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:

  • Amsterdam
  • Munich
  • Dubai
  • New York (John F. Kennedy, Newark)
  • Frankfurt
  • San Francisco
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • London
  • Sydney
  • Los Angeles
  • Taipei
  • Melbourne
  • 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 shops

    The lounge offerings for business class

    The food purveyors

    The destinations served

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.

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  1. Nick said,

    Did you eat your dessert before the main course?!

  2. hillrider said,

    I’m addicted to laksa.

    Awesome to see that they did such a great job with it. I am jealous! :)

    BTW, Prima Taste makes “instant” Laksa LaMian, which you can find at any supermarket in Singapore, and probably at the airport as well. It’s a great product when you need a laksa fix! (although you would have to add your fresh prawns and chicken if you want it that way)

  3. Pamela said,

    SIN to PER we had lamb loin and lobster thermidor. Both were terrific. I agree with you about Asiana food. I had the traditional Korean meal between SYD and ICN. It was delicious. If you want a rotten meal, order a gluten free meal on any carrier. On one long haul I was served the same meal for dinner and breakfast. I have given up and take Kind bars in case the menu has nothing I can eat – which has never happened.

  4. Steve said,

    I searched and searched but as far as I can tell Emirates doesn’t allow anything like this. Does anybody know differently?

  5. LeeInDC said,

    @Gary – Any decent laksa in the DC metro area? Definitely craving some after this post.

  6. Gary said,

    @LeeInDC – haven’t found any, open to recommendations!

  7. LeeInDC said,

    @Gary – I figured you would have posted if you had found any. You’ll be among the first to know if I ever do!

  8. RedHat said,

    @LeeInDC, the closest laksa I know is the one in Penang Restaurant in Bethesda, MD. The menu is “Penang Laksa”.
    The one in DC was closed years back.

  9. CW said,

    Gary, these teaser articles are just killing me. What does a guy have to do to get a full trip report around here these days?! :D

  10. Gary said,

    @CW – hahahah I am going to write this one in discrete pieces about the subjects rather than a traditional trip report, it’s an experiment, but don’t worry I have more international premium cabin trips I can do reports on :D

  11. LeeInDC said,

    @RedHat – Thanks, I’ll have to try that sometime.

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    […] Yesterday I wrote about the best meal I’ve ever eaten on a plane. […]

  13. Kalboz said,

    The Salmon dish we had back in April on UA925 was by far the most memorable dish I have had on a plane:

  14. D Wonderment said,

    can’t I guy just order a hot dog? I’m tired of gourmet in the air :)

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    […] best meal I’ve ever eaten on a plane was on Singapore, and that was flying business class. Singapore does a good job with its main meals, and their flight attendants do a fantastic job with […]

  16. Shawn said,

    I have been lusting for the laksa ever since I read this post back in August. Just booked SQ from SIN-BLR and logged in and preordered it. Hope it is as good as you say Gary! You sure sold it!

  17. Gary said,

    @Shawn – Amol who blogs at HackMyTrip says I was right about the laksa:

    “Good call on the prawn chicken laksa, @garyleff! Out of this world. “

  18. Shawn said,

    Oh I believe you Gary! Can’t wait to try it myself!

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    […] Gary has really played up the Prawn and Chicken Laksa, I decided to get that as my Book the Cook selection.  I thought it was pretty good, […]

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  22. Picking Your Onboard Meal in Advance, Cooking in Your Hotel Room, and Earning the Most Points Eating Out - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] British Airways will introduce pre-order meals in business and first class. This is more like what American Airlines has, where you order from what would be on the plane anyway (and thus make sure you get your first choice) rather than what Singapore Airlines and others (like Thai) offer where you can pick from a larger menu and they’ll have your choice onboard for you. […]

  23. purcitron said,

    preordered veal on a TG biz FRA-BKK flight… shouldve taken what they had onboard… felt like it was embalmed in salt in order to prevent spoiling.

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