The woks spit as a rich scent of ramen broth, barbecued pork and sizzling beef fills the air, while customers compete for a seat in a crowded melange of tiny food shops.

Lit with red paper lanterns, this alley could be anywhere in Asia, from Seoul to Singapore, Bangkok or Beijing, but it’s in a shopping centre in the Australian city of Cairns.

A new trend in Australian food courts has emerged in recent years: areas built to resemble Asian alleyways. Inexpensive and atmospheric, they have…


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