Vancouver’s expanded street-food program will soon include options such as Korean fusion, Vietnamese subs, Indian teas, tacos and souvlaki.
The new carts, which will be set up by this summer, were among 19 food vendors announced by the City of Vancouver today.
Mayor Gregor Robertson compared the variety of choices to the selection in street-food hubs such as Portland and New York City.
“I think Vancouver has looked longingly and hungrily at the success of Portland, New York City and other cities in the world”¦that have incredible street food,” he said. “From Bangkok to New York City, Vancouver is now joining those ranks and putting our best on the streets so everyone can sample from that.”
Andy Fielding, who was one of 17 vendors picked as part of a pilot street-food program last summer, said the carts add a sense of vibrancy to city streets.
“I just think there’s something really special and interesting about having food on the street,” he said. “It brings people out, it brings people together, it adds interesting smells to the street, interesting sounds to the street, and it brings another level of social interaction to the street that you don’t otherwise get.”
Sarb Mund’s food cart Soho Road Naan Kebab will be one of the new vendors up and running by this summer, with a menu modeled on Indian-UK fusion food offered on Soho Road.
“We’re going to have actual tikka tikka and beef kebabs that are going to be in naan bread made fresh everyday,” he said.
Some of the other food options announced today include Baja-style fish tacos from the Tofino-based Tacofino Cantina, which will be set up at Denman and Davie, and a classic comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.
“I think everybody loves a grilled cheese sandwich, and there’s fancier things if you want something different,” said Cindy Hamilton, the owner of Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck.
The gourmet grilled options include a sandwich made with prosciutto, rosemary-infused honey and goat cheese, she said.
Comfort food is also the core menu focus for a second Roaming Dragon cart.
“We want nostalgic flavours for people, things that momma used to make,” said owner Jason Apple.
The 19 new vendors, which were chosen out of over 100 applications, are an expansion to last summer’s street-food pilot program, which featured 17 vendors.
While the first round of vendors were picked on a lottery system, this year’s street carts were chosen through a staff screening process and evaluations by a local panel, including chefs, food bloggers and nutritionists.
Vendors were selected on a point system, based on criteria including foodsafe certification, use of organic, local or fair trade foods, nutritional content and cart readiness. The picks were also based on a public survey, which ranked Mexican, organic/healthy, Indian and Japanese as the most popular food choices.
But Jimmy Cho, owner of the Coma Food Truck, criticized the selection process.
“I reviewed the application criteria and compared it to other vendors, and the way I look at it, I feel that we couldn’t possibly have got less points because we already have the truck here and operational,” he said. “Some of the vendors who were chosen for a downtown location don’t even have their carts or trailers or trucks ready.”
Cho has a mobile vending license, but said that parking restrictions force him to move his truck every 20 minutes.
“We can only sell for 20 minutes,” he said. “That makes no sense, because it takes about 10 to 15 minutes just to set up and get ready.”
The majority of the new vendors announced today will be set up in the downtown area.
The food vendor program will continue to expand over the coming years. City council voted in January to increase the number of carts by 60 additional sites over the next four years.
A full list of the new food carts can be found here.