A diet of very basic noodles, pasta and sandwiches got me through the majority of my year travelling around Australia in 2001. Fast forward eighteen years and it’s fair to say that my eating habits have changed. That’s not just due to having lived in Japan for so long but also because of the inspirational Anthony Bourdain TV shows and subsequent rise in prominence of food-based travel thanks to the likes of social media and YouTube.
This trip was the first time that I would make an effort to enjoy a few delicacies that Melbourne (or Sydney) had to offer whilst also enjoying the kind of western food that I rarely, if ever, get to experience in Japan. Whilst food has already featured in previous posts in this Australia 2019 series, it has only appeared as background to the main focus. There are plenty of never-seen-before photos to accompany pictures which have already appeared on Tokyo Fox recently but of course there may be some overlap.
Research on YouTube ahead of my trip brought to the first place to my attention. It is Easey’s (3/48 Easey Street) in Collingwood, a short distance north of the CBD. It’s not everyday you see a restaurant with three train carriages on the roof, one of which you sit inside to eat your burger. The food itself didn’t overly impress me but the interiors did with all the train-related table and seating decor.
Whilst waiting for my order I took advantage of the free wifi, checked my maps app and noticed that just a couple of blocks north was a place called Leicester Street. It would’ve been a crime for me to not go and get a photo!
Rewinding back to my first hour in Melbourne (before I headed to my sister’s place) and the first thing I ate, after a long overnight flight, was a large HSP (Halal snack pack) at Viva Kebabs (3/546 Flinders Street). Chips covered with melted cheese, a mix of lamb and chicken and then smothered in a few sauces. Lovely stuff but naturally more suited to a post-drinking session rather than for breakfast!
One of the cheapest best value eats in the whole of Melbourne is a börek. These Turkish (?) thin flaky dough pastries are available at Queen Victoria Market for around AU$4 and are available with three fillings. I had the spicy minced lamb one and very tasty it was too.
The meat pie is something of an Aussie icon and akin to the hamburger in the States. It’s supposedly a staple at Aussie Rules football matches not that I bought one at the game I went to. This particular one was just a supermarket purchase and such good value. Hardly dining out though!
Nothing says authentic Australian taste more than Vegemite. Rhyming language with (vegemite) sandwich in the classic Toto song ‘Down Under‘ (1981) was a masterstroke. Whilst I didn’t technically have a sandwich, I did have toast with it on a fair few times on this trip as it’s the easy option when at my sister’s house where there’s always a big tub of it. I’m still not really sure if I actually like it but I tolerate it and almost feel as if I should have it when in the country!
These Vegemite and cheese Australia-shaped baked biscuits were a no-brainer when it came to bringing stuff back. I just wish I had had more room in my case for more of them as I’d liked to have share them with some of my students.
There wasn’t really a plan to eat kangaroo on this trip but when I saw it on the menu in Bondi Beach I couldn’t deny myself the chance to try something I’ve not had for 12 years. Cheeseburger and fries accompanied that as my main.
That burger was good but it didn’t quite match the so-called free-range bacon burger I had on my first day in Australia when out for dinner with my family.
When it comes to puns, there aren’t many better than Lord of the Fries! This fast food chain popped up a few times during my trip but I never actually went inside one.
I’m not sure having food items like Golden Gaytime ice-creams or Coon cheese are really appropriate in these modern times but they have been around far longer than the more politically correct times we rightly live in now.
The classic Melbourne beer is perhaps Victoria Bitter a.k.a. VB. It’s not the best of the local beers but it’s the one with the most nostalgia for me so I bought a six-pack to consume at home. The salted caramel protein breakfast smoothie was another purchase and I wish I could get such treats in Japan. Then again, it’s probably better for my calorie count that such stuff is not so easily available as it would be difficult to resist temptation all the time.
Whilst on the subject of supermarket purchases, I will show a couple of unique Pringles flavours. I just could not put my finger on what the mystery flavour was but I guess that’s the idea given there is a huge cash prize up for grabs for whoever gets it right.
Any trip overseas from Japan usually means the chance to eat all the chocolate bars I miss from back home. Australia is absolutely full of Dairy Milk variations and other such Cadbury’s products. Add Tim Tams to that and it all meant my suitcase and bag were packed full of such goodies when I returned to Japan.
Let’s get back to actually eating out as the title of this post implies! When we met up with my aunt and uncle in Geelong following my day hiking in the wonderfully named You Yangs nearby, I had an Aussie pizza. I’m not sure what exactly constitutes this type of pizza but I can tell you that it did include a fried egg, bacon and barbecue sauce among its contents. The accompanying blue beverages were homage to some similarly coloured drinks we had in Indonesia the last time we all met.
That pizza was very nice but a little expensive. By contrast, the pizza my nephew and I shared at the F1 Australian Grand Prix was reasonably good value at AU$10 given that food at sports events is usually higher than normal.
The kids were one day treated to some interesting and elaborate sweet shakes called Cookie Monster and Willy Wonka which were full of all kinds of unhealthy goodness! I couldn’t resist getting one of these crazy concoctions for myself!
As I mentioned in my ‘You can take the man out of Japan but…‘ post, Melbourne is awash with Japanese places these days such as Don Don which I went to a couple of times. The two dishes I tried were buta teriyaki don and tofu curry rice.
I also went to a couple of takeaway sushi places as I was keen to sample the Australian-take on the most famous Japanese food export.
Just down the road from the first Don Don (198 Little Lonsdale Street) I went to was a place called Urban Fox. In Japan I’m used to jumping on anything fox related for ‘On The Fox Trail’ posts so I guess that’s habit. Besides, I fancied taking a little break from my busy day to enjoy a milkshake.
My final two nights included a trip to Hungry Jacks (known as Burger King everywhere else!) with my nephew to get a large frozen drink for a dollar, and then on my final night down under we all had fish and chips at home in the back garden.
That’s it for the Australia 2019 series of blog posts and the far more popular Japan-related articles will reappear soon. However, there are still six more filming locations posts to come from my time in Melbourne and Sydney so I’ll probably just release them intermittently throughout the rest of this year. These two weeks down under were my first time in an English speaking country for 50 months and it was a great trip thanks to family, friends, sights and the food. Until we eat again, it’s goodbye.
Click on the links below to read the other Australia 2019 posts…