Last year, Cathay Pacific teamed up with Hong Kong hospitality group Black Sheep Restaurants to transform the Economy Class inflight menus on long-haul routes from Hong Kong. The focus was to create contemporary dishes packed full of flavour that reflected the adventure of travel.
With 25 restaurants under its belt specialising in regional cuisines across the globe – including two with Michelin stars – Black Sheep Restaurants was a natural choice, and passengers have been tucking in to upgraded inflight meals such as the tarragon chicken with smashed minted peas and mashed potato, and the Thai-style chicken satay with coconut rice and charred gai lan.
This month, there are new dishes on the menu, and this time regional passengers flying to Singapore, Bangkok and India will also enjoy the upgraded flavours. With so many styles of cuisine available to draw on, the diverse new options include influences from Black Sheep Restaurants’ South East Asian bar and kitchen Chôm Chôm, subcontinental spicing from Rajasthan Rifles and Hotal Colombo, Middle Eastern subtlety from Maison Libanaise and classic Italian flavours from Associazione Chianti.
This translates to dishes such as a Ho Lee Fook twist on a Malaysian-inspired prawn laksa fried rice, featuring fragrant laksa rice with egg and bean curd, served with prawns, pak choi and garnished with crispy shallots – every mouthful transporting you to South East Asia.
Rajasthan Rifles brings its influence to bear on the rich indulgent flavours of a chicken korma with cumin pulao, made with cashews, cream, mint and bold South Asian spices. Taking its cue from Maison Libanaise is a hearty za’atar chicken with roasted harissa cauliflower and mashed potato, serving up the bold, comforting flavours of Lebanon.
Bernard Mills, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Customer Experience Food & Beverage and Hospitality, says: ‘Middle Eastern cuisine is becoming increasingly popular so we’re excited to introduce more adventurous flavours.’
There’s also a focus on vegetarian options, which reflects the growing trend for meat-free eating, without sacrificing flavour or satisfaction. Black Sheep Restaurants’ soulful Tuscan trattoria, Associazione Chianti, pairs creamy corn polenta with mushroom ragu, roasted garlic, shallots and butter. Elevated with white wine, cream and porcini for depth, the dish is finished with a sprinkle of parmesan.
Another meat-free option will be a vegetable curry cooked up by the minds behind Sri Lankan canteen Hotal Colombo. The dynamic Malabar-style curry is packed with seasonal vegetables and cooked in a creamy blend of coconut milk, shallots, fragrant curry leaves and spicy ginger, served with fluffy lemon rice.
Mills adds: ‘We really wanted to strengthen our South Asian offering to make the most of Black Sheep Restaurants’ huge repertoire of cuisine and to experiment with offering these dishes on some of our long-haul routes.
‘We are using flavour profiles and spices that we haven’t used before, something a little unexpected that will hopefully delight our customers.’
And that’s exactly the point. Rather than replicating a restaurant experience, the collaboration is all about adding thought and flavour to food. Black Sheep Restaurants’ founding partner Christopher Mark says: ‘The design and intent of these dishes has one aim – to add that “chef’s touch” to dishes that can sometimes get lost in the production process. Working with Cathay Pacific has caused us to focus even more on this goal, to make the food delicious and satisfying. On our budget we can’t delight people by shaving truffles on something – we need to go deeper.’
And with new inflight menus being rolled out every quarter, there will be plenty to keep appetites whetted. Mark concludes: ‘We’re working on tons of recipes at the moment and I think it’s going to get even more exciting.’
Try These New Inflight Menu Dishes
Prawn Laksa Fried Rice With Pak Choi
A twist on a classic Malaysian dish from funky Chinese kitchen Ho Lee Fook. This fragrant laksa fried rice is served with prawns and pak choi and garnished with crispy shallots.
Chicken Korma With Mushrooms, Green Peas & Pulao Rice
This Rajasthan Rifles-inspired dish offers rich flavours of the region in a chicken korma, served with earthy mushrooms and green peas.
Corn Polenta With Roasted Mushroom Ragu & Parmesan
Tuscan trattoria Associazione Chianti takes this comforting classic to new heights: creamy corn polenta is paired with roasted mushroom ragu, garlic, shallots and butter for a wholesome vegetarian option.
Vegetable Korma With Spinach & Lemon Rice
This dynamic Malabar-style curry from Hotal Colombo is packed with seasonal vegetables and cooked in a creamy blend of coconut milk, shallots, fragrant curry leaves and ginger for added bite.
Za’Atar Chicken With Harissa Cauliflower & Mashed Potato
Taking its cue from Maison Libanaise, this earthy dish of za’atar chicken served with harissa-roasted cauliflower and mashed potatoes is vibrant and comforting.