An enviable reputation for authentic flavours, Cabramatta is a delicious day trip less than an hour by train from Sydney’s city centre. You’ll discover an enticing range of restaurants in bustling streets and arcades around Freedom Plaza, guarded by the lion sculptures of the Pai Lau – Freedom Arch.
Revered for Vietnamese food and other Asian cuisines, Cabramatta’s vibrant market atmosphere is a short walk west of Cabramatta Station. There are cafes, restaurants, bakeries, cake shops, butchers, grocers and fabric shops, among other tempting delights. John Street is the main thoroughfare.
Accommodation is available, too. You can 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 explores the culinary treasures on a progressive lunch.
Visit fresh produce grocers for exotic fruits, fragrant Asian herbs and other specialty items. If you're not sure about a particular ingredient, just ask – shopkeepers and locals are more than happy to explain how they can be used. You’ll find grocers selling all kinds of Asian spices and sauces.
Most restaurants in Cabramatta have their own specialties. Try roll-it-yourself goi cuon (fresh rice paper rolls) at Phu Quoc, an institution. Diners are presented with a platter of traditional Vietnamese herbs, fresh vegetables, rice vermicelli, grilled meat or seafood, and round rice paper sheets.
Another institution is Thanh Binh. Try a fresh salad of jellyfish, prawn and chicken with mint, pickles, lotus root and lemon topped with crushed peanut, or twice cooked soy aniseed duck on top of egg noddles. Pho Tau Bay is popular for its elegant broth in a traditional rice-noodle soup called pho.
There are also 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 are more fabulous dining options, such as Holy Basil and Chi and Co.