In Short: Cabramatta Moon Festival is a celebration that occurs annually in the streets of central Cabramatta. Great food, including outstanding Vietnamese street food is on offer. More and more, we’re seeing specialty pop-ups like Merry Pops and Buttercream & Belle in 2017 with their handcrafted ice pops and delicious cupcakes.
As winter gives way to spring and those longer warm days outnumber cool and moody ones, one of the first festivals we mark in our diary annually is the Cabramatta Moon Festival. We have enjoyed going to this festival over the last 3 years. It’s loud, colourful, and crowded, brimming with entertainment, demonstrations, and great food.
Moon festival or mid-Autumn festival is celebrated by those with a Chinese heritage throughout Asia, and now in parts of Australia too.
Being lovers of Asian food, we especially look forward to the Cabramatta Moon Festival to see what new treats are available to sample. With festivals in the city, I tend to see the same caravan of vendors moving from festival to festival. Out here in Sydney’s south west, there is always a myriad of vendors, from local restaurants to family-run stalls, delivering flavours of Asia and beyond. One of the first bites we sampled at the fest was from local yum-cha specialist Ironchef Chinese Restaurant with their Peking Duck. A flat and thin pancake with glistening de-boned duck, cucumber and a sweet hoisin sauce. It was a delicious starter with tender pink duck meat with a crispy layer of skin. The cucumber was a refreshing hit of texture.
While the tummy growls abated, we were clamouring for more, and our second stop was at Annam Street Eatery to try their Cá Viên Cá Ri (fish ball soup). It was my kind of soup, with circular and square shaped fish meat in a spicy soup. I loved the hit of chilli and little whole peppercorns. Fellow Coco and Viner Mavis dug into it with a little too much vigour, and quickly went looking for a bottle of cold water to quell the chilli hit! For me though, it was beautifully spiced and flavoured. The soup had the right consistency and the fish balls absorbed the flavours from the soup to make it juicy and flavoursome.
Next up, we headed up John St and towards the biggest lines (and biggest smoke!) of the Cabramatta Moon Festival. The Khong Team had the grills fired up, cooking Nem Nu Óng (Vietnamese grilled pork patty). They were sausage-like skewered pork, grilled over the fire. They were sweet and salty and perfectly balanced in flavour. With fish sauce, sugar and pepper they were truly delicious. Our biggest mistake was not ordering a half dozen! Our test was to give little Coco and Viner Sammi a bite. It passed with flying colours, as she devoured most of the two skewers we were able to procure. We quickly came to realise why this was one of the most popular stalls at the festival.
Equally good were the Bò Lá Lõt (grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves). These little green parcels were delicious. The betel leaves kept the beef moist and succulent, and imparted a herbal flavour. I could taste lemongrass, and there was a beautiful smoky flavour in the background.
Completing a perfect trio of goodies from the Khong Team, was a dainty looking Khoai Cuôn Tôm (Potato Prawn Roll). If you like hash browns, this is infinitely better, with the inclusion of prawn. I love the intricate mesh of potato that encrusts the prawn, which is cooked to a deliciously crispy, golden colour, yet remained juicy and sweet. I will be hunting high and low when I next hit a Vietnamese restaurant for these golden gems of yum!
Not only were the bites from the Khong team delicious, we were also left with a good feeling with all profits from the stall going to good causes like the Children’s Hospital Westmead.
From outstanding savoury, it was now on to a selection of sweet treats. On a day when the temperature nudged 30 degrees, it meant anything that was chilled and refreshing was going to be at the top of our list. We ventured back to Ironchef as we spied the familiar yellow rolls, which are a must of any yum-cha experience here in Sydney. Mango pancakes with piped whipped cream and diced mango cheeks. Biting into them revealed rich cream, with fresh mango providing refreshing sweet notes. The crepe itself was thin, yet held together the cream and mango really well. They definitely hit the spot!
Our little one hasn’t quite got the dexterity to deal with mango pancakes, and opted for a hand-crafted ice-cream from Merry Pops. Their pop-up store at Cabramatta Plaza featured an array of exotic creations with fresh fruit embedded in many of the pops. Sammi selected a raspberry creation, that I was able to sneak a couple bites of, and loved how refreshing and full of flavour it was. Smooth with textures of raspberry seeds indicating how much of its base was all fruit. It was hard handing it back!
Our final sweet treat was from Buttercream & Belle. On top of a deliciously moist chocolate mud cupcake, owner Thach Copp sprinkled chocolate soil to recreate the earthy base. She then piped realistic-looking buttercream cactus leaves, and topped it off with a very pretty single flower. The whole cupcake was almost too realistic and pretty to eat. But I ate it anyways with no regret, because no cupcake should ever go to waste, especially one as good as this one!
The Cabramatta Moon Festival is a celebration that is worth a visit to Sydney’s south west. On the food front, I hope those visiting for the first time were introduced to the amazing flavours of south east Asia, and it will have them rushing back to the Fairfield area to sample authentic food at very reasonable prices.