|Cuisines of Asia and Oceania|
Australian • Burmese • Cambodian • Chinese • Filipino • Indonesian • Japanese • Korean • Malaysian, Singaporean and Bruneian • Middle Eastern • South Asian • Thai • Vietnamese
Australian cuisine is hard to pin down: in this nation of immigrants, restaurants claiming to offer it are few and far between, and the word tends to either evoke meat-and-three-veg British stodge or tourist-trap restaurants hawking kangaroo burgers and crocodile kebabs. Yet with amazing local produce, influences from cuisines from all over the world, and an exciting Modern Australian food scene awaiting those not afraid to experiment, there are plenty of incredible eats and drinks to be found.
Up until World War II, Australian cuisine was largely identical to the cuisine of Britain and Ireland, but it has come a long way since. The post-war years brought in waves of immigrants from continental Europe, introducing the continent to the joys of coffee, pasta and gelato, while Asian migrants joined the mix after the repeal of the White Australia policy in 1973, adding curries, noodles and sushi to the mix. All this makes Australian cuisine a truly multicultural cuisine, and Australia has slowly but surely started to develop its very own style that happily mixes all these influences together.
Far predating all this is bush tucker, Indigenous Australian food based on unique native flora and fauna of the Australian bush, with 60,000 years of history. While the numbers are not certain, it's believed that around 5,000 species of Australian flora and fauna were eaten by Indigenous Australians, including kangaroos, wallabies and emus along with various plants. While hardly mainstream, it has also been undergoing a slow renaissance and is worth sampling if you get the chance. Bush tucker is also increasingly being incorporated into fine dining by Australian chefs.
- See also: English language varieties
Just like the rest of Australian English, in the culinary world, Australian English also follows a mix of British and American usage as well as having its own unique words. A list of important differences listed:
- Asian food would refer to either East or Southeast Asian food, like in the United States. This is in contrast to the United Kingdom where it refers to South Asian cuisine or New Zealand and Canada where it can refer to the entire continent of Asia.
- capsicum is what would be called a bell pepper in the United States, or red/green pepper in the UK
- crayfish refers to what would be called a rock lobster in the US and UK
- chips/fries – the British "crisps" is never used in Australia, and that would be called "chips", like the United States. Australians distinguish the American "fries" and the British "chips", by referring to shoe-string fries as fries, and thicker hot chips as "hot chips", often shortened to "chips".
- eggplant is used, rather than the French/British word aubergine
- entrée would be what would be called a "starter" in the United Kingdom, or an "appetizer" in the United States. Unlike other Commonwealth countries, "appetiser" has the same meaning as "entrée"
- goon refers to cheap wine sold in cardboard boxes
- lollies would be what is called "candy" in the United States or "sweets" in the United Kingdom. Lollies cover a broad range of confectionery and not just lollipops.
- pea is shared with American usage, as opposed to the British mangetout
- A prawn is used regardless of size, unlike every other English speaking country. The term shrimp is only used when referring to shrimp paste. The term shrimp on the barbie is a huge misconception, and it has only ever been used when the Australian Tourism Commission used the term to attract tourism from the United States
- What Australians (and New Zealanders) call rockmelon is what Americans and Canadians call cantaloupe or what South Africans call spanspek. Cantaloupe is sometimes used but rare.
- In Australia, the British takeaway is the universal term as opposed to the American takeout. With that being said, most Australians will understand takeout
- zucchini is shared with American usage, and the British courgette extremely uncommon except in French restaurants. However, unlike takeout, most Australians will probably not know what a courgette is
Similarly, spelling also differs. Unlike the rest of the world, the Australian spelling of the British pasty is not pasty, but rather pastie and you're more likely to see and hear the American specialty as opposed to the British speciality, even in French cafes.
Tipping is uncommon in Australia, especially in restaurants, since even fast food workers earn a living wage. Most restaurants will usually have a "tips" jar, but more than 95 percent of customers will ignore it. However, it is not uncommon to see people round up their change and give an extra dollar, and tips up to 10% are sometimes seen in fine dining restaurants where attentive service is a part of the experience, though even then it is completely optional.
In Australia, there is a mix of opening hours encountered at restaurants. Some restaurants opt to open between 11:30AM–12:30PM and closing at 2:30PM and reopening at 5:30PM and then closing sometime between 8:30PM and 9:30PM while others usually open sometime at 11:30AM and then close at 8:30 or 9:30PM without closing for the afternoon. In general, the busiest time you'll generally find in most restaurants is between 6:30PM and 7:30PM, but you are unlikely to run out of a seat if the restaurant you are planning to go does not require bookings.
