Cambodian, Dinner, Lunch, Sydney, South West
Comments

Battambang Restaurant, Cabramatta

We all have one, that favourite shirt or pair of jeans we always wear no matter how worn out it is. The same can be said about a restaurant or a dish from a restaurant, you’ll keep going back and paying for it regardless of how much things change. The food at Battambang in Cabramatta invokes such feelings. I’ve been eating here for nearly 20 years, it was one of the first restaurants which my parents took me to because it was the only thing we could afford at the time, eating a $3.50 bowl of noodles at this restaurant was a big deal.

Fast forward 20 years and nothing much has changed in the restaurant. The dodgy looking tables are still there, a packed restaurant with people speaking everything from Cantonese to Cambodian and honest food cooked by honest people. Come to think of it the only thing that has changed is the price. It might have creeped up to $6 a bowl but it’s still a bargain for Sydney standards. Mind you, I am blogging from their second “newer” store which is on the John St side of Cabramatta. The original Battambang is on the other side of Cabramatta train station.

The menu on the wall is in Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian. If you do visit, they should offer you an english menu in a plastic folder. If not, just ask for one.

Deep fried pork chop with salted fish fried rice

This is my comfort dish. A huge serving of fried rice laced with ‘wok breath’, a trait which I pray for in every fried rice dish I order. What is wok breath? It’s the charred/smoked taste of a fried dish. The serving is huge and is covered with an array of vegetables, egg and salted fish. Tender pieces of deep-fried pork chop are plumped on top. On the side are house made pickles, I spot baby cucumbers, carrot and cabbage. What makes me come back for this dish? The combination of textures as well as the contrast of saltiness (salted fish) and sourness (pickles).

Cambodian hu tieu with seafood

This dish is Battambang’s franchise dish, or a variation of it at least. Rice noodles are mixed with a dark sauce which has remnants of soy and hoisin sauce, maybe a bit of sesame oil. It is a sweet and salty sauce, a very unique taste.

The combination of toppings can vary depending on your order but generally there is offal, pork mince, prawns, bloody jelly and other bits and bobs of seafood. The bowl of noodles come out ‘dry’, that is, the soup comes separate. I actually love this component of the dish as it means I can take sips of the soup which is always full of flavour.

On the side you’ll also get fresh raw bean sprouts and lemon, they add a fresh dimension to the dish.

Pork soup with pork bone

You also get pieces of pork bones still with pieces of meat on them. I always think about our dog Max when I’m eating these bones, I bet he’d love the flavours. The soup is intense, it contains hours and hours of cooking. I usually order extra fried dough bread which you will find already on your tables to dip into the soup. It brings out the flavour of the soup even more.

Battambang is the type of restaurant which is a local favourite, it’s no frills and is the real deal. You won’t find filler dishes just to fill out the menu, everything here is hardcore Chinese/Cambodian food which is made with love. It might be intimidating to walk in on your first time, but the joint is run by an extremely friendly group of people. I find myself coming here at least twice a month for breakfast on the weekend, before I go for my usual Vietnamese coffee run. It also opens at 7am, to catch the morning workers who need their Battambang fix.

Battambang Cambodian Restaurant
15/73-79 John St, Cabramatta
(02) 9754 2120
Open 7 days – 7am to 6.30pm

Comments

  1. gobsmack'd says:

    Hi Howard, Judging by the tone of this entry, I take it that you feel nostalgic eating at this place. Which is great. The food looks good too. However, if eating at such an establishment where you’ve termed it “honest food cooked by honest people”; how does that in turn compare with your dining experience at, say; Berowra Waters Inn (your previous entry)? Would that be classified as ‘dishonest food by dishonest people’? How is food “honest”? If I seem to be picking on you, let me reassure you I don’t have any malicious intent whatsoever. It just seems like a careless throwaway term favoured by food reviewer/bloggers currently. To borrow another term du jour, “I’m just saying!”

    1. Howard says:

      Hi gobsmack’d, fair call! Honest food, from the perspective of Battambang and a couple other local places I frequent it means food which reminds me of a home cooked meal or food cooked by people who just want to bring a little part of their heritage to the community. What is dishonest? It’s harsh to call someone trying to make a living that but if I had to, It’s the salesman like guy in the BKK Food Court in Cabramatta who has 100 odd dishes on his menu which all taste the same, no joke I’ve tried the food there several times.

      Berowra was a different experience altogether, I probably wouldn’t use the term honest there as I’m not sure it would make sense, like you mentioned, nostalgia comes to mind and I’m not sure I can associate nostalgia to Berowra.

      Hope that makes sense, it’s a loose term which can be interpreted a few ways I guess.

      H.

  2. Fiona says:

    Sounds like a place every suburb needs! Nothing wrong with a little nostalgia!

  3. Cabramatta is full of hidden gems isn’t it ? Beautiful photography, this place is on my list for when I’m in the area next !

  4. betty says:

    i love this place i always go with mom n dad :)

  5. Moya says:

    In this case, I think “honest” means no agenda apart from making food that has centuries of tradition behind it. Places like Berowra Waters aim for a scenario of invention or modernism or some “creative” intention other than feeding your gob! Fascinating discussion though!

  6. I love dry hu tieu.. so delicious there!

  7. angie says:

    Don’t think I’ve ever had Cambodian before… and I so know what you mean by that ‘wok breath’, can’t seem to quite get it at home =D

    1. Howard says:

      Mum reckons the wok at home isn’t hot enough to get the wok breath, I think she’s right!

  8. Aimee says:

    Your photography makes this place look like a total gem! But you’re right on the food. It’s cheap and good food, like yourself I’ve been going to this place for as long as I could remember with my parents :)

  9. Nostalgia associated with past tastes as well as past experiences, I’m sure, plays a part, but then again if the food is good then it always speaks for itself. And especially so if it’s maintained the food quality over the years.

  10. Amra says:

    Hi Howard, awesome post! I have been having Cambo Hieu Tieu at Camira (across from AA) since I was a kid. You must give them a go, make sure you break up some dough sticks and mix it in. Yum!

    1. Howard says:

      Hi Amra. I love Camira as well, I usually have the salted fish fried rice and a side of crispy roast pork! Love their roast pork, their crackling is one of the best.