After an initially abandoned Mother’s Day jaunt to Cabramatta to sample Vietnamese cuisine at home among its community, we rescheduled to Sunday 23 May. There had been discussions weeks earlier over Twitter, a Wave and any other form of online engagement platform you could think of. It was the hardened fans that decided that despite Sydney’s delayed but magnificent change in weather that a trip was still in order. So glad we did! Accompanied by @FrancieJones and juniors 6 and 8, we met at Sydenham Station mid morning to head towards Cabramatta.
One of my favourite things about platforms like Twitter is not only do you get to try out things you haven’t done before but also meet new people. I had been exchanging messages with Frances for a while and had met her once in person previously. Having had the benefit of meeting before the train ride was a great way for our respective families to relax and chat before we arrived at our destination.
If you have never been here before you are immediately struck by how ‘other worldy’ it is to other parts of Sydney. It is a distinctly ‘ethnic’ hub and it has a vibrancy that just ‘pops’! This is no sleepy Sunday, commerce is thriving and small business retailers would be envious of the constant foot traffic. The other wonderful surprise is striking up conversations with locals or former residents with distinctly ozzie accents! It is gorgeous. On several occasions we encountered people willing to help, educate and lend their personal opinion on things we should try and see while we were there. The hospitality was warm and generous.
We started out by sampling food from store windows and drinks. Being of Pacific Island origin we were pleasantly surprised by the feature of banana (plantain), taro and sweet potato savouries. They were really tasty and dangerously (fried) good. I got adventurous by trying out the much favoured avocado drink which translates to rich/fat. And it is. A really filling and yet lightly sweet drink it is quite a marvel. There is so much of it available that this is where you have to go to buy avocados – they are around in great quantities! We also had to try the obligatory sugar cane juice. Which was for me a little poignant and personal (I am of Fiji sugar cane stock and the indentured labour that was brought to Fiji to build that industry). The magnificent machine stripped the whole cane, followed by an unpeeled orange to add some tanginess to the drink. It was quite lovely if not a little on the sweet. I ended up at one stage wandering along taking a sip of the avocado drink followed by the sugar cane. They seemed to like each other.
I was positively sloshing with drink by the time we decided to stop at Thanh Binh (not of King Street Newtown fame we were firmly told!) to sample some lovely hot dishes. I won’t bore you with my ignorance by describing the dishes in detail, what was a consistent feature of them all was how fresh the ingredients were and the wonderful explosions of sweet, sour, and salty appearing in each of the dishes. Fresh herbs enhance and add ‘zing’ to each dish. Vegetables are crisp and with all the lovely flavours you would not need to force feed these vegetables on anyone!
We headed home full and satisfied sharing a bag of mandarins on the journey home.
Next time I am hoping we can convince @Jenius to lead our tour as she was enjoying the morning with her family that day too! Because, “hell yeah” there is going to be a next time and this time we’re dragging some local knowledge with us because there is still so much more to discover!