If you want to try Sydney’s best Vietnamese food, then visit Cabramatta, about an hour drive from Sydney CBD. It is located in south-western Sydney in Fairfield, 30 km away from the Sydney CBD. We were on way to Canberra so making a stop for lunch in Cabramatta.
Since the 1980s, Cabramatta has been a center for the Vietnamese as well as many residents from other Asian and European origins. Close to a third of Cabramatta’s population (33%) was born in Vietnam while others are from Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. When you arrived at this Vietnamese’s Village, you won’t realize you are actually in Australia, it is like another country in Australia. Just like in Hanoi!
There are a number of reasons you should visit Cabramatta, the food, the fabric and the Asian fruits & groceries that you can’t find in Australian supermarkets. Walk over to the Freedom Plaza where crowds are and there are a number of statues to see near the Pai Lau (Gateway). Similar to Sydney Chinatown, it has a Pai Lau with Chinese words.
Pay a little attention to the Pai Lau and you will find the Australian iconic animals (Kangaroo & Koala) are used to decorate the gate, not the usual dragon or phoenix.
Cabramatta fabric shopping is one of the best, here you can find hundreds of fabrics in different prints. There are a number of stores so prices are very competitive and choices are vast to choose from. You will notice their stocks are overloading and have to display outside the store on the walkway. If you have some sewing projects, you should pay a visit to Cabramatta.
Vietnamese Ao Dai is the national costume, won by both female and male. If you are tall and slim, AnDai fit you very well.
Exotic Grocery Store
The grocery store in Cabramatta has their own niche, they imported exotic & local taste from Vietnam, Thailand & Cambodia. You won’t find these taste in the local Australian’s supermarket like Coles, Aldi and Woolworth.
There are several statues in Freedom Plaza for you to spot them.
Turtle Stone Statue
Being one of the animals that have endured longest on earth, the turtle is considered as a symbol of wisdom, endurance, wealth and long life.
Bronze Lion Statue
The lion symbolizes strength, stability and superiority
Pig & piglets Statue
Pig represents luck and good fortune, wealth and prosperity.
Ready-Made Packed Food
Colorful bento or ready-made packed food was seen displayed outside of stores or restaurants. From desserts to pickles, ranges from AUS 3.00 onwards, prices are cheap.
You cannot go home empty-handed without buying the bakery from Cabramatta. The bakery here is so much cheaper as compared to the Sydney Chinatown.
Vietnamese bakeries are awesome and fusion from French and combine with the Vietnamese oriental sweet and savory. The French occupation of Vietnam from 1887-1954 created a demand for European-focused pastry, which then became the root of Vietnamese baking culture. I have to admit the Vietnamese do an awesome job in baking!
Vietnamese Bread Roll – Banh Mi
Banh Mi is my top favorite beside pho noodles. The Vietnamese baguette is crusty at the bread rolls when you bite it and the spicy, salty, sweet and aromatic flavors are so delicious that makes you want to have more bite after the first. The veggies used are fresh carrots, coriander, cucumber and their secret sauce and paste. You can either ask for chicken or pork filling.
Vietnamese love gold as it is one of the important currency, at least more stable than any other form of currency during the countrywide turmoil and regime change. In facts, refugees fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s carried gold with them. My mom’s neighbor in Australia, an old couple who flee from Vietnam during the war told us they carried few bars of gold to escape with them.
This is the best place to find authentic Vietnamese pho! Besides pho, go try other Vietnamese cuisines too such as Goi Cuon (Vietnamese rice paper spring roll with prawn), Bu Cha (a dish of grilled pork and noodle and herbs) and Bun bo Hue (a spicy, lemongrass rice vermicelli noodle soup served with fresh herbs and vegetables). I love that they give the fresh bean sprout and basil leaves generously for your topping and the bean sprout tasted super crunchy too.
Bring in your trolly for fresh food here, you will find exotic fruits such as Durian, rambutan, mangosteen and Sugar apple or sweetsop.
If you miss durian, then come to Cabramatta! Durians are mostly imported and are frozen.
You also find good BBQ duck & pork here!
Cabramatta is the foodies paradise in Sydney. Bring in a trolley and shop for the exotic groceries and exotic fruits that you missed from home.