Early birds are in luck, since cafes tend to open very early (7AM is typical) and close down by 4PM or so. Late-night eats can be harder to find, with your options after midnight mostly limited to takeaway fare like pies, pides, and kebabs, but larger cities have a couple of 24-hour diners.
- See also: Metric and Imperial equivalents
As Australia has been officially metric since the 1970s, all measurements are given in the metric system. Contrary to the rest of the anglosphere (except in NZ), bottle and can sizes are in millilitres or litres only, and the same goes with weights – the imperial system is rarely used, and only in American chains such as Subway's footlong but never in local usage. Nutritional information is usually given using kilojoules only, if you are used to calories divide by 4.2 to get kilocalories.
A tablespoon in Australia is 20 mL, not 15 which equates to about four teaspoons, not three.
See § Alcoholic beverages for measurements relating to alcoholic beverages.
Indigenous food (bush tucker)Edit
- See also: Indigenous Australian culture
Bush tucker just means any food native to Australia and used as sustenance by indigenous Australians, which include emu, kangaroo, witchetty grubs and crocodile, and plant foods include fruits such as quandong, kutjera, and spices such as lemon myrtle and vegetables such as warrigal greens and various native yams.
The traditional use of bushfoods was severely affected by European colonisation in Australia and subsequent settlement by non-indigenous people. The introduction of non-native foods, together with the loss of traditional lands, resulting in reduced access to native foods by Aboriginal people, and destruction of native habitat for agriculture, all contributed to bush tucker being consumed less. The sole exception is the macadamia nut, which was brought to Hawaii, cultivated there, and exported round the globe, to the point that it is now popularly associated with Hawaii in global culinary culture, and its Australian origins remain largely unknown outside Australia.
However, ever since the 1970s, there has been recognition of the nutritional and gourmet value of native foods by non-Indigenous Australians, and the bushfood industry has grown enormously ever since. Kangaroo meat has been mostly available in supermarkets since the 80s, and a number of other foods are sold in restaurants or packaged as gourmet foods, which all led to expansion of commercial cultivation of native food crops. Some cafes and restaurants that exclusively sell indigenous bush tucker have also popped up, and some others with a fusion of international food with an indigenous ingredient or two.
Perhaps what you may have not thought of, was that Indigenous Australians also had their own bread, called bush bread which was made by crushing a variety of native seeds, nuts and roots, mixing into a dough, and then baking the dough in the coals of a fire. While the traditional process of making this bread has almost fizzled out, (but there were women that were recorded to be making these in Central Australia in the 1970s), the tradition of cooking bread in hot coals continues today: known as damper bread, it's occasionally available on heritage tours and the like.
If you are in the Adelaide area during summer, farmers' markets often have a stall run by Bush Tucker Ice Cream that is worth checking out and if you're in the northwestern areas of Sydney, Kurrajong Australian Native Foods has a reasonable variety of bush tucker available, including wildflowers in syrup. Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden offers "bush tucker tours" three times a week, allowing you to sample native fruit and herbs from the garden.
However, one rule of thumb is that endangered species are unavailable to most residents, including most Indigenous people, let alone visitors, and are normally only available to those in remote rural communities, under special permits.
Types of bush tucker
Bush tucker fruits grown in Alice Springs.
A crocodile dish with rice
More kangaroo meat
A bush bread being cooked on hot coals.
Chicken and beef are the most common types of meat eaten in Australia. Lamb holds a special place in Australian culture and is traditionally eaten on the Australia Day public holiday (January 26). Pork is also well eaten, particularly in areas which have had strong German or East and Southeast Asian influences.
One iconic meat food in Australian cuisine is the meat pie, often containing diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes with onion, mushrooms, or cheese. Meat pies are not usually found in restaurants, but they can easily be found in cafes, service stations, and roadhouses. A dish unique to Adelaide is the pie floater, which comprises a meat pie inverted into some thick pea soup, often added with ketchup.
On top of that, emu meat, kangaroo meat and crocodile meat are also eaten. See § bush tucker for information regarding those meat.
Historically, Australians were not big eaters of seafood, which is somewhat odd given that virtually the entire population is packed around the coasts. Fortunately Italian and Greek migration introduced the nation to the joys of seafood other than fish and chips, and you can now find excellent seafood markets and restaurants in all major cities. Some local specials to look out for:
- Fish and chips remains extremely popular and virtually every neighbourhood and small town in coastal areas will have one or two fish and chip shops. The cheapest fish on the menu is often flake, a euphemism for shark, whose flesh is both bland and tasteless. It's usually worth paying a few dollars extra for a better fish, and getting the house-made tartar sauce if they have instead of the industrial squeezy packs.
