One of the worst choices of meals in the air was noodles. These were usually mushy blobs of starch mixed with lots of sauce so that when they reheated the meal, the sauce would reconstitute back into the noodles, which made the noodles even more mushy. Not anymore.
It used to be if you want noodles in an airplane, you will be served cup noodles. I actually quite enjoy those during those long haul flights. And if you have noodles as a meal choice, it could not be any good.
However with advancement in inflight catering and reheating technology on board, noodle dishes served are getting better and close to what you can get on the ground. Here’s some of the recent examples that I was really impressed with.
Local Choices on SQ
In between meals, SQ offers light bites that usually included a noodle choice. Like this sliced fish bee hoon, I never expected a hot bowl of delicious bee hoon in the middle of the night across the Pacific. The fish used was not fantastic and very thick. Of course the reheating made it worse, but the vermicelli was still bouncy and retained the bite.
Yellow noodles are very difficult to reheat as they turn mushy very easily. However this Hokkien prawn noodles was really delicious, with a prawn broth that was comparable with many good hawkers. And I was surprised to find bean sprouts too,
And now this is a challenge – the bak chor mee is a national dish for Singapore and it is difficult to please anyone because everyone has his or her favourite. First of all, I don’t like bak chor mee the soup version, so it would be even more difficult to impress me. But the minced pork was cooked perfectly with a couple of mushroom meat balls that I loved. Too bad the only thing missing was the pork liver.
There was a really bad example too. This time with yellow noodles and there was prawns!
And then there’s the bee tai mak (rice noodles), I was totally surprised by this choice. Even in Singapore it was difficult to find bee tai mak, never thought it would be available up the air.
Noodles As a Main Course
And then there’s the choices for main course – like this fried Hokkien noodles, wonderful created with a lime and good sambal.
And once on the trip back from Tokyo, SQ offers a ramen as a main course choice. There’s black fungus mushroom and a whole braised egg in the ramen, and the only thing missing is the broth. The broth did not have the sticky texture that most Japanese ramen had.
Other Airlines’ Noodles in the Air
And then there’s other airlines trying to uncrown SQ with their business class product. First up, British Airways and their wanton noodles (for their SIN-HKG sector). Horrible noodles and wanton with really thick skin.
Cathay Pacific’s fish ball and fish cake with egg noodles used the HKG style egg noodles that has that al dente bite, and it turned out to be delicious. And the fishball was better than SQ’s.
Next up, fish ball vermicelli from Thai Airways. While the overall flavour was authentic, like what you would get on the streets of Bangkok, there was too little soup in the fishball bee hoon. The fish ball was not bouncy and too much vermicelli that clumped into a lump. But the anchovy broth was hot and perfect as a supper. And the use of kale was wonderful for my daily intake of greens.
JAL has a special ramen available on their between-meals snacks. Kyushu Jangara 九州じゃんがら is a ramen with long thin noodles in cloudy rich tonkotsu pork bone broth. It was so delicious that I wanted another bowl, but I was too shy. This is the best ramen in the air so far for me. Period.