The Australian press has dubbed Cabramatta “Vietnamatta” and considers it a miniature Vietnam.
Centre for cuisine
Covering an area of two square miles, Cabramatta has nearly everything that is found in Vietnam. The most popular attractions are the restaurants and snack bars, varying from cheap food stalls to high-end fine dining establishments, where visitors can taste many well known Vietnamese dishes such as rice, pho, hu tieu, instant noodles, banh canh, bun bo, and roasted pigeons.
People say that the food in Cabramatta is relatively inexpensive and cooked in a purely Vietnamese style.
The ‘Vietnam Town’ also boasts numerous fish and meat shops. Every 100 metres there is a food store owned by a person of Vietnamese descent.
Luke Nguyen and Thang Ngo are two men in Cabramatta who have played an important role in promoting Vietnamese cuisine.
Luke Nguyen is famous for his outstanding street food while Thang Ngo has a passion for presenting Vietnamese dishes at restaurants in the area.
Thang Ngo has even held a vote for the best Vietnamese pho (beef or chicken noodle soup) in Sydney and has become a culinary ambassador for introducing Australians to Vietnamese cuisine.
“The food is the most popular attraction in Cabramatta, which is known as the capital of Vietnamese food,” says Thang Ngo. “Generally speaking, Vietnamese dishes have exciting, complex flavours and are very healthy.”
Preserving the national culture and language
Cabramatta is also home to many Vietnamese people who are lawyers, doctors, accountants, and architects. The main language spoken is Vietnamese and most of the customers are people of Vietnamese origin.
Every weekend, Vietnamese from across Sydney flock to this area to go shopping, meet their friends, have breakfast, and drink coffee in the cozy and friendly atmosphere as if they are in their homeland.
Huy Nguyen, 38, says he has loved the Vietnamese language and culture since he was a small child. “I feel very lucky because all generations of my family are able to speak Vietnamese. However, I worry that the younger generations are using Vietnamese less, which poses a challenge to preserving traditional Vietnamese culture.”
Cao Bui, 82, who has lived in Sydney for over 50 years, remarks that the Vietnamese community in Cabramata has made many contributions to the development of this suburb. “Many successful Vietnamese doctors and lawyers in Australia have returned to help this community,” he says. “Old people like me now receive much better care… we even have our own rest home.”