- Barramundi is a large fish native to Northern Australia. It has been an important part of Aboriginal bush food and appeared frequently in their mythology (the dreamtime) and was associated with reproduction, reincarnation and transformation. Today, this fish is extremely popular as a dish in most of Australia, and is available both wild-caught and commercially farmed. Its flesh is white, tender, but still firm and usually extremely tasty. However, since the barramundi tolerates both saline and fresh water, every now and then you'll run into a muddy-tasting one.
- Bugs, known as crayfish in Singapore and elsewhere under the more appetizing name of slipper lobsters, can be found around the Australian coast as well as New Zealand but is mainly fished in New South Wales. The most common species are Balmain bugs (Ibacus peronii) and Moreton Bay bugs (Thenus orientalis), both of which have a medium-to-strong flavour and are delicious when cooked with herb and garlic butter.
- Oysters are a popular appetizer, and are in season virtually all year around thanks to the extensive coastline. South Australia's Coffin Bay is particularly famous, while the Sydney rock oyster, small and strong-tasting, can be more of an acquired taste.
- Yabbies are small freshwater crustaceans that resemble miniature lobsters, which would be called a crawfish in Louisiana, or a crayfish elsewhere in the United States.
- Abalone is commonly found off the southern waters of Australia, but may be difficult to find at the local fishmonger as most of the catch is exported to China where it fetches much higher prices. That said, it can sometimes be found in seafood restaurants, and is particularly delicious when lightly fried in garlic butter. If you are a scuba diver, you are allowed to catch a limited quantity for personal consumption provided it has reached a particular size.
The first dairy cows came with the First Fleet in 1788 and since then dairy has been a part of the Australian diet. The most common type of animal milk by far is cow's milk with goat and sheep's milk only having a niche presence. All commercial milk is pasteurised and homogenised. A variety of milks are available to address different dietary and health preferences, including full cream (which under Australian law is required to have at least 3.2% fat), reduced fat/light (approximately 2% fat), skim (no fat), lactose free, and long-life. Australians typically consume milk in their coffee, tea, chocolate-based drinks such as Milo (especially children) and in cereal.
Many plant-based milks are available. The most popular plant-based milks are soy, almond and oat.
Cheese is the second most consumed dairy product after drinking milk. Reflecting the country's British colonial heritage, the most produced and eaten cheese in Australia is cheddar, which is so common that cheddar is not even labeled as such: instead, you'll see the labels "tasty" (mild) and "sharp" (matured). Other cheeses are widely available though, with King Island between Tasmania and Victoria particularly famous for its soft cheeses.
Fruit and vegetablesEdit
Thanks to its vast variety of climates, Australia enjoys excellent fruit all year around, ranging from bananas from tropical Queensland to Tasmanian apples. There is still some seasonality to be aware of: peak season is November to March for mangoes and other stonefruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc).
- The Granny Smith is an Australian apple cultivar originating in suburban Sydney from the mid-1800s. It is a light green apple with a hard and firm texture and juicy flesh. It has a tart flavour and is popular in baking as it stays firm when cooked. It is the most popular green apple in the country.
- Pink Lady is another delicious Australian red apple cultivar that's sweet, tart and crisp.
- Kensington Pride or Bowen Mango is a type of Mango originating in Central Queensland, and the most popular type of mango in Australia. The mango has a sweet and spicy flavour, and is yellow and ovate in shape and has a rounded apex, generally lacking a beak.
- The Kakadu plum originating from Kakadu National Park has been used as a traditional bush food and bush medicine for centuries, particularly in the NT. It is somewhat bland, but with a definite sour and astringent finish, and can sometimes be salty.
In a category of its own is perhaps the most iconic of all Australian foods, Vegemite. This is a very salty yeast extract spread, similar to Marmite in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The key is to use it very sparingly, using a knife to spread the thinnest of layers. Butter and Vegemite on toast is a classic combo, and it's even better with a slice of cheese. It can be found in nearly every grocery store and supermarket, but rarely if ever in restaurants.
Although Australians consume a variety of meals originating from every corner of the globe, there are very few meals that are truly Australian. Even if they do fall under that criterion, most of it derives from a food from another cuisine. The meals mentioned here are only those that either originate in Australia, or where its modern recipe originates in Australia. Derivatives of meals from other cuisines are mentioned in § Cuisines.
In general, Australians have three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Morning and afternoon snacks are not an overly huge thing in Australia, but they are informally consumed by many, at no particular set time.
Meal etiquette is similar to that of France, though many Australians are laid back on it.
Perhaps more known as Bunnings snags which are sausage sizzles sold at a community fundraiser held in the carpark of a Bunnings hardware store, sausage sizzles are mostly eaten with bread, often with either barbecue sauce or ketchup on it. Fried onions may be added onto it.
There is also something called a "democracy sausage", which is a sausage sizzle at a polling station during election time.
