The Most Beautiful Airline Food

The words “beautiful” and “airline food” are seldom found in the same sentence. Even on the highly ranked Singapore Airlines, whether in economy or business class, the food can be erratic. However, we had a recent good experience on an SQ flight back from Osaka to Singapore. It is the most beautiful airline food we have ever seen.

Most Beautiful Airline Food

The SIA ‘Hanakoireki’ Menu

The Hanakoireki menu of SIA flights out of Japanese cities is not new. According to the SIA website, Singapore Airlines enlisted the services of Kaiseki chef Yoshihiro Murata, the owner of three-Michelin-starred Kikunoi Restaurant in Kyoto to design their Japanese meals served on the SIA Suites, First and Business classes. For the latter, the ‘Hanakoireki’ meal service was conceptualised to represent “a culinary expression of nature’s changing beauty through the seasons”. There was no “Book the Cook” option for the flight out of Osaka. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Here are pictures of the ‘Hanakoireki’ menu, regular menu and drinks menu served on our flight. We decided to try the Japanese menu and regular menu.

Hanakoireki Menu

Drinks and Starters onboard SQ 621

Our inflight meal started no differently from the usual SIA meals. Drinks were served and the usual SQ satay was served as a canape. Champagne and sake goes well with the satay.

The first sign that this was going to turn out to be the most beautiful airline food was when the appetiser of the regular menu was served. The smoked duck with mikan jam was meticulously served. This could be something on the table of a fine dining restaurant on land. It tasted very good as well. Hitherto, I have not heard of mikan. I subsequently learnt that mikan is a seedless citrus fruit. The jam really goes with the duck.

Smoked duck with mikan jam

Most Beautiful Airline Food

Things got more interesting when they started serving the Japanese meal. First they offered to change the regular Junmai Ginjo sake to the Dassai 23. Of course we accepted the offer. We have some knowledge of Dassai which once had a pop-up store in Singapore – the Dassai Sake Bar at the Japan Food Town. The rice grains used in the making of Dassai 23 had been polished down to 23%. There are various grades of Dassai sake. The 23 is high on the hierachy. I believe the top grade is the 20.

The Hanakoireki meal was served in two parts. The first part was a selection of appetisers including cold soba.

Most Beautiful Airline Food

The rest of the meal was served in a bento box. The many components of the meal are written in the menu and too many for me to remember. The taste was good overall but what impressed us most was the presentation. The details of each part were intricate and beautiful. To have this transported from the kitchen, flown and served 20,000 feet in the air and still look this good was remarkable.

Most Beautiful Airline Food
Most Beautiful Airline Food
Most Beautiful Airline Food

The Rest of the Meal

For the main course of the regular menu, we selected the seared beef fillet. It was one of the better looking dishes we have seen on an SIA flight. But on that day it looked ordinary compared to the most beautiful airline food served at the neighbouring seat.

Seared beef fillet

Things went downhill after the main courses were served. The dessert and pralines brought us down to earth and back to what airline food normally looks like.


The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog

Tradition is born of innovation. - Yoshihiro Murata  quote
Tradition is born of innovation. – Yoshihiro Murata
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