A street vendors stall (屋台)

A street vendor's stall (Yatai in Japanese) is a simple mobile store. In many cases, this street stall is a mobile restaurant; some stores exclusively sell toys and other goods, and this type of street vendor stall is also known as a Roten.

Street stalls, take on numerous forms and utilitarian types throughout the world. Vendors of this type developed early on, from people walking about selling goods from a shoulder pole; this method had a significant disadvantage in that the vendor's product inventory was limited to what he/she could carry. There are other mobile forms of street stalls: a bicycle mobile store, manually propelled, a store propelled with a motor bicycle, such as a rear car (a bicycle-drawn cart, a bicycle trailer). Another vendor site involves a prefabricated store, such as an erected tent. Other stall forms, a store setup in the converted bed of a small motor truck and a special purpose dinning car, are considered street stall vendors. However, the motorized dinning car is specially customized, generally equipped with tables and chairs for inside seating; this motorized dinning car should not be considered a street stall vehicle, but a customized small motorized truck could appropriately be called a street stall vendor vehicle.


Vendors are active inside shrines and temples during the New Year holiday and on the festival days; there are many types of street stalls selling specialized items: Takoyaki (octopus dumplings), yakisoba (fried soba noodle), cotton candies, rice cakes, and toys. It is also called a street stall store. A street vendor opens a stall store for significant events, such as during festival days; this is often run by people called 'Tekiya' (a street vendor or peddler at local festivals in and around the precincts of shrines and temples).

The street stall business prospered greatly in the Edo period, food (first food) which a seller could immediately offer; such as sushi, soba (noodles made from buckwheat), and tenpura; vendors first opened street stall stores in Edo (later Tokyo). This resulted in the street stall business style, one of the origins of the current food culture in Japan.

There are many Ramen (Chinese soup noodle) Shops among mobile street stall stores. Yonaki-soba (buckwheat noodles sold at movable stands on winter evenings) in the Edo period, originated in Ramen Shops; Yonaki-soba shop vendors, walked around the streets at night making sounds with a charamela (charamela in Portuguese, shawm in English, a street vendor's flute), so the street stall was also called a Charamela.

Street stall store types: There are stores which operate only at night, serving alcohol along side Oden (a Japanese dish containing all kinds of ingredients cooked in a special broth of soy sauce, sugar, sake, etc.), Yakitori-ya restaurant (grilled chicken restaurant), Doteyaki (sinewy beef cooked in Miso paste and Mirin) and other dishes. The street stall's unique atmosphere remains popular with a distinct segment of the population. In order to run a street stall business, a vendor is required to obtain an operating license from the health care center; this is mandated by The Food Sanitation Act; also a vender is required to have a road usage license, from a Police Office, under The Road Traffic Act. Some vendors would operate without the required licenses. Licenses are not the only impediments to owning a street stall business; there are other significant obstacles that are contributing to the vendor's decline: obtaining a water supply, drainage, electricity, bathroom facilities; trash and waste can be difficult to manage, together with problems with noise and hygiene; not to mention issues that occur from taking up a roadway and blocking traffic. Another factor is the impediment of Japan's climate; this can limit a street vendor's ability to develop and maintain a permanent establishment. There is the problem of obscure menu pricing, and then the serious issue of the Japanese mafia collecting rate.

A collection of permanent street stall settings called 'Yatai Mura' (villages of food stalls), in which the vendors pooled water supplies at a large site, used to be very popular in many places; but Yatai Mura are no longer common today. Of these Yatai Mura, the Yatai Mura located in several locations across Hokkaido and Hachinohe, in Aomori Prefecture, eventually became tourist attractions and prospered.

A current trend for lunch time sales in every urban region, including the Marunouchi neighborhood of Tokyo, is selling lunches from Mobile Food Vendor Vehicles, called Neo Yatai (neo food stalls); this has been well received. Neo Yatai products: The main item is the bento (lunch box), followed by assorted ethic foods; these mobile stalls share a cleaner environment and contemporary atmosphere; so, these mobile stalls generate more female traffic to their sites.