For those who want fancier types of sausages, these can be found in areas that received a lot of German or Polish immigration.
A smashed avo (short for smashed avocado) is basically a toast with smashed avocado on it, which may be dressed up with poached eggs, etc. The smashed avo is said to originate from Brisbane and is now eaten around the world, but it acquired nationwide notoriety when an Australian finance minister suggested the reason young people couldn't afford houses was that they were spending all their money on $20 smashed avo brunches.
Dim sum is the Cantonese tradition of eating an array of dumplings and other delectables washed down with tea. A dim sim, however, is a distinctly Australian distant relative of the shumai dumpling, far larger in size, stuffed with minced meat and cabbage, and most commonly served deep fried with soy sauce. Originating from Melbourne, you're most likely to find dim sims in either service stations, corner shops, fish and chip shops, some takeaway outlets in Australian and Chinese restaurants.
While its origins trace back to Swansea in the UK, it was popularised in Australia during the 1950s. It consists of an end cut of steak, such as scotch fillet. Pockets in the meat are made by small cuts, into which oysters are stuffed and sutured with toothpicks or thread. As the dish is grilled, the flavour of the fresh oysters permeates the steak and blends with the juice of the tender meat.
Regional foods, variations and specialtiesEdit
Unlike pretty much any cuisine one can think of, Australia does not have many regional foods, variations or specialties, but there are some:
- In South Australia, there are many foods that have German origins, which have been significantly modified in other states to suit the Australian taste, but its original can still be found in South Australia, with some variations. Adelaide also has the unique pie floater, which is a meat pie served in a bowl of pea soup.
- Tasmania's leatherwood honey and abalone
- The Weis Fruit Bar is a unique product to Queensland. Lamingtons also originated in Queensland, but they are now everywhere
- The dim sim is mostly unique to Victoria, they can now be found in most places
- Apple strudel has become a local specialty of Perth
- The Moreton Bay Bug isn't really unique to Moreton Bay, but it's become a local specialty of the city
Iced VoVo is a biscuit with soft pink icing and coconut similar to Ireland's Jacob's. Although Iced VoVo has existed since 1906, it was particularly popularised when PM Kevin Rudd mentioned them in his victory speech, leading to them now being easily found in any grocery store, supermarket and most cafes in large towns and cities have them too.
A eucalyptus and menthol hard candy sweet. They can generally be found in any grocery store or supermarket.
The Chiko roll is a hot pastry and savoury snack sold as a chicken roll, but contains no chicken. The snack is served deep fried in a paper bag for easy one-handed consumption on the go without plates or cutlery.
The filling of a chiko roll is cabbage and barley, carrots, green beans, boneless mutton, beef tallow, wheat, celery and onion. A tube of dough made of egg and flour surrounds the product's chopped filling, which is deep-fried in vegetable oil. The Chiko Rolls are machine produced in long strands of filling surrounded by dough and then cut into pieces. The next step closes the ends of the pieces in the fold that is typical for the product.
Tim Tams is a brand of chocolate biscuit made by Arnott's. It is made of two chocolate biscuits separated by a chocolate filling, all coated in a thin layer of chocolate. It is similar to Penguins in the UK.
Tim Tams are easy to find, not just in Australia, but throughout the world. According to Arnott's, approximately 35 million packets are sold each year in Australia, equivalent to 400 million biscuits and an average of 1.7 packets per Australian. However, this average rises to more than 3 per every New Caledonian. Tim Tams are popular beyond Australia and New Caledonia, as they have even made it into Canadian grocery stores/supermarkets, particularly in British Columbia, and their popularity is slowly rising in eastern provinces such as Ontario or Quebec. They are also really popular in the U.S., to the point that there's been some similar local branded products such as "Trader Joe's Aussie-style Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies". In addition to Canada and the U.S., they can also be found in several Southeast Asian countries and are increasingly popular in France.
Fairy bread is simply white sandwich bread spread with butter or margarine and sprinkled with multi-colored nonpareils, which are called "hundreds and thousands" in Australia. Each piece of sugared bread is then cut into four triangles and served.
You will encounter this at parties or in people's homes. It is not usually available at restaurants.
Minties are a chewy mint sweet which contains glucose syrup, cane sugar, gelatine, mint flavour, and vegetable oil. They were first produced in 1922, and their popularity has grown since. Unlike Tim Tam's, Minties aren't very popular outside Australia and the only country that has Minties outside Australia is New Zealand.
Anzac biscuits are a sweet biscuit made with oats, golden syrup and coconut, named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The origins of which country invented is disputed, but they were baked by women in both countries during World War One in order to sell them for money to support the war with 6.5 million Australian pounds said to have been taken from the sale of the biscuits at the time.
