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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cabramatta Food Tour


Durian stand

Who needs a passport when you live in Sydney?

The woman selling durian on a street stall shields herself from the sun's blistering rays with a market umbrella. "It's just like Malaysia!" says Shez.

A passerby picks up a ripe durian and inhales deeply. She carefully checks the weight and then slowly inspects the other spiky fruits in the pile. The smell of durian, the heat, the jostle of shoppers, the curling trails of incense; you could almost convince yourself you have left Australia and arrived in another country.


Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves

Having spent the morning shopping with Suze and Shez, we meet up with Howard for lunch in his local 'hood, Cabramatta. Saturday's 32C heat sends us in search of liquid refreshment whilst we wait for Howard to arrive. In Cabramatta, there is only one drink you must try and it involves avocado.


Custard apple shake $3.50, durian shake $4.50 and
avocado shake $3.50

We place our orders at Hung Vuong, a busy shop that is part restaurant, part dessert house, part takeaway stall and part fruit shake provider.

The avocado shake, for the uninitiated, is like a meal with a straw. Ripe avocado is blended with milk, ice cubes and a generous splash of sweetened condensed milk. Imagine an icy thickshake combined with a buttery avocado. It's a revelation for avocado fans, but its richness means it's one worth sharing.

A durian shake is also one for the durian lovers. Frozen chunks of durian are blitzed through the mixture for a fragrant creamy drink that speaks of the tropics. Custard apple shake is more of a soursop flavour, light and refreshing with apple and lychee and sherbet flavours.


Custard puffs 3 for $1

A snack of custard puffs is the perfect mouthful to tide us over until lunchtime. It's fascinating to watch the custard puff contraption clank and swivel and flip its way through the batter cooking process.

There's so much to see in Cabramatta, a maze of arcades running off the main drag of John Street. It's like Little Vietnam here - a sensory experience so great I included Cabramatta in my recent list of Rewarding Food Adventures as part of my Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists.

If you haven't taken a food tour of Cabramatta, I recommend you make haste and get there already. There's no need for instructions. Simply bring your appetite and open your eyes to appreciate everything on offer. Here's a visual preview to get you started...


Tubs of Vietnamese sweets and desserts at Hung Vuong


Containers of pre-packed takeaway food (perfect for dinner or lunch the next day)


Vietnamese mung bean cake with prawns


Choose your own combination of beans, jellies and tropical fruits
for an ice kacang dessert topped with shaved ice and a drizzle of syrup


Fresh sugar cane juice stand


Fresh sugar cane being squeezed


Fresh sugar cane juice


One of many arcades off John Street


You tiao deep-fried bread sticks 90c each


Micky Mouse headband and Spiderman slippers


A rainbow of plastic colanders


Restaurant tables for sale


Purple sugar cane


Mooncakes for sale


Mooncakes


Wing Wah mooncakes


Fried dumplings and baked pastries


Thai desserts at the International Food Court


Thai desserts


Thai black sticky rice and coconut desserts


Fruit and vegetable store


Banana, taro and sweet potato fritters 70c each or 3 for $2


Sweet potato chips $4.00/100g

Post-lunch we stop for fried snacks at Kaysone Sweets.


Toffee coated sweet potato chips and banana chips $4/100g


Banana fritters and sweet potato fritter


Mooncake box that doubles as a jewellery stand
(featured in my mooncake post here - don't forget to enter the competition to win a box of o-mochi mooncakes)


Mooncake shoppers


The fantastic food mural (with recipes!) off Freedom Plaza




View Larger Map

Hung Vuong
65 John Street, Cabramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9723 7270





View Larger Map (Google maps doesn't cover Freedom Plaza but 59 John St is around the corner from Kaysone Sweets)

Kaysone Sweets
Shop 4, 59-61 Park Road
Cabramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9755 5759


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Cabramatta food tour with Luke Nguyen

Cabramatta - Bau Truong (duck tongue and crispy sticky rice)
Cabramatta - Dong Ba (bun bo hue spicy noodle)
Cabramatta - Duc Thanh

Cabramatta - Pho Tau Bay (Sydney's best pho?)
Cabramatta - Phu Quoc (duck salad)
Cabramatta - Tan Viet (crispy skin chicken)
Cabramatta - Thanh Binh
Cabramatta - Tuong Lai (sugar cane prawns)

Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists and Other Rewarding Food Adventures

27 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/16/2009 01:12:00 am


27 Comments:

  • At 9/16/2009 3:50 am, OpenID francesjones said…

    Great pics, really enjoyed them. I love catching the train to Cabra to wander round, enjoy the sights and to eat good food. I especially like savory food- seafood and herbs.
    After living in Hanoi teaching English, my favourite Viet food is fresh lotus root salad- you can't beat those fresh herbs and flavours.
    The only time in my life I physically lost my sense of taste (strange experience), was a day I went to Cabramatta! What a pity that was.
    I have many Vietnamese friends in Sydney who came here as refugees, how lucky we are to have such beautiful people in our country.

