Vietnamese tapas joint Viet Next Door hasn’t even opened yet, but its slick fit-out by Genesin Studio is already turning heads.

The highly anticipated Pennington restaurant won Best Restaurant Design at the Eat Drink Design Awards in Melbourne last month, topping Sydney’s Fred’s, Ume Burger and 12-Micron. It also beat Melbourne’s Cutler & Co, Workshop Brothers and The George on Collins.

"We didn’t think we were going to win, there were a lot of strong entries," says designer Ryan Genesin. The annual awards are dedicated to innovative design in new food and drink spaces across Australia and New Zealand.

Viet Next Door’s carefully considered interior features neutral tones, booth seating, eggshell mosaic tables and plenty of granite – on the walls, the floor and the central bar. The jury cited “artisanal crafting” and inventive and rich attention to detail for its decision, describing an “impressive and strangely atmospheric” space despite its simplicity.

Sydney venues picked up four awards: Campos Barangaroo (Woods Bagot) for Best Retail Design; Noma Australia (Foolscap Studio) for Best Installation Design; and The Dolphin Hotel (George Livissianis) in Paddington for Best Bar Design; while Potts Point’s “timelessly theatrical” Fratelli Paradiso (designed by the late Mike Murphy) joined the Eat Drink Design Awards’ Hall of Fame.

Morris and Heath (Ritz & Ghougassian), 25 kilometres south west of Melbourne’s CBD, won Best Cafe Design. The lauded Jackalope Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula received Best Identity Design (Fabio Ongarato Design).

Adelaide venues Shobosho, St Hugo and Smallfry Seafood were shortlisted but didn’t take home an award.

The jury was made up of Ingrid Richards (co-founder, Richards & Spence Architects), Nat Cheshire (Director, Cheshire Architects), Vanessa Crichton (General Manager, Rockpool Bar & Grill), Ross Lusted (chef and owner, The Bridge Room) and Cassie Hansen (editor, Artichoke magazine).

Each winner receives a cash prize of $1500. All projects can be viewed online at

Viet Next Door is expected to open in early 2018.

This article was updated on December 19, 2018.

For Adelaide’s latest, subscribe to the Broadsheet newsletter.