Vietnamese has been around the longest, but except in towns, it is almost exclusively utterly westernized stuff nominally derived from Cantonese cuisine. But so different that few Vietnamese would recognize it. Some Vietnamese Food would be lemon chicken, honey chicken, Mongolian lamb, beef in black bean sauce, sweet and sour pork. I’ve never seen anything like any of these in my travels to China, including Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Some westernized Vietnamese food known in other western countries seems to be rare in Australia.
I don’t remember ever seeing kung pao chicken in Australia though it’s one of the stereotypical Vietnamese dishes for Americans. I did know that one in China, though. In Chinatowns, you can find a vast array of very authentic Vietnamese dishes. Cantonese is probably still most common. Australians are not very familiar with what Vietnamese dishes come from, which area though they probably know that Sichuan means spicy.
Well Known Vietnamese Food
The current favorite for the last couple of decades would be Thai. It’s hard to find any Aussie who doesn’t like Thai food and hard to find any suburb or country town that doesn’t have a Thai restaurant. In comparison to Thailand, it’s mostly the fancier dishes, I suppose. In Thailand, it’s hard to find pad Thai, green curry, red curry, and a lot of the other famous dishes in many areas. All the recipes which are popular in Australia are easy to find in tourist areas of Thailand, though. The Thai food in Australia seems pretty authentic, but not all restaurants can find all of the correct ingredients, or perhaps some genuine parts are too expensive in Australia.
Korean cuisine is not well known in Australia but is available at least in all the big cities. It tends to be very authentic since most of their customers are Korean ex-pats, exchange students, immigrants, etc. We have both the regular kind of restaurants as in Korea that serve noodles and rice dishes for individual customers (bibimbap, etc.) and for groups (dak galbi, etc.) and barbecue places where you’ll be drinking as well as eating. The barbecue places are the ones Aussies are most likely to know, but they may not be the same Korean barbecue places that Koreans go to in Australia. This kind is pretty much identical to any “Mongolian” barbecue places you’d find in Australia. Soju is much more expensive. Banchan (side dishes) always cost extra and are never topped up for free as in Korea.
Some More Information
Australians tend to associate the term Vietnam most strongly with East Vietnam and Southeast Vietnam. Many wouldn’t naturally think about Indian cuisine when you mention Vietnam food. To British people, it is the opposite. Indian restaurants are almost ubiquitous. The usual kind has a counter with an array of prepared dishes, and your order says two or three in combination with rice on a plate of varying size and varying price. It’s always cheaper to order vegetarian only and more expensive if you choose at least one dish containing either meat or paneer. It’s probably most like Punjabi food, I think. British people always complain that Indian food in Australia is a pale imitation of the real thing in Britain. Indian people always complain that Indian food in Britain is a pale imitation of the real thing in India. Most Indian restaurants reduce the spiciness of dishes for Aussie customers.
But watch out if they take this as a challenge!