Lobster Thermidor, seared hazelnut-crusted veal fillet, Cantonese roast duck, pan-fried barramundi in pepper sauce – they're just some of the highlights of Singapore Airlines' Book the Cook service, which upgrades inflight meals to become a fine dining experience above the clouds.
The word's best airlines have long since moved past the "chicken or beef?" era when you're flying at the pointy end of the plane, enlisting expert chefs to transform the business class and first class cabins into a five-star restaurant.
Singapore Airlines goes one better with a Book the Cook menu where travellers select from a dizzying array of dishes before their flight rather than choosing from the standard inflight menu, which by necessity is far more limited in its range.
On top of the regular handful of mains offered in business class, Book the Cook adds eight more dishes on flights out of Sydney and Melbourne – including seafood thermidor with buttered asparagus, Tasmanian salmon in wild-lime butter sauce, barramundi in black bean sauce with baby bok choy, lamb loin in Thai green curry, and SQ's home-town favourite of Singapore chicken rice.
When you're flying out of Singapore that expands to a staggering 46 dishes from Western, Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Thai, Indian and of course home-grown Singaporean menus.
Flights out of certain cities also offer some local dishes. For example, the choices ex-Barcelona include paella, braised Iberico pork cheeks and a breakfast platter of Spanish cold cuts.
And this is all in business class, mind you: first class passengers have an ever greater spread to tantalise their tastebuds pre-flight.
Why you should Book the Cook
Yet is astounds us that so many travellers on Singapore Airlines flights don't know about Book the Cook. We're on a mission to change that, because this is an experience you don't want to pass up.
(It's also the best way for frequent travellers to mix things up rather than face the same meals again and again.)
Here's a sampling of Book the Cook dishes the AusBT team have enjoyed on recent Singapore Airlines flights.
The star of the Book the Cook show is, of course, the classic lobster thermador.
In first class you're served a whole Boston lobster...
... while business class passengers can tuck into a meaty lobster tail.
If you're booked on a morning flight from Singapore, the Nasi Lemak makes a delicious change from the standard western breakfast.
One of the popular lunch dishes on flights from Singapore is the marinated roast duck (it's soaked in a mix of dark soy sauce, spices and Chinese rice wine) with fragrant yam rice.
This superb beef fillet is one of the first class supper options on SQ flights from London to Singapore.
It's also available in business class on the same leg.
For something different, try the Japanese kyo kaiseki breakfast in first class...
And, on a flight from Singapore back to Sydney, how can you go past the chicken & lamb satay skewers, accompanied by a Tiger beer?
Choosing your Book the Cook meal is easy: it's one of the options listed when you manage your booking at the Singapore Airlines website, and you can specify each meal on each leg of your itinerary.
The only caveat is that you need to make your selection at least 24 hours before your flight departs, so the meal can be prepared to order and loaded onto your flight.
You can browse Singapore Airlines' Book the Cook menu across the entire SQ network.
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