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Tatler’s Best, Michelin Guide, Gourmet Traveller Awards, Time Out… These are but a few of highly sought after commendations and listings that dining establishments strive to attain or be included in as it can be a great marketing tool to attract discerning customers. Some would categorize their awards, listings based on independent assessments on establishments’ food, ambiance, price, and service and from there optionally rank them using their own rating systems. Others accept solicitations for reviews and can be supported by advertising.

Award-giving bodies can boast global reach such as British magazine Restaurant’s “The World's 50 Best Restaurants” while the much coveted Michelin Guide covers only about a dozen countries but is considered to be the pinnacle of restaurant recognition due to its strict and uncompromising review system. There are also commendations made by magazines, websites and TV shows that are regional, country- or city-wide in scope. Big publications such as the Tatler, a group of high society magazines in several countries come out with a dedicated title for their top restaurant choices (mostly fine dining). Time Out, a popular city listing published in almost a hundred cities, compiles and categorizes its recommendations from casual to fine dining.

Needless to say, an establishment which garners such awards would usually meticulously frame the certificates and even include details of their award in their press releases and other marketing materials. For restaurants that have multiple awards and/or several awards from the same awarding body but for several years, it makes a better impression if these are arranged all in a row in a conspicuous part of the store.

Though the information shared by awarding institutions can be a guide in selecting a fine-dining restaurant for a special date or a VIP function, it may not necessarily cover establishments that are not as high profile but offer great food and service. Though most publications are recognized and respected by consumers, critics, the media and dining establishments, a wise diner shouldn’t decide which restaurants to patronize solely because of its inclusions in listings. There are countless establishments that offer excellent world-class cuisine and service yet are not featured in any list.

For the lack of an award, the wise diner can gauge a restaurant popularity is to see if there’s a big crowd consistently waiting patiently in line to get in. A Japanese restaurant frequented by Japanese expatriates can be a good indication of that establishment’s authentic fare.

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