Dragonair has introduced a new inflight menu featuring Hong Kong-style dishes inspired by local restaurant Xin Dau Ji. The sister carrier of Cathay Pacific began serving the offerings last month and will continue to do so until mid-April 2015.
The new menu features various dishes that are served in different classes on selected Dragonair flights from Hong Kong to Beijing and Shanghai, in first and business class passengers on outbound flights to Taipei and Kaohsiung, and in business class on flights flying to Chengdu, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao and Fukuoka.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific attended a tasting session hosted by both parties, and sampled some of the new dishes, including Xin Dau Ji’s signature pan-fried minced pork and lotus root cake; deep-fried cod fish with sweet corn sauce; and sweet and sour pork rib with pineapple.
According to Jonathan Chou, director of Xin Dau Ji, the dishes served at the tasting session was prepared by their own chef, and therefore the dishes were seasoned as they should be when served to restaurant customers. The seasoning inflight may be different in order to accommodate for the effects that altitude has on the taste buds.
The full tasting menu included:
Appetiser (available exclusively on first class)
Centre: Tossed prawn and spicy black fungus in spring onion dressing; clockwise from bottom: Marinated jellyfish with sliced pork knuckle; tossed scallop with marinated dried soya bean curd; five spices beef shank with preserved vegetables; chilled pork belly with garlic; and shredded chicken flavoured in sesame.
Each appetiser delivered a unique and highly differential taste. The best dish here, in my opinion, was the beef. Certain cuts of beef can have a pungent taste and here it was tamed by the five spices marinade, and the sourness of the preserved vegetable complemented the dish.
Meanwhile, I found the shredded chicken flavoured in sesame dish to be overly salty. The meat itself was already seasoned, and the sauce was also quite strong. When combined, the sodium level was off the chart.
For first class:
Deep-fried cod fish with sweet corn sauce
A signature dish to be served exclusively on first class. Alcina Au, public relations & communication manager of Xin Dau Jin said that the restaurant usually uses sole fish for the dish. However, cod has been incorporated for the Dragonair offering in order to make the dish more exclusive.
First and business class:
Pan-fried minced pork and lotus root cake
Another of the restaurant's signatures and my personal favourite among the featured main courses. The patties were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, while the lotus root provided a very nice crunchy texture.
Stir-fried scallop and prawn with bell pepper
A very mild dish that truly concentrates on allowing the natural flavours of the scallops, prawns and bell pepper to seep through. Each bite showcases the freshness of the ingredients, and the lightness of the dish makes it easy on the stomach.
Briased beef cheek with Matsutake, bai ling mushroom and celtuce
According to Alcina Au, this dish is not part of Xin Dau Ji menu, but rather a creation developed by both the restaurant as well as Dragonair. I liked this dish a lot – beef cheek is itself very tender and in this case the meat had been braised for a long time, enriching the flavour and the texture. The mushroom and celtuce, together with the gravy, truly accentuate the taste of the beef.
Stir-fried prawn with Sichuan chilli sauce
Unlike what its namesake would suggest, the spiciness of the dish was actually very mild. Instead, the chilli sauce complemented the prawn by bringing it out natural sweetness.
Sautéed chicken with shallot in black bean sauce
In my opinion, this was the weakest of the main courses. While the chicken was tender and juicy, the black bean sauce was bland and under-seasoned – which I found strange as black beans are fermented soybeans.
Business and economy class:
Sweet and sour pork ribs with pineapple
A true Cantonese classic and a Xin Dau Ji signature. The typical offering at the restaurant does not include pineapple, but this was added at the request of Dragonair. My feelings to this main course are lukewarm – while there wasn’t anything wrong with the dish, there didn't seem to be anything particularly special about it.
For more information, visit www.dragonair.com