Japan Airlines' first class lounge in the Main Building of Tokyo Narita Airport's Terminal 2 may still be under renovation, but for many travellers the most important section is already open.
That's the dining hall, where JAL has broadened its existing sushi bar concept to introduce fresh-made ramen into the mix, along with a selection of other à la carte options for passengers to enjoy before their flight under the banner of 'JAL Table'.
Open to Japan Airlines' first class passengers, as well as Platinum-grade frequent flyers travelling internationally with JAL – such as Qantas Platinum and other Oneworld Emerald cardholders – here's what you can expect to taste before your flight from Narita.
(While those renovations continue, Qantas Platinum and other Oneworld Emerald members won't have access to this lounge when departing on other partner airlines such as Qantas, but that's expected to be restored later in 2019 when renovation works are completed.)
Japan Airlines' first class lounge dining: Sushi Tsurutei
A long-time staple of JAL's first class lounge in Tokyo, the sushi bar of old has been revamped as part of the lounge's broader transformation, but is still prepared in front of you and fresh to order.
The only trouble you' may have is finding that sushi counter, which is tucked away in the far corner of the lounge. As you pass by reception, turn left, walk to the end of the corridor, take another left, and then come around to the left one more time, and you'll enter a room like this.
Sushi comes in a set plate of three, with the menu changing weekly so that regular travellers don't tire of the same fare:
On the day of my visit, the set on offer included maguro, boiled conger eel and rolled egg. I enjoyed the first two: the eel was particularly flavourful, with the rolled egg being acceptable but giving the appearance of 'filling the plate', as it's common for travellers here to order their sushi sans egg:
Here's a snapshot of what some of the other sushi menus look like, from that rotating menu:
Japan Airlines' first class lounge dining: JAL Table (Ramen)
Next up, the ramen counter at JAL Table: much easier to find, as it's in the main dining area just beyond reception:
There's a choice between two ramen dishes: the Afuri yuzu and salt-flavoured ramen, and the JAL Original "Tonkotsu" ramen.
I opted for the former, which was prepared quickly and retrieved from the counter when my pager beeped – a rather aromatic dish, and a tasty one at that:
While I didn't sample it on this visit, here's what your other option looks like, the JAL Original ramen:
Japan Airlines' first class lounge dining: JAL Table (Western)
Finally, if you have a hankering for some Western-style food during your time in Asia, or something less common than sushi or ramen, the left-most counter at JAL Table is dedicated to satisfying that craving, with six options available on the menu.
[Click or tap on the image above to enlarge it.]
On that list, a five-mushroom spaghetti, a meat plate (offering Chinese-style fried chicken with scallions, sweet vinegar and soy sauce), Japanese-style braised beef and tofu, a chicken Caesar sandwich plate, fresh salad, or Tiramisu.
After sushi and ramen, I was ready for dessert and went with the Tiramisu. The portion isn't particularly large, which I actually appreciated, as it didn't spoil my appetite for a bite on my flight back to Australia later that evening – and of course, there's always the option of ordering a second if you want something more!
True to the JAL Table name, the plate comes served on a 'table' from the counter: and for something to drink alongside, Japan Airlines offers a choice of Champagne in its first class lounge.
Guests can choose between Taittinger or Laurent-Perrier, which is self-served back next to the sushi counter or nearby the main lounge buffet.
As you'd also expect, there's no shortage of saké. While my Japanese skills are admittedly limited, I rather enjoyed what can only be described as the blue-label saké in the centre of the trio.
All things considered, Japan Airlines' upgraded first class lounge at Tokyo Narita Airport takes something already great – the sushi bar in the former first class facility – and builds upon it to bring a fresh focus to pre-flight food and dining, and a broader range of options for those seeking more variety.
While the first class lounge will quite literally be taken to another level when renovations of its second floor are completed later this year, even now, this is one lounge that's worth arriving early for.