Singapore Airlines offers a ‘Book the Cook’ service. You can pick the meal you want from an extensive menu that varies based on cabin class (business class or first class) and varies from city to city. Different airports have different choices.
It’s only offered on flights departing from 14 cities, and 16 total airports:
- New York (John F. Kennedy, Newark)
- San Francisco
- Hong Kong
- Los Angeles
- Tokyo (Haneda, Narita)
Singapore isn’t the only airline with such an offering. For instance, Thai Airways makes this available, so does EVA Airways. And if you want a Royal Korean meal on Asiana flights departing Seoul you need to order it in advance.
Choices and quality varies, and sometimes you may be happier with what’s offered onboard than what you’d order in advance. But there are certain times when it’s almost always better to pre-order a meal. For instance, if you’re flying Singapore Airlines flight 1 out of San Francisco to Hong Kong, it’s a late departure with “supper” service. You might want the lobster thermidor, but allow me to suggest that the Beef Bulgogi is excellent.
Here’s the trick — and the other time that pre-ordering is a no brainer: Singapore Airlines offers the pre-order option departing from Singapore of course. They offer it to first and business class customers. And they offer it on all flights with business class except for the short Kuala Lumpur run.
So no matter where you’re going, no matter how short a flight — even if it’s just Thailand or Indonesia — you can pre-order. You’ll get the same pre-order entree that you would flying business class Singapore – London.
In general I think that Asiana has the very best food. If you like Japanese cuisine, ANA cannot be beaten. Singapore Airlines food is very good, although they are seriously lacking in their midflight snacks on long haul flights.
Since their entrees are generally great, and you can have any of them on a 2 hour flight in business class it’s tough to go wrong. And that’s how I wound up having my single best airline meal ever on a 2 hour flight between Singapore and Bali. (Sadly pre-ordering is not an option for departures from Bali — this really is a service meant for long haul and the only Singapore Airlines destination from Bali is a mere two hours away, hence it isn’t something they offer).
Now, virtually everything is better departing Singapore.
The lounge offerings for business class
The food purveyors
So it should be no surprise that even flying short-haul business class:
The food would be better, too.
Had I chosen to select from the menu on-board, this is what I would have been offered.
Braised egg noodles.. or chicken rice.. or an omelette. Granted much better than I would get at breakfast on a US domestic first class segment, let alone one that’s only two hours. But still, not mind blowing (although I cannot fault them for offering Charles Heidsieck champagne.. a ~ $45+ bottle in a bottle shop and again just a two hour flight).
Instead, I pre-ordered from their business class menu for Singapore departures.
I could have had a rib eye, or New Zealand lamb chops (for breakfast!), or lobster thermidor (my choice on this flight last time, though it was a dinner flight).
I could have had beef rendang, or duck in red thai curry.
Instead I chose the Prawn and Chicken Laksa,
Rice noodles in a rich, coconut cream seafood gravy with prawns, chicken, fish cake, deep-fried beancurd and bean sprouts
And it was fantastic.
When pre-ordering you get the rest of the meal as-provided on the menu. For this flight, it was a single tray with appetizer and desert. It’s only the entree which is different from the menu.
And it was good enough that, whereas I hadn’t thought to pre-order for my subsequent Singapore departure in first class to Hong Kong, I made the call and ensured I’d get to have the laksa again several days later. It was just that good.