Review of Singapore Airlines A380 dining experience on Business Class: A meal worth $321
Bring your passport
There have been many emotions flinted while boarding an aircraft. Most of the times, it's excitement fuelled with exhaustion, after having to clear most of the pre-holiday stack of work before scrambling for the departure gates. Sometimes, it's loneliness when you're missing family that you're leaving behind. Fear and dread, for those stricken with anxiety of aerophobia or as you catch a crying baby in your line of sight on your red eye. Certainly, no one misses that.
But on the A380 dining experience with Singapore Airlines, it was bizarre — to the point I was glad my face mask was concealing most of my amusement. We knew what we were in for: a meal on one of the finest aircrafts that would be parked stationary on the runway of Changi Airport. We weren't boarding to get to a destination; the plane was the destination. To make the stimulation as legitimate as possible, security clearances are still a mandatory checkpoint, complete with your passport in hand. Boarding calls are announced as per usual, and soon in the long walkway to enter the aircraft, you get hit with wafts of 'that airplane smell' that I still can't pinpoint where the source is. Beyond the number of bad jokes I could have concocted if I actually had a person to dine with, there's a good sense of belonging and nostalgia as one would feel reuniting with an old friend.
Approximately three hours to stew with my inside jokes and feelings — from the comforts of my own cubby hole in Business Class. What. A. Trip. First things first, Airplane Mode, because when will you ever get to use that to justify your momentary absence. There's always going to be an appreciation for the feature.
To play up the extravagant dinner was local chef Shermay Lee who brought her Singaporean classics to the Business Class menu. Her main course, Nonya Grandma's Nasi Lemak and for dessert, gula melaka ice cream sandwiches. I opted for the International Selection, where choices of mains include Book The Cook's grilled beef fillet, pan seared prawns in saffron broth, and a Japanese styled Chilean bass with miso and mushroom flavoured rice, which ultimately became my pick of the lot.
Peering through the window, you are met with the occasional dystopia with a dark, empty runway. Also, while flight attendants in their Kebayas try their best with smiles that evidently now had to reach their eyes, the sensory stimulation is still nowhere to be found. Whether it be white noise from the plane's engine hurdling through the skies or the stillness that emanates through the entire airbus. I obliterated the aforementioned with noise cancelling headphones and a slapstick comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani.
After a ceremonial Singapore Sling, the dinner commenced with a familiar snack: SIA's reputable satay generously adorned with satay sauce. Thick, tender chunks of meat deftly seasoned and charred. This wasn't the most expensive course to shout out about, but it was one moving plate that reminded me of our national airline's prestige and the reason for its global success. It was also perfect timing that a glass of Sauvignon Blanc swiftly followed after, before the first course landed.
The smoked salmon didn't exactly make a hard-hitting impression — even with the presentation, which typically would hold its own when you're tucking into a typical Business Class meal aboard. Perhaps it had something to do with having a cold dish on an airplane that sticks out like a sore thumb, but temperature aside, the first course didn't feel so much like a first course as it did as a side salad.
The segue into a bread course did manage to ease the disappointment before the main course was served. Again, the presentation failed to match up to how I used to remember meals aboard a pristine white tablecloth. Perhaps a bigger plate could have been brought in? Looks aside, the chilean bass was undeniably a silky smooth fillet to demolish, especially with fragrant mushroom rice on the side. Joining them, were yuzu-infused vegetables to cut through the fat.
The meal took on a playful turn when dessert came along. Shermay Lee's gula melaka ice cream sandwich is one worth getting your hands sticky. Neither cloyingly sweet or artificially made, the piquant block radiates with childish joy and reckless abandon sandwiched between two crisp wafers. I didn't have to try the cheesecake sable (the other dessert on the menu) to know that this was the winning sweet of the night.
For $321 dollars? It's hard to measure up to that when you aren't breaking apart molecular cuisine — well unless you have a serious fetish for planes. Miles redemption would make more of a justifiable cause in this scenario.