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.