This strategic open for business location is called a Neo Yatai Mura (villages of neo food stalls), and those Neo Yatai businesses mainly serve to fill the needs of office workers during lunch.

A primary benefit of the Mobile Food Vendor Vehicle business is the considerably low startup investment cost when compared with a traditional restaurant. This business model can be of great benefit to the entrepreneur; since the location of the business is fluid, and can be determined by strategically targeting areas of higher foot traffic; these benefits have resulted in its popularity. In addition, in response to entrepreneurial demand in the Mobile Food Vendor Vehicle business; franchise chains were developed. The chains specialized in foods such as, Crepes, Melon Pans (Melon buns, sweet round breads covered in a crisp with cookie-like coating), Agepan (deep-fried bread), and Ikayaki (grilled thin pancake with squid).

Subsequently, Mobile Food Vendor Vehicles were developed into different forms to facilitate and resolve certain negative aspects: "Limits on the business dependent on hygiene conditions," "problems in compliance to the Road Traffic Act," "the lack of equipment electricity, water supply, draining systems," and "the inefficiency of working inside a vehicle." Currently, there are new two versions of the Mobile Food Vendor Vehicles; one, a vehicle outfit with a semi-permanent kitchen fixture unit; two, a kitchen enclosed in a trailer for towing.

The street stalls of Fukuoka

Located inside the city of Fukuoka are, Nakasu of Hakata Ward, Tenjin of Chuo Ward, and Nagahama; and within them is a place called "Yatai Gai" (streets with food stands), where street stall businesses gather on the sidewalk. Kyushu's milder climate has had a favorable impact on the operating conditions of the stands; this allows for longer semi- permanent operation of the street stall businesses. A longer seasonal period, including the summer time, allowed Kyushu to develop an original street stall culture. The street stall businesses of Fukuoka operate from a fixed place and are not mobile. During the day time, these mobile street stall vendors sit within a parking lot, contracting on a monthly-fixed amount; they are moved in and out by a person called 'Hikiya' (the person who sets up the street stalls); out in the evening, and returned to the same stall location the next day. These street stall businesses have an exclusive power supply for their business operation, contracting water services with a nearby building. Located within each stall business, is an independently attached propane gas tank. Many street stall shops provide radio and television entertainment for their customers. Many owners of street stall businesses use cell phones for communication. Since bad weather can severely impact a street stall's operation, some vendors have their cell numbers published in a guide book; in this case, customers can call the vendor and confirm stall availability.

There is an abundant food menu besides ramen: Many street stall businesses serve oden, motsunabe (giblets stew or giblets hot pot), yakitori (grilled chicken), Teppanyaki (foods grilled on an iron plate), and tenpura. A common eating pattern for customers is to drink alcohol with food ordered from these menus, then finish with ramen. Some street stall businesses specialize in cocktail drinks, Western (European) cuisine, and Okinawa cuisine. Some street stall owners develop new dishes based on their own tastes, and adopt different types of dishes. On the other hand, many street stall shops have stuck to a convention menu, determined to protect tradition. Ramen is a regular item on menus in Fukuoka, and many street stall shops serve ramen, but for some shops, the principle dish is not ramen. Hygiene is always a concern; street stall shops can not serve raw food, but there are some shops violating this rule. Additionally, it is mandatory for street stall business to indicate the actual food price; this has decreased the number of disputes concerning prices.

The street stall shops of Kokurakita Ward in Kitakyushu City do not serve alcohol (customers are permitted to bring their own alcohol). It is common to see customers happily eating an oden dish with rice ball, with a cup of green tee in one hand. In addition, many street stall shops that specialize in oden, also serve ohagi (rice ball coated with sweetened red beans, soybean flour or sesame), so many customers will finish their meal with ohagi. The scale of the street stall business in Fukuoka is small.

