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Just like restaurant owners care about their interiors, food-truck owners go the extra mile to make functional and eye-catching "kitchen cars."
Life

Tokyo food trucks get in gear

Once viewed with disdain in Tokyo, food trucks are now transforming disused parts of the city thanks to a canny new company.

Words by JUNICHI TOYOFUKU Photography by MIWA TOGASHI | Japan

It's a spring morning as seven food trucks pitch up by an office building in Ginza, where a few curious workers are already nosing around for lunch options. Run by husband-and-wife duo Naoya and Rieko Shibutani, the Pieni Kissa van is a big hit and queues quickly form to take advantage of its best-selling taco rice. "Food trucks can be run at a relatively low cost," says Naoya, passing a steaming parcel to a hungry-looking salaryman. "We cannot afford to open a restaurant in Ginza but we can serve people here."

The Shibutanis' business is one of many on the books at Mellow, a food and technology startup that's helping Tokyo's nascent food truck scene get into gear. For a start, Mellow's database of what's sold and where has proved a useful resource for these entrepreneurs and many like them. "With the sales data we can have a good idea how much food we need to prep to minimize waste," says Naoya.

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