9.361 Beef Bulgogi


1 (Tue) January 2018

Beef Bulgogi

(served with steamed rice and mushroom)


aboard Korean Air – KE 018

-Los Angeles en route to Incheon-

with the Family

Winter Vacation in the USA, Day 14.

We spent our holiday in the States – first time for the boys – including Los Angeles and Orange County, Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon [cancelled] – the farthest (distance), longest (duration), and most complicated trip (itinerary) that we’ve ever taken.  We had great times, great experiences, great food.  Going back home today.


Los Angeles being Korean Air’s busiest destination outside of Korea, I expected their business lounge at LAX to be a little special.

To be fair, lounges are not at their best during the early breakfast/lunch period.

But even by that lower standard, this lounge was subpar: only instant noodles and fruit.

As always, I am grateful for and respectful of the opportunity to travel, especially via business class, including lounge access.  Any comments here, even the negative ones, are simply relative to other business class experiences, not complaints per se.

BEST IN LOUNGE – an on-going ranking of dining experiences in business lounges:

  1. TURKEY: Istanbul Ataturk Airport – Turkish Airlines Lounge (8.052 Köfte + Piliç) (9.056 Pide)
  2. SINGAPORE: Singapore Changi Airport – Singapore Airlines Lounge (6.237 Coconut Panna Cotta)
  3. JORDAN: Queen Alia International Airport – Petra Lounge (9.267 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon)
  4. NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – KLM Crown Lounge (6.311 Beef & Beetroot Meatballs)
  5. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Abu Dhabi International Airport – Etihad Airways Lounge (6.154 Shakshouka)
  6. AUSTRALIA: Brisbane Airport – Singapore Airlines Lounge (6.242 Scallops)
  7. JAPAN: Haneda Airport International Terminal (8.202 Clam and Spicy Tofu Stew)
  8. JORDAN: Queen Alia International Airport – Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge (6.159 Memories of Hummus)
  9. THAILAND: Suvarnabhumi Airport – Royal Silk Lounge  (7.306 Fried Black Cod …)
  10. MALAYSIA: Kuala Lumpur International Airport – AirAsia Premium Red Lounge (9.183 Grilled Y/F Tuna Steak)
  11. GERMANY: Flughafen München – Lufthansa Lounge (6.307 Chicken in Cream Sauce)
  12. RUSSIA: Moscow Domodedovo Airport (5.286 Chili Mango Prawns)
  13. INDIA: Indira Gandhi International Airport (7.313 Braised Pork Balls)
  14. KOREA: Incheon International Airport – Asiana Business Class Lounge (Satellite Terminal) (5.363 Past + Sandwich for the Elite)
  15. KOREA: Incheon International Airport – Korean Air Prestige Lounge (Satellite Terminal) (6.090 Shin Ramyeon BLACK)
  16. KOREA: Incheon International Airport – Star Alliance Lounge (2.036 Shin Ramyeon…)
  17. SRI LANKA: Bandaranaike (Colombo) International Airport (9.191 Grilled Beef Tenderloin)
  18. LEBANON: Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport, LAT (Lebanese Air Transport) Lounge (9.336 Sea Bass en Papilotte)
  19. MALDIVES: Velana (Male) International Airport (9.191 Grilled Beef Tenderloin)
  20. KOREA: Incheon International Airport (Terminal 2) – Korean Air Prestige Lounge (9.016 Probably the Best Mul Naeng Myeon)
  21. PHILIPPINES: Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Terminal 1) – PAGSS Lounge (9.330 Parrot Fish with Sweet & Sour Sauce)
  22. UNITED STATES of AMERICA: John F Kennedy International Airport – Korean Air Lounge (7.039 Sauteed Cod Fillet)
  23. SWITZERLAND: Geneva International Airport (6.311 Beef & Beetroot Meatballs)
  24. CHINA: Hong Kong International Airport (5.182 Har Gao)
  25. PHILIPPINES: Ninoy Aquino International Airport – MIASCOR Lounge (4.272 Chicken Curry…); (6.305 Chicken Congee)
  26. FIJI: Nadi International Airport (5.181 Sliced Roast Lamb)
  27. UNITED STATES of AMERICA: Los Angeles International Airport – Korean Air Lounge (9.361 Beef Bulgogi)


In 2007, while I was on a research trip in Boston, I was sitting down to a dimsum lunch with HSK, when I got a call from W in Korea, who was 8.5-months pregnant with DJ.  Water broken, she was on her way to the hospital.  A couple hours later, MIL called to say that the baby had been safely born, at a preemie weight of 2.3 kg, but otherwise healthy.   I got on the first flight back home.


From New York to Incheon on Korean Air, I was bumped up to business class – the first time ever on a long-haul flight.  The experience seemed ultra-luxe and state-of-the-art, especially the automated capsule seats.  When we were getting ready to land, I had wished the flight would last a bit longer.

