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March 1, 2012

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Making quick business of working lunch when you have to hurry

A business lunch not only nourishes body and mind but also provides an excellent opportunity for networking. "Breaking bread breaks barriers," writes Robin Jay in his book "The Art of the Business Lunch."

When choosing a destination, food, ambience and speed of service are the main considerations.

Lunch breaks range from half an hour to an hour, but executives may well take longer working lunches with staff and clients. Brisk, efficient service is essential, or afternoon work will in turn be delayed.

"That's why we place a one-hour glass on each table to show our commitment to fast service," says Angel Mao, director of communication at Pudong Shangri-La Shanghai, about the hotel's Jade 36 Business Lunch.

A quiet, relaxed ambience is best and waiters should not hover around; they should know when to leave diners alone. In terms of food, the expectations of diners is different for business lunches, compared with other lunches. The most popular lunches are light, with a light flavor, moderate proportions and balanced nutrition, says Pietro Padova, Italian chef at The Hongta Hotel; he has more than 10 years of experience serving business customers.

"A business lunch can be like going on a first date since you are not familiar with your clients. Ordering light simple food is much safer than ordering something too complicated," according to Pu Jiayu, feature editor at Eastern Channel, a local magazine targeting business readers.

Most of hotel business customers are over 30 and tend to want light food with low-fat content, but it's also important to provide lunches with enough energy and nutrition to keep them going through the afternoon, says Aymeric Le Boucher, director of restaurants at JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square.

This week we recommend you lunch options - one featuring wide variety and a spectacular view of the skyline, the other offering authentic southern Italian flavor.

JW's California Grill

This fine dining restaurant on the 40th floor of the JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square seems to float above the city skyline.

Lunch combines a la carte and buffet. The menu and style are designed for time-saving, says head chef George Jin.

Diners can first order soup and a main course from the a la carte menu, which is rotated every three days. They choose their starter from the buffet. Ten kinds of desserts are available at the buffet table.

The starter buffet station has two parts - one is Mediterranean, the other is a kind of East-West combination. The first section features salami, sliced ham, shredded Parmesan cheese and various vegetables. The other section features thin-sliced fish and meat marinated in a homemade sauce using Western herb such as sage and rosemary and Chinese spices, such as Chinese pepper.

A main course can be selected from seven options, including prawn linguini, grilled salmon and beef sirloin. Chef George's signature dish is poached asparagus with slow-cooked egg and parsley potatoes.

The chef says he focuses on both fresh ingredients and presentation, drawing inspiration from his early day working for celebrity chef Alain Ducasse in Paris.

The dessert station offers seasonal fruit, cheesecake, tarts, chocolate mouse and tiramisu. Now that strawberries are coming into season, strawberry tarts are popular.

Hours: Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am-2pm

Address: 40/F, 399 Nanjing Rd W.

Tel: 5359-4969 ext 6455

Price: 218 yuan plus 15-percent service charge for four-course menu and 188 yuan plus 15-percent service charge for three courses (both include unlimited still and sparkling water, coffee and tea)


Dishes with a light and natural taste are featured at Danieli's, the Italian restaurant of The Honta Hotel.

Located on the 39th floor, the restaurant offers panoramic views of the Pudong skyline.

An open kitchen allows diners to watch every step of the preparation.

A business a la carte lunch menu was recently launched by Chef Pietro from southern Italy. It offers a wide variety of authentic dishes, including pasta, fresh vegetables and seafood.

Customers can order a three- or four-course meal, choosing among seven appetizers, pastas and three deserts.

Pasta in its many varieties is the chef's signature dish. It includes small, ear-shaped orechietti, flat linguine and cockscrew-shaped fusilli; It's served with a choice of sauces such as carbonara, arrabbiata (tomatoes, chili and garlic) and funghi, a mushroom sauce with a pleasing texture and flavor.

Sea bass carpaccio and seafood risotto are also popular.

The serving time (time between ordering and the last dish served) is between 30 and 40 minutes, the chef says, ensuring that busy businesspeople don't have to wait too long.

Hours: Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am-2pm

Address: 39/F, 889 Dongfang Rd, Pudong

Tel: 5050-4567 ext 6370

Price: 160 yuan plus 15-percent service charge for four courses; 120 yuan plus 15-percent service charge for three courses (both include soft drinks, freshly brewed coffee or tea)


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