[Random Food Post] Airline Food – AirAsia and Cathay Pacific

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Those of you who have had their fair share of airplane rides may have a thing or two to say about the in-flight meals. People often say that airline food is horrible but when I finally got to sample a few dishes during a couple of flights, I realized that some stories are a bit exaggerated. Perhaps it was just my luck that the airlines I have flown with served good food or I just ordered the right dish; either way, I have always had this notion that in-flight food are generally bad.

I have refrained from ordering heavy meals for shorter international/local routes (like Manila to Hong Kong or Manila to Kalibo) so I can only vouch for the very few instances wherein I had to endure a longer airplane trip. Nothing close to a transpacific flight, of course. In late 2015, I had the opportunity to go on two trips: one to Seoul, South Korea and the other one was to Osaka/Tokyo, Japan. And with those trips, the chance to sample airline food.

 

AirAsia’s Nasi Lemak:

For my trip to Seoul, I opted to book a flight with AirAsia, despite my fears of using their company (see: AirAsia Flight 8501). The main reason for my choice is simple; they were the cheapest I could find during the time I was booking my roundtrip tickets. During the booking process, I decided to pre-order the Nasi Lemak for the MNL-ICN route then I removed the meal option for the ICN-MNL route.

“A traditional Malaysian favourite fragrant coconut rice served with Pak Nasser’s special chilli sambal and tender chicken rendang, accompanied with traditional condiments of fried anchovies, crunchy groundnuts and half of a hard-boiled egg.” (AirAsia.com)

 

Findings:

  1. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to sample Nasi Lemak (authentic or otherwise) prior to me partaking of this in-flight meal. I, however, found the level of spiciness quite lovely. Yes, I said lovely because it is. And the spice did not overwhelm the other flavors in the dish for I clearly remember a bit of sweetness and a bit of [a] “curry flavor” (if that makes any sense) sipping through. It’s sad that I am unable to make a fair judgment of this traditional dish but the flavor dimension was there for sure.
  2. To say that the dish was fragrant is an understatement. I opened the foil container and ‘bam!’, it was an assault to my olfactory nerves. My mouth was watering the moment I saw the intense colors of the dish and with the wonderful smell wafting up to my face. The Nasi Lemak was very savory that the smell alone could use a spoonful of rice to go with it. Note: I could also clearly remember that the Nasi Lemak smell stayed [in my mouth] hours after I finished my meal. Not a complaint. Just saying.
  3. The chicken may have been a bit stringy (not totally dry) but that could very well be attributed to left over heat from when it was initially cooked and the addition of microwave heating during the flight. I also think that they can make their serving size juuuuust a tad bit bigger.
  4. I loved it so much that I decided to order it for my flight back to Manila, this time with a side of Calamansi Soda.

 

 

Cathay Pacific:

This airline took my breath away; first with the reasonably priced roundtrip, multi-city tickets, and secondly with the wonderful in-flight meals and snacks. We rode Economy all the way and having ridden only budget airlines before that trip, it felt like a big upgrade from what I’m used to. My friends and I were so glad that we chose to ride Cathay Pacific for our Japan trip.

I can’t find a Cathay Pacific meal menu so I’ll just go straight to the pictures.

 

Manila to Hong Kong:

  1. For my snack, I received this nifty little paper bag that contained an Anzac Cookie, a Mango Juice Box, a savory pie (like an Empanada), and an anti-bacterial moist towelette.
  2. The savory pie/empanada was surprisingly very good and quite large! Sadly, I was not able to take a picture of the actual pie but I think the filling was made out of chicken or pork; but definitely not beef or fish. I remember biting into it and getting this creamy, cheesy flavor immediately. I enjoyed the pie immensely. It paired very well with the Mango Juice, by the way.
  3. The Anzac Cookie was a revelation, atleast to me. Here’s why. First of all, I am biased towards Chocolate Chip Cookies. Second of all, I thought the Anzac Cookie looked dry and tasteless. Given the aforementioned, I decided to eat the cookie before the pie. You know how sometimes (in my case, always) you set aside the best part of your meal for later and start of with the less than satisfactory/not-as-wonderful part? Do you do that? Like how I set aside the crispy chicken skin and eat the meat first? Anyway, since I didn’t find the cookie looking anywhere near appetizing, I decided to start my meal by eating it first. And God Almighty that is probably one of the best tasting oat-based cookies I have ever tasted and eaten thus far.