Regulation by the Administration

To operate a street stall business requires a health center permit, under the Food Sanitation Act; permission to use the road is administered by the Fukuoka police station, under the Road Traffic Act; the owners of the business pay the permit licensing fee. The upper limitation to operate a street stall bushiness is the maximum frontage of three meters and a depth of two point five meters. The regulations stipulate that it is illegal to place a table or a beer case outside of the premises of the street stall shops, or to occupy the roadway while doing business.

Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City, and Fukuoka Prefectural Police, individually regulate street stalls based on previous issues with sanitation. In contrast, a movement to resist this on behalf of the street stall businesses was initiated by a member of the prefectural assembly and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (of that period).

In 1962, business licensing was standardized, and a road usage licensing system and road usage management guidelines were established. In the 1970's, Fukuoka Prefecture Police proposed a policy which did not accept a change of ownership; but later, the street stall business representatives negotiated with the Fukuoka Prefecture Police; thus in 1973, they were able to compromise and have change in ownership accepted, based on certain conditions. Therefore, the issue surrounding the change of ownership was resolved. In August of 1981, the problem of road usage licensing was reignited; Fukuoka City decided to resume the discussion on the basic 'recognition problem' of street stalls.

In October of 1994, the Fukuoka Prefecture Police proposed rules on ownership of road usage licensing as follows.
For street stall businesses, the ownership to road usage licensing's validity is limited to a single individual for the lifetime of the business; any transferred ownership rights in the street stall business, which permitted road usage licensing, would now be restricted to family members or relatives living within the same household.'
In addition, if the relative or family member receiving the transfer should have an income beside the street stall business, this relative would not be granted transfer rights.'
The effect of this restriction, since it was impossible to sell the usage licensing or assign to another relative, was profound.

Since the street stalls were tourist attractions in Fukuoka City, the city loosely tolerated street stall shops which were not in compliance with the restrictive conditions; but the city never officially recognized the existence of such street stalls legally. In order to resolve and clear up this gray area of the road usage licensing code, Fukuoka City established an 'investigative commission on the street stall issue' and discussed the basic policy in 1996. Fukuoka City, defined its position in a notification entitled 'Fukuoka City street stall guidelines' on May 18, 2000.
In exchange for legalizing the existence of street stalls as a business entity, Fukuoka City would now establish clearly detailed regulations governing the operations of street stalls; the city stated that, 'street stalls businesses, might be moved or repositioned, if the shops did not meet the guidelines.'
However, the reaction of many vendors was to leave Fukuoka City, because of their dislike of the restrictive regulations.

In the last few years, many local residents have come to dislike street stalls due to the traffic problems they cause, as well as the strong odors created from the food. Thus, there were cases of local residents resisting the return of businesses to their prior location, after vendors left temporally due to construction or a special event.

Taiwanese street stalls

In Taiwan, street stalls open for business in the early morning, and sell items such as: rice porridge, noodles, LuRo Fans, food made from rice, sandwiches, French toast, rice balls, other light meals, soymilk, milk, and coffee. These street stall vendors operate shops around stations, markets, and shopping centers, and these vendors serve breakfast to their customers. During lunch time, street stall vendors serve food to their customers that is suited for lunch, such as noodles; the stalls are opened for customer convenience, in locations similar to breakfast. Generally the Taiwanese, who live in large cities, do not have breakfast at home, so they often take their breakfast from street stalls. Therefore, these street stall businesses closely reflect the daily lives of the Taiwanese people.

