I believe on a daily basis Cabramatta churns out as much coffee as any bustling CBD. The difference is the culture of coffee drinking.
It’s thick, sweet, chilled and very very strong.
A Vietnamese iced coffee consists of a good amount of condensed milk, very strong brewed coffee and lots of ice.
I like to think that the ice and tall stirring spoon is a moderator to how extreme you want it. If you enjoy coffee, then drink asap, otherwise stir and allow the ice to melt and dilute your concoction.
Sold at most cafes, fruit shake /dessert bar and restaurants.
Tan Hong Phat BBQ. Locals will know this place for two signature products. BBQ duck and roast pork, but in truth, everything is great and you really can’t go wrong.
There are numerous BBQ shops in Cabramatta and this is by far my favourite, second only to (Good Luck B.B.Q Shop at International Centre on Hughes St). The quality is top notch, you pay $1 or $2 more per kilo here than other BBQ shops but people still queue up!
I usually request half lean (as opposed to full lean or full fat). Rib bones or no bones?!? Chopped please! Sweet soy sauce is provided for dipping.
The meat is so moist and tender, I have yet been disappointed with it in these years of patronage. It is consistently great! I’ve bought this roast pork for all my family functions, weddings, birthdays and New years celebration.There is a delicate five spice flavour and not overpowering. Saltier towards the rib bones where they rub the marinade in.
Definitely a take home dish to end your food visit to Cabramatta. Other dishes may not survive the trip home as well as roast pork will. I like to reheat it in the oven at 100 degree for 15min, it’s the only way to get the crackling crunchy again.
Best served with steaming hot rice. Any leftovers I use in rolled rice paper rolls the next day (by then everyone’s eaten teh pork crackling). My mum prefers to ‘resurrect’ her leftovers in a fried lemongrass anchovy dish.
Where? Tan Hong Phat B.B.Q Shop, 6/48 Park Rd (Within the laneway made famous by the Cate Blanchett film “Little Fish”. The doorway is small and hidden behind a column. You will see large glass windows looking into the food prep area. A definite ‘must’see’ for the sneaky beak foodies! (though not so exciting for vegans!)
Phone? (02) 9728 7142
Cost? $27 a kilo, choose to have it chopped up or whole
Do-it-yourself rice paper rolls as opposed to mixing all the ingredients in a bowl is a more social way of eating. I guess it’s akin to opting for the kebab plate vs. kebab roll. I regard this as leisure food whereas the mixed bowl version is convenient and quick (no dirty fingers).
I don’t have a picture of the bowl version here but imagine the grilled meats on top of a bed of loose vermicelli with the salad underneath. The dipping fish sauce is then poured over the noodles as oppsed to dipping.
Ok let’s talk DIY rice paper rolls. It can be intimidating, the good thing about choosing a restaurant that specialises in it, is that you’ll probably have some other patron near by demonstrating how to eat it.
In summary: Make a roll.
1. You will be given dry hard rice paper rolls and a bowl of hot water. Dip (to moisten) the rice paper, be quick or it dissolves!
2. Add a piece of vermicelli square. Note: this is a different version of vermicelli than that used in the mixed bowl version. This is called banh hoi (“bun hoy”) which is finer and thinner. It is steamed with some cornflour to create these rubbery little rectangles. I think its very clever to minimises mess. It also takes a lot more work to prepare (than loose vermicelli), and thus the slightly higher price for DIY dishes.
Top with salad (bean sprouts, cucumber, mint leaves, herbs) and grilled meat. Featured here is the grilled pork, thit nuong.
3. Fold in the sides and roll it up.
4. Ready to eat. Simply dip into fish sauce (small bowl) and bite into your masterpiece (which hopefully looks better than mine!…I was particularly hungry that day and DIY are not meant to be quick work lunches).
Where? Phu Quoc, Shop 11/ 117 Corner John St and Hill St
P: 02 9724 2188
Lunar New Year is by far the BIGGEST celebration in Cabra. From a local’s point of view, this is our true holiday. We typically work really hard throughout the year and don’t even stop for public holidays, however Lunar New Year is when we let our hair down.