     
  • At 9/16/2009 4:23 am, Blogger Joan said…

    WOW! Helen, I was sentimental seeing your post. I was in Sydney Oct - Nov 2007. I went to Cabramatta and shop fore some food that I will cook. How I miss Sydney!

    By following your blog, will keep me posted :)

     
  • At 9/16/2009 6:57 am, Blogger Kate said…

    Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm - I need to buy a plane ticket today!! Thanks so much for all the photos and food recommendations. Even via the internet I can see and virtually taste it all!!

     
  • At 9/16/2009 8:24 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Hehe you can probably tell from my blog posts recently that I'm totally obsessed with this suburb. It's such a fantastic place for foodies don't you think? I actually had a shake with avocado AND durian in it at Kaysone Sweets when I was there last and it was unexpectedly amazing! And how fun is it watching them make those custard puffs?!

     
  • At 9/16/2009 8:54 am, Anonymous shez said…

    Hurrah for the durian and custard apple shakes! They were like icy fruity heaven in a plastic cup with a giant brightly coloured straw...

     
  • At 9/16/2009 10:24 am, Blogger Betty said…

    There must be something in the air with everyone heading to Cabra :) I love going there, the food is awesome, fresh and cheap. It really does feel like you've been transported to South East Asia!

     
  • At 9/16/2009 10:29 am, Anonymous howard said…

    Welcome to my hood! I goto Cabra every weekend for brunch, it's almost a routine. It's changed over the years, for the better.

     
  • At 9/16/2009 12:01 pm, Blogger shor said…

    Mmmm... your posts always leave me salivating and reminiscing!

    My Cabra food tours observe the same pattern: Crispy chicken with noodles at Tan Viet or Bau Trong, followed by a visit to the busy Rea Lea cornershop for piping hot chips sprinkled with paprika/chilli/chicken salt. This guilty pleasure leaves us thirsty so we inevitably opt for a refreshing 5-fruit blended juice: Jackfruit, watermelon, honeydew, orange and rockmelon. Yummo!

     
  • At 9/16/2009 12:03 pm, Anonymous Fennalia said…

    You should also try the mango cake, or fruit cake, or durian cake in tim tim cake shop. They are fluffy spongecake filled with cream and fruit......

     
  • At 9/16/2009 12:12 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    I love taking the long train ride from the city to Cabramatta to get my viet food fix. This brings back good memories.. I think I need to endure the train ride again :P

     
  • At 9/16/2009 5:55 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    mmm avocado shake so tasty but oh so filling!

     
  • At 9/16/2009 6:03 pm, Anonymous Aimee said…

    As a local resident of Cabra - you've definitely done the place justice! Nice one :)

     
  • At 9/16/2009 7:32 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Cabramatta is amazing isn't it. I'm always surprised by the little stalls set up on the street. I'd like to try the avocado shake. I tried a Lebanese one the other day, so it would be interesting to compare with the Vietmamese version.

     
  • At 9/16/2009 7:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow.. avocado, durian and custard apple shake? yummmmmmmmy i love them all just made avocado w/ mr ed the other day

     
  • At 9/16/2009 8:00 pm, Blogger Ellie said…

    Can't believe I haven't been to Cabra after living in Sydney for 10 long years! Looks like it's going to happen real soon :)

     
  • At 9/16/2009 8:41 pm, Blogger Simon Food Favourites said…

    it's so much like visiting another country. nice shots. so where's your favourite place to eat in cabra? :-)

     
  • At 9/16/2009 9:09 pm, Anonymous Katherine said…

    Cabramatta is the best. Avocado shakes are my favourite, not to mention the banana fritters and the jerky. arrgghhhhh yummy.

     
  • At 9/16/2009 10:02 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Man, your post makes me want to visit Cabramatta real gooood! Never really been there to look around so much!

     
  • At 9/16/2009 10:07 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    Never been to Cabramatta before, though I've been wanting to find an excuse to travel so far out of my way.

    That ais kachang buffet bar may be the thing that gets me to finally go!

