Everything about eating at Ploughman’s Garden lends itself to an intimacy usually far removed from your run-on-of-the-mill café experience — and that is largely due to the fact that nothing about Ploughman’s Garden is ordinary. Firstly, it is chiefly located in Seiko Katsumaru’s backyard. Seiko opened the Saigon location in January of this year and her housemates work as cooks and waiting staff for the restaurant. This combination serves to make you feel instantly welcomed and at ease.
From the moment you arrive, there is a sense of tranquility that accompanies your dining experience. The seating is limited and community style, so this sense of closeness extends to your fellow patrons, who could easily transform from strangers to friends in the course of a meal. There is a genuine sense of unity in the experience of eating at Ploughman’s Garden, at least when it comes to supporting sustainability and chemical-free foods.
The Ploughman’s Empire
Ploughman’s Garden is the second in the Ploughman’s “empire” — there is already a Ploughman’s Lunch Bakery owned by Seiko’s best friend in Japan. Though both restaurants are housed out of homes and have limited menus and hours (Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am to 4pm at Ploughman’s Garden) they differ in that Ploughman’s Garden uses no meat, milk or white sugar in their food. At Ploughman’s Lunch Bakery they make more western-style food while Ploughman’s Garden leans towards eastern fare, specifically Japanese.
This eatery is also different from other local vegetarian restaurants. They grow some of their own vegetables — adopting more of the holistic ethos vegetarianism has taken on in other places. The restaurant also composts, recycles and tries to limit waste.
Seiko opened Ploughman’s Garden because she wanted transparency when it came to her food. Not only did she want to know where her food came from and what was in it, she also wanted to know who was making her food and how.
The menu is constantly changing, but you can count on everything tasting homemade — from the type of home that produces well-seasoned dishes. The Ploughman’s Lunch Plate (VND120,000), a hearty sampler of typical Ploughman offerings, is a perfect introduction to Seiko’s wonderful food. It consists of a delicious teriyaki eggplant, carrot and ginger sushi roll, and three small Japanese–style dishes: Kinpira of nutty lotus roots, a luscious deep-fried spicy potato spring roll and an organic vegetable salad dressed in a bright garlic coriander dressing. It gives you the feeling that you’ve not only come upon a lunchtime oasis, but you’ve drunk from its clear waters. — Jacklynn Blanchard
Ploughman’s Garden is at No. 58, Duong So 1, Tran Nao, Q2, Ho Chi Minh City