The sleepy western suburbs of Sydney may not seem like the most obvious place to drop a multi-million dollar food court. But it's certainly one of the smartest. Catering to the area's growing population (and large number of residents with southeast Asian backgrounds), Cabra-Vale Diggers — which straddles the border of Canley Vale and Cabramatta — has just completed a gigantic expansion of their premises, including a 600-seat food precinct, named District 8.
After eight months of construction, the club has turned 2000 square metres of space into an all-day diner, which is open from 9am till late every day of the week.
As the name suggests, District 8 will have eight food offerings, and vendors have been organised in a way that feels like a culinary voyage through the countries of the Mekong River. You'll be able to get everything from dumplings, congee, noodles and baked goods, to jellyfish salad, poached Hainan chicken, beef massaman curry and crispy silver fish green mango salad. There will also be a dessert area and a bar.
The food precinct's design is an architectural marvel to behold. Over 5000 pieces of red timber hang from the ceiling and 2000 roof tiles were imported from China to give the ultra-modern space an authentic Asian feel. If that doesn't work for you, then maybe the 266 Maneki Neko that were imported from China to form a huge 'waving arm cat' wall will.
"We have created 'streets' and walkways throughout the scheme, surrounded by columns, plants and Hong Kong-style illuminated signage to really give that feeling of being outdoors," says Tina Fox, project manager of Altis Architects, who painstakingly designed nine mock-ups before completing the project, two of them to scale.
"There is some logic behind District 8, as some Asian countries are divided into districts," says Boris Belevski, CEO of Cabra-Vale Diggers. "Not only does the number eight imply good fortune, but there will be eight vendors."
District 8 is part two of an $18 million four-stage renovation to the food offerings at the Diggers. A restaurant and cafe have already opened on the premises, with a steakhouse and a dining room for the venue's new hotel the next stages to be completed.
Cabra-Vale Diggers and District 8 is now open daily from 9am till late at 1 Bartley Street, Canley Vale. For more information, visit cabravale.com.au.