To those who invest in the perks of first and business class, dining is an important part of it, and it must be memorable.
These top airlines serve up sumptuous in-flight meals to punctuate your trip with epicurean delights.
Air travel authority Skytrax gave Emirates the top spot on its list of The World’s Top Airlines of 2016 for a reason—it truly does not compromise in providing a luxe flying experience. Like any good restaurant, Emirates’ in-flight menu is seasonal, which means that the food will depend on which flight you’re on: where you’re coming from and where you’re going, what time of the year it is, and the general demographic of the passengers aboard (trips to Africa, for example, tend to feature Far Eastern cuisine, to accommodate the Chinese majority of passengers who fly in on business).
So if you’re planning a trip and would like to consider the food on board, you’ll have to check the flight menu on its website. In January 2017, one of its flights from San Francisco to Dubai had Chilean sea bass in papillote, roasted beef tenderloin, achaari murgh (an Indian chicken dish), spinach and pine nut ravioli, and roasted lemon chicken on the menu for mains; with a broad selection of Champagne, wines, and cheeses.
But one of the most recent additions to its ever-changing menu is a traditional Kaiseki meal for first and business class flights between Dubai and Japan. The First Class Kaiseki menu features five courses, including cold appetizers, a hot dish, flavored rice, pickled vegetables, miso soup, and traditional Japanese sweets with a cup of green tea.
To assemble its first- and business-class menus, Qatar enlisted internationally-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa. As the chef behind one of the world’s most well-known Japanese restaurants, Nobu, he brings a gourmet quality to Qatar’s in-flight meals for its premium class passengers. Qatar’s sample menu includes, for its main courses: thyme roasted chicken with supreme sauce, potato gnocchi and seared tomatoes; Iranian mix grill of lamb chops, kofta and chicken tikka with broad bean saffron rice; oven-roasted mustard and dill salmon; and stuffed spinach crepes with mushroom, cheese, and tomato sauce. These, of course, come with a plate of cheeses and dessert, as well as a selection of fine vintages.
On top of that, as any truly luxurious airline should, Qatar Airways is considerate of the diets of its passengers, accommodating several different kinds in its special menus: meals for children, for people of different religions, vegetarian meals, and meals for different medical conditions.
This airline has an International Culinary Panel—eight renowned chefs from different parts of the world who bring their own specialties to a seasonal menu. As a whole, Singapore Airlines’ fare spans a broad range of cuisines: Western, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, Malay, Thai, and Indian. These all change depending on where you’re flying out from, but the best part is that first class passengers can order in advance and reserve their meals via their Book The Cook service online. Among the most tempting offerings on the airline's departure flights from Singapore is a sumptuous Boston lobster thermidor, which is sautéed in butter, flambéed in brandy, sprinkled with cheese, and served with creamy mushroom sauce, garlic and spicy mustard, and buttered asparagus. What a way to arrive anywhere.
ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS
ANA’s first class passengers are treated to a menu that’s divided into two main categories: Japanese Cuisine and International Cuisine, each with a separate team of chefs to attend to the menu cycles. Until February 2017, flights from Singapore to Japan serve simmered beef in soy-based ginger sauce, fermented soybeans, deep-fried sablefish with grated daikon radish sauce, and steamed rice or rice porridge with miso soup and Japanese pickles for the Japanese Cuisine menu. Flights from LAX to Japan, however, serve an incredible, if daunting meal full of fresh seafood including red snapper, sablefish, monkfish, sea urchin, and so many more.
The menu aboard a first class Qantas flight is designed by Neil Perry, one of Australia’s best chefs and proprietor of the Rockpool group of restaurants in the land down under. When it updated its menu in June 2016, Perry included a Duck L’Orange to the menu, which looks absolutely delicious. First class passengers may choose this among a rotating menu of 12 main courses, with the opportunity to indulge in an eight-course meal as well. Also, fliers in First from Sydney have the additional option of a Neil Perry Rockpool Market Inspirations plate—a dish based on seasonal produce that changes every six weeks.
Since November 2016, Gerard Wieser of Michelin-starred restaurant Les Crayeres has been at the helm of all of Lufthansa’s first class meals. Among the main courses listed on Lufthansa’s January 2017 menu are sous-vide prime boiled veal with red hot pepper mostarda, root vegetables and parsley potatoes; fried winter cod with roasted onion stock, green beans, shiitake mushrooms and potatoes; spinach cannelloni with oven baked tomatoes, taleggio and parmesan cheese; and chicken roulade with carrots and braised potatoes.
For passengers aboard flights of three to seven hours in its highest cabin class, Premium Business, LATAM serves two meals, each with three choices. The standout among them is the Argentinean Beef dish, served with fresh vegetables and Chilean olive oil.
While we’re all pretty familiar with the farm-to-table movement, Korean Air tries to take it up a notch (or a few thousand miles) higher with its promise of “Farm-to-Flight” meals for first-class passengers. The pastures of Jedong and Jeju come together in the plates aboard the plane, as in this meal, lead by a beef medallion with asparagus dish. Among its other more famous offerings, however, are the Jedong ginseng chicken soup, traditional Korean bibimbap, and Korean-style Dongchimi noodles.
English TV cook and former model Lorraine Pascale is behind the dishes of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class flights, which include a selection of lemon thyme chicken, seafood linguine, Keralan curry, and tuna steak. But the real scene-stealer is its Weeping Tiger beef salad, a Thai dish made with chilled strips of tender beef fillet served on mixed crisp leaves, sweet mango salsa with coriander, red chilli, and weeping tiger dressing.
JAL takes pride in Japanese cuisine, which is why its first and business class passengers are treated to the works of nine chefs from JAL BEDD Sky Auberge, its “restaurant in the sky." While JAL does offer international cuisine aboard First Class, there is much more emphasis on Japanese cuisine. Its dainomono, or main course on the menu by chef Seiji Yamamoto is a wagyu beef fillet sukiyaki.
These are just a few select dishes in a sky full of first class flights with delectable offerings. Fine dining is always a treat, but when you’re 30,000 feet up in the air and just about to arrive in a new place, it’s a particularly exquisite experience.