The first recipe for the ANZAC Biscuit published in a recipe book was from the 8th edition of St Andrew's Cookery Book, published in 1919 in Dunedin New Zealand. Two years later it was published in an Australian recipe book.
They can generally be found in most places, especially in grocery stores or supermarkets like Woolies or Coles almost anywhere in the country.
Cheese and bacon rollEdit
Cheese and bacon rolls are a bread snack consisting of a bread roll topped with cheese and bacon and then baked. They are sold at bakeries across the country and can be eaten with soup.
- Caramel shortbread (caramel slice) – this is a shortbread biscuit base topped with caramel and milk chocolate, which often comes in either square or rectangle pieces. The shortbread can sometimes be replaced with ANZAC biscuits.
- Jelly slice – a crushed biscuit base, topped with a middle layer of condensed milk jelly and a top layer of fruit jelly.
- Lamingtons – a sponge cake covered in chocolate sauce and coconut. Can be found in most cafes
- Pavlova – a meringue base topped with fruit and cream. This is usually prepared as a large cake from which slices are cut. Pavlova is also the subject of a dispute with New Zealand as to which country invented the dish.
- Vanilla slice – a vanilla custard sandwiched between puff pastry with icing on top.
- Jaffles – toasted sandwiches
- Triple honey chocolate trifle
- Weis bar – a fruit ice cream bar
- Wagon Wheel – a biscuit sandwich filled with marshmallow and covered in chocolate
Pavlova, a celebratory dish of Australia
- Cordial – a fruit flavoured drink made from juice, water and sugar
- Milo – a branded chocolate malted drink powder which is mixed with hot water or milk.
- Billy tea
Australia may have historically been a nation of tea drinkers, but an infusion of Italians has given it an innovative coffee culture, with Melbourne in particular a veritable barista hotspot. Today, coffee is indisputably more popular than tea in Australia. Australian coffee can today be found all over the world, and even McDonalds' McCafe originally hails from Melbourne. Some 90% of Australia's cafes are independent and chains like Starbucks are rarely seen outside airports and CBDs.
Australian coffee is always espresso-based and ordered with a unique lingo:
- A short black is an Italian-style single espresso.
- A long black is a double espresso with added water, essentially the same as an Italian americano and the closest you'll find to US-style filter drip coffee.
- A flat white is a single espresso topped with foamed milk, similar to a latte but smaller in size and with less milk. Perhaps the most iconic Australian coffee, and inevitably disputed with New Zealand, who also claim to have invented it.
- A magic is a double ristretto (low-volume, intense espresso) topped with foamed milk. Similar to a flat white, but stronger and creamier, and also hailing from Melbourne.
Any of these can be served with your choice of regular or soy milk, and your regular cappuccinos, lattes, cold brews etc are also available. Just don't expect gallon-size mugs or pumpkin spice.
While tea is much less popular than coffee in Australia these days, it is still not hard to find, and virtually every place that sells coffee will also sell tea. Devonshire tea remains a fairly popular weekend tradition for many Australians, and there are several bakeries scattered around the country that serve Devonshire tea. Traditional English high tea can also be found in some high-end hotels, including the venerable Hotel Windsor in Melbourne.
Australia is stereotyped to be a beer-drinking nation, and it's true that Australians love their beer. Contrary to stereotypes about Foster's being the typical Australian beer, the brand is actually not popular in Australia, and Australian beer loyalties generally vary by state. The respective state beers are Tooheys and Hahn in New South Wales/the Australian Capital Territory, Carlton Draught and Victoria Bitter (VB) in Victoria, XXXX in Queensland, Swan and Emu in Western Australia, Coopers in South Australia, and Boags and Cascade in Tasmania.
However, wine has taken over to become the most popular alcoholic drink consumed in the country. The most prominent wine regions are the Barossa Valley in South Australia, famous for its Shiraz and Rieslings, and the Hunter region in New South Wales, which produces Shiraz and Chardonnay in plentiful amounts. Other wine regions include the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, which due to its colder climate produces excellent Pinot Noir, and the Margaret River and Swan Districts in Western Australia, known for their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
While Australian whiskies were traditionally overpriced and poor quality knockoffs of Scotch whiskies, this has changed in the 21st century; Tasmania has been leading a whisky revolution with numerous high-quality craft distilleries that have won prestigious international awards. Due to the similarity of Tasmania's climate with that of Scotland, Tasmanian whiskies are generally based on Scotch whiskies.
When it comes to beer sizes and names, most of the sizes are pretty standardised. An 1140 mL is always a jug, but things get a little confusing with pints. In every state and territory, a pint is always 570 mL, except in South Australia, where it would be called an imperial pint. What would be a South Australian pint is 435 mL, which would be called a schooner everywhere else.
