Cabramatta, a hive of excitement, a place where the food is great and the parking is hard to come by.
Dad and I have wanted to revisit Cabramatta after a short trip we made in 2008 for the Cabramatta by-election. When we went there last time we were unable to leave our command post at a local high school, so we got lumbered with a packed lunch and had to miss out on the scrumptious melting pot that is John Street Cabramatta.
I am used to crowded confounds and funny looking fruit because I live very near Sydney’s ‘China Town’ but this was something very different, this was Paddies market on a grand scale, so grand that they need six ATM machines at the Commonwealth bank. As we got to Cabramatta we had that usual issue with parking, but eventually we ended up finding a spot.
After the frantic search for a car spot we set off on our food expedition, we walked past T&T Supermarket. Whilst pondering what the two Ts in the Supermarkets name where I was alerted to the oozing, gluey, slimy live abalone crawling over each other in the Vung Tau fish shop next on the opposite side of the corridor. We continued through that arcade (under the advertisement for Vietnamese Idol) and turned left at Hill Street.
We reared the corner of John St, took a deep breath and entered…entered into the hustle and bustle of South East Asia.
John St is a congregation of everything great, statues of suckling pigs, shops selling sugar cane juice (they have less sugar than a soft drink), two dollar shops that sell everything and anything that you could possibly need & jewellery shops selling intricate crucifixes and finely carved jade.
After our walk around central Cabramatta we settled on eating at Thanh Binh, we picked Thanh Binh because of the various newspaper clippings on the door, how can you go past a ‘Multi-Award Winning Restaurant’, I soon found out, after perusing the menu and dodging the intestines, tripe, tendons, blood jelly and brisket, I picked a Number 70 (their specialty) sugar cane prawns.
Now as soon as we ordered, the waiting staff came to the table with a bowl of home made sweet chili sauce and a basket of what we colloquially named ‘garden clippings’ (lettuce, mint leaves and bean shoots).
After we ordered we each made the long trek down the winding corridors, past the boxes of tiger prawns to the bathroom to wash our hands. When I got back a tasting plate of yummy stuff (fried spring rolls, noodles, sugar cane prawns, peanuts, beef that looked very much like bacon and what I’d describe as Vietnamese spam) was ready on the table. As was a bowl of water and these transparent disc things.
Dad, he lived in Asia for about 20 years…yet he still hasn’t come to terms with how to use those disk things (rice paper) and that bowl of hot scorching water to make rice paper rolls soft. So quite stupidly he assured me that the water was for hand washing and had a roll with out it…he found out the hard way and dried out his mouth out. After many sips of jasmine tea his mouth was back to normal, and after many rolls my stomach was too. I can tell you that this meal is certainly not for one…
Cabramatta is certainly a place to visit…if not for the food, there is always the people, shopping or funky drinks.
Guest Post: This noodlies, Sydney food blog guest post was by Greenatfifteen: “I’m a 15 year old lover of politics, photography, the law and food. I live in Elizabeth Bay and I blog at: http://greenat1something.wordpress.com/ and I tweet at: @greenat15″
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