Eleven years later, it’s time for an upgrade.


Again, as on the way in, I was disappointed by the meal service.  The food itself was fine, reasonably fresh and reasonably tasty, like usual.  The problem – as document in 15 posts on GMTD – is the lack of variety, lack of innovation, lack of dazzle, which suggests that the company doesn’t really care, so why should we?

Seared Scallop with Yellow Tomato Coulis (2.0)
Carrot Cream Soup (2.5)
Seasonal Salad with Tomato and Cucumber Served with Red Wine Vinegar Dressing (2.5)

BEST IN CLASS – an on-going ranking of dining experiences on business class flights:

  1. Qatar Airlines: MNL > DOH > DME (5.279 Assorted Hot Mezzah); DME > DOH > MNL (5.286 Chili Mango Prawns)
  2. Singapore Airlines: MNL > SIN > BNE (6.237 Coconut Panna Cotta); BNE > SIN > MNL (6.243 Ggongchi Kimchi Jjigae)
  3. Turkish Airlines: MNL > IST (8.046 Grilled Seafood Selections); GVA > IST (8.051 Fresh Herb Baby Chicken); IST > MNL (8.052 Köfte + Piliç); MNL > IST > GVA (9.050 Grilled Seafood Selection); GVA > IST (9.055 Grilled Lamb Chop); MNL > IST (9.330 Parrot Fish with Sweet & Sour Sauce); BEY > IST > MNL (9.336 Sea Bass en Papilotte)
  4. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: GVA > AMS > ICN (6.311 Beef & Beetroot Meatballs)
  5. Asiana Airlines: MNL > ICN (2.036 Shin Ramyeon…); ICN > MNL (6.048 Ssambap); MNL > ICN (6.305 Chicken Congee); ICN > MNL (6.321 Ssambap); ICN > MNL (8.261 Ssambap)
  6. Etihad Airways: MNL > AUH > AMM (6.154 Shakshouka); AMM > AUH > MNL (6.160 Zaalou-Crusted Chicken Breast); AUH > AMM (9.261 Prawns Machboos); AMM > AUH (9.267 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon); AUH > MNL (9.268 Malabar Grouper)
  7. Korean Air: ICN > NAD (5.175 Prestigious Repast); MNL > ICN (6.021 Bibimbap); MNL > ICN > NAD (6.101 Coconut Carrot Cream Soup); NAD > ICN > MNL (6.111 Asparagus Cream Soup); ICN > NAD (6.314 Bibimbap); NAD > ICN (6.319 Seared Seafood…); MNL > ICN > JFK (7.032 Manhattan); JFK > ICN (7.039 Sauteed Cod Fillet); ICN > MNL (7.041 Gom Tang); MLE > CMB > ICN (9.191 Grilled Beef Tenderloin); ICN > MNL (9.193 Roasted Halibut with Dill Cream Sauce); MNL > ICN > NAD (9.284 Feta Cheese with Sliced Fig and Parma Ham); NAD > ICN > MNL (9.287 Spicy Squid & Bean Sprout Stir-Fry with Rice); ICN > LAX (9.349 Pea Sprouts with Garlic); LAX > ICN (9.361 Beef Bulgogi)
  8. Thai Airways: MNL > BKK > DEL (7.306 Fried Black Cod …); DEL > BKK > MNL (7.313 Braised Pork Balls)
  9. Philippine Airlines: MNL > MEL (5.335 Chicken Tausi)
  10. Deutsche Lufthansa: ICN > MUC > GVA (6.307 Chicken in Cream Sauce)
  11. Cathay Pacific Airways: HKG > MNL (5.182 Har Gao)
  12. Fiji Airways: NAD > HKG (5.181 Sliced Roast Lamb)

AMM = Amman // AMS = Amsterdam // AUH = Abu Dhabi // BEY = Beirut // BKK = Bangkok // BNE = Brisbane // CMB = Colombo // DEL = New Delhi // DOH = Doha // DME (Domodedovo) = Moscow // GVA = Geneva // HKG = Hong Kong // ICN = Incheon // IST = Istanbul // JFK (John F Kennedy) = New York // LAX = Los Angeles // MEL = Melbourne // MLE = Male // MNL = Manila // MUC = Munich // NAD = Nadi // SIN = Singapore

The boys were overjoyed with the choice of udon.

Business class on Korean Air has become “business” in the sense of a “business hotel,” which implies no-frills competence.   As documented above, the lounge, the cabin, and the meal are competent and nothing more.  The service also falls short, relative to what is offered by other carriers, on the quality of pillows and linens, selection of movies and in-flight entertainment, and generosity of giveaways (e.g., pajamas, skin care products).  Ironically, Korea Air refers to its business class as “Prestige Class.”  The best part of Korean Air is the friendliness and responsiveness of the flight attendants.


This little lounge area offered DIY cocktails …
… but only based on Absolut Vodka.

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