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Street food ideas from around the world: A delicious guide for your mobile catering business

If you’re just about to launch your own mobile catering business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is what type of food you’re going to serve.

With the bewildering array of street food ideas on offer, we can assure you this is easier said than done! So, the more thought you put into this question, the better. To help you out we’ve put together a list of street food ideas from around the world. We’ve also sprinkled them with a healthy pinch of top tips to help you make your choice. There’s sure to be something to whet your appetite here!

But remember, no matter how delicious and adventurous the food, all mobile catering vans need reliable catering van insurance to protect all that hard work. Give the team at Mobilers a call and get started on your next exciting chapter.

African – Bunny Chow

There’s a huge array of street foods to explore from this rich and diverse continent, so it’s difficult to have to choose just one. But choose, we must!

A street food created by the Indian community in Durban, South Africa, Bunny Chow uses a hollowed-out loaf of bread as a bowl and fills it with vegetable or meat curry. Originally developed as an easy way for workers to take their lunch to the fields, today it’s proving popular with office workers looking for the latest food scene phenomena. Who needs to wash up when you can eat your own bowl!

Top tip: The customer demand for eco-friendly disposables is not going away. And while single-use plastics may be on the way out when it comes to sustainability there are plenty of other options on the table. By its very nature, street food is a great grab-and-go option perfect for environmentally-conscious foodies.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to make your catering business more eco-friendly then we’ve got plenty of advice for you.

British – Fish and Chips

Like many of Britain’s favourite foods the roots of fish and chips, in fact, lie elsewhere in Europe. France and Belgium argue over who invented the humble chip, while the Spanish and Portuguese introduced us to the delights of fried, battered fish.

However, it was us Brits who first served them together in the mid-1800s. Loaded with salt and vinegar, and often served with a side of mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy or ketchup. Mouthwatering indeed!

Food in newspaper

Caribbean – Barbeque Jerk Chicken

If you love experimenting with seasonings then Caribbean food could be the street cuisine for you. Great as summer food but also a hearty winter warmer, there’s nothing quite like the smell of jerk chicken being smoked on the BBQ to get queues building.

Top tip: Are you an adventurous cook? Do you think your target customers will be desperate to taste something new and unique? If you’re happy to venture beyond the traditional burger and chips combo, there’s a whole world of street food to try out. Decide how creative you want to be and see where the journey takes you.

Chinese – Chinese Dumplings

Quick, fresh and endlessly interesting, eating your way around China’s phenomenal street food would take a long, long time. However, a popular choice for a UK audience would have to be those delicate and delicious Chinese dumplings.

Generally filled with ground meat such as pork or beef or vegetables such as mushrooms, they are believed to bring you good luck. Wrapped in a thin dough, they can be steamed, boiled or pan fried and served with some spicy sauces. A seriously explosive mixture of flavours.

French – Crêpe

French crêpe stalls have graced UK streets, fairs and festivals for many years now. Straightforward to make with relatively low-cost ingredients (great for your profit margins), crêpes can be served both as a sweet or savoury street food dish. Bon Appetit!

Top tip: If you’re going to make the same thing day in, day out, it’ll help if it’s something that’s versatile. And if you enjoy eating it!

German – Currywurst

The great British public loves sausages. And they love curry, too. So, what better street food to get the punters coming back for more than to combine them?

While many food-lovers will have already eaten their fair share of Bratwurst, what about Currywurst? This dish is made with sliced sausages, seasoned with lashings of ketchup, topped with curry powder, and served with chips.

Top tip: How much do you plan to offer? One of the golden rules of outdoor catering is to keep your menu focused on a small selection of dishes that share the same ingredients.

After all, speed is at the heart of any successful mobile catering business. So, remember, when it comes to the menu, less is more.

Catering food van

Greek – Souvlaki and Gyros

With such a rich cultural history it’s no wonder that Greek street food is a wealth of aromas, flavours and influences. One of the Greek delicacies that probably lends itself best to street food is Souvlaki.

Juicy, tasty and best when served hot and fresh, Souvlaki consists of small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer and then wrapped in a warm pitta with salad and plenty of Tzatziki. Gyros is a similar dish in which the meat is sliced from a vertical rotisserie and served in a pitta (often with chips too).

Top tip: Street food aficionados can be a sophisticated bunch. Gone are the days where a low-quality burger or kebab from the side of the road would still bring in business. These days you really need to be at the top of your game when it comes to product, presentation, and customer service.

Indian – Samosas, Aloo Tikki and many more

Yet another country with countless street food options to explore. Two of our must-eat Indian classics are Samosas and Aloo Tikki. With their crunchy texture and variety of fillings, deep-fried Samosas are a perennial favourite on the UK street food scene – delicious with yoghurt or homemade chutneys.