 

Hong Kong to Osaka:

  1. After the wonderful snack I had during the MNL-HK leg of the flight, I didn’t expect that I would get have another meal. So while I was trying to get some much needed shuteye, ‘surprise’ came in the form of a mini-breakfast spread. I was given a bread roll and butter, a cup of Strawberry yogurt, a fruit cup, a bottle of water, and a dish composed of the following: ham, scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms, hasbbrown, and Cherry tomatoes.
  2. I didn’t really expect much taste-wise because it just typical morning fare after all. I love the fact that the spread makes for a sufficient continental breakfast. If memory serves me right, there was an option between continental and Chinese breakfast; the latter, I believe, has Congee. Nothing remarkable about it but I am just happy to have gotten another meal.

 

Tokyo to Hong Kong:

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The male flight attendant who was assigned to our cabin couldn’t be anymore frustrated with us. I think. We were so tired from our trip that for every instance that he passed by, first to offer drinks and second to give us our meal, we were fast asleep. He had to repeat everything he had to say and in a much louder tone each time. Haha! So when he was going down the aisle to serve meals, he had to raise his voice and repeat, “Sir! Madam! Pork and Rice, or Fish and Rice?” He was not rude at all and his British accent was very soothing to the ears, despite what happened. Haha!

  1. For the Pork and Rice spread, I got the following: Pork Stew and white rice, a bread roll and butter, and salad. Soup might have been wonderful but this is a nice spread, nonetheless.
  2. I found this particular dish on the boundary of being bland. I would say that it’s a bit under-seasoned and may have benefited from a bit more salt and pepper, and maybe a dash of cayenne pepper (you must have cayenne pepper in your pantry, you MUST). The salad was forgettable, unfortunately. I can’t even remember what was in it. Maybe a leafy salad would have been a better alternative. The meal was hearty enough to sustain me until we landed in Hong Kong. The Pork, although sliced thinly, was not dry and the big chunks of root vegetables were a welcome site (and taste).

 

Hong Kong to Manila:

  1. The tiny paper bag was filled with magic because I got an anti-bacterial moist towelette, a Mango Juice Box, Cajun Chicken Lattice Pastry (magic!), and–drum roll, please–an Anzac Cookie (MORE magic!).
  2. The Cajon Chicken Lattice Pastry is everything a Hot Pocket would want to be. It made for a very filling and wonderfully tasty snack. Well-seasoned and moist, this pastry/pie made a great tandem with the Mango juice. I only wished I could have had seconds. I would have asked but something tells me my friends would have shunned me had I done so. They can ‘shun’ me next time because I WILL ask for seconds.
  3. This time, I saved the Anzac Cookie for last. And yes, it was heaven. 🙂

 

 

Understandably, there are people out there who would not appreciate the taste of airline food. I mean, not all my meals were winners but after getting a taste of it, I think that the claim that airline food is ‘the worst’ is grossly exaggerated. The in-flight meals that I have tasted thus far were not ‘horrible’ at all. Some could use more seasoning and some may need an upsize but overall, I’m pretty satisfied with them. If I do get the chance to fly internationally again, I would definitely pay closer attention to the meal/food service; not to complain but to find more good things I can say about it.

If you really do end up with a bad in-flight meal, think about this: you are sitting inside a pressurized cabin that is cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet. A dried piece of chicken breast should be the least of your worries.

 

The lack of Cathay Pacific’s Anzac Cookies* could very well do me in the next time I fly a different airline though.

 

 

*There are a lot of Anzac Cookie recipes available on YouTube and Google. I am aware that this is not a cookie unique to Cathay Pacific. 🙂

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

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If you can reach the sky with your fingertips, what else is there to live for?

 

 

The infinity of the skies reminds me of how rooted I am to this planet. How my inability to reach the clouds serves as proof that this earth is where I began, where I currently exist, and where I will end.

About the photograph: This was taken after my friend and I participated in the Tokyo Free Walking Tour. The afternoon sky was so beautiful I just had to take a picture.

 

Earth

 

[Incomplete Post] 3-Day Itinerary and Transportation Cards/Passes for Osaka and Kyoto

So I was going through my blog posts earlier and I found this small, unpolished gem. I planned to post this BEFORE my trip to Japan back in November 2015 as a way to share my experience in creating an itinerary and, at the same time, to help organize my thoughts.

Obviously, I was so ‘out of it’ that I ended up not posting it all. LOL!

To try and salvage this post would be impossible by this time but I am posting it anyway, for whatever it is worth.

 

 

[START: Previously Unpublished Post]

 

Creating an itinerary should have been a breeze, considering the wealth of information available on-line. While planning our 3-Day itinerary in the Kansai leg of our trip (Osaka and Kyoto), I hit a dead end. I cannot, for the life of me, identify the  proper transportation card to use.

