First off let me tempt you with some “food pr0n” :
The holy grail of airplane cuisine
As frequent upgrd.com readers know, the search for a tasty, properly cooked steak on a plane is an ongoing mission of Mike. Many of us here have joined in his Quixote-like search: (Elyse, Sara, Josh, Matthew, Sluggo, me). As you can see above, I’m pleased to report that Cathay Pacific can do a steak medium rare. This was for the second meal, and cooked to this temperature without asking. Much better than the typical on board option of well done….or more well done.
I’ve talked a lot about other experiences on my trip to Bali, and this was the last notable segment of the trip. Thanks to other travel lately its been a little while since I’ve posted to this trip report. My last posts were my stay at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui and some lounge hopping at Hong Kong before this flight.
I was unable to find availability for the flights directly or O’Hare, so I booked our return flight to Toronto, on flight 828. Unlike our previous flights, the cabin was completely full. There was still a bit of a seat shuffle on board. My wife and I were actually assigned seats 1A and 1K, but we eventually switched to 1D and 1K. This is one of few annoyances I had with my Cathay experience; assigning seats beforehand was a pain, and even after changes in the lounge, some changes on board were done on most flights.
Once at our seats, we began to settle in. This was the first flight without an orchid in the holder in the suite. But the Cathay First Class Suite is just great. I’ve detailed the Cathay First experience in the post from my outbound flights from Chicago to Hong Kong.
Pre departure Krug, hot towel, and amenity kit and pajamas.
The service on board was predictably good. There were 2 flight attendants provided most of the service where I was seated. Due to the departure time and my lack of an appetite soon after departure, I spend some time reading and exploring the IFE rather than eating right away.
The informative Studio CX remote
Once I was ready to dine, I alerted the flight attendants, and unfortunately my first choice (the guinea fowl) was no longer available. Not a big issue, and since I was the last person to eat, I’m not totally surprised that my choice was not available.
Here is the menu from this flight:
Champagne Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne
White Wines Estancia Reserve Monterrey Chardonnay 2007
Vincent Giradin Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 2008
Red Wines Kalleske Greenock Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Finca El Origen Gran Reserva Malbec 2009
Château Lynch Bages 2004, Grand Cru Classé Pauillac 5th Growth
Port Ramos Pinto Quinta da Ervamoira 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Apertifs and Cocktails
Campari * Martini Rosso * Martini Extra Dry * Tio Pepe Sherry * Harveys Bristol Creme Sweet Sherry * Tanqueray Ten Gin * Bacardi Rum * Belvedere Vodka * Bloody Mary * Screwdriver
Whiskies Chivas Regal 12 Years Old * Johnnie Walker Blue Label * Canadian Club * Gentleman Jack Bourbon * MaCallan 17 Fine Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Cognac Tesseron Lot 76 XO Tradition
Liqueurs Cointreau * Drambuie * Kahlua * Bailey’s Irish Cream
Beer International Selection
Signature Drinks Cathay Delight * Pacific Sunrise
It is our pleasure to welcome you on board Cathay Pacific
Your First Class menu today offers a carefully selected variety of fresh, seasonal dishes, together with an award-winning selection of fine wines and beverages. We are pleased to offer you a choice of authentic Chinese favourites or contemporary international cuisine – please feel free to discuss your preferences with the cabin crew. They are more than happy to serve your meal at any time.
We hope you enjoy your flight, and should you need anything at all to make your flight more comfortable, our cabin crew will be delighted to assist.
