I was shocked to see it on the menu and even more shocked over how it tasted. A steak dinner on Air China is the subject of the week’s Meal of the Week.
Air China, whether valid or not, doesn’t have the best reputation. It’s often dismissed as a “Mainland Carrier” with poor food and FAs unable to communicate with English-speaking passengers. On several occasions, I have been unable to cajole Award Expert clients into flying Air China, despite attractive routing and pricing.
A few years back, I wrote a post defending Air China and I stand by that assessment.
When I worked for Star Alliance, I worked often with Air China. The carrier is determined to break through into top-tier status and has invested (and is investing) in its soft and hard product in order to achieve that goal. The meal I describe below is from a few years ago and Air China has only improved over the last few years.
I was flying from Seoul (ICN) to Beijing (PEK), a 2hr15min flight. Expecting only a pair of “Asian” choices for dinner, I was surprised to see “steak with potatoes” on the menu. Steak on a regional Air China flight? So I ordered it.
Meal service began with mixed nut and a glass of red wine…a very decent tasting red wine (though I did not inspect the bottle).
This was followed by a remarkable pepper-crusted salmon appetizer, a mesclun salad, and very tasty garlic bread.
Now came the moment of truth. How would the steak be?
Well, it was okay. Not great, but very acceptable. The peppercorn sauce detracted quite a bit from it, but the meat had a good flavor and the fried potatoes and cooked vegetables were also decent.
The meat was also cooked medium-rare. Not bad, huh?
I finished off the meal with some fruit.
I was very impressed with this dinner on a short route within Asia. Imagine American, Delta, or United offering a Chinese meal on a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles. Perhaps credit goes to Seoul Incheon catering rather than Air China, but I was very impressed with this unexpected “comfort” food. Good work Air China!