Singapore Airlines has been promoting local hawker fare in their inflight catering in recent times. And since travels resumed, the choices have been more varied.
As part of Singapore Airlines’ Singapore Showcase programme and to celebrate the addition of Singapore’s hawker culture to UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Hawker Culture promotion will feature a series of popular local dishes from renowned hawkers prepared by the catering arm, SATS. And it’s not just a few noodles choices too.
Nasi Lemak (Malay Coconut Rice)
In Business Class, SQ’s “Book the Cook” service allows you to select prior to departure several chef’s selections that included the Lobster Thermidor. But I also liked to choose the nasi lemak especially as a breakfast choice. The chilli is quite shiok (our colloquy term of endearment for something delightful).
And because it was just after travel resumed, the entire meal service was served on a single tray, so you can see the famous SQ chicken and beef satays with the delicious peanut sauce served alongside the nasi lemak.
These days in some long haul flights, the same nasi lemak is also available in Premium Economy Class. The same portion but not served on fancy china.
Beach Road Prawn Noodles Soup 美芝路大蝦麵
Beach Road Prawn Noodles Soup 美芝路大蝦麵 in East Coast Road is something Eastsiders like me grew up with, even though it was no longer in Beach Road since the 90s. And it is often confused with the current one in Beach Road which was also from Blanco Court, but originally from East Coast Road.
OK, enough of the confusion, it was a really good bowl of prawn noodles. It has all the trimmings – large tiger prawns, slices of fish cakes, chopped red chillis, fried shallot oil, and most importantly, crispy pork lard/cracklings.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh 松發肉骨茶
You read it correctly, it’s that Michelin Bib Gourmand Song Fa Bak Kut Teh at 20,000 feet above ground. The soup is the same peppery soup from Song Fa, but it is not served piping hot like on the ground. I guess due to the possibility of turbulence, a bowl of scalding hot soup is a hazard and not advisable to be served inflight.
Maybe it’s the cabin air but the pork ribs did taste a bit drier too. But I will also choose this for breakfast if it’s available. Imagine waking up to a bowl of bak kut teh, reliving my childhood memories of having it with my dad in the Joo Chiat precinct for breakfast.
Braised Duck Noodles 潮州滷鴨麵
Local hawker favourite of Teochew-style braised duck served over yellow noodles smoothered with the sticky, brown braise.
The duck was really dry, perhaps because of the reheating process, perhaps the dry cabin air. The noodles was mushy too. Not recommended unless you were craving for something local after a long trip overseas. But this was usually an option for flights outbound of Singapore.
Seafood Horfun (Flat Rice Noodles) Tzechar Style 海鮮炒河粉
A tzechar staple, the horfun needs to be pre-fried with dark soy sauce to give them the wokhei. And the seafood sauce made from fermented soy bean and other savoury condiments is then poured over the horfun.
This was an option for the “Book the Cook” service for Premium Economy. You have to book it 48 hours before the flight outbound of Singapore.
Singapore Mee Siam
The Peranankan style fried rice vermicelli with a sweet, savoury, sour sauce and ass-kicking sambal with chopped chives, the mee siam is a potpourri of Singapore cultures in a single dish. Used of tamarind gives it that distinct sour taste and very Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese).
I tried this for the first time for an outbound flight to Bangkok. It was very hot temperature wise and I struggled to hold it in my hands. And I was constantly fearing to tip over the entire thing.
I was surprised to find this on the outbound flight to Hanoi. And it was the dry variety but the actual thing – Singapore-style Laksa.
And the laksa was also delicious, just like the one served in the Silverkris Lounge. White thick rice vermicelli, taupok (dry beancurd), sliced fish cake and the creamy laksa coconut broth, the only thing missing is cockles. It was so comforting to eat a soupy, warm laksa up in the sky. Give me another kind of Mile High 😉
There was a bit of controversy when SQ introduced the disposable inflight cutleries and packaging during the pandemic for Economy Class. The American-style Chinese takeaway packaging was difficult to use and too hot to hold in the palm. But they also allowed the airline to introduce more local favourites like mee siam and laksa. I guess it takes a bit of getting use to.
Let’s see if this continues as travel resumes and we get back to the new normal.