Caviar and Balik salmon “Tsar Nicolaj”
- Cream of chicken soup
- Mixed salad with balsamic vinaigrette
- Grilled U.S. striploin with herbed butter, roasted portabello mushroom and vine ripened tomato
- Pan-fried guinea fowl breast with red wine sauce, sauteed creamy mixed mushrooms, green beans, capsicum and pumpkin
- Green peas and mint agnolotti with roasted capsicum and carmelised pearl onions
- Pork soup with marrow and red dates
- Cold plate – pork shank terrine with black vinegar
- Stir-fried fresh water garoupa with superior sauce, served with steamed jasmine rice and stir-fried pak choy
Cheese and Dessert
- Cambozola, Comte, Double Gloucester, Chaumes
- Fresh berries with cream
- Chocolate bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce
- Double boiled fresh pear with Chinese almond sweet soup
Tea and Coffee
- Hong Kong style egg tart
- Braised beef shank in noodle soup
- Shui gaw with choy sum in noodle soup
- Assorted sandwiches: Smoked turkey breast with rocket lettuce mayonnaise, shrimp with lemon cream cheese, parma ham with sundried tomato and cornichon
- Hot pot rice with spare ribs in black bean sauce and choy sum, served with pork soup with carrot and buddhist palm melon
- Häagen-Dazs Ice cream
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- Stir-fried lobster with ginger and oyster sauce,steamed jasmine rice, black mushroom with oyster sauce and choy sum
- U.S. Angus beef tenderloin with spinach, carrot, and finger potatoes
- Spinach and ricotta cheese tortellini with saffron cream sauce, capsicum and tomatoes
- Lemon cream bavarios cheese mousse cake
Tea and Coffee
- orange, apple, tomato
- Coke Zero, Coke, Coke Light, Sprite, Perrier water, tonic water, soda water and ginger ale
- freshly brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and caffè latte regular or decaffeinated
- Fuding jasmine silver fur, Anqi supreme Ti Guan Yin, Japanese, Hong Kong style milk tea, organic selection: English breakfast, camomile, earl grey and peppermint
The huge tray table
Pork soup from Chinese menu
I watched a few shows, then eventually asked the flight attendants to make my bed, which consists of a comfortable mattress pad and a soft duvet.
Evian provided as part of turn down service.
I’m blessed/cursed with the ability to sleep most anywhere, and thanks to the very comfortable bed, I got a decent sleep. These seats are nice for relaxing, and excellent for sleeping.
Good night from 35,000 feet
After a restful nap, I (amazingly) felt like a snack. I was tempted by the egg tarts on the snack menu. Its somewhat of a Hong Kong speciality, and since we were leaving, I didn’t know when else I might have the opportunity.
Hong Kong egg tart
As we got closer to arrival, the flight attendants offered the second meal service. Amazingly, I still had some room, and as mentioned at the top, I went with the tenderloin.
fruit plate starter for the refreshment
yes, I’ll have another Cathay Delight
tasteful presentation of the refreshment course
Mike, does this meet your requirements?
Not only was this cooked properly, it tasted excellent. No, it was not the best steak I’ve ever had, but it was a very impressive airline meal. One of the best meals I’ve had on board, and certainly the best beef entree.
I finished this meal with some lemon mousse cake and….
As we were approaching Toronto, customs forms were distributed. In addition, one of the flight attendants asked if I would be willing to complete a survey about the Cathay Pacific service. I was still thinking about that amazing steak, and I was happy to express my pleasure about the service overall, so I was happy to provide feedback.
One of several questions asking for a grade on staff grooming…
I got a Cathay Pacific pen as a souvenir from the survey, so it was worth a few minutes of my time.
Soon we were on the ground in Toronto. Cathay Pacific used Terminal 3, which meant for very short immigration times (although there was quite a walk to get there). We collected our baggage, and took the train to terminal 1 where we caught our United flight to Chicago. This was on a separate ticket, and upon booking it was a A320, it was later changed to a E145 operated by ExpressJet. Sitting in seats 12B and C was a bit of a reality check after 4 flights in Cathay Pacific First Class suites.
I’m very happy I was able to enjoy Cathay Pacific’s excellent first class service. Their seat is one of the best out there, and although they are removing some first class cabins, it still is one of the more attainable premium products out there. I think I got these for a steal at 150,000 British Airways miles each, particularly since my wife and I both had over 100,000 of them from the Chase offer from 2011. Unfortunately more recent offers are not as lucrative as it was some time back, plus the Avios program doesn’t allow for great deals such as this. Currently, American or Alaska miles are probably your best bet for Cathay Pacific redemptions for North American travelers.