     
  • At 9/17/2009 1:03 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi francesjones - Glad you enjoyed the post and sounds like you had so many wonderful experiences in Hanoi too. I do love fresh lotus roots and I agree, I love that Sydney is such a cultural melting pot, and the richer for it.

    Hi Joan - How lovely that you still have so many vivid memories of Sydney and Cabramatta. Hope you continue to enjoy the posts on Grab Your Fork. You can read about our lunch in Cabramatta at Phu Quoc here.

    Hi Kate - Don't you love the feeling of travelling via your computer? Sydney is a great place to eat so hopefully one day, you might get here to try it all for yourself!

    Hi Stephcookie - Oh avocado AND durian! I must remember that for next time. The custard puff is my favourite show (lol) and I agree, Cabramatta is so much fun when it comes to food.

    Hi Shez - Not so keen on the avocado shake? lol. Twas so much fun and I think the trio of drinks was perfect for a three-course drink session!

    Hi Betty - I love the fact everything seems larger than life in Cabramatta. Such a sensory experience and the food is amazing.

    Hi Howard - Been to Cabra several times but it was so much more fun hanging out with a local! I think every suburb in Sydney has changed over the years, but hope that Cabra will always maintain its sense of wonder.

    Hi Shor - Sounds like my kinda food tour! Fruit juices are always so refreshing too.

    Hi Fennalia - I don't think I've tried those cakes unless they're similar to the birthday cakes you get in Asian cake shops? Like the sound of the durian cake - will have to keep an eye out for that next time.

    Hi clekitty - The train ride can be long but better than the bus and train combo I had to endure last weekend due to trackwork! Argh! Not too bad in the end - at least I managed to get a seat eventually!

    Hi chocolatesuze - Glad you finally got a proper avocado shake. I've never been able to finish a whole one!

    Hi Aimee - Thanks, that's high praise indeed :)

    Hi Arwen - The little stalls do add a chaotic sense of entrepreneurship. Would recommend the avocado shake but a Lebanese version? Never heard of that before - will have to hunt one down!

    Hi Anon - The fruit shakes are always yum. I rarely make avocado shakes at homes but maybe that's a good thing!

    Hi Ellie - Oh you must get to Cabramatta soon. So much fun and easily doable on your own or in a group :)

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - We often end up at Duc Thanh but we had lunch at Phu Quoc which could well become a new favourite :)

    Hi Katherine - Yes so many delicious treats to eat. Avocado shakes are so good!

    Hi Yas - lol. You have so much fooding to catch up on. I am sure you will enjoy all the snack stalls, and everthing is so cheap!

    Hi Simon - You've never been to Cabra? You must rectify this immediately!

    It's not that far and any petrol costs are easily covered by the cheapness of the food. The ais kachang is always a favourite in summer, but you have to do the avocado shake too!

     
  • At 9/19/2009 3:06 pm, Blogger millie mirepoix said…

    Oh my goodness... this is Sydney?! It looks just like Southeast Asia. I'm incredibly envious of all the variety - ice kacang? Yes please! The Thai desserts look delicious and those takeaway packs of food... I want them all.

    And of course, nothing beats an avocado shake :) At least I can get that in NZ!

     
  • At 9/20/2009 6:52 am, Anonymous Weekend Carnivore said…

    This is exactly the sort of stuff I love reading. I often go on photo safaris around the food areas of London too. Chinatown is so great for that.

    I especially loved the sugar cane photos. That is something I have never seen done.

     
  • At 9/20/2009 7:53 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Millie Mirepoix - Sydney is full of great suburban gems, but Cabramatta is a favourite! The takeaway packs of food are great for easy lunches the next day and I agree, avocado shakes are the best!

    Hi Weekend Carnivore - London is a fantastic city for photos. I love Brick Lane, Walthamstow Market and Borough Markets of course.

    Sugar cane juice is very refreshing - hopefully one day you might find some in London!

     
  • At 9/21/2009 9:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love the banana fritters and the pandam waffles, and the sticky rice, pork rolls, and just about everything!! Glad you foodies come to the West once in a while

    Sydneyguyrojoe

     
  • At 9/22/2009 2:21 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Sydneyguyrojoe - So much goodness to be had in Cabramatta, and "you foodies"? lol. I'm a big campaigner for the joys of Sydney west!

     
  • At 10/08/2009 11:54 pm, Blogger Extreme Power said…

    Very nice. Love the food there. Used to play badminton tournament in Liverpool hall.

     
  • At 10/13/2009 2:09 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Extreme Power - Ah I'm sure this post brings back memories :)

     

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