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This post makes me nervous. There is no question that improved hygiene is a good thing, but you do have to wonder how much ambience has to be sacrificed along the way. Noodlepie mused a while back about the extent to which the Vietnamese street is integral to the whole experience of Viet food. I think there is some truth to this. I was never a fan of Pho-24-ization. I know too many people from Hong Kong and Singapore who wax nostalgic at the memory of their once lively street food scenes. I'd hate to see it die in Vietnam too. Here in Toronto we are trying to loosen up our over-restrictive street food hygiene laws in order to liven up our streets even more.


Excellent post.

There's a difference between grime and ambiance. The appeal of street hawker food lies in flavor and price. More stalls only serve one or two dishes, which the owners have been making for years, if not decades or generations. It's that level of expertise that makes us remember street food so fondly. The low overhead from a street operation also keeps the costs down.

What chain and corporate restaurants do is offer cleaner surroundings at the expense of flavor. In an attempt to provide a cookie-cutter experience, they sacrifice the unique family recipes that fuel street food chains. In addition, the increased cost is passed on to the consumer.

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