Think firecrackers, screaming kids, loud drums, lion dancing and lots of FOOD!
This year the Cabramatta festivities will fall on the 16th and 17th February 2013. This weekend was chosen over the true Lunar New Year (10th February) to allow the locals to attend to their families (where we will be eating, playing games, attending temple blessings and gift/money giving).
The local council is well aware of the common belief ,that what you do on Lunar New Year’s Day is a predictor of how you will spend the rest of the year, and so not working is mandatory! (note: avoid visiting cabra on 10th February 2013 as everything will be closed!).
When? Two days, 16/2/13 11am to 3pm & 17/2/13 10:30am to 3pm.
Where? Freedom Plaza (some road closures, avoid John St)
Highlights? Market stalls, Lion dancing, Children’s amusement ride, Children’s umbrella making workshop & God of Fortune & Lucky Red Envelopes.
Competitions? St George Bank $2000 Flight Centre Gift Card (spend $10), Cabra-Vale Digger’s Children’s Chopstick Challenge, Bun eating & Prawn peeling & Mekong Panthers Chinese Chess competition (cash prize).
(Cultural Stage in Freedom Plaza)
Saturday 16 February
11:00am MC Welcome
11:05am Dong Tam Lion Dancing Association
11:35am Cooking Demo 1 – Allen Lai from Iron Chef Seafood Restaurant 12:00pm Cooking Demo 2 – Tony Inthavong from Holy Basil Restaurant
12:25pm Celebrity Chef Charlie Yan – Fruit Carving Demonstration
12:35pm Johnny and Vanessa Tu
1:05pm Cabra-Vale Diggers Food Competitions – Children’s Chopstick Challenge, Bun Eating and Prawn Peeling
1:40pm Fashion Parade presented by Glamour World Beauty
1:55pm Kookies N Kream
2:25pm TVBA presents Cathy Wong and Mandy Ng
3:00pm Stage Closes
Sunday 17 February
10:30am MC Welcome
10:35am Blessing of Cabramatta, Citizenship Ceremony and Official Opening
1:00pm Mekong Panthers Entertainment
1:50pm Cabra-Vale Diggers Food Competitions – Children’s Chopstick Challenge, Bun Eating and Prawn Peeling
I go to see “Therese” (also known as “Hien”) for all my clothes alterations. Her specialty is in formal and wedding gowns, however more than happy to help me out with minor alterations (eg hemming up pants $10- $12)
Her work is fantastic! Just bring in a photo of your desired dress and get her to measure and quote.
She specialises in:
– Made to measure wedding and formal dresses
– Men’s suits
– Bridesmaids and flower girls
-Traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai
Where? Sydney Bridal (look for neon signage)
Hong Kong Plaza (connects the multistory car park to John St) Level 1, Shop 20 , 101 John St. Ph: 02 923 3512/M: 0403 779 896
Every visitor to Cabramatta should pass by this little treasure trove.
There’s something for everyone…
Kids love the multitudes of anime paraphernalia: stickers, stationary, plush toys etc. A quick survey tells me that the current trend is Dragon Ball Z , Pokemon, Hello kitty and Ben 10.
Buddhists come here for statues, joss (incense) sticks and prayer beads.
Chinese families will undoubtedly do a mandatory shop prior to wedding tea ceremonies and Chinese New Year celebrations. The very superstitious will even purchase funeral joss paper to ensure a prosperous afterlife for loved ones.
The older ladies come here to purchase good luck charms, one for every possible occasion you can think of: the knitted rope charms for cars, turtles for longevity , waving cats for business, a big bok choy for fortune and a buddha statue for fertility . If ever in doubt, just ask the shop owner, a talkative lady who is happy to give you a quick lesson on the do’s and dont’s of gift buying.
However, most come simply for the cute souvenirs (I absolutely love the little miniature food key rings!).
