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, our Grand Jury has 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.
So, without further ado, here’s the final selection in no particular order. Vote below and learn more after the poll. Polling closes at 5pm Vietnam local time on 4 November 2020. Also note, the system will only recognize your first vote.
You can vote for Bar of 2020 here.
The results will be disclosed when we announce the full range of winners of our #BanhmiAwards 2020 on 5 November 2020 at Mai House Saigon Hotel.
The shortlist of the best restaurants in Saigon in 2020
Led by last year's Chef of the Year winner Julien Perraudin, Quince is a fail-safe date night venue and one of Saigon's best-regarded casual fine dining establishments. The team kept innovating throughout the covid-related shutdowns, with Staples by Quince delivering everything from party-ready cocktails to set lunches.
Quince’s slew of pop-up collaborations and concept dinners ranging from Catalan calçots to Fire Dinner series with Koutarou Kiyota consistently push the bar for creativity and quality. Our jury also noted the restaurant’s commitment to supporting the community: during lockdown, Quince donated a day's revenue to Saigon's Children Charity.
Beloved by hungry locals and out-of-towners alike, Peter Cuong Franklin’s Anan Saigon has been a familiar downtown fixture since 2017 and remains top of the charts despite competition from new players. The reasons for Anan's longevity are manifold.
First, Chef Peter’s vision to put Vietnam’s pho and banh mi on equal footing with the more established cuisines of Thailand and Hong Kong has certainly resonated with the patrons. Then there’s the mini-empire of concepts that Chef Peter has spun out of Anan: a nesting doll of smaller, yet larger-than-life venues including Nhau Nhau and the newly opened Pot Au Pho.
Octo Tapas Restobar
HYPEAsia, the team behind Octo Tapas Restobar keeps on dishing out new exciting concepts such as Godmother Bake & Brunch and Roka Fella, but it’s the group’s flagship dining concept, Octo, that has earned the thumbs up from our Grand Jury this year, having made it into the shortlist.
It’s hard to pin down the exact moment Octo was unofficially crowned the top tapas spot in town, but should the public (or the Grand Jury) name it Restaurant of the Year, this lofty status will be cemented.
Sol Kitchen & Bar
Latin American cuisine is new to Saigon, relatively speaking. So Sol Kitchen & Bar has the honor (but also the burden) of introducing Vietnamese diners to authentic ceviche, chorizo and churros not “watered down” to fit mainstream tastes. The Malaysian chef owner Adrian Chong Yen does it with aplomb, serving his flavorful creations among the towering cacti.
The Jury was unanimous in agreeing that Sol’s early promise can be turned into a sustained success story.
A force to be reckoned with, Pizza 4P's didn’t let force majeure events like the global pandemic get in the way of expansion. From launching a new line of craft beer to hosting the widely-covered World Peace Week in partnership with Ki Saigon, the group has stayed true to the founders’ mission to spread happiness and peace.
The pioneers of sustainable dining and farming in Vietnam, the 4P’s team never stops innovating and leading the way in running a green business.
The Monkey Gallery
A dessert bar or a sophisticated dinner spot? The Monkey Gallery delivers both: complex confections are served on the ground floor, with the main dining room upstairs providing a minimalist background for a culinary experience rich in flavor and color.
With no visual distractions, the focus is on the food and each other. A perfect low-key downtown venue for a date night or a spot of people-watching.
Francis Thuan, Esta Eatery’s Head Chef trained under the best in the industry (before opening Esta, he worked under Quince’s Julien Perraudin), yet it remains to be seen if he succeeded in writing his own story with Esta.
Opening to much fanfare - twice, with a recent relocation - Esta has managed to grow its own loyal customer base with cuisine that has Saigon’s dining crowd hungry for more.
With a finger firmly on Saigon’s pulse, Tribe Hospitality knew exactly what they were doing when they chose Thao Dien as the second Stoker location. A sophisticated, dark and moody venue is perfectly in tune with the founders’ ambition to have Stoker in Asia's Top 50 and other regional lists.
So where does it stack with our readers?
Although these venues didn’t make the shortlist this year, Xu Saigon, El Gaucho and Au Parc Saigon have been mentioned more than a few times by the Grand Jury during the heated debate. Much loved by the city’s old-timers and new arrivals alike, these Saigon institutions have proved time and again that consistency, focus on customer experience and staying true to one’s identity translate to customer loyalty.
Nomination and voting timeline
5 - 10 October 2020 – each committee member votes, anonymously, for ten favorites from best restaurants, bars, brands, and more across eight categories, in no particular order. 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.
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.