Little Saigon

LITTLE SAIGON

Little saigon

Little Saigon was established by David Mochan asi his second bistro focused on vietnamese cuisine. In late october 2018, he bought space for this new bistro. His mission? Serving authentic vietnamese dishes from quality and fresh ingredients. Thoroughly control all food preparation processes — from securing his own breed of bulls through greenhouse-grown herbs to methodical approach to cooking and serving. To create a place that everyone in Brno should visit — whether with colleagues for lunch, a business meeting, an exotic dinner with a significant other or for a drink.

Scope of project

November 2018—August 2019

Photography
Motion design
Logo design and branding

CHALLENGE

Create a brand that doesn’t look stereotypicaly asian. Bring the bistro to the attention of Brno’s foodies, in spite of it being a bit far off from city centre.

OUTCOME

By designing logo and branding, we helped David set up his business as a modern, comfortable place that does not look like a typical Vietnamese bistro.

How is it going to look?

This needed to be resolved as soon as possible. We were invited to this project about two months before the planned opening. We immediately started researching everything we could get our hands on, from competition and customers to Vietnamese cuisine as a whole.

It was clear from the beginning that the appearance of the bistro should not evoke Asia or Eastern traditions. It should feel contemporary, fresh, maybe slightly hipster. We have designed three directions to follow — typographic, avant-garde and modernized traditional style.

Work on the logo was the top priority, while we dealt with branding in the background. Who the company targets are; what is the bistro’s mission and how it wants to achieve it. What it stands for, what values are important and how to communicate them to the inside and outside world. Based on the observations of David’s customers from his first bistro, we have created target groups as well as personalities of the company and its guests.

How to let the city know?

“We are preparing a new business focused on Vietnamese cuisine” was the message we shared through posters, flyers and banners to the foodies of Brno. First on the premises of the first bistro, then on social networks and in printed form through befriended businesses.

We also came up with few claims during our brainstorming sessions that help to define Little Saigon from the first bistro. The new place was ready to satisfy and even surpass the wishes of current and new customers alike. These slogans were arranged on places where people often wait for their orders, because they often read things around while seated. Some of the printed claims even found its way to their take-away bags.

We thought of the location of Little Saigon as a possible complication. One stop from the main traffic junction in Brno is not much, but it is located in a neighborhood where people have no reason to spend time unless they work or live in direct proximity. Although this was supposed to change very quickly with the construction of new offices, we did not want to leave it to chance. We tried to make the location of the new bistro as understandable as possible.

As part of this, we made two videos — one showing the way to Saigon from the city center, the other showing the way from the newly built offices.

Creating original menu

This was a real challenge. David wanted unusual, playful and easy to change menu. Together we thought of using the principle of the five elements on which Vietnamese cuisine stands — each of which represents taste, color, ingredient and an organ. Their mixing in dishes creates a perfect interplay of flavors. We wanted to highlight the most distinctive element of each meal and break down the menu accordingly.

We put together and paired meals so that we stay true to their traditional division. The first idea was one element = one whole meal, with appetizer, main course and drink. In the next iteration, we came up with a “story-driven” menu with different ways and combinations of food and drinks. Every visit would be unique. Sounded interesting on paper, but it wasn’t practically feasible.

We ended up assembling the menu from light and fresh to heavy and spicy, then assigned colors/elements accordingly. That’s it.

We put together and paired meals so that we stay true to their traditional division. The first idea was one element = one whole meal, with appetizer, main course and drink. In the next iteration, we came up with a “story-driven” menu with different ways and combinations of food and drinks. Every visit would be unique. Sounded interesting on paper, but it wasn’t practically feasible.

We ended up assembling the menu from light and fresh to heavy and spicy, then assigned colors/elements accordingly. That’s it.

How to make you drool

Since we had full creative control over the project, we could try things we always wanted to do. Thus came the idea of doing a menu photoshoot, which was our first experience with flatlay food styling and food photography as a whole.

These photos were then used for promotion of Little Saigon on social media.

Even more original

Saigon exceeded all expectations, the staff didn’t took a break from the opening party at the beginning of February to the beginning of April. Then the number of visitors started to slowly stabilize, the bistro was already running on right track and so it was time to invent a new menu for summer season.

This time we wanted to try it in more of a DIY style, take advantage of the homelike feeling and authenticity that the customers valued Saigon for. At the same time it needed to be functional, not just a classic menu. We were inspired by Japanese samurai fans. Thanks to the common history of both nations, it was not much of a stretch as it may seem. The main part of the menu is made of PVC plate, set in a darkened wooden handle. In addition to the aesthetic impression, the menu fulfills two functional aspects — customers can learn from it the offer and at the same time they can actually use it as a fan and cool themselves on hot summer days.