Located in the main section of large cities (especially Holo people areas), are street stalls that are open for business inside a Night Market (in Chinese, 夜市, means "night market" and is pronounced as "ye4shi4.") from evening to midnight. In Taiwanese, it is called "路邊攤 (meaning "night market", and pronounced as "lou7-piN7-taN3-a2" in Taiwanese)." Inside the Night Market, street stalls line up their shops in areas of streets that are temporarily closed to vehicle traffic. The street stalls are set up in a certain area along the edges of either side of the road. Some of the following items are sold among the street stalls of the Night Markets: Noodles, deep-fried food, stir-fried dishes, cut fruits, Japanese originated takoyaki (octopus dumplings) dishes, Japanese dessert consisting of two slices of kasutera (Japanese sponge cake) with red bean jam in between, shaved ices (flavored with syrup), Sashimi (fresh slices of raw fish) dishes, Sushi, clothing, and miscellaneous goods. Street stalls have become fairly popular with not only the local residents but also sightseeing tourists, from foreign nations.

Some of the more famous Night Markets are: 'the Shilin Night Market' (Largest scale in northern Taiwan) in the Shilin area of Taipei City, 'the Ningsia Night Market' of Datong District, 'the Huasi Street Night Market' of Wanhua District, 'the Raohe Street Night Market' of Songshan District, 'the Shida Night Market' near the National Taiwan Normal University, 'the Gong Guan Night Market' near the administration building of the National Taiwan Normal University, 'the Le hua Night Market' of Yonghe City in Taipei County, 'Fong Jia Night Market' (the Largest scale in Middle Taiwan) of Taichung City, and 'the Liu He Night Market' of Kaohsiung City. The Night Market in smaller cities are only open a limited number of days, such as Saturday.

Chinese street stalls

On the mainland of People's Republic of China, there are street stalls similar in style to Taiwan, but the foods served in the shops of the street stalls in mainland China differ and are dependant on location. For example, foods commonly seen in Beijing City are: Tianjin Jianbing (Tianjin style egg crepe or pancake), roasted sweet potatoes, boiled corn, and broiled sweet chestnuts.

In the evening, there are places for large scale markets to open their businesses upon sidewalks; these market places sell clothing and miscellaneous goods, and there are other market locations; this is where the street stalls serve food in streets temporarily closed to vehicle traffic.

The street stalls of Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, a street stall is called a '大牌檔 (meaning "street stall," and can be pronounced as 'Dai Pai Dong' in Cantonese)' serving Chinese food (Mainly Cantonese food) such as noodle dishes, rice porridge and stir-fried dishes. Many places have banned the operations of street stall business upon the roadway since the 1980's. Therefore, today street stalls basically gather and operate their business in designated places in certain parks. Another type of mobile shop that is permitted, is one that uses motor vehicles, but this shop type is not common, unlike Japan; the expense in obtaining a license permit is very high; and the places of operation for these motorized stalls is very limited.

On some occasions, street stall carts use attached propane gas to cook food operate their businesses serving food such as; stew and deep-fried food at street corners, but basically, these sellers operate without licenses. Therefore, the shop vendors would need to run away, along with their carts, if a police patrol were to come down the street.

Another famous example, of street stalls operating their businesses at night time streets are, Temple Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street (Woman street), but these shops only sell clothing and miscellaneous goods.

The street stalls of Southeastern Asia

Japanese people tend to subcategorize street stalls in Japan as a light meal for festivals, or a simple night time bar; but street stalls in Southeast Asia are businesses which are more closely intertwined with the daily lives of common people. Street stalls open for business at lunch time, some shops sell take out food; many shops setup simple tables and chairs for their customers, serving conventional food. Because the street stalls are often exposed to severe competition from one another, food prices are generally reasonable. Subsequently, much of the food offered is very tasteful, and satisfies customers (Mamak stall).

