Asia’s changing street food scene: Tokyo

The very definition of street food is food sold on the streets, and, for centuries, it was the apex of economic activity in cities and a way for low-income urban street vendors to provide goods at low prices.

In the last few decades, cities all over Asia have been struggling with how to preserve the cultural importance of street food — all while containing its inherent chaos.

In Tokyo, street food alleys are being infiltrated by chain stores. Japan-based food writer Melinda Joe shared, “The media often portrays street food in Tokyo as those yakitori stands underneath the train tracks. Those kinds of places have been undergoing renovation in the last two years. It’s both good and bad… Those places are also now getting slowly replaced by a lot of chains [like Starbucks].”

While street stalls of generations past may soon cease to exist, many people don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, and that the best is yet to come for Asian street food.

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