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28.9.09

Multicultural Melbourne

Melbourne is different than a lot of cities around the world – obviously it’s Australian - but also, it is unique even for Australia.

Melbourne is a city of variation, one where a visitor can find pockets of almost pure nationalities from around the world. In Carlton, just to the North-east of the city block, Italy rules and as one travels beyond the CBD (Central Business District) there are Asian areas, Greek, Turkish and many more. Something like 130 nationalities are represented here.

What this means is Melbourne could claim to be the culinary capital of the world with a serious chance of making it stick. With Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese of several types, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Sri Lankhan, Tibetan, Nepalese, Lebanese, Turkish, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Moroccan – you get the idea – almost all of the 130+ peoples from around the world have a restaurant here.

So this creates a problem – when you decide to eat out, what do you choose? You could starve trying to make a decision. Often people simply choose a restaurant that provides a variety of choices – there are many such where you can get anything from a pizza to a pilau.

Mongolian is a treat that stands a little apart. The Kublai in Croydon is an example of a restaurant that not only provides the cuisine but brings the experience of Mongolian food to the diner. You choose your meat and vegetables, spoon a variety of sauces onto the bowl of thin-sliced food, and pass the bowl through a hatch into the ‘kitchen’ where, behind glass, the chef dumps it onto a large iron plate above a roaring fire.

After about 30 seconds of stirring around with extra large chopsticks, with a theatrical sweep of the sticks and dramatic whirl of the bowl around his head, the chef presents fresh, just-cooked food that delights the palate. (they provide sample recipes on the wall to ensure first-timers make a reasonable choice of flavours)

At $22 for a banquet, it is hard to stop going back for ‘just one more bowlful’ to try a different mix of sauces. The Kublai also provides an extensive selection of more usual Asian fare, good coffee and tea and margaritas both traditional and other flavours (by the bowlful if wanted) that are half price during the week.

Melbourne has often won the award for ‘Most Liveable City in the World’ and the sheer variety of, as well as the high quality of food and preparation of the various cuisines is a big factor in why the awards have been earned.

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