As early as mid-2012, Philippine Airlines had been boasting that it has hired the best chefs that it could find to produce a line of delicious menu which will be served onboard its flight. To tantalize the taste buds of Asian food lovers, the airline hired See Cheong Yan, a Malaysian chef residing in Manila, Japanese food maestro Masahiro Misumoto and of Dusit Thani’s Bejarong fame, Thai chef Suwanna Puangdee.
For those who love the Western menu, Philippine Airlines also included Billy King and for its home turf cooking, Fernando Aracama was given a hard task. Exactly how can you lure the international audience with Filipino cooking? The Philippine cuisine is not really the darling of the international tastebuds and lags behind with its neighbors when it comes to popularity.
In my recent flights with Philippine Airlines, I had the opportunity to sample some of the Philippine cuisines that were tailored to appeal to international tastebuds. The result is an interesting evolution of some of the Filipino favorites but I must say that the original taste and character of the food was craftily retained.
From Manila to Los Angeles, the first meal of the flight came with a selection of Western or Filipino menu. I chose the latter because it sounds interesting – beef karekare. It was an interesting twist since the karekare was substituted with lean beef and there’s no mandatory fish paste. But the peanut sauce flavored food right in front of me is as close as the real thing. The leche flan dessert was delightful and my only complaint is that the food presentation is terrible. The tray would fall had the flight attendant failed to tell me to put the Mabuhay Magazine on top of the tray table. I am onboard an aging 747 where the IFE is communal.
Another encounter with the Filipino menu onboard Philippine Airlines happened when I took a business class trip from Manila to Hongkong. I was given three choices and I chose Chef Aracama’s Pork Estofado. I swear this is the best estofado I’ve ever tasted. The meat was soft and the flavor is just right. It comes with chorizo, olives and rice but the banana slices was the most unforgettable.
The Seafood salad for the entree and the Mango Sago Pudding by See Cheong Yan was also superb. Kudos to Chef Aracama and the rest of the Philippine Airlines selected chefs. The food was indeed superb and I can’t wait to taste more selections from Philippine Airlines!