For just nine days, Auburn Botanical Gardens plays host to the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival. So what is there to eat and do there? Come along and take a peek and see what is good to eat at the Sydney Cherry Blossom festival!
The Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival has been going for seven years now and in that time it has developed quite a following if the crowds are anything to go by (read: it is hectic and crowded on the weekends!).
The food is a big feature at the festival with around 30 stalls on the weekends and much of it is Japanese inspired, cherry blossom inspired or simply coloured pink. So without further ado, here are some of our favourite eats at the festival (in no particular order).
Cherry Blossom Burger at Chur Burger
There are three burgers available at the Chur Burger stand (two beef and a chicken burger) as well as a hot dog. We try the Cherry Blossom Burger ($15) with grilled beef, American cheese, caramelised onion, shiso vinegar, lettuce, pickled pink radish, Japanese BBQ sauce and miso mayonnaise. It's like everything good in an American burger with flavours from Japan and the whole thing comes in a bright pink, soft bun. It's pretty damn delicious and saucy-have the napkins handy!
Adam Liaw's Cherry Blossom Bento
One of my favourite eats was also one of the biggest challenges to make for the festival for Tsuru food truck. MasterChef alum, tv host and cookbook writer Adam Liaw created a bento box ($20) for the Cherry Blossom festival. It's a sizeable bento filled with a main of tangerine peel and ginger flavoured pork shougayaki atop a bed of 12 grain rice, a bonito cured ramen egg, sesame and hazelnut spinach gomae, shiitake, carrot and daikon nimono (simmered vegetables) and tsukemono (pickles) of pink radish, salted cucumber and cabbage. The rice and the pork are delicious with a good amount of sauce to them while the spinach gomae is also a favourite.
Supersize Stroopwaffel at StroopBros
One of the biggest hits was the supersized stroopwaffel ($8) from the StroopBros stand (that also sells ice cream cookie sandwiches - see above). Two thin soft, chewy waffles are sandwiched with a syrupy caramel filling. Usually stroopwafels are found on the shelf in stores so it's quite a treat to get a freshly made one and a giant one at that.
Jumbo Coconut Shrimp With Sakura Rice At Get Shrimped
Another favourite savoury is the jumbo coconut shrimp ($16) from the Get Shrimped stand. They mean it when they say jumbo shrimp and these are coconut battered shrimp with a sweet chilli mayo sauce and pink sakura rice. The shrimp are crunchy on the outside while still succulent inside.
Rainbow Fairy Floss At My Sweet Memory
Tip: if you want to attract a lot of attention, carry one of My Sweet Memory's giant fairy flosses ($10) around. Excruciatingly shy Mr NQN was mortified by the attention that he was getting carrying this. As for the flavour, it has that indistinct but pleasant sugary flavour.
Bubble Tea Drinks At Bubble Tea Truck
Bubble Tea Truck by Tsuru is a food festival regular-they had the light bulb drinks at Vivid and this time they've got capsule shaped drinks in resusable cups. The lychee green tea iced tea has actual lychee flavoured tapioca balls (usually they're not a particular flavour) and the strawberry milk is also delicious with strawberry flavoured balls.
Taiyaki at Otsu
Otsu sell taiyakis ($5) or fish shaped pastries in three flavours: custard, matcha and Nutella. A warning: the Nutella sells out quickly so go early if you want one!
Coffee in Cones at Pull'n Shots
Why have a coffee in a takeaway cup when you can have one in a chocolate lined cone? I mean you're really just doing something for the environment then. Or at least that's what you can say to yourself when you order a Pull'n Shots ice cream cone coffee. There's even a cherry blossom themed one with a red velvet milk latte topped with rose petals and pink pashmak.
Sakura Donuts at Demochi Donuts
People go crazy for Demochi's mochi donuts where the texture is different from a regular donut because of the sweet glutinous rice flour used. These are best when they're warm and the donuts at the festival have a strawberry sakura glaze with chocolate balls and honey powder. Yes they're sweet but the chewy texture is addictive!
Tips for the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival:
Parking near the festival is a challenge. Take public transport (shuttle buses will take you from the station) or just be prepared to walk a distance.
Entry fee is $10 per person on the day or $7.50 pre-booked online. Entry is free for Cumberland residents and children under 16. On weekends it can get extremely crowded. The 21st of August is Kid's Day.
Some food vendors are cash only so bring along cash to avoid disappointment. Also be prepared to queue for a while on weekends between 12-2pm.
From Monday to Friday there are a limited amount of food vendors but the main action with the full deck of food stalls is only on the weekends.
There is live music with lots of performers and a sake bar.
If you want to get that gorgeous solo Instagram pic of you in the cherry blossom avenue get there at 9am on a week day. Any later and you'll be sharing those blossoms with hundreds of others.
Bring a picnic blanket to sit on for your lunch. There are tables to sit at but there are limited.
The cherry blossom avenue is just starting to bloom and on the opening weekend it was not bountiful. Also it's a difference experience from Hanami or cherry blossom viewing in Japan where the cherry blossoms are more plentiful and you have picnics besides hundreds of cherry blossom trees. Rather it is walking down a modest avenue of trees, taking a snap and then moving on.
There are adult activities like forest bathing (walking through a forest, meditation) as well as activities for kids like Hello Kitty Pop Up Party and Lazy Cinema with Gudetama the lazy egg.
Dress ups are encouraged and there are Harajuku girls, kimono clad women, steampunk and goth costumes!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you been to the Cherry Blossom festival? Have you done Hanami in Japan? And which food did you like the sound of the best?
NQN was hired by Cumberland Council to take some pictures of the event with no obligation to blog but this review was written because she enjoyed the event.
Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival
98 Chiswick Road, Auburn
August 17-25, 2019