Well, the top international restaurants Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, really, as we didn’t include the rest of this country. Some of the results are surprising. Words by Nick Ross

 

Vietnam is an eating and drinking country and customers vote with their feet. But which eateries do they like the most? And what do these restaurants do to make the customers happy?

 

This is the task we gave our 100-plus judges living in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Tell us which restaurants you like the most, and if possible, tell us why. We didn’t get much on the ‘why’ front — more a case of how we can improve our questionnaire — but we asked for people’s top tens. Here is how the voting went.

 


 

Ho Chi Minh City

 

How can a pizza restaurant, no matter how quirky and offbeat, be voted the top restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City? This is a question we asked ourselves last year. Now we ask it again.

 

Does it mean the quality of international restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City is below par? Or does it mean that Pizza 4P’s, which once again tops our restaurant list, has a damn good product?

 

We go for the latter. With five restaurants in the country and counting, Pizza 4P’s has brought a much-loved Japanese twist to the art of making a fine pizza. An overwhelming 61.7% of our judges included them in their top 10 list making 4P’s the runaway winner.

 

Heading the rest of the pack was the archetype of culinary consistency, Au Parc, which gained 42.6% of our judge’s votes, and then the New York-style Italian, Ciao Bella, a percentage point behind.

 

Also making the Top 10 in Saigon was Ganesh, one of the best Indian restaurants in Vietnam, The Deck, which sells Asian fusion cuisine on the banks of the Saigon River, and one of our own favourites, Stoker. It’s not only their steak which gets the juices flowing, but their gin cocktails as well.

 

And coming in at equal 10th was Boat House with its riverside setting and its Tex-Mex, American-influenced cuisine. After a few years struggling to know how to bring in the customers, the last 12 months has brought this restaurant a renaissance. They should be proud.

 

The Top 10

 

1) Pizza 4P’s

2) Au Parc

3) Ciao Bella

4) El Gaucho

5) Ganesh

6) Quan Ut Ut

7) Sorae Sushi Lounge

8) The Deck

9) Stoker

=10) Baba’s Kitchen

=10)  Boat House

 

Just Outside The Top 10

 

Relish & Sons

Blanchy Street

MAD House

The Racha Room

Elbow Room

Lubu

Soul Burger

Refinery

Mekong Merchant

 


Hanoi

 

If we look at the voting criteria we asked our judges to use, then Hanoi’s Top 10 makes sense. Quality of food was top of the list, but we included value for money, service, décor and the overall experience.

 

This year’s top three reflected all these criteria, but in contrasting ways. Cousins, coming in at number one, is known for its laid-back atmosphere and excellent, French-inspired comfort food cuisine. French Grill, voted a close second, is one of only a few restaurants in the city that is top-end. Despite its out-of-the-way location in My Dinh, it’s one of the best options in the capital if you want to go five-star. Moose & Roo Smokehouse provides another contrast. Its outdoor ambience in the American Club and its downtown location are aided by excellent smoked and barbecued meats with smooth service and prices that don’t break the bank.

 

Also making the top 10 were newcomer, Hanoi Taco Bar, and the French favourite, La Badiane. Da Paolo was there once again, although this year it slipped out of the top two, while Canadian-inspired Don’s Tay Ho, long-running Indian restaurant Foodshop 45 and Chops fill up what we believe to be a representative list of Hanoi’s best.

 

The Top 10

 

1) Cousins

2) French Grill

3) Moose & Roo Smokehouse

=4) Hanoi Taco Bar

=4) La Badiane

6) Maison de Tet

7) Da Paolo

=8) Chops

=8) Don’s Tay Ho

=8) Foodshop 45

 

Just Outside The Top 10

 

The Republic

The Fat Pig

Salt ‘n Lime

Linguini Fini

Jackson’s Steakhouse

 


 

Voting Criteria

 

We asked our judges to vote on their favourite restaurants based on the following criteria:

— Quality of Food

— Value for Money

— Service

— Decor

— Overall Experience

 

107 judges took part in our survey.

 

Nick Ross

Chief editor and co-founder of Word Vietnam, Nick Ross was born in the humble city of London before moving to the less humble climes of Vietnam. His wanderings have taken him to definitely not enough corners of the globe, but being a constant optimist, he still has hopes.

Website: twitter.com/nickrossvietnam

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