Pack your appetite for a visit to this vibrant and delicious suburb. With one of Australia’s largest Vietnamese communities, Cabramatta offers a rich cultural experience full of sights, sounds and scents. Get lost in the laneways and arcades tightly packed with shops, stalls and restaurants, selling everything from fabrics to amazing pho, banh mi and traditional Vietnamese desserts.
Things to do
John Street is the main thoroughfare and Freedom Plaza, guarded by the lion sculptures of the Pai Lau, or Freedom Arch, is in the centre of it all. Sydneysiders flock to Cabramatta for food and fabric shopping, with an array of haberdashery stores and Asian specialty stores stocking fragrant herbs and spices. The shopkeepers are friendly, so if you're not sure what you're looking for just ask and they’ll happily explain.
If it's too overwhelming to explore on your own, join a food tour, such as Gourmet Safaris or Taste Cultural Food Tours, and learn about Vietnamese food and culture, meet locals, shop for ingredients and savour lunch. I Ate My Way Through’s tour also explores the area's culinary treasures on a progressive lunch.
Eat & drink
Most restaurants in Cabramatta specialise in one or two dishes, so it's worth going on a food crawl to cherry-pick the best. Phu Quoc is famous for goi cuon, DIY fresh rice paper rolls made from Vietnamese herbs, vegetables, vermicelli noodles and grilled meat or seafood. Tan Viet Noodle House is known for its egg noodles and crispy-skin chicken.
Order the pho, a noodle soup with a fragrant broth, at Pho Tau Bay or Huong Xua and head to Viet Hoa Hot Bread for banh mi, otherwise known as a Vietnamese pork roll. Thanh Binh is another local institution – try a fresh salad of jellyfish, prawn and chicken with mint, pickles, lotus root and lemon topped with crushed peanuts.
While Vietnamese is the predominant cuisine, there are also a mix of Chinese, Thai, Laotian and Cambodian restaurants. Try Golden Harvest Seafood for yum cha (dim sum) and Iron Chef Chinese Seafood, known for its pipis tossed in chili and XO sauce. In nearby Canley Heights, you’ll find more fabulous dining options, such as Holy Basil and Twelve Spices.
Cabramatta is an easy day trip, less than an hour by train and a 45-minute drive from Sydney’s city centre. If you don’t have enough stomach space and want to stay a little longer, there's also accommodation available.