While slightly less common, Aloo Tikki is a fried potato patty blended with other vegetables and spices that can be made in many different ways. Our favourite ones are stuffed with paneer and served with spicy chickpeas.

Top tip: Interest in vegan diets is booming and this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. According to the Vegan Society, the number of people practising a vegan diet in the UK has quadrupled in recent years. While there are vegan food trucks and stalls out there, this is still far from a saturated market at the moment.

Going vegan could also help with the bottom line as dishes made using meat tend to be more expensive. If you’re looking for reasons to start a vegan mobile catering business then look no further than our recent Mobilers guide to this exciting market.

Italian – Gelato

Made with milk, cream and sugar and flavoured with nuts, fruit or other ingredients, gelato is much lower in fat and healthier than traditional ice cream. Gelato also has less air whipped into it than ice cream, giving it a deep richness that makes it popular with those looking for a sweet treat.

Japanese – Yakitori

From fresh sushi rolls to steaming bowls of ramen, the British public have a deep love for delicious Japanese food. But if you’re coming home from a big night out, then there are few things better than grilled meat on a stick to sort you out.

Found in cuisines throughout the world, yakitori is the Japanese version of this classic street food. And while it appears small and dainty, it really satisfies the itch that other foods simply can’t reach.

Yakitori is best grilled over a charcoal fire, but there are great electric alternatives on the market suitable for mobile catering. While chicken is the traditional choice of meat, pork or beef are also popular. Swap with tofu or oyster mushrooms for a delicious, non-meat alternative.

Top tip: Are you a whizz in the kitchen? It might sound a strange question for someone in the catering business, but if your culinary skills are not up to much, then it’s probably best to stick with simpler and easier recipes. Or hire a specialist chef to help you!

Whether hiring a sushi chef or arranging the most appropriate catering van insurance, it’s always best to speak to the professionals first. Mobilers has many years of experience providing great cover for a range of catering businesses.

Mexican – Tlayuda

So fresh and easy to make, Mexican food is perhaps one of the best street food ideas to try in your mobile catering van so why not consider what the best vehicles are for a catering van conversion. Ever-popular classics your customers will no doubt be familiar with include tacos, tamales, quesadillas, and tostadas. Not to mention the brilliant burrito! But why not peak your customers’ interest more by adding the slightly less well known tlayuda to the menu?

Sometimes referred to as a Mexican pizza, the tlayuda is essentially a huge, baked crisp tostada. To make it, simply top a large tortilla with refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, cheese, salsa, and a choice of meat, and then toast on a hot plate. It can be served either folded in half or open.

South American – Empanada

From the deliciously sweet, deep fried picarones of Peru to the coxinha (chicken croquettes) of Brazil, you could spend a lifetime exploring South American street food. But for sheer versatility we have to choose Argentina’s excellent empanadas. Served in both sweet and savoury flavours, these little pastries look a lot like Cornish pasties and are stuffed full with a wide array of fillings before being baked or fried.

Taiwanese – Bubble Tea

Street food doesn’t all have to be about the main course, you know. Refreshing drinks such as juices and smoothies are always very popular, particularly during warmer months. And innovation is alive and well in this part of the menu, too.

Originating in Taiwan in the 1980s, Bubble Tea has really caught on in the UK in recent years. There are two types available – those made with milk and those using a fruit base. The key ingredient is tapioca balls containing sugar, fruit juice and other flavours. These give the tea its unusual, bubbly look.

Vietnamese – Pho

Fresh, fragrant and oh-so-healthy, Vietnamese food is a great choice for anyone looking for food truck menu ideas. Considered Vietnam’s national dish and hugely popular is the soup-based dish called Pho. This delicate and delicious dish contains rice noodles, herbs and a range of different meats. It’s sure to have your customers flocking back for more.

An alternative Vietnamese favourite also worth considering is Banh Mi. The original fusion food, this lunchtime classic is French influenced with a spicy Vietnamese twist. If you’re not looking for something too complicated then this could be a great option.

Basically, it’s a French baguette filled with a meat patty, slices of pork or chicken and egg, cucumbers, pickled carrots and chilli, and mayonnaise dressing. There’s also plenty of scope for getting creative with this dish and adding other ingredients.

Top tip: Whether trading at a festival or outside an office block, customers are now far more clued up when it comes to health and nutrition. Showing you care about what ingredients go into their meals will win their respect and their business.

Food collection hatch

Protect your business with catering van insurance from Mobilers

When you’ve made such a tough menu decision, it’s important not to forget that you need the right level of insurance for your catering van. How else are you going to protect all your hard work from mishaps?

