I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
Published March 26th 2013
Savour the sumptuous authentic Asian cuisine
Australia is such a multicultural society. I came here when I was 17. Back then, I have met a lot of Greeks, Italian, and Chinese nationals. My family settled in a small suburb in Adelaide, and then a few years after I got married, we moved to Sydney.
During our search for a house to buy, I came across this place. I was flabbergasted by the amount of shops that sell Asian food. Fresh fruits and vegetables that I have not come across before are abundant.
The place is called Cabramatta. A suburb in the south-western Sydney, 30 kilometres south west of the Sydney central district. It is known as "Cabra" and has the largest Vietnamese community in Australia. Approximately 70% of the population were born overseas and 8 out of 10 Cabramatta residents speak more than one language.
Renown for its international cuisine from over 20 countries, including Lebanon, Malaysia, Thailand, Iraq, Turkey, Spain, Italy and of course Vietnam. There are a lot of eateries and restaurants serving cheap and delicious authentic Asian cuisine. Your palate will be teased with unimaginable flavours from different parts of the world.
Food and especially stores are abundant. The shops have everything that you normally wouldn't find elsewhere. From jewellery, shoes, clothes, bed linens, fabrics and huge vases. You ask for it and the will have it. On Sundays, Cabramatta attracts more than 15,000 visitors looking for bargain or even just a simple day out.
Many shops sell freshly crushed sugar cane juice. A favourite during the summer months is a drink called Sumbulung. It's a mixture of fruits blended with ice. You can have avocado, jackfruit, mango, melons or another delectable combination of fruits.
John Street is closed on Friday nights and lined with tables and chairs for the night market, where an array of food is cooked on a coal barbecue.
The green grocers sell all kinds of exotic fruits and vegetables and different kinds of herbs and spices that you probably have never seen before. The shopkeepers are friendly and happy to answer any questions as to what herbs are used for a particular dish.
Carol Selva Rajah, a chef and food writer, offers Cabramatta day tours. For further information, please log in to her site.
You can also visit the Kuan Yin Buddhist temple, then maybe head to Freedom Plaza, where you will find a few elderly people gathered to play Mahjong. It's located in a pedestrian mall between the shopping areas of John Street and Arthur Street.
At the centre of the plaza is an ornamental gateway, built as a symbol of harmony and multiculturalism. It is also a symbol of South East Asian communities in the area, reinforcing Cabramatta's image as Western Sydney's Chinatown.
A welcoming monument celebrating freedom and democracy. It features the words, 'The world is for us to share and respect" reminding us to treasure democracy no matter where we come from. A number of supporters of the gateway fled communism and therefore challenge the views that they are economic refugees.
The Pai Lau symbolised their escape from oppression in search of freedom. It also includes the words, "renovate and integrate", sculpted along kangaroos and the koalas as a reflection of their desire to integrate in the mainstream Australian life. The gateway had been listed as a heritage site for its significance to the community.
The Asian Seafood Festival is during the month of November and December. The Moon Festival in February consists of 15 days of activities and entertainment. It is a celebration of the summer harvest in countries like Vietnam, Korea and China for over thousands of years.
The Lunar New Year is an important festival on the Vietnamese calendar. The celebration is held in the month of January and lasts for three days, where a belief that any evil spirits of the old year are driven away by the noisy fire crackers and lion dances. The main streets are closed to traffic for the whole weekend for the cultural displays, lion dancing, flower festival stalls and other side shows entertainment.
Fairfield City Council on 02 9275 0222 will be able to assist for any enquiries.
So are you ready for another adventure? Head out to the west, sample the cuisine from different parts of the world, learn about other cultures, tantalise those buds and find out what Cabramatta, dubbed as Sydney's Little Asia, is all about.
It will take an hour to travel to Cabramatta from the CBD of Sydney. You can easily travel by train or drive. If you are driving, head early, as parking in "Cabra" is difficult to find, especially on the weekend.