Peter Cornish, AsiaLIFE’s resident vegetarian, checks out a new vegan cafe hidden just around the corner in the hems of Thao Dien. Photos by Romain Garrigue.

Tucked away just around the corner, among the warren of small roads at the top end of Thao Dien peninsular, sits a small café in the shadow of Tropic Garden tower block. Walk through the front door and you are welcomed to an oasis of calm tranquillity, in what is as much a shop as it is a cafe.

High ceilings and white washed walls create an open, airy space divided by a large archway, separating the café area from the shop. Pass through a large glass door at the back of the café to a small courtyard, dominated by a central tree casting shadows over the walled seating as the sun moves through the sky.

Hanging from the ceiling are potted plants in coconut shells suspended from a lattice of wires, while more potted plants sit throughout the room, adding to the ambience of calm. An eclectic mix of second-hand chairs and tables, wooden desks and vintage cabinets add a rustic feel to the place, complimenting the modern shelving that houses much of the shops wares.

Owner Su Meletzki created GATC as an homage to Vietnam, as a space to encourage mindful awareness of the environment around us, and as a place to display her work as a designer and potter. Earthenware and ceramics covered in traditional Vietnamese designs adorn the shop’s shelves.

Limited edition clothing by Pilgrim, made from leftover fabrics, hang next to a small changing room in a corner.

Colourful soaps by Vietnamese duo Le Mai, notebooks by Reborn, a local upcycling project, and gift cards colourfully capturing local scenes by a Sri Lankan illustrator sit next to large glass jars full of bamboo straws, eco-friendly cutlery and purple soaps made from natural ingredients.

The food fits with the interior; healthy, homely, fresh and refreshing.

The plant-based vegan menu is not big, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste and healthiness. We were first presented with a green smoothie bowl (VND95,000) blending pineapple, banana, and kale or baby spinach, depending on what is available on the day.

Mixed with this were frozen berries, home-made granola and Vietnamese hot e, Vietnamese chia seeds.

A deliciously healthy start to the day!

Next up was the cold platter (VND195,000) served up with thick slices of home-made vegan bread, smoked cashew nut cheese, herb and garlic cashew cheese, mango chutney from Sri Lanka, tomatoes and a halved passionfruit. Accompanying this were an ice coffee and coconut (VND35,000), orange juice with lemon grass (VND65,000) and a coconut, hot e and mango juice (VND75,000), all unique and mouth-wateringly refreshing.

Green Around The Corner has limited seating and is the sort of place you want to keep to yourself to make sure there’s somewhere to sit when you pop by. As word spreads its popularity will increase so be sure you visit soon!   

23 Street 61, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City