While the country is known as a tropical jungle, its southern metropolis can fairly be said to lack sufficient areas to create what foreigners might consider ‘optimal’ living conditions. It’s a reasonable criticism, but it’s not without remedy.
Hiding in Plain Sight
Family Garden has been around for almost two years, but most people don’t know about it. Almost hiding in plain sight, if you drive down Thao Dien with even a modicum of urgency, it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it situation. The modest signage has always been there though, and if you make that left, just after the entrance to Thao Dien Sports Centre, you’ll soon be transported into a tranquil, other-worldly garden space. That’s Family Garden.
Already popular with families, and apparently well known amongst District 2’s French expats, the purpose of the space is three-fold; to offer a peaceful sanctuary for escape, a fully organic market to buy produce from, and to give people the opportunity to grow their own vegetables on a rented plot of land, which you can do for VND650,000 per month.
Walking in for the first time is a revelation. “How long has this been here?” you’ll be asking yourself, right before you sit down to enjoy one of a range of locally grown fruit juices (VND30,000), under one of many shaded canopies. You should feel the stress of the street lift right off you, as you admire what has been created here; an oasis of silence, bamboo and all things good from the earth. There’s a creek, beds to lie down on and even bunny rabbits, peacefully going about their day among the vegetable plots; it’s all very Beatrix Potter.
At the front is a family-friendly playground and a reasonable space for your next company picnic, though this is not Snap Café, so don’t expect a full Western menu and waiters eager to fill your drinks. The pace here is intentionally much slower, and the vibe is very local.
From Monday to Friday the lunch special is egg omelette with boiled vegetables (VND50,000) and there is a range of other options, but best to let the kitchen know in advance. When I asked about the chicken on our visit I was told to wait an hour, so my advice is to pop by first and check out the options, you won’t be disappointed.
If the locally grown produce is more your thing, fruit and veg (VND40,000 per kilo) and leafy greens (VND50,000 per kilo) are available till sold out.
Family Garden is at 28 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC and is open from 8.30am to 8.30pm every day. Bookings can be made on 0913 662887 or you can check them out at facebook.com/familygarden.familyfood