Tokyo, Japan has officially embraced the international food truck craze, “international” being the key word. Throughout the city, mini restaurants-on-wheels dish out increasingly popular alternatives to traditional Japanese cuisine, from tacos to jacket potatoes to pizza.
In Minato City, hungry locals head to 246 Common, Tokyo’s hottest food trailer park serving international hipster cuisine from purveyors like Brooklyn Ribbon Fries, Curry Freak and Hawaiian Natural Foods. Even the trucks are trendy; micro versions of silver Airstream trailers and camper vans line a seated dining area of mismatched wooden tables and chairs.
I arrived at 246 Common without a plan. What happened next can only be chalked up to travel serendipity.
I was in Tokyo on a video shoot. As we walked through Minato, my camera woman Suze sounded off her Japanese vocabulary to Shinji, my longtime friend and our food guide. After a string of edible animals, “pig, cow…” Suze blurted out, “kuma!”
“Kuma?!” said Shinji, “When will you ever need to say ‘bear’ in Japanese?”
When, indeed. The first food truck we approached, Wild Animal Cuisine, had a strange-looking menu. Even without the ability to read Japanese, I could guess what was being served from the pictures – tiny animal silhouettes. There was a deer, and a horse…and oh my God, is that a BEAR?!
“Kuma!” said Suze. Shinji was speechless.
It was fate; we made Suze order a plate of bear in her best Japanese. Even the vendor looked at the two blonde gaijin and assumed were mistaken, or possibly just confused. “You want…kuma?”
“Hai. Kuma.” Suze repeated. I held back from singing my favorite summer camp tune, the one about the bear and the tree. When it came to actually eating the bear, I have to admit it wasn’t as fun as ordering it. I’d classify the meat as “okay,” in the edible sense, but it was a bit oily and gristly and really nothing to jump up and down about.
At 246 Common, I’d stick to the Brooklyn-style french fries, pressed sandwiches and artisanal beer over a plate of bear, but these Tokyo food trucks are certainly worth checking out.