At Mobilers our knowledgeable team can provide catering van insurance for a variety of catering vehicles. Our policy benefits can include:

  • Instant cover available
  • Full fire cover
  • Fixtures and fittings cover
  • Mirror bonus available
  • Flexible payment option
  • Exclusive discounts available

Get a quick quote for catering trailer insurance today.

Frequently asked questions

One of the most popular street food businesses in the country is the classic fish and chips stand. With its crispy battered fish and golden fries, it's a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Another popular street food business is the burger van. Offering burgers with a variety of toppings, these vans can be found at festivals, markets, and street corners across the UK.

How can I improve as a mobile caterer?

As a mobile caterer, there are several ways you can improve your business and ensure customer satisfaction. First and foremost, it is crucial to continually improve your culinary skills. Experiment with new recipes, flavours, and presentation techniques to keep your menu fresh and exciting. Additionally, staying up-to-date with the latest food trends can help you attract a wider customer base. Another important aspect is efficient time management. Streamline your processes, from food preparation to serving, to ensure timely delivery.

How can I get my street food business to stand out from competition?

Focus on creating a unique and memorable brand identity that reflects the essence of your street food. This could be through an eye-catching logo, distinctive packaging, or even a catchy tagline. Secondly, prioritise high-quality ingredients and flavours that set your food apart from others. By using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and experimenting with unique flavour combinations, you can create a signature dish that customers will crave.

How can I improve the quality of my dishes for my street food business?

Running a successful street food business requires more than just a good location and affordable prices. To truly stand out and attract customers, you need to focus on the quality of your dishes. One way to improve the quality is by using fresh and high-quality ingredients. Seek local suppliers who provide fresh produce and meat to ensure that your dishes are always made with the best ingredients. Additionally, experiment with different flavours and spices to add depth and complexity to your dishes. This will help elevate the taste and make them more memorable for your customers.

Should I invest in higher quality local ingredients for my street food business?

As a street food business owner, investing in higher quality local ingredients can be a game-changer for your business. Not only does it enhance the taste and quality of your food, but it also allows you to support local farmers and producers. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients can give your street food an edge over your competitors, attracting more customers who appreciate the authenticity and sustainability of your products. Customers are increasingly conscious about where their food comes from, and by showcasing your commitment to using high-quality local ingredients, you can build trust and loyalty with your customer base.

How can I market my street food business?

If you're a food truck owner looking to boost your business, marketing is key. One of the most effective ways to market your food truck is don't underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Provide exceptional customer service, offer loyalty programs, and ask satisfied customers to leave reviews or recommend your food truck to their friends and family.

Should I create new menu items for seasonality?

When it comes to running a successful catering business, it is important to stay ahead of the game and constantly innovate. One way to do this is by creating new menu items for seasonality. By catering to the changing tastes and preferences of your customers, you can ensure that you are always offering something fresh and exciting. Not only does this keep your customers happy, but it also allows you to showcase your creativity and culinary skills. It is a great way to keep your business thriving and your customers coming back for more.

How do I choose which street food cuisine to specialise in?

When it comes to choosing which street food cuisine to specialise in, there are a few factors that you should consider. Firstly, think about your passion and expertise. What type of cuisine are you most knowledgeable and skilled in? A deep understanding and love for a particular cuisine will not only make the cooking process more enjoyable for you, but it will also shine through in the taste and quality of your dishes.

How can I understand my local street food scene?

Each city has its own unique flavours and culinary traditions, and exploring the local street food can be a delicious adventure. To understand your local street food scene, start by immersing yourself in the culture. Visit food markets, festivals, and street stalls to get a sense of what's popular and what locals love to eat. Talk to the vendors and ask them about their specialities, ingredients, and cooking techniques. By engaging with the people who are at the heart of the catering of street food, you'll gain valuable insights into how to launch your own catering van.

How can I start a street food business?

Starting a street food business can be an exciting and lucrative venture. With the right planning and execution, you can turn your passion for food into a successful business. The first step is to research your target market and identify the type of street food that is in demand. This will help you determine your menu and pricing strategy. Focusing on quality ingredients, unique flavours, and excellent customer service, you can stand out in the competitive street food industry and build a loyal customer base.

Are street food businesses competitive?

Street food businesses are definitely competitive in today's fast-paced and ever-changing culinary landscape. With the rise of food trucks and pop-up stalls, street food vendors have to constantly innovate and offer unique dishes to stand out from the crowd. The competition is fierce, with vendors vying for prime locations and trying to attract the attention of hungry customers.

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