Has it ever crossed your mind to wonder how the dishes vary amongst the four fare classes on a Singapore Airlines’ flight? Or perhaps, how and who creates the in-flight meals? We decided to take a look behind the scenes and find out more about Singapore Airlines’ meals across the First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy classes.
It was always clear to me that the services offered differed between the classes, but are the meals very different too?
In order to get a clearer understanding of the dishes at Singapore Airlines, I made a trip down to try them myself. I had also requested for all the dishes to be chicken-based, so we could see the difference across the same type of food.
A disclaimer to readers is that the taste of food differs, depending on if you’re on land or in the air. Not to bore everyone out with scientific facts, but when you’re in a plane, your blood oxygen levels naturally reduce due to the pressure at such high altitudes, thus reducing the ability of olfactory receptors. Flying has been proven to have a real adverse effect on the smell and taste of food and drinks!
For those who do enjoy in-flight meals, you might then be wondering, how do chefs prepare the meals in a way that might suit our palates better?
Well, at Singapore Airlines Terminal Services (SATS), the chefs do numerous tests within a pressurized room to simulate the taste buds of those on flights. They will then attempt to create the best tasting dish possible with that in mind.
Beginning from the least sophisticated-looking dish, we have the Thai Style Chicken Noodle. Unlike usual pad thai, the noodles were much thinner and less chewy, something like the local Singaporean kway teow.
However, I’d like to point out that the noodle texture was slightly inconsistent, with some being softer and others were rather tough.
The meat, however, was cooked till tender and was easy to chew on. There were also slices of sotong which was a rather interesting touch to the dish. Accompanied by a generous serving of vegetables and a hint of spice, the dish was simply appetising.
Moving on to Premium Economy, we tried the Roasted Chicken Rice. This dish is definitely close in taste to our local delicacy, chicken rice. The overall verdict is that it tasted very much like the usual chicken rice you can get in hawker centres, but with plumper chicken meat.
I didn’t really enjoy the short-grain rice that came with the chicken, though luckily the veggies weren’t cooked until they were too soft, retaining that slight crunch.
The meat—the star of the dish—was succulent and paired extremely well with the sauces provided. I enjoyed the red chilli sauce the most, as it reminded me of those I’d find at hawker stalls.
This dish would probably make Singaporeans miss the food back home if they had this on an outgoing flight.
From what I’ve gathered from friends my age, many have yet to take a flight on Business Class. However, I was blessed to have experienced it when I was around 13 years old.
The food actually wasn’t really that memorable, compared to the ambience of Business Class. Experiencing Business Class food again after 6 years was definitely an eye-opener.
Here I present to you, Curry Chicken served with a plate of white rice and freshly made buns. It is common to see passengers not eat the buns that come with the main course due to its stale appearance.
But did you know SATS makes their buns fresh every day at their bakery? The scent of delicious and perfectly baked buns waft out from the bakery, and it’ll definitely tantalise your taste buds! So the next time you’re on a flight with SIA, do give their buns a try.
For those who aren’t big fans of spicy food, this curry chicken might change your mind. It isn’t too spicy for my taste buds and doesn’t overpower the chicken flavours.
The broth is rich with curry spices and pairs perfectly with the fragrant white rice. Unlike the rice served for Premium Economy, this rice doesn’t have the same strong flavours. Instead, its quite bland which is why it went so well with the bold flavours of curry.
Passengers in First Class may also choose to have this dish for their in-flight meal.
To end off, we took a look at the First Class’ in-flight meal. The Pan Fried Chicken was curated by eight ICP (International Culinary panel) chefs from across the globe.
One of which is Georges Blanc, a well-known French chef and restaurateur. Over his career, he has obtained three Michelin stars and four toques from the guide Gault et Millau (a French restaurant guide).
Unlike in Premium Economy and Economy, this dish was plated beautifully—perhaps even up to restaurant standards. We wondered if it tastes as good as it looks.
Served with a peppery mushroom sauce, mixed with ratatouille. Ratatouille is a stewed dish consisting of veggies like zucchini, squash, tomatoes and eggplants. The vegetables still had some crunch to it even though it was stewed, and I personally prefer this texture.
The chicken meat was easy to slice into and was still relatively juicy when I bit into it. However, it was quite disappointing that the chicken skin was slightly over-salted for my liking. The potatoes could have also been roasted slightly more to make the skin crispier.
It is common to hear passengers lament about inedible in-flight meals. But, as a frequent flyer on Singapore Airlines and having tasted the dishes again, Singapore Airlines has definitely proven to be professionals in the kitchen. If you’d ask me which dish is my favourite, I’d definitely have to go for the Curry Chicken from Business Class.
In fact, Singapore Airlines has gone to great lengths in order to create the perfect dish for even the little ones onboard. Their network-wide Child Meal program lets each child choose their main course from three cuisine options—Asian, Western and Vegetarian.
This program is an industry-first to ensure that parents have a range of child meals to choose from, to suit their children’s preferences. The programme was designed after an intensive focus group and meal tasting session conducted with both parents and their children to find out their preferences. The dishes are also nut-, pork- and lard-free, with a list of allergens that would be made known to consumers.
It is definitely clear that Singapore Airlines’ chefs take pride in conceptualising all in-flight meals, from the recipe creation to cooking, preparation, and the presentation of the dishes.
Hopefully, this article has given you a deeper insight into the culinary creations at Singapore Airlines. What are your thoughts about their in-flight meals now?