Early this summer, a nondescript parking lot a stone’s throw from Kanda Station was transformed into a colourful commune of food trucks. Known as Canteen Station, it soon became the hottest hangout in the neighbourhood, with patrons popping by for delicious truck grub and to knock back a few beers after work.
The man behind this popular operation is Luuvu Hoang, who worked as a food photographer for various restaurants and magazines in his native Seattle before settling in Tokyo. A self-taught cook, Hoang bore witness to the birth of the food truck movement that has taken the American West Coast by storm, and saw untapped potential in Tokyo, which he says now has more than 400 trucks roaming its streets.
Having partnered with a real estate company, which helped him locate the Kanda spot, Hoang is constantly on the lookout for unused land in the capital to save from the cruel fate of being turned into dull car parks. Instead, Hoang wants to transform these empty lots into community spaces like Canteen Station, where people can come together over food and drinks.
Canteen Station is open all day from Monday to Saturday and features an ever-changing array of half a dozen trucks, with previous lodgers including a chicken rice purveyor, a Belgian frites shop, an Argentinian grill, a hot dog specialist and an eclectic 'mobile izakaya'.
Canadian chef Dexter Greenwood
Hoang’s own truck +84 Banh Mi & Vietnam Coffee by Mobile Canteen is the only permanent tenant, serving up Vietnamese coffee and ’Nam’s world-famous street food, bánh mì sandwiches, which are made with fresh baguettes and a generous serving of coriander.
Make sure to check Canteen Station's Facebook page for the latest lineup, and keep an eye out for upcoming events.
Photos by Keisuke Tanigawa