With restaurants, chefs and trends changing weekly in Vietnam, keeping track of all that’s new and noteworthy can sometimes feel like a losing battle. Undaunted, our 18-strong awards committee has taken on the Herculean task of curating a list of nominees for this year’s Vietnam Restaurant & Bar awards.
Supporting them with insights gleaned from interviews with industry leaders and by analyzing historical data and trends are our best eyes and ears on the ground – Vietcetera’s editors.
Who’s making the list?
So who are they, the committee members? Our judges are industry professionals, key opinion leaders and foodie personalities – all influential in their respective fields and deeply rooted in the local food scene.
Despite tightly packed calendars, they have generously volunteered their time and expertise. Like us, they take pride in Vietnam’s rising profile as Asia’s foodie mecca and want to see our culinary heroes and rising stars celebrated.
Meet the judges
Before they get to work, there are field notes to pore over, promising upstarts to be put to test and former favorite haunts to be revisited – all in the name of good food and drink.
Where some of us might retreat in defeat when faced with a dish perhaps a bit too daring or a trend too out-there, our experts won’t throw in a kitchen towel quite so hastily. To the contrary: they relish the opportunity to sink their teeth into the weird-and-wonderful.
Traditionalists needn’t worry. Amid all the novelty, the quiet attraction of a well-executed martini, a balanced pho or an expertly browned steak is not lost on our judges either. Regardless of the venue’s persuasion, if it has been on everybody’s lips, rest assured, it’s on the committee’s radar.
Nomination and voting timeline
5 - 10 October 2020 – each committee member votes, anonymously, for ten favorite restaurants and ten favorite bars for two key awards , in no particular order. Eight venues with the most votes in each category make it on the shortlist.
28 October 2020 – the Grand Jury meets for the second round of voting. Best restaurant and best bar votes are cast.
28 October 2020 – Vietcetera editors vote in the Social Responsibility category, Brand to Watch, Neighborhood Hangout of the Year, Design of the Year, Bartender of the Year and Chef of the Year categories.
30 October 2020 – the shortlist of venues is revealed and public poll goes live.
4 November 2020 – public poll closes.
5 November 2020 – ‘People’s Choice’, ‘Grand Jury’ and ‘Editors’ Pick’ winners are announced at the awards ceremony at Mai House Saigon.
Social Responsibility Award presented by WeWork
We all love an organization that gives back to the community. This year, we’re highlighting businesses dedicated to making the world a smarter, safer, healthier and more sustainable place.
Brand to Watch presented by Concha Y Toro
Small businesses are what makes Vietnam’s food and beverage so vibrant and diverse. We love to watch restaurants and bars capture the heart of locals and thrive to become a brand.
This is an award that celebrates businesses that are on the way to becoming a bigger name.
The Neighborhood Hangout of the Year presented by Johnnie Walker
Saigon’s booming neighborhood scenes deserve a shout-out. From hip cafes offering decent eats to no-nonsense bars serving up great drinks, these are the venues that are packed every night of the week.
Design of the Year by Mai House Saigon Hotel
A good interior design can do as much for a venue as good food, drinks and service can. We prepared a list of establishments to spotlight some of the venue designs that raised the standard this year.
Bartender of the Year presented by Lighthouse Group Indochina
As the cocktail renaissance reaches Vietnam, the drinking venues once confined to beer and shots now seeing more excitement and talent than ever! This award celebrates the most talented bartenders plying their trade in Vietnam.
Chef of the Year presented by Interporc Spain
Behind the amazing dishes that all of us get to enjoy at a restaurant, are the long hours in often uncomfortable workplaces. This award recognizes the essence of every restaurant’s success and the passion that every chef puts into their menu.
Bar of the Year presented by Speed POS
(People’s Choice & Grand Jury awards)
You don’t really know Saigon if you haven’t experienced its lively and incredible nightlife. From speakeasies to amazing rooftop bars, we’re on our way to find out the bars picked by the Grand Jury and People’s Choice.
Restaurant of the Year presented by Lavie
(People’s Choice & Grand Jury awards)
As the number of restaurants helping to shape Vietnam’s culinary scene continues to rise, venues deserving a visit have started to pile up.
This year, to celebrate the most notable ones, we’ve put together a shortlist of restaurants that not only deliver brilliant food, but also come with a full package of outstanding service, decor, food and drinks.
As our judges visit restaurants and bars throughout the year, they do so as regular paying customers and receive no special treatment. As they cast their votes, first for the shortlist and later for the winners, they base their decision solely on their personal experiences and are not influenced in any way by Vietcetera advertisers, partners or friends.
Though their tastes differ, our judges are united in their passion for quality dining and seek out outstanding experiences and locally-grown talent. Comprising both established industry professionals and up-and-coming foodie personalities, the committee is as diverse as Vietnam’s food and beverage landscape itself.
Nominees nation-wide in Vietnam that opened before October 1st, 2019 are eligible for awards.
For ‘Chef of the Year’ and ‘Bartender of the Year’ categories, the contender must have been employed by the current venue, in any capacity, for at least six months.
How to attend
Although the Vietnam Restaurant & Bar awards are invitation-only, tickets to the first edition of the Vietnam Food & Beverage Conference 2020 include an invitation to the awards ceremony at Mai House Saigon. Conference attendees can expect panel discussions, fireside chats, and immersive brand experiences that will explore topics like emerging food technology, investment, and sustainability. Tickets can be purchased online.