Eating Western-Asian way in Ho Chi Minh City

Travelling always brings out my craving for comfort food, all that yummy stuff from your home country to keep you going on the road. We all know those times when good food gets you through a bad day.

If you’re in Ho Chi Minh City – head over to ‘Scott & Jeremy’s’ – a fusion of Western and Asian cooking. ‘SnJ’ as it’s sometimes referred to on Facebook has been serving up great food since 2010 and began as a collaborative effort between Scott, an American chef with 20 years of experience, and Singaporean chef Jeremy Cheok as an experimental fusion of flavor and styles.

I’ll soon be on the road again on another silly visa run over the border – it’s so 1950’s, pointless and time-consuming – this time back to Cambodia by bus with my usual pit-stop in Ho Chi Minh City for a night each way. I’ve done this so many times that I finally found ‘Scott’s place’ as it’s usually called.

In the past year, I’ve grown rather fond of Scott & Jeremy’s, which is only a five-minute walk (or a minute by taxi) from the heart of District 1 and is situated in a quiet street just north of District 1’s parkland area at 40 Dang Thi Nhu Street.

District 1 is full of eateries, but Scott’s place is gourmet comfort food. You might think it’s only a hamburger but boy, what a hamburger! It might just be meatballs but you’ve not tasted meatballs that good in a long time. I think you get my drift…

Seating, service and prices are quite reasonable considering the quality and the quantity of the meals. Downstairs and upstairs are air-conditioned (as they should be) and there’s a lovely, quiet open-air balcony upstairs which is perfect for a relaxed meal with friends. Otherwise just bring a book and slowly work your way through the menu.

I could go on but my real point is Scott’s passion for his food. The problem with so many places offering Western-style food is it’s ‘ok’, but somehow soul-less in terms of its appearance, aroma and in its combination with other food. I guess some chefs have that magical eye for color and the imagination to mix up recipes just enough to whet your appetite based only on the descriptions. 

The other aspect is getting to chat with the chef about the menu too. Scott’s culinary knowledge is so immense yet he never talks down to you – he makes you feel like a collaborator in the dining experience. One of the nicest parts of the service here is the suggestion of alternative choices in condiments and ingredients – a black spot in service I encounter all over Vietnam and even overseas.

How’s this sound? The Black Forest Ham Sandwich with shaved Black Forest ham, tomato, goat cheese with roasted garlic and rocket leaves on grilled sourdough.

Or the Sweet Thai Chili with crisp romaine, shredded cabbage, carrot, daikon, fresh herbs, cherry tomato, cucumber, onion, red and green peppers, toasted garlic, Thai sweet chili sauce vinaigrette – feeling hungry yet?

Scott is there most nights as he also operates ‘La Fiesta’ – a Tex-Mex restaurant, located across the street, which is possibly the best of its kind in the city based on its popularity, fame and reputation. Both he and his wife hover about with great tips on service and wine recommendations too.

Scott and Jeremy’s can cater for larger crowds too as the upstairs dining area is well-suited to bigger table settings that leave guests downstairs undisturbed. It’s a sensible arrangement that I wish other restaurants in Vietnam would consider. I do get tired of trying to relax over dinner with a full-on party meters away from me in full swing.

So, if you’re in need of some real comfort food inside the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City – head over to Scott and Jeremy’s!

Note: do try the chocolate lava cake…it’s almost surreally good.

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