Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cabramatta Eating Tour - A Different Perspective (19th June)

Freedom Plaza - Cabramatta (taken from

        *I'd like to apologise to all my regular readers and fellow bloggers for my lack of presence around the place, have been caught up with other stuff and the family went up to Queensland over the weekend to be part of my cousin's wedding. Didn't realise that it would be so jam packed and that all my energy would be sucked out of me, didn't help that we were all running on minimal sleep and then had to do a 12 hour road trip back home. I've been going to bed early most nights since coming back and had to unpack and sort through and post up all my photos of the weekend.*

        It's funny how there are so many things we take for granted but when someone comes along with a different view on the same subject/item it also influences your original view point. Cabramatta has long been a place that I take for granted and overlooked and being surrounded by people who had never been there before made me see that place in a different light. It probably also has to do with my recent deeper appreciation for all things edible.
        Once upon a time Cabramatta to me, was just a suburb that was too far away to get to and was just 'that place my family dragged me too' every once in a while when I was a kid. I couldn't even remember the last time I had been there on my own accord. (Warning: the photos are not in line with my writing, I've placed them to break up the text a bit).

Tan Viet - Crispy Chicken with Tomato Rice, Best Crispy Skinned Chicken I've had ever.

        So Amy cookbookmaniac messaged me asking if I was interested to join some fellow food bloggers and friends/partners on an eating tour of Cabramatta one Saturday (John heneedsfood, Mr K, Betty bettysbites, Richard richardelliot, Maria scandifoodie, and Amy's partner Pizzaboy). 'Why not' I thought, it was also a good chance to meet some like minded people too. This would be my first 'food bloggers meet up'.
        At first I actually was a little hesitant and not all that excited, it was 'just Cabramatta', I went with a 'take it as it comes' attitude so I guess I probably didn't come across as excited as the others in the group. Ryan was pretty much in the same mindset as me, he also had to work the Friday nightshift so we were late in catching up with the group. Unfortunately I didn't take many photos (still too shy to do it in public) but John, Richard and Maria have some fantastic shots and reviews from the day on their blogs - different perspectives too.

        How do you spot a group of food bloggers? As Ryan and I walked down John street looking for the group but not really knowing what to look for there was a bunch of people huddled around in a circle sampling some food, Ryan spotted their cameras and pointed them out to me. Ahuh! I think I recognise some of these people from their profile photos.
        Introductions are done (though I could have done it better, I'm never really good at meeting new people) and we walk along John Street, stopping by a huge supermarket along the way. I was in absolute awe as I don't think I've ever been in an asian grocery that was so big, my aunty's shop would only be a quarter of the size. Spotted some matcha powder which I had to buy knowing that I had trouble sourcing it locally. This shop just stocked absolutely everything you could think of. It's made me realise that Marrickville is quite limited when it comes to the availability of asian food products but then I guess the asian/vietnamese population isn't as concentrated as it is out west.

Food Arcade

        Next we go get outselves some pho tasting (Pho Tau Bay), two bowls between 8 people, I wonder what the people thought of us. The pho was good, not as good as mum's but for store pho it was pretty tasty. The interesting part was sitting opposite to Maria and John who had never had pho before, well I think John had but it had been a while. For Ryan and I, pho was almost a staple with Mum always whipping it up in large pots at home. It was intriguing watching everyone eat and take in the experience.
        After pho, we go down an alley to another restaurant for some beef stew with egg noodles and some duck leg with egg noodles. Two very interesting dishes I hadn't experienced before. I'd like to go back for the beef stew with egg noodles. The beef was so tender and the intense flavours of the broth was intriguing. The alley way itself was the most suspect looking place, if it wern't for our hosts Amy and Betty, I'd probably never ever know it was there or even try to attempt walking down such a place.

Pandan Waffles

        After the alley way noodles we head back to the main street with the aim to try the best crispy skinned chicken in town. I absolutely LOVE crispy skinned chicken, always finding myself ordering it whenever eating out. It's something that mum actually doesn't cook at home as it's actually a tedious process to get the skin so crispy and she just doesn't have the time to do it.
        There was a line out of  Tan Viet but suprisingly it moves quite fast so we don't stand around waiting for too long. If it were just Ryan and I visiting we probably would have given up and moved on elsewhere, we don't like to wait too long for food. I don't know if everyone was lining up for the chicken, but after tasting I'd definately go back and line up just for the chicken. The skin was just ultra crispy but yet the meat was still very tender and moist. I find that many places have the crispy skin but the chicken ends up being quite dry which taints the whole experience.

