Media.monks Agencies Agency Culture

Planning a client lunch? Here are the best spots to spend your expenses in Singapore


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

January 12, 2024 | 9 min read

Picking a decent spot for a client catch-up or recruitment meeting isn’t as easy as it looks. We kick off a new series on business, lunch and drink with one of the world’s tastiest cities.

A bowl of laksa

A bowl of laksa: Media.Monks’ team recommends 328 @ Katong for the dish / Unsplash

If the last couple of years have proven anything, it’s that work doesn’t just happen at the office. Pitches still require agency staffers to get out on the road for lunchtime chemistry sessions. Headhunting is still done in person, occasionally with a drink in hand. And some of the best ideas sessions are held over a sandwich. Of course, you can’t just wander into any old dive. If you want to give the right impression to a client scrutinizing your taste, or a potential recruit wondering about cultural fit, you probably shouldn’t hustle them into a Starbucks.

These moments are tests. Pick a restaurant with crap vegan options or a limited mocktail menu and you could damage business relationships with clients that happen not to drink or eat meat. So, to help avoid that fate – and to augment our personal libraries of restaurant recommendations next time we’re on the move – we’ve gone out and asked agencies across the world to talk us through their city’s culinary scene.

We’ve asked them about the best spot for a business lunch, the best discreet cafes for meetings with recruiters, and the best joints for a celebratory toast. And we’ve started with one of the world’s great eating cities: Singapore.

Media.Monks Singapore influencer team lead Wendy Wang, strategist Ren Pang and copywriter Rebecca Harbick are our guides this week.

For those looking for a coffee, Pang recommends Equate, “a little hidden gem on the second story of the Tanjong Pagar Plaza complex.

“For those unfamiliar with Singapore, Tanjong Pagar Complex is full of shops and hawker stalls servicing the government housing residents and local businesses (like us) and is not where you’d typically expect to find a cafe like this. It’s definitely a lot more vibey than a coffee chain found in an office building and usually fairly quiet, so it’s perfect for a professional coffee chat. They also take their craft very seriously and have great coffee. My go-to is an iced dirty matcha latte on a hot day.”

Harbick recommends Michelin-starred Labyrinth for its lunchtime tasting menu, while Wang suggests Olivia for its low-key atmosphere and wine menu. “Chemistry sessions are kinda like a first date, so I wouldn’t take them somewhere too stiff or crowded,” she says. “The vibe there is always relaxed, and it is easy to have conversations and brainstorm sessions without the table next to us overhearing. They cater to all types of food restrictions, and I have never had a disappointing meal there.”

For a modern, Asian-infused take on French food, Pang recommends Clos Pasoh. “My favorite is the coconut lobster bisque - a perfect harmony of Thai flavors and French techniques. Great, non-stuffy ambiance with lush indoor plants,” he adds.

Of course, a visiting client might want to try a local specialty. For laksa, a spicy coconut noodle stew usually served with fish or meat that’s one of Singapore’s famous national dishes, Harbick suggests 328 @ Katong.

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Another national dish is pepper crab. Harbick recommends Eng Seng First Grade Seafood for the full kopitiam experience. Without reservations, though, you’ll have to rely on a bit of luck to get your crustacean fix.

“When I say authentic, I mean authentic. No AC, dirty floors, plastic stools, and even a grumpy boss lady taking the orders then screaming it to the kitchen,” she adds. “They’re famous for their black pepper crab (best I’ve had) so there’s usually a queue that starts in the late afternoon for dinner.”

Wang points out that the Singapore heat can be a bit tough on new visitors and recommends Xiao Ya Tou in Duxton Hill for an easygoing lunch. “There’s nothing more Singaporean than a culinary experience that is a mix of different cultures,” she says. It’s conveniently located near the Mondrian Hotel – a good spot for drinks if you’re looking to impress.

“There’s no better way to end the night than sipping on a Negroni while looking over the 360 skylight view of Chinatown,” she says.

For other cocktail or mocktail suggestions, Wang, Harbick and Pang suggest Jigger and Pony, Tippling Club, Fura, Native, and wine bars Juice, Fool and Rebel Rebel. “If your client is a wine snob, this is definitely the place to take them,” says Wang of Fool.

Media.monks Agencies Agency Culture

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