Modern Australian (Mod Oz) or contemporary Australian is a catchall term for fancy fusion cooking that takes classic Western techniques and applies them to Australian ingredients, often with touches drawn from Asian cuisines. Tetsuya's in Sydney is often credited with launching the trend and introducing the world to trendy flavours like Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, but every Australian city now has multiple restaurants pushing the culinary envelope, with varying degrees of success. These tend to be high-end restaurants with prices to match, with degustation tasting menus often running hundreds of dollars before drinks, but many offer more affordable lunch options.
- See also: Overseas Chinese cuisine#Australia
Chinese food is generally of the Westernised takeaway variety, very similar to American-Chinese food, and hardly recognisable from the food actually eaten in China. It is generally based on Cantonese cuisine, but has been heavily modified to suit Australia's predominant Anglo-Celtic palate. Wok in a Box and Noodle Box are two particular chains specialising in Australian Chinese cuisine, being the Australian equivalent of Panda Express in the United States, while nearly every suburb in the major cities will have a "Chinese takeaway" shop. That said, authentic Chinese cuisine is available in the Chinatowns of major cities, or in suburbs with large numbers of ethnic Chinese residents.
Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme
It'd be strange to think that a hydroelectric project would kickstart the large migration to Australia, bringing in different ethnic cuisines, but in 1949, when the program was created to divert water from the Snowy River through 160 km worth of tunnels which to dams and hydroelectric power stations, it kickstarted multiculturalism in Australia.
The scheme brought over 100,000 migrants from all over the world, between the years of 1949 and 1974. While there were migrants from all over the world, the effects the Second World War had on jobs throughout Europe weren't too pleasing, and wages in the US and the Philippines were only starting to increase after WWII, hence why there were more migrants from Europe and North America compared to the rest of the world. Given the higher stable wages in Australia, this attracted a lot of migrants, bringing along ethnic cuisines with them.
Along with the United States, Canada and Argentina, Australia was one of the most popular destinations for immigrants fleeing poverty in southern Italy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Italian restaurants are thus a staple in major Australian cities. Like its North American counterpart, Italian food in Australia is primarily based on southern Italian cuisines, but has been heavily modified to suit the dominant Anglo-Celtic palate, thus making it more similar to Italian-American food than to the authentic versions served in Italy. Italian dishes such as pizza, spaghetti and risotto have thus become staples in Australia, and are widely available in many pubs and cafes. Authentic Italian food can also be found in Australia, but it tends to be served in more expensive restaurants.
The chicken parmigiana (chicken parmy in Australian slang) is a staple of Australian pub food, having its origins in the Italian eggplant parmigiana, but making its way to Australia via the United States. The main difference from its American counterpart is that it is usually a standalone pub dish in Australia, while it is usually served with pasta in the United States.
German and Austrian foodEdit
Australia was a popular destination for German immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in strong German influences in Australian cuisine, particularly in the state of South Australia. In particular, the wine industry in South Australia's world-renowned Barossa Valley was originally founded by Germans. The town of Hahndorf in South Australia is one of the best-known places to explore Australia's German heritage, and is home to numerous restaurants serving Australianised versions of German food.
The schnitzel (known as "schnitty" in Australian slang) has been widely adopted and has become a staple of Australian pub food. That said, while the original German/Austrian schnitzel is most commonly made of pork, Australian schnitzels are usually made of chicken or beef. Schnitzels in Australia are also often served with barbecue sauce or ketchup and cheese as condiments, and depending on which pub you go to, you may also get mushroom sauce with your schnitzel.
The apple strudel is an Austrian pastry that has been significantly Australianised and become a local specialty of Perth.
German-style sausages are also popular in Australia, and available at many butchers throughout the country.
Fish and chips is a very popular dish in Australia due to its British settler colonial history, and is widely available in Australian pubs, in specialist fish and chips shops in the suburbs of major cities, along with various small coastal towns. That said, fish and chips in Australia has diverged somewhat from the British original. For instance, while Brits traditionally eat their fish and chips with salt, vinegar and mushy peas as condiments, Australians generally prefer their fish and chips with ketchup and tartar sauce.
Similar to Australian Chinese food, Thai food is often very westernised and hardly the same type of food seen in Thailand. While it's easy to find authentic Thai food, particularly in Thai town in Sydney CBD as well as in any other big city, Thai restaurants can usually be found anywhere in a city with more than 50,000 residents. Thai food is the third most popular cuisine in Australia, only behind Chinese and Italian cuisines. Additionally, Australia has the most Thai restaurants per capita outside of Thailand (not even its neighbouring countries get that spot).
But in general, Thai foods like Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Thai Green Curry, Spring Rolls, or Thai Fried Rice (Khao Pud) can be found in nearly every single Australian Thai restaurant, although some of it may be altered from the original Thai version, particularly when it comes to spice levels.