Who? Good World Gift Shop
Where? Midway down the left hand side small alleyway at 105-107 John Street (look out for Viet Hoa Bakery which is famous for it’s tireless contribution to the community by providing 24hour service of pork roll…some of the best pork rolls in the Cabra! Flaky light croissant like crusty bread…..I digress!).
This has to be one of my favourite dishes for summer. It’s a comfort food. Some will argue that Pho is the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food, but I know people who actually don’t like pho!
Fresh rice pastry is quite bland on its own (but so is pasta). The rice pastry is the same used to make thick rice noodles….just uncut and steamed. Its very much like choosing to have a dish of lasagne sheets as opposed to fettuccine. There is something luxurious about eating sheets of pastry.
I love the this dish from Phu Quoc and Bau Truong. The plate is so plentiful and varied. No boring bits… guaranteed! Plus you’ll feel great afterwards as its sooo healthy.
Let’s have a closer look….
Rice pastry is ALWAYS fresh – thin sheets (about 2mm thick) shouldn’t break when lifted and has a translucency. Sheets can be peeled away easily and is moist and soft in texture (if you love prawn rice rolls in yum cha then you’ll LOVE this). Twice cooked Mung bean cakes or “Banh Cong” – they have sliced a whole muffin into 1 cm thick slices THEN fried for a maximum crust. Phu Quoc does it so well, it isn’t oily at all! Few restaurants will go to all the trouble of taking this extra step. Others (including at home) will only cut the muffin up which subsequently exposes the soft dough to fish sauce and results in a lump of pulp.
Vietnamese ham slices (Cha Lua) – There is enough given here to completely cover the mound of rice pastry….like a little yurt.
A thick slice of cold cured pork (Nem Chua) – that’s the pink slice with transparent bits (shredded pig skin). An acquired taste but delicious and addictive!
Salad – All thinly sliced, cucumber, thai basil, bean sprout (steamed from the rice pastry on top), iceberg lettuce and Vietnamese perilla leaves.
Fish sauce (add as required)
Topped with spring onion oil, coriander and crispy fried onion.
Where? Phu Quoc, Shop 11, 117 Corner John St and Hill St, (02) 9724 2188. One of the few restaurants that serve dinner in Cabramatta (open til 9pm).
Avocado shakes are probably my MOST favourite fruit shake flavour. I’m still so surprised that with all the hype about fruit frappes, crushies and gym junkie smoothies that no commercial entity has cottoned on to the most unprocessed, super avocado drink!
I have to admit, one of my cheap thrills is watching newb visitors take their first sip of avocado shake. hehehe…I could make a montage…..yes I could…
Err…not the reaction I was expecting. Despite my uncooperative, yet brutally honest friend here, remember: Have an avocado shake next time you visit!
I’ll be honest, I’m not normally a fan of avocados (as I veer more towards stronger flavours), however the combination of ingredients just amplifies the natural flavour of the avocado tenfold! Nothing.comes.close.
So what’s in it?
One whole avocado (in a small and 1 1/2 used in a large), ice, fresh whole milk and syrup – strictly no water (you don’t want to dilute that super thick ice blended creaminess!) This is the Laos/Thai version.
I’ve also seen it made with condensed milk instead of fresh milk and syrup. I do admit that the condensed milk version is extra yum. This is the Vietnamese version.
It’s very filling, so have this as a meal or share it with others (yeah right!)
How much? $4.50 for regular and $5 for large.
Where? Almost anywhere……
Fruit shake stores and cafes
– eg Yummi Sweets, By far the most popular fruit shake chain stores in Cabra. So far, there are 4 scattered about in a 400metre radius! (Laos version),
– Most well known fruit shake store Kaysone Sweets (Laos version) Shop 4/59-61 Park Road (Freedom Plaza).
– Giai Khat (Vietnamese version) juice bar, Shop 18/101-103 John St (Hong Kong Shopping Plaza).
Most restaurants ( though I’d resist having it with a meal as it takes up too much stomach space!).