So I’ve been in Melbourne for the last week and a half, enjoying the weather growing warmer as Christmas approaches, and adjusting to a new time zone. I’ve gone from being up for only three hours in the morning before my chiefly French clients end their business day, to being awake for about six hours in the evening coinciding with the earlier part of their opening hours (or “trading hours” in Australian, and yes, I’ve been cataloging the English phrases found here that are unfamiliar to my American- and British-trained senses).
Longtime residents tell me that it’s only been in the past few decades that Melbourne has been transformed from a mere state capital to a true global city. Perhaps most impressive (and certainly impossible before Australia’s non-European immigration laws were loosened in the early ’70s) is the dizzying diversity of Asian restaurants in the area where I’m staying. The reductive semi-official name “Chinatown” does not suit this neighborhood. A single square mile offers nearly every cuisine hailing from east of the Hindu Kush and south of Siberia. There are sushi bars, Korean barbecue joints, all variants of Chinese cooking, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, and even attempts to recreate Malaysian and Taiwanese street food. I don’t think there’s a single neighborhood of New York where this wide a variety of Asian restaurants exists. I’m not sure there’s a small patch of any city in the entire world that this can be said of.