Here’s your guide to Asia’s best in-flight meals

Plane food

Not all plane food is an unidentifiable beige hash. Source: Shutterstock

THE late, great travel legend and culinary master Anthony Bourdain once told Bon Appetit, “No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry.”

This sentiment was echoed by the infamous 2008 e-mail sent to Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson by a passenger describing his experience as a culinary “journey from hell.”

The passenger, Oliver Beal, then went on to describe his in-flight meal as a “crime against bloody cooking.”

We get it.

In-flight meals have had a bad rep since time immemorial. They are often packed with sodium for flavoring and contains every shade of beige. For passengers flying economy, this is a dinnertime fate they will have swallow.

But in business and first class, the story gets a whole lot more colorful. And a new partnership between Mandarin Oriental, Taipei hotel and Thai Airways perfectly illustrates this.

Chefs from the five-star hotel will be preparing Michelin-starred meals for business class passengers between June 1 and Aug 31, 2018, on the Taipei to Bangkok route.

The dishes will use fresh ingredients, inspired by French, Italian, Southeast Asian and progressive American fare.

We wouldn’t be surprised if a few sneaky economy class opportunists “accidentally” wander towards the front of the plane around supper time.

The new collaboration only earns Thai Airways another star on its already glowing onboard meal report.

“The food on Thai Airways flights tend to be very good, especially if it’s Asian food, which I think works great for an airline,” chef and television presenter Ken Hom told Telegraph Travel.

And Thai Airways isn’t alone. Airlines across the globe have drafted in celebrity chefs to advise them on in-flight menus, and true to style, they have delivered.

Here are five of Asia’s best business and first class airlines based on the in-flight meals:

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines’ culinary panel includes Alfred Portal, Carlo Cracco, Mathew Moran, and Suzanna Goin – all award-winning chefs.

The airline is renowned for its “Book the Cook” service which lets those in business and first class chose from a premium selection of dishes created by the culinary panel at least 24 hours before take off.

Qatar Airways

“The new age of airline dining revolves around you,” Qatar Airways announced on its website.

The airliner roped in four of the world’s best chefs – Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri, and Vineet Bhatia – who spent months designing the tantalizing menu.

With delights such as pumpkin and ricotta ravioli, spicy seafood soup and chicken shawarma bites, a flavor from every corner of the world has been included in the menu.

Cathay Pacific

Hong Kong’s flag carrier airline, Cathay Pacific, was the first commercial airliner to have rice cookers, skillets, and toasters on board.

This enables the cabin crew to prepare fresh rice and cook eggs to a flyer’s liking. But this was merely the beginning of Cathay Pacific’s culinary journey.

With the help of a talented culinary team, the airline put together a Western and Asian-inspired menu including dishes such as Angus beef steak, Peking duck, lamb chops, wok fried prawns and a fine selection of cheeses.

Check out the sample menu here.

Air New Zealand

The business premium menu was created by two of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs, Michael Meridith and Peter Gordon.

It features regional delights such as kiwi fruits, honey, lamb, sweet potato and of course seafood.

One of the most notable mains has to be the salmon dusted with New Zealand lemon kelp and sesame, shiitake, and spring onion rice with steamed baby bok choy.


Those in first class can order room service to their enclosed suites on some Emirates flights.

Each course in first class has been specifically picked for your flight and is served on Royal Doulton fine china.

Along with the wines on board, the meals reflect your destination and always showcase incredible flavors.

Whether it’s caviar, prime beef or lamb noisettes, Emirates promises to rival some of the world’s top restaurants with its onboard menu.

Flyers can see what’s on offer before departure via Emirates’ website.