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Monday, September 28, 2009

Moon festival, Cabramatta

It was a weekend filled with food.

My weekend started with a Friday night gluttony of two-hour all-you-can-eat yakiniku at Suminoya. It wasn't the first time I'd eaten myself into oblivion amidst a haze of charcoal, but I'd never before eaten with people who still had room for more - not just a snack, but chicken satay, roti tisu and roti kaya at Mamak immediately afterwards.

The theme of excessive eating continued throughout the weekend. It was highly appropriate then that on Sunday we ended up at the Cabramatta Moon Festival, lured not only by the promise of stalls and snacking, but a spark of interest by Suze to enter the annual mooncake eating competition.

Having just come from the Malaysia Festival in Darling Harbour, the crowds and happy chaos at Cabramatta was an invigorating sight. The main drag of John Street and Freedom Plaza mall were filled with lantern-toting children, pram-pushing parents, and the hubbub of celebration.

Lian / lion figurine

Vegetarian stall

I was intrigued by the French tinned butter $5.50 each

Selling trinkets

Giant lantern in Freedom Plaza

We made it to the stage just in time to catch the pho eating competition. The Vietnamese staple of slippery rice noodles in a clear beef broth is always welcomed, but slurping these down at speed is another artform altogether. Five young males battled it out...

The pho noodle eating competition begins

After two minutes, contestant #5 finished his noodles first

Contestant #2 wasn't far behind

Contestant #3 tries to catch up

Contestant #5 seems to have it in the bag

And everyone's eyes soon turn to contestant #5

Contestant #5 wins!

Contestant #5 is triumphant, but in pain
- apparently he's now the back-to-back titleholder.

Forty-five minutes later, it was time for the mooncake eating competition. It may as well have been renamed as food blogger battle royale - Suze managed to convince Karen, Howard and Simon to join her on stage meaning that food bloggers had a four-in-six chance of winning!

Howard, Suze, Karen and Simon on stage

Karen is asked about her mooncake-eating strategy

Howard and Suze

Howard gets introduced and interviewed

One mooncake each. Lotus paste with one egg yolk. Six contestants. Four food bloggers. Let the battle begin!

Suze races out of the starting blocks
whilst Karen still struggles to open her mooncake packet

The other two contestants alongside a chewing Howard

Karen finally gets the mooncake packet open!

Simon is down to his last mouthful - Karen has just had her first

The body language reads "What were we thinking?"

Simon on his final mouthful

Simon wins!

Word is that trying to eat a mooncake without any liquid is like trying to eat peanut butter straight - the lotus paste sticks to the roof of your mouth and refuses to budge.

And what does a food blogger do after eating a whole mooncake? Eat more, of course.

Potato springs on a skewer being deep-fried

Suze with her custard apple fruit shake and potato coil

The potato wasn't as crunchy as you'd expect - but the fun of a potato coil is something I may have to reproduce with my apple slicer.

Peking duck skin from Iron Chef restaurant

Our eyes immediately alighted on the stall by Iron Chef restaurant offering Peking duck pancakes. I don't think we could've handed our money over fast enough.

Adding hoisin sauce

Assembling the Peking duck pancakes

Peking duck pancakes $5 for two

Juicy duck flesh, a crisp tile of skin, the coolness of cucumber and a sweet sticky dollop of hoisin in a soft wheatflour pancake. All kinds of delicious.

This year's Cabramatta Moon Festival was held on September 27, 2009 on John Street, Cabramatta.

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Cabramatta Moon Festival 2006
Cabramatta Chinese New Year Festival 2007

Cabramatta - Duc Thanh
Cabramatta - Hung Vuong
Cabramatta - Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant
Cabramatta - Phu Quoc
Cabramatta -
Thanh Binh


Competition winners

Thank you everyone for your entries in the Wellington prize pack and the SIFF World Chef Showcase competitions.

Brad from Wellington Tourism drew the winning entry of the Wellington prize pack worth NZ$125 and the winner is Paul S.

Joanna Savill, director of the Sydney International Food Festival, personally selected the winning entry for the ticket to Program 2 of the World Chef Showcase. She was impressed by the passion behind this answer, and the winner is Shez!

Congratulations to both winners. Please check your email!

