The biggest surprise about this entire mealtime was that I was even having it in the first place, having originally been scheduled to fly with Oman Air, until they bungled their schedule and everything went to hell. As a result, I – and very few others from the flight, it would have to be said – were appropriately hosted by Malaysia Airlines instead. So since I was there, I wasn’t about to disappoint my handful of followers by letting a good mealtime rant opportunity pass.
Airline: Malaysia Airlines MH001
Route: London – Kuala Lumpur (Approx. 12.5 hours)
First on the menu tonight was the ‘beef brisket’; actually it wasn’t first at all, first up was the chicken satay – now offered in pairs of two in order to facilitate savings for Malaysia Airlines, which is completely ineffective because the first thing I did was ask for the crew not to be so cheap and pass me out more; nor was I alone in doing so – which as always came plated at each seat, and while looking deeply greasy and distasteful, tasted absolutely heavenly.
Sorry – so back to the beef brisket. I’m not sure what to say about it – it was a beautifully tender piece of meat, for sure, but it was also ice cold. Is beef brisket supposed to be devoured at a temperature as cold as an Irish summer’s day? I never thought so. Alongside that, some random leaves and twigs were served, along with some sauce underneath that reminded me of baby food, based on my increasingly distant memories.
In addition, though I repeatedly declined to enjoy a bread roll with the starter, the butter was carefully placed down, I guess, in case I had a sudden desire to try buttering the brisket. Come to think of it, the friction might have at least increased the temperature of it somewhat.
Procuring an alcoholic drink however was an immense challenge, and after an initial offer of an apple juice, orange juice or water, I could no longer resist and had to insist I was brought a more acceptable beverage for the time of day.
Interestingly, once that was done and the first drink had been served, it became nearly unlimited freeflow after that, with repeat pourings throughout the evening. In fact, at one point when I went to make use of the conveniences and was standing waiting for it to become vacant, the crew member immediately set about pouring me another glass without a word spoken between us.
The main course was some kind of low-grade chicken in ‘hot garlic sauce’. Overall I think what was meant here was spicy as get-out, with the flavour tamped down only by the addition of a handful of garlic flakes across the top of it. The chicken cuts were at times gristly and horrendously chewy, but the flavour surprisingly worked and at the times the whole thing nearly worked. Nearly – until I’d notice the cut of the carrots that looked like they’d come in a pack for kids, to make them more excited to eat their greens. Not adults spending thousands to fly in luxury.
Lastly, a neon raspberry mousse that again, looked like something that might have escaped a children’s birthday party.
You know, it’s hard to be cynical about this meal; alcohol was available by the bucketload once you went ahead and asked for it, it gave me great puzzlement trying to figure out why the carrots were cut like they were for kids and why the beef brisket was ice cold, and last of all, of course, I was never expecting to be in this cabin in the first place. Is it super luxurious for a business class cabin? Nope. It kind of works, and the meal was mostly satisfying despite the largely underwhelming presentation, service and aesthetic.