[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. 🙂

 

[Random Food Post] The Spicy Ramyeon Challenge

I have seen a several vloggers on YouTube who have tried the Spicy Noodle/Ramyeon challenge. I’ve always wanted to try this particular Ramyeon but it’s so hard to find in my area; atleast, it’s not available in the supermarkets, grocery stores, and convenience stores that I frequent. I chanced upon this Ramyeon in a not-so-out-of-the-way convenience store located near a condotel that my friend and I stayed at in early April (2016). It is a Korean convenience store so I knew I would find it there.

I wanted to buy more than one but I didn’t know exactly how spicy it is. Take note, I love spicy food but I needed to determine first if: 1) I can actually handle the level of spiciness of this Korean Ramyeon, and 2) if I would actually like the flavor.

Findings:

  1. It’s not as spicy as I thought it would be. Do take note though that I LOVE spicy food and I (may) have built a tolerance for it. If I weren’t a chili head, I might have ended up crying and sweating while eating this and I may not have finished it.
  2. The spice overwhelmed any other flavor this Ramyeon might have had. That’s all I can taste really. I was hoping it had more flavor dimension; then I realized, I’m eating Ramyeon (for crying out loud). There’s no such thing as “flavor dimension”.
  3. I probably won’t seek it like I did before. I’ve had far better (cup) Ramyeon that this. If I start seeing it in my local grocery store, I may consider buying it but won’t stock up on it.

 

Do you know of any other food challenges that I can do? Please leave a comment. 😉

 

 

 

 

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I thought it was so spicy that I won’t be able to finish it buuuuuuut…

 

John and Yoko: Oh so(-so) fly.

I have been very excited about the changes taking places in Alabang Town Center (ATC), ever since Ayala took down portions of the old mall to make way for new wings. The idea of all the new shops and restuarants made me want to run around like a kid on Christmas morning. I am more partial to the new restaurants because one, I am avid ‘window’ shopper; and two, I am an even more avid foodie. Since I only got around creating a new blog today, my past foodie adventures were left undocumented and, sadly, ‘un-photographed’ as well (thank you, telecommunications-company-who-will-remain-nameless for keeping me away from my iPhone 4). Anyway, my most recent food adventure revolved around John and Yoko.

No, I’m not pertaining to Lennon and Ono; rather, to the new Japanese fusion restaurant, located in the new wing of ATC. I’ve passed by the Greenbelt branch a couple of times and I was intrigued by it’s graphic interior. I am a lover of Japanese cuisine and mix that with the eye-candy, well, it’s safe to say I was hooked. I heard fairly good reviews from friends who have dined in the said restaurant. Luckily, my Mom (who has the biggest credit limit in the family, much to my Dad’s dismay) has taken on a foodie adventure herself, ever since she noticed the new restaurants popping up everywhere. John and Yoko is the latest dining experience we added to our belt (after Bulgogi Brothers and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro) and I’d like to share that with you.

First of all, I’m sad to say that John and Yoko did not really meet my expectations. The food was good, yes; but it wasn’t that great to separate it from the others. Like I said, I love the interior; maybe because anything that has to do with Japanese interior and structural design intrigues me. I like the plates that they provided, and the crockery where they placed their chili powder and soy sauce. We asked for smaller bowls so we can share the large serving of Ramen we ordered. I like the bowls but I found it awkward to use the small, soup ladels/spoons(what do you call those anyway) they provided; maybe because they were too ‘fat’ and too ‘shallow’ to be used comfortably. Of course, you can’t avoid the mass-manufactured chopsticks and paper napkins, typical of a Japanese fast food restaurant.

Plate and chopsticks.

Random crockery with chili powder and soy sauce.

Extra bowls and spoons.

We ordered a lot of food, which is typical for our family whenever we’re trying out a new joint. We ordered California Maki Salad, Dynamite Roll, Uni Sushi, Tuna Sashimi, (Tonkatsu) Buta Kakuni Miso Ramen, Chicken Teriyakil, Crispy/Curnchy Squid Teriyaki, Agedashi Tofu, and Gyudon. Most of the food we ordered were good but, like I said, this restaurant didn’t really stand our from the rest. The waitress told us 15 minutes into our meal that Uni (Sea Urchin Roe) was not available; then, much later, claimed it already was. Having ordered so much food for three people to properly consume, we decided not to push through with the Uni Sushi. We definitely love the Crispy Squid Teriyaki and it was, as it name implies, crunchy and very savory. I like the Dynamite Roll; although, I would still prefer Red Kimono and Nihon Bashitei’s version of the said dish. I didn’t care for the Agedashi Tofu and only kept snacking on it because I like tofu. The sauce was too bland and too runny for me. I can’t help but compare it with Rai Rai Ken’s version of the popular Japanese fried tofu dish. The Tuna Sashimi was fresh but it was pretty obvious that whoever sliced it was no Sushi Master.

I like the (Tonkatsu) Buta Kakuni Miso Ramen because it was good for three people to share. We were given the choice between a Shoyu and a Miso soup base; and as expected, I chose the latter because I love the fermented taste. The Gyudon was good for three people as well and it tasted good too. Reminds me of the Sukiyakidon I used to order from the Aristocrat back when I was still in College.

I didn’t touch the California Maki Salad because it looked plain and uninteresting to me. I wanted to order the Spicy Tuna Salad but I was not able to get myself to say to my Mom. One, because she’s my mother; and two, she’s the one paying the bill (LOL).

The soda was obnoxously priced at 78Php per can, by the way. My Mom and my sister ordered Watermelon shake, and it’s priced at 128Php per glass.

Tuna Sashimi

California Maki Salad

Dynamite Roll

Agedashi Tofu

Crunchy/Crispy Squid Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

(Tonkatsu) Buta Kakuni Miso Ramen

Gyudon

Naruto (The real one! LOL!)

I would have enjoyed my dining experience even more if a fly was not buzzing around the restaurant. My Mom inquired about it and she was told that it’s a “mall problem”. I kept my mouth shut to keep myself from saying anything snarky. If there’s a problem, shouldn’t you find a way to resolve it?

I haven’t really figured out how I will go about rating my foodie adventures but it would definitely be N out of 5 somethings (as per usual). For John and Yoko, I would give it a disappointing 3.5 out of 5 somethings. The servings were big and the price was sort of reasonable. Taste-wise, it does not stand that much compared to other Japanese restaurants like Red Kimono and Rai Rai Ken. Would I recommend it? Yes and only for the sake of trying out a new place. How soon would I go back to John and Yoko? Not anytime soon. Perhaps this rating will change once I try the other dishes there and if I come at a better time.

-FIN-

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