JAL's new business class meals include Michelin-starred soba noodles

By David Flynn, February 22 2019

Japan Airlines will tempt travellers with a new spread of dishes in first class and business class, some designed by a Michelin 2-star chef, as the Oneworld member and Qantas partner rolls out its Spring menu for 2019.

Debuting on flights from March 1, international flights from Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports will feature a business class menu created by Chef Shinobu Namae, best known for his twice Michelin-starred L’Effervescence in Tokyo's Nishiazabu.

Namae's European-inspired cuisine on JAL's medium-range to long-range business class flights will include the likes of sirloin steak with port wine sauce or peppered butter or seafood with anchoïade sauce (below)...

... while the choice of sides will include horse mackerel escabeche, asparagus with mustard, ratatouille with conger, and burdock salad.

Namae has also helped develop new menus for JAL's popular flights to Hawaii, including both Japanese and Western-style 'resort meals'.

Across international flights, JAL's business class snack bar will also include sweet baumkuchen cake, a German pastry which has become a popular dessert in Japan after being introduced to the country by a German baker and confectioner in 1919.

First class and business class passengers flying from Paris to Tokyo/Haneda will be treated to the unique Japanese/French fusion talents of Chef Sota Atsumi, who travelled to France at the age of 19 and after studying at the likes of Troisgros and Stella Maris, in 2014 became the opening chef of the century-old Le Clown Bar, which was subsequently awarded Best Bistro in France by best-selling restaurant guide Le Foding.

Options on that Paris-Tokyo leg will include beef cheek with simmered chile-anchovy sauce and celeriac puree and (below) scallops and squid ink risotto...

... and in first class, duck confit cannelloni white asparagus and aligot. Business class sides will include mozzarella burrata with beets; salad with strawberry and hibiscus sauce; and in first class, galette with pork belly confit, and salad with mullet roe.

Savory donburi rice bowls using seasonal ingredients will be served in business and first class on flights from London, Paris, Helsinki and Frankfurt from March 1 to May 31.

The Parisian donburi includes duck breast and foie gras...

... while London-Tokyo travellers can sample seafood sashimi donburi; the Helsinki-Tokyo route features Finland pork with vegetables and ginger; with Frankfurt-Tokyo seeing pork donburi.

Finally, JAL is bringing back its soba noodles from Tsusta, a one-star restaurant from Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019, with the noodles paired with a special sauce made from truffle and chicken oil.

Earlier this week, JAL's competitor ANA launched its own upgraded Spring menu for business and first class, which now includes the option of pre-ordering up to 24 hours before the flight departs.

Read more: New meals and much more are coming to ANA first class, business class


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

01 Sep 2018

Total posts 29

Not to detract from the food, which looks great, but the "Michelin Star" concept has become such a farce in recent years, but represents a boon for marketers. There are over 200 "Michelin starred" restaurants in Tokyo, for example. I wouldn't be surprised if McDonald's is one of them by now.

22 Feb 2019

Total posts 6

There is around 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo so with 200 awarded a Michelin Star that works out to 1 in 800 or 0.125% considered good enough to make the guide. Considering how outstanding the quality of food is in Tokyo (and Japan generally) I don't think you could say they're handing them out like candies.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 28

Michelin Star simply indicates that I can't afford it. My experience with soba noodles is that they are noodles. The best way to ensure that you will enjoy a decent meal, is to make sure you are hungry.

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 32

The JAL business class meal (Japanese option) is already my favourite business class food. This looks great.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Restaurants and elsewhere (such as airlines) think it's trendy or upmarket to describe meals in arcane terms.

For those of us who are not foodies, many not not know what 'conger' meant. I had to look it up. I bet the flight attendants wouldn't know either if asked, so it's an example of very poor communication.

Not ABT's fault: it's just repeating how the airline describes it, but when one needs a glossary, it's a fail, especially given that for most JAL attendants English won't be their first language, hospitable as they may be.

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