“More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject,” once said American management consultant Peter Drucker.
Indeed, the business lunch is a ritual no corporate world can do without. Whether it’s to welcome a new teammate, hosting a prospective client or entertaining an out of town associate – the business lunches in Singapore’s CBD would have you covered.
Call it gastrodiplomacy, but making decisions over a meal is a tradition that dates back to the era of cavemen. Think of how mankind would huddle around the hearth and devour entire flanks of meat.
In more recent times, researchers at the University of Chicago for instance found that people who ordered the same food registered higher levels of trust. Thankfully, this gels well with the business lunch menus that restaurants in Singapore’s CBD have in store.
They range from a time-honoured Chinese restaurant popular with C-suite executives to white table-clothed Italian spots and even a hip joint perfect to warm up new joiners. Most importantly, the menus are straightforward, neat (you don’t want to be sidestepping a potential mess) and come in only two or three variations so you won’t have to burn another minute trying to decide on what to eat.
These are just examples in our guide to the best business lunches in Singapore’s CBD and while it isn’t quite the MBA course that Drucker spoke of, we dare say it’s handy enough to take the mystery out of where to go when noon strikes.
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This restaurant stalwart, which specialises in Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, has been operating at the top of UOB plaza since 1996. An entire generation in the CBD community grew through their careers with visits here, and the patrons tend to be regulars who prefer conservative food options. The set menu leans towards groups starting at S$58 per person for a group of four to S$1288.80 for an entire table of 10. Dig in to well-loved Cantonese classics like double-boiled seafood soups and steamed whole fish, or dive into the Sichuan selection which includes the iconic dan dan noodle.
Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant, 60-01 UOB Plaza 1, 80 Raffles Place, +65 6535 6006, Singapore 048624
While the name PS.Cafe may bring to mind languorous weekend brunches in Tiong Bahru or Ann Siang hill, its newest outlet takes a more formal approach, bearing in mind its address at One Fullerton. It’s the largest one yet, measuring a sprawling 5000 sq ft and can seat 160 guests. The executive set lunch here is priced at S$34 for two courses and features dishes that rotate regularly. Expect comforting fare like fennel sausage aglio olio, which comes with pappardelle and Toulouse sausage, as well as vegetarian options like the green garden ricotta Gnocchi with homemade ricotta dumplings, basil pesto and pecorino.
PS.Cafe One Fullerton, #02-03B/04, One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road, +65 8812 3198, Singapore 049213
Lo and Behold’s new culinary director Daniel Sia shook up The Black Swan’s slate of offerings earlier this year. While the interiors remain the same and the atmosphere is more casual than formal, the menu has evolved. The two course lunch menu (S$42) comes with your choice of starters that range from the popular steak tartare (+S$4) to the crab salad. For mains, the Steak & Frites won’t fail you (+S$6) though The Black Swan burger was billed as ‘the best in town’. A dessert course is priced at an additional S$6 so if time permits, go for the coffee profiteroles which come with mascarpone-marsala wine ice cream for a little boozy kick.
The Black Swan, 19 Cecil Street, +65 6438 3757, Singapore 049704
If the occasion calls for some decision-making, then picking a slightly more formal restaurant with ample space and bright daylight to look at documents clearly could be just what you need. For that, there’s Italian restaurant Zafferano where a two or three course set lunch is offered (S$42 and S$52 accordingly). The selection is generous as the starters section includes five options, while the mains contain six. The pastas here are always a safe bet but those on a lighter diet can choose from the pan-seared octopus with cauliflower cream, as well as the sous vide chicken breast served with parsnip puree and sauteed potatoes.
Zafferano, Level 43, Ocean Financial Centre, 10 Collyer Quay, +65 6509 1488, Singapore 049315
The health conscious can head to Artemis Grill on the 40th floor of CapitaGreen, where clean-eating yet delicious options like spiced chicken breast and grilled sea bream are available. These are on the lunch menus at S$45 for two courses or S$50 if you wish to include dessert. If time permits though, consider looking through the a la carte section of the menu as there’s the wild seabass ceviche (S$22) served with basil, fennel and crispy salsify, as well as the mouthwateringly tender sanchoku wagyu striploin (S$92 for 350g).
Artemis Grill, #40-01 CapitaGreen (Rooftop), 138 Market Street, +65 6635 8677, Singapore 048946