The street stalls of Thailand

Street stalls in Thailand are of various types, from fully equipped street stalls serving conventional meals, to simple street stalls. There are a variety of foods from street stalls serving Thai cuisine such as Khao Man Kai (Chicken and Rice), Khao Ka Moo (Pork Leg with Rice), Pad Thai (Fried Thai Noodles), Chinese-style fried rice, Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken), Kao Na Pad Yang (Duck on Rice Bed), Ba-Mee (Egg Noodles), Kway Teow (Rice Noodle), Thai Curry, and Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Prawn Soup); Chinese food such as dim sum (Chinese snacks) and Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup); Indian food such as curry; and Arab cuisine such as Kabob. Simple street stalls sell a variety of items, such as; fruits, Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken), freshly squeezed orange juice, and many other drinks. A distinct characteristic of Thailand's street stalls are shops selling insect dishes and Isaan cuisine, such as Yakionigiri (a grilled rice ball).

Thai cuisine

Thai cuisines street stalls sell: Pad Thai (Fried Thai Noodles), Khao Man Kai (chicken and Rice), Kao Na Pad Yang (Duck on a Rice Bed), Khao Ka Moo (Pork Leg with Rice), Kao Pad (Fried Rice), Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Prawn Soup), Thai Curry, Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken), and Pak Boong Fai Daeng (Stir Fried Water Spinach).


Salad dish street stalls sell: Som Tam (Chili-Papaya Salad) and Yum Wunsen (Spicy glass noodle salad).


Noodle dishes street stalls sell: Ba-Mee (Egg Noodles, with soup or without soup) and Kway Teow (Rice Noodle, with wide or thin noodles).

Chinese food

Chinese food street stalls sell: Chinese steamed meat bun, Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup), deep-fried Chinese dumpling, dim sum (Chinese snacks, such as shao mai (steamed meat dumplings)), and Chinese-style fried rice.

The broiled fish

Broiled fish dish street stalls sell: Tilapia (freshwater fish native to Africa, having been introduced worldwide as a source of food) and catfish.

Meat dish

Meat dish street stalls sell grilled sausage (normal style or Isaanian style).

Yakitori (grilled chicken)

Yakitori dish street stalls sell: Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken), chicken wing, rebaa (chicken liver), hatsu (heart), kimo (liver), and grilled-chicken style (pork and beef).


Fruits street stalls sell items such as: Watermelons (red and yellow), papayas, mangos (mature and green), pineapples, guavas, jackfruits, cantaloupes, melons, oranges, grapefruits, dragon fruits (white and red), rambutans, mangosteens, durians, carambolas (also known as starfruit), grapes, apples, and other fruits.


Vegetable street stalls sell corn (boiled and grilled), boiled pumpkin, and boiled taro.


Confectionery street stalls sell the following: Sweetened Khao Neow (sticky rice), rice snacks such as arare (cubic rice crackers), Khao Neow with jackfruit, takoyaki (octopus dumplings), Khanom Krok (Coconut-Rice Pancakes), Zhimaqiu (Sesame Balls), Puek Tod (Fried Taro Chips), Fried Taro, waffles (with coconut and corn inside), popcorn, and Khao Neow cooked in a bamboo steamer basket.


Banana street stalls sell roasted bananas, banana chips, and fried bananas.

Thai Nam Kang Sai (shaved ice desert, flavored with syrup) (toppings or mixings)

Nam Kang Sai (shaved iced desert) has many flavored toppings (mixings) as follows: adzuki beans, boiled pumpkin, pineapple, coconut, tapioca, nata de coco, jellies (green, black, and cherry like flavor (shape)), beans (transparent beans and adzuki beans), bean-sticky rice, taros, sweet potatoes, and other toppings.

Ice cream

Thai street stalls sell ice cream in several presentations such as; placement into a cone, spreading on a piece of bread, and insertion into a plastic container.


Thai street stalls sell: Thai Milk Tea, coffee, iced coffee, espresso, tea, iced tea, Ovaltine (chocolate malt drink), MILO (chocolate malt drink), cocoa, soymilk and other drinks.

Fruit juice

Thai street stalls sell various juices: Banana juice, watermelon juice, melon juice, pineapple juice, longan juice, coconut juice, mango juice, papaya juice, freshly squeezed orange juice, guava juice, kiwi fruit juice, and other juices.

