Singapore Airlines (SIA) has introduced a new in-flight Chinese dining concept for passengers travelling in Suites or first class between Singapore and Hong Kong.
Dubbed “Shi Quan Shi Mei”, the new experience features a nine-course menu designed by Chef Zhu Jun, a member of SIA’s international culinary panel, and is inspired by the Confucian ideal “one should only consume food that is in season”.
Benjamin Chan, SIA's general manager in Hong Kong also revealed that the airline will be offering a tea pairing service, to complement the seasons. For example, in winter the “Si Quan Shi Mei” set will be paired with Feng Huang Dan Cong (Phoenix Dan Cong).
The Star Alliance member is also introducing a new series of Chinese tea leaves – including Mao Feng, Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, Tie Guan Yin and Pu Er, which will be available all year.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific attended a tasting session hosted by SIA last week. Here are our thoughts:
Braised goose breast and tofu
Braising is one of the gentlest cooking methods, leading to succulent and tender meat. I did find the tofu to be slightly bland, however, even though it was accompanied by a light soy dressing.
Marinated yellow croaker on wild vegetable salad
The wild vegetable salad is a popular Shanghai classic that will appeal to Chinese food lovers. The croaker fish was deep fried, beautifully seasoned and complemented the gentle taste of the greens.
Pickled bok choy, edamame beans and dried shrimp salad
A multi textured dish. The crunch from the edamame beans worked well with the bok choy, my only complaint was that I could barely taste the dried shrimp.
Traditional Shanghai salted pork and bamboo shoot soup
My personal favourite dish from the menu. The pork was incredibly tender, while its saltiness helped flavour the broth beautifully. The bamboo shoot has a robust taste, which added body to the soup.
Braised sea cucumber, baby abalone and pumpkin
Easily the star dish on the menu. Abalone and sea cucumber are well-known luxury delicacies in Chinese cuisine, and are traditionally served at special functions such as weddings and celebrations. All three base ingredients have extremely subtle taste, which I was worried wouldn’t translate well at high altitude. However, Chef Zhu has added an oyster sauce dressing to the dish, which adds flavour.
Stir fried chicken with morel mushroom
The dried morels added plenty of intensity to the dish, while the deep fried chicken retained much of its natural moisture and tenderness.
Kai lan with garlic
Unfortunately, the weakest dish of the bunch. The vegetable was very bland and the garlic did little to improve the flavour.
Chinese cured pork meat and sausage rice
According to Angeline Khoo, SIA’s vice president for inflight services, this dish is inspired by clay pot rice – a popular mainstay in Hong Kong. The cured pork meat and sausage added a natural saltiness to the rice, while not being too overpowering. Unlike fried rice, the rice here was steamed which translated to a softer texture.
Green tea glutinous cake
The final course offers plenty of potential, but unfortunately the serving I received was rock hard – on the verge of being frozen. I did see that as a one-off accident though, and I have confidence that the cake served to customers in-flight will be fluffy and soft. Tastewise, the matcha cake was flawless.
For more information, visit singaporeair.com