We Go On Vietnamese Safari

For Christmas, Delly received a voucher from her husband to go on a Gourmet Food Safari Tour. She called me and invited me to go with her and together, we chose, out of several great options, the Vietnamese Food tour of Cabramatta. We could have chosen Greek, Italian, Lebanese – but we both knew that Vietnamese was a gap in our food knowledge and so this seemed the best and most exciting option.

If you’re not Australian then you won’t know that the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta is the Vietnamese corner of the city. As we drove down the streets of Cabramatta together that day we saw that it is truly a Vietnamese world. All the faces and shop names attest to that. It was thrilling. Cabramatta was an unknown world to both of us, and only half an hour from Delly’s home (so she will be able to return easily and buy up big). We immersed ourselves in this fabulous experience.

We have great adventures together and this was just the latest in our outings. We documented the day in pictures. Here we are, having arrived at Cabramatta, and ready to go! (Can you feel our excitement?)

Ready to tour!

We played the tourists, standing at the entrance to Cabramatta.

Arriving at Cabramatta

And me. (Feels like another world)

Arriving at Cabramatta

We were to meet our tour group at a restaurant at 11am. On arrival, a Cabramatta local, Peter Nguyen, gave us an introductory talk on Vietnamese food and a run down on the day. Following some tasty treats, including these delicious dipping sauces (Delly wanted to marry the peanut sauce) with fresh spring rolls, we were off around town.

Peanut and Dipping Sauce

Delicious Fresh Spring Rolls

The idea of the day was that locals, employed as part of the SBS TV show, Food Safari, would show us the best Cabramatta had to offer. This really appealed to us because when you walk into these areas, you can be completely overwhelmed by the choice. Where is the best place to go for all the tastes and wonders that Vietnamese food has to offer? There are supermarkets, roasting houses and vendors up and down the street and finding the language, the knowledge is hard.

We were taken to the original roasting house in a little laneway. We were shown a vendor of sugar cane juice run from a hole in the wall by two very, very busy looking women. It was delicious!

Helen drinks Sugar Cane Juice

Earlier in the day we drank Vietnamese iced coffee, which is made with Sweetened Condensed Milk. The drinks on the day were a revelation!

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Our guide took us to fish shops, butchers and grocers, explaining how to find the best produce, where to find the ingredients for a variety of incredibly simple Vietnamese dishes and along the way we tasted incredible treats such as Sweet Potato fritters (Delly is still dreaming of them) and chips, exotic fruits such as dragon fruit and durian and all manner of wonderful things.

Delly and I were, unsurprisingly, first in line to taste all the tempting things. (We are pretty shameless when it come to taste testing). We were there to make the most of the day and wanted to miss nothing!

The day culmimated at another restaurant where we learned finally how to pronounce Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup – it sounds like FUR)

Beef Pho

and how to make the delicious fresh spring rolls.

Adele's first Fresh Spring Roll

I’m surprised we could fit lunch in, having sampled so many great things during the morning, but we managed it and loved every mouthful.

We bought our own supplies for spring rolls at the end of the day, took it all home and prepared a meal for Delly’s family. I think it’s safe to say we learned loads on our tour, especially that Vietnamese food is delicate, tasty and not actually difficult to prepare.

Going to Cabramatta kind of de-mystified the place for us.  It can be quite daunting going into an area of Sydney which appears so foreign.  We felt like we really saw it for the first time and found that it is a welcoming place and with a little time and patience – we can easily navigate our way around and discover all sorts of hidden treasures.

We plan to do more trips like this.  I wonder what will be next.  We can recommend discovering all kinds of foods this way.  Just make sure you wear expandable pants! For more information on Sydney Gourmet Food Safari tours go here. They run all throughout the  year and this won’t be our last!

Bells & Delly


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Hilyard
    May 24, 2011 @ 10:25:17

    This sounds great! I love Vietnamese food. Call me before you get on the plane to Hanoi and I’ll tell you where to go!

    Although I still haven’t got around to trying the chicken embryos – in the shell – with crunchy bones and tiny feathers. Not yet, I keep telling myself …

    Now I’m hungry. Neutral Bay pho for me today, I think.


  2. Gae
    May 24, 2011 @ 15:26:14

    It’s Vietnamatta, girls! And I do miss it, and I remember Cabramatta before the Vietnamese influx, when it was largely Yugoslav. I was also there once, had to have a pit stop, and found the public toilet block (the boy’s side, thank goodness) surrounded by 8 or 9 Police vehicles, blue uniforms, guns drawn, the full Monty, the darting dodging approach to the entrance. Fascinating.
    I don’t think I have ever piddled more quickly, and I got out of the area quick smart. Some boys in blue can get a little excitable when the’ve got the old Glock in their mitts.

    But the food and the supermarkets were worth the (minimal) risk

    Gae, in Callala Bay


  3. 2paw
    May 24, 2011 @ 15:55:18

    Very smart to chose the unfamiliar, I am in awe of your culinary bravery!! I can see what a wonderful time you had and it must have been very informative, you took your knowledge home with you and made tea!!
    Condensed milk???!!!


  4. RoseRed
    May 24, 2011 @ 17:12:09

    Good tip on the expandable pants, heh! Great idea to do a food tour, I find places like Cabramatta daunting too, I can’t tell what is good and what isn’t, although busy shops are usually a good indicator. The food looks fantastic!


  5. Jodi
    May 25, 2011 @ 00:10:40

    I’m dying to try this! We have easy access to great Thai, but the yummy Vietnamese place I’ve heard about is on the other side of town. Clearly, it’s a trip long overdue. I want to eat my computer screen!! 🙂


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