Discover the virtues of sustainable vegan and vegetarian food and educational co-op classes in the comfort of a District 2 home. By Ruben Luong. Photos by Vinh Dao.
“I try to use food we grow ourselves or traceable products with no artificial chemicals,” says Seiko, the charming Japanese cook of District 2’s Ploughman’s Garden. “It gives me so much energy to eat natural. Being a part of nature is who we are.”
Seiko, who spent 10 years in Okinawa, where her best friend runs Ploughman’s sister bakery, makes anyone feel at home – and wholesome – with her homegrown vegan and vegetarian cuisine here in Saigon.
“This is my house and I like cooking and people like to eat. It’s just about being simple and sustainable,” she says.
Everyone is considered a friend. In the ground floor living room is a co-op space where patrons get together for ongoing raw vegan cooking workshops, yoga and small Spanish classes through Jaleo school.
This communal sensibility extends upstairs to Ploughman’s airy roof deck with tranquil vibes and salvaged wooden tables crowned by a palm-leaf roof canopy and therapeutic daylight.
These earthy environs complement the main menu, a modest but enticing selection of nourishing dishes. Ploughman’s offers generous portions, but it’s absolutely worth ordering every item off the menu for its eclectic tastes. After all it’s healthy, so it’s okay to be greedy.
For instance, the vegan Garden Lunch Plate (VND 120,000) comes with a vegetarian sushi roll that is a veritable condensed garden. It’s accompanied by samosas, kinpira (stir-fried lotus roots) and a salad of mashed potatoes covered in creamy pesto dressing.
A tofu, mushroom and vegetable patty sandwiched inside wheat pita bread and doused in a cashew mayonnaise sauce make up the veggie burger (VND 100,000), which is nutty, smoky and melts in the mouth.
Of course, nothing is better for the soul than the filling weekly curries (VND 88,000), such as Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese or Indian, which are all vegan and serve ample doses of comfort.
As for drinks, cheers to good health with Ploughman’s vegan smoothies, which incorporate either soy or cashew milk or honey and brown sugar instead of animal milk and white sugar.
One beverage you can drink for days is the homemade ginger ale (VND 50,000) with ginger syrup, lemon and sparkling soda, which will also surprise you with its remarkable flavour and simplicity.
And as if the menu couldn’t get any better, Ploughman’s offers vegan doughnuts (VND 40,000/two) in cinnamon and honey flavours using only flour, apple juice and yeast. They are genius and epitomise the beauty of nature’s gifts.