If you love classy fine dining restaurants, quality service, big shopping centres filled with top designer boutiques, well, Cabramatta is just not the place for you. Travel 30 km south west of Sydney city and you’ll drive straight into the heart of Vietnam. Cabramatta has one main street, John st, in which majority of the restaurants, fruit markets and Vietnamese clothing shops are packed into. The main street branches out into tiny alleyways packed with people, and so reminiscent of the Binh Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.
It’s definitely not a pleasant shopping experience being jammed between multitudes of people in the alley ways, and passing fish shop after fish shop displaying what they have on offer, in buckets outside, for all to smell. But Cabramatta definitely promises authenticity, and if you want to visit Vietnam without paying for the flight over, and without taking any time off from work, the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta is a must-see, must-visit, must-experience kind of place!
Cabramatta is full of fruit shops, with fresh fruit piled up high and on display, eyeing off possible buyers, and always luring me in. This time it was a Guava. Although not cheap, generally the fruit and veg promises to be fresh, which my guava definitely was – crisp outsides and a custard-like filling.
But the best thing about Cabramatta, and why I travel the 45 minute trip from my home to get there, is the Vietnamese food. It seems to be the only place that I can find truly authentic Vietnamese food in Sydney. My absolute favourite thing to order is the vietnamese noodle salad with sugar cane prawn, which is minced up prawn cooked on sugar cane sticks. It has a sweet, spicy sauce that you pour over the top, and is just so good! I love Vietnamese food purely because how fresh and vibrant the flavours are, and this dish is just the perfect representation of this. A few years back, Mum and I booked a trip to Vietnam, purely because we had loved Vietnamese food in Cabramatta so much that we wanted to experience the place where it was created. However, we were so disappointed to find that apart from the pho, Vietnamese food was probably better and cleaner in Cabramatta – I know, a HUGE call!
My favourite restaurant in Cabramatta, and where I ate the dishes displayed, is called Thanh Binh, and is definitely worth checking out! Their Vietnamese spring rolls are to die for. Vietnamese spring rolls differ from the Chinese version as they are wrapped with rice paper, instead of the egg based pastry and then deep fried. The rice paper gives the spring rolls a chewy texture, and gives it a fabulous crunch.
Altogether, I definitely recommend visiting Cabramatta at least once, and experiencing the delicious food on offer.
Thanh Binh: 2 John st, Cabramatta, NSW, 2166