sell street food from across the globe, ranging from sushi to Chinese noodles to falafels to lots of burgers. The atmosphere is best on weekend evenings with candle lights and live music.
I visited twice and tried the following four stalls. (1 USD = 6.95 DKK)
This pulled pork specialist is possibly the most popular stall; its sandwich was already sold out on my first visit. Ordering pulled pork might seem like an uninspired choice — after all I could have ordered Moroccan or Arab fares, but I have always had a soft spot for tender pork pieces soaked in barbecue sauce. Pulled pork is not a strong suit in the cities I have called home so I always try to get my hands on some whenever I go abroad.
I came back during lunch the next day and ordered a pulled pork sandwich (80 DKK), with buns turned and roasted in clarified butter, coleslaw and pickled Danish free-range pork roasted in the smoke oven for 16 hours. The meat dissolved in the mouth and the sauce packed a wide range of flavours and wasn’t overly sweet. One of the better pulled pork I have had in a long time.
Still having some appetite after the pulled pork, I walked over to Brasa the Brazilian grill on the other side of the hall. It serves grilled sausage, chicken and pork, all marinated with red wine, salt and various spices. I ordered the kid’s meal (50 DKK) with a piece of chicken, a corn on the cob and some salad.
The chicken was extremely tender and flavourful with a hint of chili punchiness. The green was coated with a vinegar dressing that enhanced appetite.
After missing out on Oink Oink’s pulled pork on the first night I went for my the second item on my list, Fisch-Art’s Surf & Turf Burger (90 DKK) based on a friend’s recommendation. My gut told me I shouldn’t go for a burger and I should have listened — the quality of burger in Hong Kong has risen substantially in recent years and there are much intriguing options like falafel available.
Run by a couple from Berlin, Fisch-Art serves burger with meat and seafood. Both the overdone patty and shrimp were unyielding to my teeth, and the buns were hard like overnight rye bread. This dry and tasteless burger was worse than a typical Big Mac. Even my photo of it turns out off-focused.
Even though there are 39 stalls, most are very quiet and see very few customers. Tacos Chucho near the main entrance is one of a handful with a somewhat consistent queue, serving handmade soft taco with either chicken and mushroom or beef with chipotle, both topped with guacamole, kale and lime.
I ordered two chicken taco (65 DKK). The tortilla was painfully small and could barely hold together the ingredients. The chicken was tough and overcooked, and the only taste was that of the spicy tomato sauce. I haven’t had any decent taco since leaving Vancouver where an easy day trip to Seattle and its surprisingly authentic Mexican food could satisfy my craving. Tacos Chucho couldn’t end this streak.