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2019年1月16日 (水)

giving them official permission to run hawkers

  Da pai dong translates literally as “stall with big license plate.” The plate in question (larger than average plates, hence the name) is a non-renewable license the colonial Hong Kong government began granting to families of deceased or injured civil servants and immigrant Chinese people after World War II, -style stalls, and make a living. The stalls were ubiquitous in the city and offered cheap eats and simple diner-style food: milk tea, fried rice, dumpling soup Annie KO.

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  “Da pai dongs were essentially entry-level businesses created to employ destitute families, refugees and small entrepreneurs,” says Daisann McLane, founder, and director of food concierge and experiential tour company Little Adventures in Hong Kong. “They offered job opportunities to people from different backgrounds–both socially and ethnically—and met the demand for affordable comfort food in post-war Hong Kong.”

  The licensing scheme had a few strict rules: the plates couldn’t be sold, nor transferred to anyone but the owner’s spouse or his direct descendants. In the late 1950s, the government stopped issuing them altogether. “Authorities didn’t want street carts to proliferate and get out of control,” McLane says. “The plates kept vendors in check. But they also put an expiration date on these establishments.”

  “They tell a story that’s not just about food but about Hong Kong’s culture and socio-economic past.”

  In the span of a few decades, an untold number of da pai dongs were indeed forced to cease operations. Many were transferred into indoor cooked food centers—sanitized food halls in municipal buildings managed by Hong Kong’s Urban Council—or moved into brick-and-mortar shops, called cha chaan teng (literally “tea restaurant”). Concerns for hygiene, fire hazards and traffic congestions also led the government to buy some of the licenses back. “It’s been one long disappearing act,” McLane says. “Which makes the existing da pai dongs all the more important. They tell a story that’s not just about food but about Hong Kong’s culture and socio-economic past.”

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  “Dai pai dong are a uniquely Hong Kong institution,” chimes in Charmaine Mok, Editorial Director of Food & Wine for Hong Kong-based publishing company Edipresse Media Asia. “In our rapidly changing dining scene, these open-air street stalls are a welcome antidote to the gradual gentrification of local neighborhoods. As they dwindle in their numbers, the remaining dai pai dongs are reminders of simpler times.”

Hong Kong Tour is renowned for its shopping, dining, heritage and culture. Find out the available tours in Hong Kong and useful information for planning

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