If you have the chance to work in offices in different countries, you’ll see people following very distinct lunch habits.
In Portugal, most people like to go out and eat. If possible, in a small, friendly, under-rated place serving good food.
In the Netherlands, things are quite different. Lunch has to be efficient, regardless of how bad it tastes. No time to go to that friendly place around the corner. Instant soup, sandwiches, fried croquettes… not tasty, but at least it’s cheap.
My experience in Belgium was similar to The Netherlands. Except the sandwiches were worse…
Of course, these experiences are based on just a few companies and cities… although it’s not far from what I hear from other persons.
How does that compare to Australia? Can’t really answer, since it’s a big country, and Darwin (and the Northern Territory) seem to be a case on their own. But I can talk a bit about Darwin.
There really is a strong culture of take-away. Every restaurant supports it, and it seems to be the first choice, specially at lunch time. I, however, like to go out and eat – of course, I’m Portuguese -, even if it’s with plastic knives and forks. To be honest, it really feels good leaving the security of air-conditioning during the peak of the day for a few minutes. Ok, not for too long, otherwise you’ll either fry under the sun or get washed away in the rain.
Now, regarding options… although Darwin isn’t a very big city, it surely is one of the best I know for eating out! The city was literally occupied by Asian restaurants – Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian… Which is not surprising, given Darwin’s geographic location.
It’s kind of hard finding a true Australian restaurant in here. I mean, I have tried crocodile, kangaroo and other local delicacies… but it was in an oriental, wok style, place. The only places I could define as truly Australian were road-side stops on the way to some of the National Parks around here. Now, those could easily had come from a Crocodile Dundee movie. Or, better yet, from a David Lynch short tale. 🙂 Most pictures are from a cell phone, and very blurred, but you get the idea.
Back to Darwin… I discovered that I love Asian food. And I have one new favorite: Malay Laksa. I’ve tried it in several restaurants by now – but it’s specially good in two.
Rendezvous is one of those places – a nice cozy, family-run restaurant. And they have other good choices as well – the excellent Chicken Satay is one good example. And you can enjoy your meal while listening to some ambient relaxing Asian music. And… it’s near the office. 🙂
The other place – Amazing Thailand – can easily be dismissed at first sight, due to its cheap fast-food appearance. In the middle of Mitchell Street, with fierce competition from several other restaurants, it just doesn’t look promising. That is, until you try the food. It’s actually excellent, and you can eat in an open space, in the most touristic zone in Darwin.
Now, Darwin has also a Portuguese restaurant – Nando’s. Well… sort of. If you’re looking for a bitoque, you’ll get disappointed. Besides roast chicken, menu includes: hamburgers, pitas, rolls, and… Portuguese Paella. Yes, that’s right: Portuguese do it better – that’s what the sign says. 🙂
With strong competition from spicy Asian alternatives, they promote their own brand of piri-piri (aka peri-peri). It’s also sold in supermarkets.
In the end, I actually enjoy the place – although it’s not really Portuguese food. But hey, at least they have a genuine Galo de Barcelos.