Australia is Part of Asia

It is, of course, the season for holiday fun times making worthless definitions.

Last week my wife and I were making a rare trip into Namba, a popular entertainment and shopping district in Osaka. We happened to see a restaurant named “Blue Billabong (Japanese)”. It purported to be an Australian themed restaurant. We looked at the menu, expecting to snigger in the same resigned fashion as we would looking at the Menu for the Outback Steakhouse.

Here’s some of the items  on the menu.

Pasta with 5-spice prawns.

Steamed Shredded Chicken with Ginger and Green Onion Oil.

Sweet and Sour Pork with Red Wine Sauce

Seasame Crusted Lotus Seeds in Red Beans with Salty Icecream.

Xiaolongbao (“soup dumplings” associated with Shanghai).

Fish and Chips

You can make out some other items here (if you zoom in).

This was unexpected. It’s easily recognisable as something you’d find in a contemporary Australian restaurant. It’s the same combination of Mediterranean and Asian flavours (here mainly Italian and Chinese [fn1]) that has been labeled Modern Australian for roughly 20 years.

But it’s also in a country where tourism campaigns portray Australia with dozens of photos of Cairns and the Gold Coast, the Harbour Bridge and nothing of the rest of the country where Australians live.

It’s good to see we are beginning to be recognised for who we are.

…and maybe “Asia literacy” is just a code word for established government and media following belatedly where the rest of the country has already trod.

[fn1] And much different to the Italian (read “Spaghetti”) and Chinese (read 1970’s RSL) one most frequently encounters in Japan.

About Richard Tsukamasa Green

Richard Tsukamasa Green is an economist. Public employment means he can't post on policy much anymore. Also found at @RHTGreen on twitter.
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4 Responses to Australia is Part of Asia

  1. murph the surf. says:

    “But it’s also in a country where tourism campaigns portray Australia with dozens of photos of Cairns and the Gold Coast, the Harbour Bridge and nothing of the rest of the country where Australians live.”
    Fuck Richard we don’t want to scare them away do we?

  2. You may need to visit the Ned Kelly Bar in Hong Kong, or better still, the Asia Beat.
    http://asiabeat.wordpress.com/

  3. robobr says:

    Encouraging – you don’t see this too often: modern Australia being portrayed overseas as modern Australia, when it struggles to do this effectively at home. For a long time creatives have failed to properly promote Australia and instead of engaging its thinkers, intellectuals and innovators, they’ve reverted to the mateship-barbecue narrative that Paul Hogan once sold. It’s a good but rare thing when you hear or see ‘real’ Australia overseas as opposed to confected Australia (G’day Australia and the like). The next generation, probably like the restaurant owner you crossed, can sell the Australian story better into Asia that those before. But I think that may have to wait until this current crop of politicians passes – the next generation is more engaged with Asia and infinitely more self-aware. They can be trusted to portray Australia more for what it actually is, rather than what it wants to be.

  4. Pingback: The Kurrajong Century: More that pillared pagodas | Club Troppo

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