When I went to South Korea* back in October 2012, it was pretty easy for me to make a choice. I bought the 5-Day M-Pass, which gave me a free ride on the AREX going into the city and unlimited subways rides per day. I basically have a short list of requirements that need to be met by the transportation card so that I would deem it economical and necessary.

  1. The transportation card should provide discounts for every ride that you take as compared to buying single-journey tickets at the regular rate.
  2. If the transportation card needs to be bought as day passes (1-Day Pass, 2-Day Pass, 3-Day Pass, etc.), then I should be able to maximize the use of it given the number of days allotted and the price I paid.
  3. The transportation card should cover all modes of transportation that I would need to be able to go to the sites I have listed in the itinerary.

When I started searching for a transportation card that will help me go around Osaka and Kyoto, I found out that it wasn’t the lack of passes that’s going to be the problem; rather, it’s being able to choose the right one. I technically have only have 2 and a half days to spend in the Kansai region before I hop on a Shinkansen and head to Tokyo.

Allow me to share my temporary (as of now) Kansai itinerary so you’ll have an overview of what I’ll be doing. Since I have already decided which transportation cards to use prior to posting this entry, I will be noting them down as well. I shall explain my choice of transportation cards afterwards.

  • DAY 1 (Wednesday – November 25) – Half Day
    1. Arrival at Kansai International Airport (KIX) via Cathay Pacific Flight. Approximately 1:45PM local time. Buy ICOCA&Haruka One-Way Type Pass.
    2. Use Haruka One-Way Type Pass to ride JR Haruka from KIX to Shin-Osaka Station.
    3. Check-in at Osaka AirBnB.
    4. Use ICOCA to go to Osaka Castle. Shin-Osaka Station to Tanimachi 4-chome Station. If you will arrive before 4:30PM local time, you should be able to enter with an entrance fee of 600Yen. If you will arrive after 4:30PM local time, you will not be allowed to enter anymore.
    5. Use ICOCA to go to Shinsaibashi-suji. Tanimachi 4-chome Station OR Tanimachi 6-chome Station to Shinsaibashi Station. Explore Shinsaibashi-suji. Walk the entire length of the arcade while heading in the direction of Dotonbori.
    6. Walk to Dontonori and explore. Shop and dine.
    7. Use ICOCA to go back to AirBnB apartment. Namba Station to Shin-Osaka Station.
  • DAY 2 (Thursday – November 26) – Full Day
    1. Use ICOCA to go to Universal Studios Japan (USJ). Shin-Osaka Station to Universal City Station. This will take up much of the day.
    2. Use ICOCA to go to Umeda. Explore Umeda at night.
    3. Use ICOCA to go back to AirBnB apartment. Umeda Station to Shin-Osaka Station.
  • DAY 3 (Friday – November 27) – Full Day
    1. Use ICOCA to go to Kyoto. Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Staton. Ride the JR Special Rapid Service on the JR Kyoto Line.
    2. Use ICOCA to go to Tenryu-ji Temple and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station via the JR Sagano Line. Pay 500Yen for Tenru-ji Temple. No Entrance fee for Bamboo Grove.
    3. Use ICOCA to go to Nijo Castle. Saga-Arashiyama Station to Nijo Station via the JR Sagano Line. Pay entrance fee of 600Yen. Explore Nijo Castle.
    4. Use ICOCA to go to Fushimi Inari Taisha. Nijojomae Station to Fushimi Inari Station via Tozai Subway Line and a transfer to the Keihan Line at Sanjo Stastion. Explore Fushimi Inari Taisha.
    5. Use ICOCA to go to Kiyomizu-dera. Fushimi Inari Station to Kiyomizu-Gojo Station via the Keihan Line. Pay 400Yen for the entrance fee of Kiyomizu-dera. Kiyomizu-dera will re-open for the evening illumination during the fall season.
    6. Use ICOCA to go back to Shin-Osaka Station. Kiyomizu-Gojo Station to Kyoto Station via the Keihan Line with a transfer to the JR Nara Line at Tofukuji Station. Take JR Special Rapid Service on the JR Kyoto Line back to Shin-Osaka Station.

Based on my research, a pass (one) that would cover all the train and subway lines I have mentioned does not exist. Either it’s a pass that will cover only the JR Lines or a pass that will only cover the subways lines/private railways. I’m not saying that none of these passes are worth it; if my trip was either much shorter (2 days) or much longer (5 to 7 days), then I’m pretty sure I’d be able to use one of those passes. Somehow, I found myself in a zone wherein it wouldn’t be sufficient.

 

[END: Previously Unpublished Post]