For those who missed out on the World Chef Showcase tickets, there are still tickets available for sale. Program 6: Japan looks particularly interesting, with an interactive umami taste-testing and a final dessert session by Adriano Zumbo! And if you are attending the World Chef Showcase, leave a comment - if you're attending session 2, I'll know to keep an eye out for you!
23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/28/2009 02:46:00 am


  • At 9/28/2009 4:22 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    LOL LOL damn that infernal packet! How embarrassing and what a massive fail on my part... not that I expected to win of course! And eating one big mouthful of lotus paste isn't very fun!

    Btw, those t-shirts that they made us wear are none too flattering :(

  • At 9/28/2009 7:08 am, Blogger Y said…

    I'm dying of laughter at the eating competition photos. Mooncake with lotus paste AND egg yolk - deadly! I can't even eat one piece of that normally without feeling clogged up in the throat. How funny that Karen couldn't get the packet open!

  • At 9/28/2009 7:16 am, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Hahahahahaha now I know what #fail exactly meant on twitter, Karen! LOL LOL And hoooorraaaay for Simon! Man, the mooncake looks bigger than I thought.

  • At 9/28/2009 8:20 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    AHAHAHA Oh my god I was so looking forward to the pictures of this and it's even funnier than I thought it would be!! Poor Karen, those mooncake packets are fiddly things! Ughh I couldn't imagine scoffing a whole one like that, it's so thick and sticky!

  • At 9/28/2009 8:54 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    You bunch of crazy chinese! :P I like the pic of suze and karen looked at each other, while the MC is totally disgusted in the background! LOL. Fun time :)

  • At 9/28/2009 9:13 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    LOL I love the side by side commentary! Haha and those damn t-shirts, 3 people coming to ask for directions in 2 minutes with us looking clueless the whole time

  • At 9/28/2009 9:14 am, Blogger Debzillah said…

    Looks like a load of fun! I was busy handing out fliers at Marrickville festival yesterday - it was packed despite the infernal weather! There were loads of sausage stalls, Woodfire on wheels, more dim sum and spring rolls than you could have poked a stick at and ice cream trucks on every corner! :)

  • At 9/28/2009 10:00 am, Anonymous Tina said…

    Drooling at the Peking duck pancakes... :P

    The thought of scoffing an entire moon cake makes me a bit ill... Congrats to Simon though!

  • At 9/28/2009 10:01 am, Anonymous Belle@OohLook said…

    Hehe, great photos and commentary on the mooncake eating contest! I know how Karen feels, I always use scissors to open those infernal mooncake packets. And what was Simon's prize - more mooncake?

  • At 9/28/2009 11:07 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    bwahahaha my dream come true! but uh no more mooncakes for a while please

  • At 9/28/2009 11:27 am, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    The thought of eating one whole mooncake without slicing it, is kind of sick. But give me some time and slice the mooncake, I can actually finish a whole one! Hehe.. Poor Karen with the wrapper!

    Oh, and KAren and I paced ourselves at Suminoya, we stopped like half way through, because we knew we had MAmak to go! Lol.

  • At 9/28/2009 12:03 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Omg free food! How awesome is that! Hmmmm.... I wonder if I could finish a moon cake with no liquids.. I imagine I would have choked and splattered all over the stage!

  • At 9/28/2009 12:22 pm, Anonymous Zina @ tastedbytwo said…

    Wow, what a fun way to celebrate the Moon Festival. Great photos Helen. Congratulations to Simon on winning the moon cake competition - looks like it was hard work!

  • At 9/28/2009 5:24 pm, Anonymous Jen (jenius.com.au) said…

    hahahaha, the photos are hilarious as is your commentary! well done simon! was it timed? what was the record?

  • At 9/28/2009 8:45 pm, Anonymous Georgia said…

    This looks like so much fun! And you've mentioned some of my absolute favourite things... pho, yakiniku, peking duck! My stomach is positively growling!

  • At 9/28/2009 11:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG OMG pho eating comp!!! I wish I weeennntttt X(!! and that potato spring looks awesomme! Congrats to Simon for winning and good attempt to the others hee hee.