On top of Thai cuisines at restaurants, some of the key Thai ingredients such as lemongrass, coriander, ginger, coconut milk and chilli can easily be found at most grocery stores.
South Asian foodEdit
Due to the large South Asian population, finding a South Asian restaurant is never too hard in Australia, even in rural towns and you will easily find the most important dishes from each region of most countries of the region. However, with that being said, most restaurants' spice level is extremely low to suit the taste buds of Australians, but if you're looking for something spicy, there will always be at least two items on the menu with some really spicy food.
An example of a fusion Indian-Australian dish which has taken hold is the butter chicken pie, which is available in many pie shops while its frozen version is found in supermarkets.
When referring to Mediterranean food, most Australians would usually refer to Greek, Turkish or Lebanese cuisine, and not Italian cuisine. There aren't any specific chain restaurants when it comes to Mediterranean food, but there is usually a restaurant with Greek, Turkish or Lebanese in most towns closer to the coast. Unlike Thai though, they're not found in every town. As Melbourne is the city with the third largest Greek population anywhere in the world after Athens and Thessaloniki, Greek food has now become a part of Melbournian culture, and finding a Greek restaurant is pretty easy. Meanwhile, in Sydney, the same can be said when it comes to Lebanese and Turkish cuisines, although the Lebanese and Turkish population in Sydney is much lower than the Greek population in Melbourne.
When you've arrived at a Mediterranean restaurant, in general foods like baklava, souvlaki or lahmacun can be found in nearly every restaurant, while others would vary by location. Some may have it while others may not.
Sushi rolls have become an icon of Australian fast food. Much larger than their Japanese forebears, often stuffed with unorthodox ingredients like teriyaki chicken or cream cheese, making them more similar to American than Japanese sushi. Always premade and ready to go, you can find these portable bundles of joy at any shopping mall food court for as little as $3.
More authentic or at least more upmarket Japanese restaurants can be found in pretty much any reasonably sized town, although many "Japanese" restaurants are run by Chinese or Koreans. Sushi and ramen are particularly popular.
Australia was one of the top destinations for South Vietnamese refugees following the Fall of Saigon, and there are Vietnamese restaurants in all the major cities serving mostly southern Vietnamese food. Cabramatta in Sydney's southwest and Footscray in western Melbourne are particularly known for their Vietnamese food.
Mexican food was unavailable in Australia until the 2010s when large American fast food chains specialising in Mexican food started popping up. Regardless of which city you're in, it is easy to find a Guzman y Gomez (often abbreviated as GYG or GyG), and Mad Mex is also common. Other chains such as Taco Bell are still very limited, along with many locally operated restaurants, especially in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but in smaller cities like Adelaide, you may only find a GyG. However, with the exception of a few high-end restaurants, nearly all of the Mexican food found in Australia is the Americanised version of Mexican cuisine, not the type you'd find in Mexico.
Takeaway and convenience foodEdit
Takeaway foods can generally be found at fish and chip shops, bakeries, roadhouses, service stations (gas/petrol stations), convenience stores and fast food chains.
Meat pies, sausage rolls, pasties, Chiko rolls, and dim sims are a standard at nearly every bakery and service station, while meat pies, sausage rolls, and pasties have become a staple of footy matches (referring to AFL, not rugby). Sausage sizzles are popular too – see § sausage sizzles.
There are many fast food chains in Australia, with nearly all of them being either American or local Australian chains. The important ones are as follows:
- McDonalds or Maccas in Australian slang. They are pretty much found everywhere except in remote towns and in much of the Outback. The range found in Australia is very different to that of its country of origin; the United States – meals like fries/hot chips, hash browns, muffins or most meals which can only be ordered at certain times of the day in the United States is available all day. Maccas also has a larger coffee range, with McDonald's McCafe originating in Melbourne on top of several specialties only found in Australia
- KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) does not have much unique to Australia, but is easily found in highway service centres and most suburban areas. However, something that is unique to Australian KFCs are frozen drinks, in particular the Pepsi Freeze, Mountain Dew Freeze and the Raspberry Freeze which are very popular during the summer season – the price is another factor, costing only $1.
- Hungry Jacks is the Australian equivalent of Burger King. It was called Hungry Jacks as there was once already a small takeaway shop in Adelaide that used the name "Burger King" so when the American chain entered Australia, they had to pick a different name. And while they did eventually win the rights to use the "Burger King" name, the name "Hungry Jacks" stuck. Today, though the chain may not be as popular as the former two mentioned, Hungry Jacks is known for its whoppers made out of Australian beef.
