2.036 Sautéed Seafood Delights in Mandarin-Style XO Sauce


10 (Thu) February 2011

Sautéed Seafood Delights in Mandarin-Style XO Sauce


on Asiana Airlines

-Manila to Incheon-


Research Trip to the Philippines, Day 4.

In Manila.  Here Monday through Thursday to meet with WHO to initiate a project reviewing health legislation in countries across the region.  Excited to visit the Philippines for the first time.

Even though the food was consistently disappointing, I enjoyed the experiences nonetheless and felt that I learned a bit about Filipino food and culture.  I hope to be back someday soon to continue the exploration.



The day started out quite nicely, in terms of food, a first for the 4-day trip. At the airport, the business lounge was pleasantly absent of Shin Ramyeon, not being a facility specific to a Korean carrier, and instead offered several items to my liking: fried rice, chicken curry, and chicken congee, as well as Johnny Walker Black Label and Coca-Cola Light. It was the best meal that I had during the entire trip.

Below the clouds.

Due to a lack of seat availability, I had been not-so-reluctantly forced to upgrade my return flight to business class, which was worth every extra mile. Within 10 minutes of boarding, the not-so-unattractive flight attendant offered me a choice of beverages – not-so-surprisingly, flight attendants get hotter as the seat prices go up.  I chose the bubbles.


Above the clouds.


As always, I am grateful for and respectful of the opportunity to travel internationally, whether for fun or for work, on any seat but especially via business class (see BEST IN FLIGHT), including airport lounge access (see in BEST IN LOUNGE).

I find business class meals to be ridiculously amusing in a number of respects.

  1. A printed menu is provided and describes the offerings like actual restaurant food.
  2. A flight attendant comes in advance and writes the order down.
  3. This part of the procedure features recommendations from a wine and liquor list, which is included in the menu.
  4. Before the food is served, a white table cloth is draped over the tray, extracted from the armrest.
  5. The meal is served in separate courses: appetizer, main, dessert, sometimes cheese.
  6. The silverware, which is not provided in a plastic bag but wrapped in an actual linen napkin, includes one implement for each course.
  7. The napkin is an actual linen napkin.
  8. The salt and pepper come in miniature porcelain shakers.
  9. The several varieties of bread rolls, not just a simple white buns, are offered in a basket by a roving flight attendant with tongs.
  10. The butter is provided in a dish, not a plastic cup with a tear-off lid.


Although the food was marginally better than the crap served back in coach, particularly in terms of ingredients, it’s still airplane food. They also provided a tube of gochujang, just in case the Korean passengers can’t wait 2 hours for Korean spices.


The best part of business class that can’t be disputed is the booze. I asked for a “big” glass of Scotch after dinner, an 18-year-old Chivas Regal, and she gave me the fattest pour that I’ve ever seen outside of home. For scale, I placed the glass next to a bottle of 250-ml water. I had 3 more just like it during the flight.


Incidentally, I think the only thing better than a business class seat, maybe even better than a first class seat, is a business class seat with an empty one beside it.


By the time I got home, I was too drunk and too tired to do anything about food. I wanted some kind of spicy to wash away the icky from the past few days, but the only thing available that didn’t require more than 10 minutes of prep was a single package of Shin Ramyeon, which I hadn’t purchased but had involuntarily acquired through some promotion at the supermarket. And then W arrived to rekindle a fight that had started and not been resolved prior to my departure. So I really wasn’t in an eating mood.   The low rating is thus a reflection of the circumstances, not related to my general dislike of the brand, which is more about its exasperating omnipresence rather than its inherent taste or quality.


I did not intend to bookend this series of posts in the Philippines with comments about Shin Ramyeon.


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