  • At 9/29/2009 12:23 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    My attempt was a fail, but I was one piece from finishing. I was really struggling though, it got stuck in my throat and I was trying to generate saliva so I could swallow ... no go haha. The kid next to me looked like he was going to pass out, I didn't see any St John's Ambulance people on sight ... he could of been in trouble lol

  • At 9/29/2009 1:31 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - You know I hadn't even realised you were struggling with your mooncake packet until I looked closely at all the photos! And hey, at least you got up on stage and had a go - nothing fail about that at all!

    I don't think those t-shirts will be making an appearance on a catwalk anytime soon.

    Hi Y - Oh you should have seen them all in action. So much fun! The packet-opening-delay seems longer in photos - I'm sure she was only a couple of seconds behind everyone else :)

    Hi Yas - I'm sure the mooncakes felt even bigger when they were trying to swallow it. I think they all did a great job - eating mooncakes without a cup of tea would be tough work, although I think you should enter next year :)

    Hi Stephcookie - Funny in a good, admiration kinda way, right? lol. I think it was odd they made them open their own packets. Surely it's all about the eating! I think they all did us proud!

    Hi Billy - There were a few choice photos, and to think I was taking photos on both my camera and Suze's. Multi-tasking amidst the laughter :)

    Hi Minh - Yes I was wondering why everyone was suddenly asking us for directions. They really should have special mooncake eating competition t-shirts. Maybe ones with Bert Newton on them. lol

    Hi Debzillah - Marrickville Festival was another festival I would've loved to have gone to, but so many events on the one day! Festival food is always good fun :)

    Hi Tina - The Peking duck pancakes were probably the day's gustatory highlight. The skin was amazing. And yes, I was rather glad it was them and not me up on stage. And so exciting to be able to cheer for not just one person, but four!

    Hi Belle - Ahh yes who hasn't been frustrated by the plastic packet that refused to open! Simon won a mobile phone - I don't think any of them will be eating mooncake for a while!

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Haha, now you can tick the "bite into a whole mooncake" dream off your list. You done good, and I liked how you and Karen were constantly being demure and hiding your mouths.

    Hi Betty - I agree, the idea of biting into a mooncake defies the dignity and grace usually afforded to these rich desserts!

    I had no idea you and Karen were pacing yourselves - I didn't realise Mamak was always part of the plan! Next time you'll have to warn me so I can eat accoedingly :)

    Hi clekitty - I think the mooncake challenge is a pretty tough one. They all looked a little ill when they came off stage!

    Hi Zina - They were all chewing like crazy. Or trying to chew. Glad you enjoyd the pics. So glad I got to be the designated photographer :)

    Hi Jen - It wasn't officially timed, but according to my photo time stamps I think it took Simon about three minutes to finish it.

    Hi Georgia - It was much more fun to watch than participate, methinks :) And yes, browsing food blogs is always dangerous for your appetite!

    Hi FFichiban - I think you could've given those boys a run for their money in the pho comp. The potato spring appeals to the kid in all of us, I think, and yep, Simon did a great job! A herculean effort by everyone on stage.

    Hi Howard - I wonder if the trick is to take small bites and chew rapidly? Or small bites and swallow? So many options! The guy next to you did look like he was in trouble but you all did a fantastic job. So good that a food blogger took out the crown!

  • At 9/29/2009 5:51 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    OMG, did I ever have to earn that prize! Let's just say it wasn't a piece of cake :)

    Duck pancakes for the price we paid was quite nice.

  • At 10/29/2009 11:05 pm, Blogger Joseph Dinh said…

    Hey there ! Glad you guys enjoyed CABRAMATTA MOON FESTIVAL. This is Joseph Hieu Dinh - the MC host of the Pho & Moon Cake Eating Competition !

    Check out our clips of the Pho Eating competition at our official youtube channel:

    Cheers !

  • At 10/31/2009 9:51 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon - Ahh you made it look so easy. The duck pancakes were amazing - we should do a Peking duck banquet sometime and get the whole thing carved up at our table.

    Hi Joseph - The Cabramatta Moon Festival is always fun. Thanks for the link :)

  • At 12/18/2009 2:22 am, Blogger Joseph Dinh said…

    Hi guys ! This is Joseph Dinh from Cabra Moon Fest. We have actually retrieved the footage of you guys competing at the Moon Cake Eating Competition .. here goes:


    Hope you guys like it !


  • At 12/19/2009 8:57 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Joseph - Thanks so much for the link to the video footage. Have now embedded it in the post - now the memories will live forever!


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