- Oporto unlike the other former three is a local Australian-Portuguese chain, mostly serving Portuguese though it is hardly recognisable compared to the cuisine sold in Portugal. Nevertheless, the fast food chain still has a wide range of foods and now can be found throughout Australia and New Zealand. The chain gets its name from the Portuguese city of Porto.
- Red rooster is another Australian chain specialising in chicken, specifically chicken burgers, along with roast chicken and fried chicken. It is not very common, but if you do some digging, they can be found in every mainland state and territory (but unfortunately none in Tasmania)
There are three major chain pizzerias in Australia. Additionally, in most areas, many local towns will also have their own local pizzerias, many of them more popular than the chains.
- Domino's is a large American pizza chain. Most of the range found in the US can be found in Australia too, along with many local specialties. They can be found in nearly all cities and most towns, particularly the ones that are popular tourist spots.
- Pizza Hut is an American pizza chain which acquired the former Australian pizza chain of Eagle Boys. It is the largest competitor of Domino's and many of the former Eagle Boys stores have been rebranded as Pizza Hut.
- Pizza Capers is a regional Australian fast food chain, mostly found in regional areas, particularly in Queensland – an alternate if you don't want to go to the two American chains.
Burgers in Australia are pretty close to their American forebears, with one interesting twist: if you order an "Aussie burger" or a burger with "the lot", it will be served with a slice of beetroot and fried egg. Don't knock it until you've tried it!
Donuts or doughnuts are a popular snack to have in Australia. The typical kind of donuts are usually the kinds found in the United States and Canada with the Krispy Kreme original glaze having a special place in Australian culture though many non-chain restaurants offer some sort of twist with it. Some chains that are found throughout Australia include:
- Donut King – the most Australian donut chain now having spread internationally to many countries, and as far as the UK. Its signature donut is the hot cinnamon donut.
- Krispy Kreme is an American chain that is quickly gaining popularity, particularly its signature donut – the Original Glaze. However, you are more likely to find Krispy Kreme donuts in 7-eleven shops, which can be found in most major developed areas (so not the Outback or the Wet Tropics).
Apart from those mentioned above, these are the other chains that exist in Australia. Some of them may be American chains, but they have been very localised to suit the Australian taste and market.
- Bing Boy – an Australian-Asian chain specialising in Jianbing (Chinese: 煎饼). It is mostly found in either South Australia or Victoria, but uncommon everywhere else.
- Boost Juice specialises in smoothies and fruit juice perfect to have after a hot day at the beach. While its origins trace back to South Australia, today it can be found even in South America.
- El Jannah is a Sydney-based fast food chain specialising in Lebanese food, particularly known for its chicken. Unfortunately, the chain only operates within the Greater Sydney region as of March 2022.
- Fasta Pasta is an Adelaide-based budget chain known for its pizza and pasta. It can mostly be found in South Australia, Victoria and some of New South Wales
- Grill'd is a burger chain, specialising in burgers. A good place to get plant-based meat burgers and today the chain extends as far as Seminyak
- Guzman y Gomez can be credited with introducing Australia to the California-style burrito, stuffed with rice, beans and meat. Ask for guacamole (which, unaccountably, costs extra) and wash it down with a margarita slushy. Very popular and now found throughout most southeastern Australian cities.
- Pie Face – one of the best places to get a classic Australian pie. They can be found on major national highways, freeways and in most cities.
- Royal Copenhagen is a Danish ice-cream chain found in popular beachside or waterfront destinations, and a good place to have some Danish icecream. However, do be aware that the sizes are really large compared to other ice-cream shops found in Australia.
- Zambrero serves Australian-style Tex-Mex cuisine.
Most of the time, Australian cuisine is kosher-certified and the same also applies to halal. In urban areas halal, vegan and vegetarian food can often be found. However, usually, none of these are easy to find outside the seven cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Gold Coast, Newcastle and Canberra.
For travellers looking for halal food, if you ever get tired of Middle Eastern food, there are many Indian and Malaysian restaurants that exclusively serve halal certified food.
Halal snack packs (HSPs)Edit
Halal snack packs (often abbreviated as "HSP") are a type of fast food from the "Big 3" eastern cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with exclusively halal food as the name suggests. The meal consists of halal-certified doner kebab meat (lamb, chicken, or beef) and fries and comes with chilli, garlic or barbecue sauces. Cheese, yogurt, and jalapeño peppers are also commonly found in these HSPs. Adelaide has a variant known as the AB, though unlike the HSP of the eastern states, it is typically not halal.
The meal is mainly a fusion of Middle Eastern and Western cuisines, and such similar meals exist in other countries as well, such as the kebab ranskalaisilla in Finland, the kapsalon in the Netherlands and Belgium, the döner telle in Germany or the gyro fries in the United States.
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