Fried banana fritters

        I want some dessert now! - that's what my brain is thinking. We head back along John street and head down the busiest food filled arcade. "Are you sure?" I hear from somewhere behind me. There was a bit of reluctance to head down the arcade which I found puzzling as Ryan and I had actually walked up this arcade from the carpark. Then I remember all the pushing and squeezing through bodies that Ryan and I had to do to get through.
        Walking down this arcade with food bloggers would indeed be a hard task as there is food everywhere waiting to be looked at, touched, smelled, tasted and of course photographed. And then there's the hoard of people already filling the arcade left right and centre. We all walk down the arcade and when I turn back around I seem to have lost sight of some people already. Maria, Betty and Ryan didn't even make it down the arcade yet, they had stopped for pandan waffles, which I totally forgot about. Good on Ryan though for grabbing a couple, chomping down on one brought back a flood of childhood memories. Mum used to also make them at home but it had been such a long long time since I last had one. Pandan waffles arn't really waffles as they are more like a thin pancake or thick crepe but cooking them in a waffle iron changes the texture altogether, it would be quite different if you tried to cook it in a flat pan.

Banana Fritter Innard

        There is so much food to see and it makes me wish I didn't live so far away. We reach the end of the arcade and I am greeted by a big mound of freshly fried banana fritters, at $1 (or $1.50?) each how can I not grab a couple. I adore banana fritters, though whenever we make them at home it just doesn't seem the same. At the same place there were mountains of containers filled with assorted sweets and snacks going for a really great bargain, I think it was something like 3 for $5. They all looked so good but upon closer inspection most of them were easily accessible at home as mum makes them.
        There was one in particular though that caught my attention. It was a box of colourful strips coated in shredded coconut. This is a particular sweet that mum doesn't make often (as it's too time consuming). I don't really know what to call it but can describe it as being grated/ground casava mixed with glutinous rice flour and possibly some water or coconut milk and then steamed and cut into strips and tossed through dessicated coconut. I loved eating this growing up.

Vietnamese Sweets
        Next we walk along the back street adjacent to the car park stopping and looking at a few more grocers and a fish shop. Lot's of interesting fruits and vegetables that I don't usually see in Marrickville and the huge variety of seafood that was available was incredible. Unfortunately though it's getting later in the afternoon and I had promised Mum that I would come home and cook dinner (chilli crab with noodles) so we had to farewell the group.
        I really didn't want to leave but knew we had a long drive home and we were both already a little exhausted and overwhelmed in the short time we were there in Cabramatta. It's a shame we couldn't come earlier and stay later as reading back on Maria, John and Richard's blogs I felt that Ryan and I could have experienced a lot more of the side of Cabramatta we didn't know about. Plus we had just met a bunch of awesome people, which I am excited to see again this weekend when we do a walking eating tour of Newtown - another suburb which I take for granted living so close by.


chocolatesuze said...

mmm i love banana fritters! esp with icecream haha looks like a fun day!

Sara @ Belly Rumbles said...

It has been ages since I have been to Cabramatta. I really need to get back there, but it just seems soo far away. What an awesome day you had.

OohLookBel said...

I remember the others' posts from ages ago and how I thought 'That is so cool, I must go there soon'. Well, haven't got to Cabra yet, so thanks for the belated tour!

penny aka jeroxie said...

I have not been before. Worth a trip if I am in town?

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Suze: Ohh and caramel sauce!! =D

Hi Sara: Yeah it is such a long way away, perhaps make a day trip out of it =)

Hi Belle: Hope you do get to go 'soon' =)

Hi Penny: Yes, should check it out when you're in town =) Springvale and Footscray don't compare =p

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a great tour! Isn't Cabaramatta such a wonderfully vibrant area. I am dying to go back :)

Richard Elliot said...

It sure was a great day! I think you always take places you know for granted, I know that I do with London. I'm lucky that everything in Australia is still fresh, exciting and an experience to be valued.

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Lorraine: Well when you go back give me a yell, I'd love to go back and going in a group just makes it way more fun =D

Hi Richard: I love going around places with you guys, makes me see it in different light =)

Elaine @ Three Wise Pigs said...

Funny that I don't leave too far from here, and I have yet to try the pandan waffles or Tan Viet even!

Elaine @ Three Wise Pigs said...

oops live I mean! late night lol

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

You're missing out on so much Elaine! =p