26 September 2019
For the finest bread, coffee, pho and more, follow this gourmet trail through the Vietnamese restaurants and cafes of Cabramatta. When it comes to slurping an ultra-rich pho or devouring a crispy banh mi with all the trimmings, a little insider knowledge will lead you to the best versions of Cabramatta’s traditional Vietnamese fare.
Lesley Unsworth’s popular Taste Tours take in the best eats of ‘Cabra’, where you can delve deep into the aroma and flavour of one of South-East Asia’s most celebrated cuisines. “Cabramatta really is a mini Vietnamese city – it has the same vibe, smells, sounds and, best of all, the great tastes,” says Lesley. “Which is best is only a matter of personal taste, comfort or budget.”
Grab a pen and paper and take note of Lesley’s must-try eats in one of Sydney’s most fragrantly spiced suburbs.
“One of the original places selling pork rolls in Cabramatta, Vinata’s remains the Western Sydney equivalent of the ‘Marrickville pork roll’, but at half the price!,” says Lesley. A recent renovation has elevated the store’s aesthetics, but those soft white baguettes, stuffed with pâté, pork, pickled carrot and coriander, are as good as ever.
Shop 1/13-14 Hughes Street
Lesley recommends Huong Xua because it’s the only pho in Sydney made in the original Hanoi-style. “The base is a pure, clean beef bone broth, cooked for 12 hours. Pho tai [rare beef] is the best,” she says. “You add all your flavourings to suit your personal taste. And, with a side of nem khong [Hanoi-style fried net spring rolls], this place is a real treat.” As a second-generation Vietnamese-Australian owner, James Tran took over making this traditional, comforting favourite from his dad, who started the business when he arrived in Australia.
54 John Street
If you’ve a sweet tooth and haven’t yet explored the sticky, tropical and finger-licking world of Asian sweets, you’re in for a real treat. Although these delicious morsels originate from Thailand, it’s worth diverting from the Vietnamese theme to devour a few, or a few dozen at Sabaidee Kitchen. “They are just yummy: jelly, coconut, pandan, sticky rice, mung bean and more.” And at only $6 a box, taking a few home is a must.
47 Park Road
Lesley directs food-lovers to Thanh Binh for standout examples of these two classic dishes. Banh xeo, which are often gluten-free, are crispy rice-flour pancakes filled with fresh herbs, pork and beansprouts. Chao tom are generous serves of minced prawn wrapped around sugarcane skewers, served with fresh herbs, salad and rice paper to make your own rolls. “A delicious mix of fresh, delicate flavours, a fried crunch and meaty goodness. Perfection on a budget.”
52 John Street
“Super-bitter Vietnamese coffee and super-sweet condensed milk is a match made in flavour heaven,” enthuses Lesley. This is addictive stuff and will have you firing all day long—but whether from the caffeine or the sugar, it’s hard to say. Also find delicious fruit (including avocado) shakes and Vietnamese sweets with beans, chestnuts and coconut here.
7 Belvedere Arcade
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