WAY before the appointed time of 6.30pm, staff at restaurant and bar Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt were already busy at work, setting up the place so it would be just right.
Specially tailored menu, soft amber lighting, and a table for two set aside exclusively - all for the night's special guests.
Mr David Woon, a 34-year-old research manager at aviation company EADS, strode in looking dapper in a crisp striped shirt, with a bouquet of red roses nestled in his arms for his very special date.
His companion? The svelte, stately Shenise Wong, recently crowned Miss Singapore Universe 2008.
If Mr Woon looked a little nervous, it could be because it was the first time he was meeting the beauty queen.
Or, it could be that he is, well, married.
With a son, no less.
But don't be so quick to judge him.
The dinner date on Thursday was the top prize in a contest organised by website NS Portal (www.ns.sg), which Mr Woon won.
When Miss Wong, a 26-year-old forex broker, stepped in, heads turned.
Cutting a stunning figure in an exquisitely simple black shift dress, she was a picture of effortless grace and poise.
And with all honesty, she looked even better in person than in pictures - a point on which Mr Woon concurred.
Which is a good thing, seeing as he had nothing more than a single photo to go by when he voted her as the most likely winner of the pageant.
The NS Portal contest invited its members to vote online for the finalist they thought would walk away with the crown, and provide brief comments on why they thought so.
And the reasons why he chose MissWong?
'She exudes confidence, warmth and elegance, an Asian beauty aptly befitting the Miss Singapore's crown!'
All of which Mr Woon affirmed after the date.
After the announcement of the results, the winner was chosen randomly from those who had voted for the crowned Miss Singapore Universe.
Mr Woon, a self-confessed serial participant of NS Portal contests, felt his date would have been the fantasy of every man - at least of those not so happily married.
So, how did his wife feel about the date?
Well, she too got to meet the beauty queen before the evening was over.
'It was really lucky he won the contest, and I just hoped he would enjoy himself at the dinner,' said his wife, Lynn, with a laugh.
As for pre-date preparations, he admitted that he had not done anything special. Even the roses had been provided for by the management.
He had, however, attempted to find out more about Miss Wong from the Internet, but searches turned up little more than extracts from her blog.
Miss Wong said she had been naturally anxious, and her boyfriend (yes she's attached, boys) had initial misgivings about this.
After all, she had got the blind date together with the crown. And who knew what sort of character awaited at the other end.
She was soon put at ease, however, and a few quick texts to her beau quelled his apprehensions.
'David seemed sincere, and was clearly a family man. In fact, he offered to give up his place for my boyfriend to join me at dinner instead,' she said.
A true gentleman indeed.
Still, the meeting was not without chemistry.
Conversation flowed, and Mr Woon was particularly struck by this down-to-earth lady, with all the graces and none of the airs of a goddess.
MORE SUPPORT NEEDED
And he came away with a renewed sense of the importance and value of the pageant, which he felt had been receiving too much flak and too little sponsorship of late.
'It would be great if perhaps SIA could provide her air tickets and if the Tourism Board could partly sponsor her trip to the finals in Vietnam,' he said, after finding out that Miss Wong had to pay her own way to the finals.
'After all this lovely lady is going to be an ambassador of Singapore to the world, and I think it is something every Singaporean should be supportive of!'
So it was that by chance, two beautiful, smart people met as strangers, and left as friends.
The dinner was fittingly rounded off when Mr Woon introduced his date to his wife and son, with the group indulging in a round of merry photo-taking and exchanging firm assurances of keeping in contact.
Yeung Xintian, newsroom intern
The above article was first published in The New Paper on Jun 1, 2008