Thai smoothies

Thai smoothies have starchy black round grains, requiring the customers to drink it with a larger diameter straw. Thai smoothies come in various flavors: Powdered (ground) green tea, cocoa, taro, Thai Milk Tea, coconut, and watermelon flavors.

Isaan cuisine

Isaan cuisine street stalls sell the following items: Grilled sticky rice balls, Som Tam (Chili-Papaya Salad), and dressed beef with herb sauce.

Insect dishes

Thai insect dish street stalls sell these items: Locust, grasshoppers, crickets, giant water bugs, green caterpillars, and scorpions.

Indian food

Indian food Thai street stalls sell for are curry, Naan (a leavened, oven-baked flatbread), and Tandoori (the cooking method which use the clay ovens to cook meat and bread at very high heat in a short amount of time).

Arab (Turkey) dishes

Thai street stalls sell Kabobs.

The street stalls of Malaysia

Malaysian street stalls sell: Malaysian cuisine such as: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice), Mi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Noodles), Nasi Ayam (Chicken Rice), Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken), and Soto Ayam (Chicken Noodle Soup); there is Nyonya Cuisine such as Laksa (Curry Based Noodle Dish); there is Indian food such as: Curry, Naan, and Roti (Indian Flatbreads); there is Chinese food such as: Chinese-style fried rice, dim sum (Chinese snacks), and Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup). Malaysian simple street stalls sell: Fruits such as a watermelon, pineapple, papaya; Juice such as: Orange juice, coconut juice, and longan juice; Beverages such as soymilk; there are other foods such as: fish paste chips and yakitori (grilled chicken).

The street stalls of Singapore

Hawker Center

Street Stalls in the United States of America

The most representative street stalls within the United States of America are: Hot dogs, popcorns, and tacos.

Street stalls in Germany

In Germany, there are many street stalls, which specialize in selling sausage, on street corners and in stations. Many German street stalls also sell pretzels with sausages. Some German street stalls sell hot wine, called "mulled wine" (in German, "Glühwein" means glowing wine).

Street stalls in France

French street stalls sell a variety of light meals, but many of the meals are sweetened light snacks like: Ice cream, crepes, gaufre ("Gaufre" is a French word for waffles); this originated in Belgium. However, there are French street stalls that serve conventional dishes such as: Moules Frites (mussel steamed with white wine and French fries (fried potatoes)). In addition, there are street stalls in France owned by immigrants, serving snack foods originating in the Middle East, such as Lebanese cuisine; also another popular immigrants food is Chinese cuisine, such as dim sum (Chinese snacks). These immigrant street stall owners operate as delicatessens along side the vegetable and fish stores of the daily morning market. During winter season, street stalls sell roasted chestnuts and grilled corn in folksy areas in the northeastern part of Paris such as: Montmartre and Ménilmontant, adding a special seasonal feature to the City.

Notably, there are many French street stalls selling crepes. Street stalls sell not only sweet flavored crepes with jams, but also salty flavored crepes, like ham and cheese. The French crepes of street stalls, originated from galette (crepes made with buckwheat) in the Normandy and Bretagne regions, but not all French street stalls sell buckwheat crepes. Rather, crepes characterized with a distinctive regional taste, would generally be served in specialized light snack restaurants.

During Christmas season, a Christmas market (in French, "Marché du Noël"), many street stalls are constructed from wood, built in the central plaza of a town to sell food and small articles (items). These small articles for sale in the street stalls are: Wood carved dolls and Christmas tree ornaments; then there are food street stalls for selling pound cakes with special Christmas decorations, and hot wine.

The street stalls of Belgium

Belgian street stalls sell authentic waffles and crepes.

The street stalls of Greece

Greece street stalls sell many types of bread like pretzels.

The street stalls of the Czech Republic

Czech street stalls sell mulled wine.

[Original Japanese]