Business deals typically get finalized in the boardroom and the office. However, the real dealings often happen around lunch and dinner tables. In Asian tradition, meals are social events. And in Singapore, that often means business.
Lunchtime offers a more relaxed, lower-stress environment to talk business. It can also give one side the chance to impress the other. Even if the deal isn’t sealed over lunch, ties are strengthened – another important aspect of doing business in Singapore.
To do this, you’ll want to pick a spot that not only offers great food but also the ambience to match. After all, you would want to exceed your guest’s expectations. So we’ve listed five business scenarios with the restaurants best-suited for them.
For the Power Lunch
When you have to impress a shrewd CEO or high-powered exec, make a lunch reservation at FatCow. Japanese guests like to try their home-grown cuisine when abroad, so this is a great destination for them as well.
This Japanese-style steakhouse specializes in world-renowned Wagyu beef. The weekday set lunch isn’t cheap, but offers good value. Prices range from $32 to $68 for a main with salad, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), miso soup and dessert. The Fat Cow donburi (rice bowl) features charcoal-grilled Wagyu beef and a runny onsen-style boiled egg with shredded leeks over fluffy rice. There are also plenty of seafood dishes for something lighter.
High-end Japanese restaurants offer discreet service, and noise levels are kept low; Fat Cow is no different. It’s well worth the short taxi ride out of the central business district (CBD) to the Orchard Road area. If you have something confidential to discuss, private dining rooms are also available.
1 Orchard Boulevard, 01–02 Camden Medical Centre, Tel: 6735 0308
For the Out-of-towner
Business contacts from out of town often want to do a bit of sightseeing. So you should take them for a traditional Chinese meal at Empress, a restaurant at the iconic Asian Civilisations Museum. All indoor and alfresco seats in this tastefully decorated and light-filled space offer great views of the Singapore River and the Civic District. This means your guest can take in picturesque views of the island while you discuss business matters.
Empress’ three- or four-course lunch sets ($38 to $58) let you sample multiple dishes. Steamed spinach-seafood dumplings, the Empress char siew (roast pork) and Peking duck are must-tries. The restaurant adds a touch of elegance to serene surroundings and offers terrific cuisine. You’re sure to make your guest’s trip to Singapore a little more memorable by bringing them here.
1 Empress Place, 01–03 Asian Civilisations Museum, Tel: 6776 0777
For the Casual Catch-up
For a more casual vibe, head to LeVel33, conveniently located smack in the middle of the CBD. Being on the 33rd floor, it’s the world’s highest craft brewery. So you get a bird’s eye view of the city while the kitchen serves up a mean lunch. Of course, you can get a mid-day pint if you’re so inclined, but only indulge if your guest is also having one.
The menu features unpretentious food such as fish and chips and burgers. This makes it an ideal location for catching up with long-time business contacts. It’s also good for giving younger visitors a place to snap a few photos and making hip urbanites feel at home.
The executive set lunch ($42) includes an appetizer buffet from the Ploughman’s Table, plus a choice of main courses. Combined with the stunning views, this is a terrific pick if you have lots on your agenda to chat about.
8 Marina Boulevard, 33–01, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, Tel: 6834 3133
For the Formal Affair
Peranakan refers to Straits-born people descended from Chinese immigrants. Their cuisine is an exciting combination of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian flavors.
For a taste of traditional Peranakan fare in a refined atmosphere, make your way to National Kitchen at the National Gallery Singapore. Here, famous chef Violet Oon has raised Singapore’s beloved national cuisine to a new level.
There’s no set lunch here, but just about any combination of dishes you order will offer a mouth-watering variety of flavors. Favorites include the ngoh hiang (deep fried prawn, crab, and chicken wrapped in bean curd skin), beef rendang (tender beef skin braised in a creamy coconut sauce), and dry laksa (spicy noodle soup).
Foreign business contacts with an adventurous palate will certainly appreciate this experience. In fact, they’ll probably thank you for the unique treat and remember you for it later.
1 St Andrew’s Road, 02–01, National Gallery Singapore, City Hall Wing, Tel: 9834 9935
For the Euro Delight
If you’re entertaining a local business contact and want a bit of change from the usual, savor a classic European lunch at The Black Swan. This is an Art Deco-inspired bistro located within a historical 1930s building. Discuss work matters as you enjoy favorites such as yellowfin tuna carpaccio, half-lobster thermidor, and pan-roasted spatchcock. These are available on the set lunch menu ($39 for two courses; $45 for three courses) and served up beautifully plated to add to the wow factor.
The food is hearty and delicious without leaving you feeling like you need a nap. This is especially important since you’ll have to stay sharp when talking business.
19 Cecil Street, Tel: 6438 3757
Lunch in Singapore is about enjoying the delicious cuisine, building relationships, and doing some business. We’ve given you five great lunch spots to accomplish all three goals. Just make sure to exchange business cards before you begin digging into the delicious chow.
Now, let us know your favorite lunch spots.
Also read: 5 Superb Singapore Networking Opportunities