Thursday, May 25, 2017

Celebrating Asian Flavors with AirAsia's Santan Food Festival

Pad Thai with Prawns. Thai Green Curry. Korean Kimchi Stir-Fried Chicken. Miso Chicken with Garlic Rice. Chicken Adobo. South Indian Delight. Nasi Kuning Manado. Nasi Lemak. Chicken Rice. Roti Jala with Chicken Curry. Hungry? Then get ready to fly...

AirAsia takes inflight meals to new heights with its wide range of authentic regional offerings to complete your experience with Asian-inspired Santan cuisine. Read on for a tasty peek at AirAsia's Santan meals in the largest inflight food tasting event in Asia and first ever Santan Food Festival...

Drawing inspiration from the rich and diverse culinary heritage of the region, Air Asia's innovative initiative adds a burst of vibrant flavors to enhance your onboard experience en route to Air Asia's expanding network of destinations. And there's nothing quite like the comforting flavors of Thai Green Curry at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet...

Awarded the World's Leading Inflight Service title at the World Travel Awards Grand Finals last year and the Catering Innovation of the Year Award by Onboard Hospitality, AirAsia continues to lead the way in innovative inflight offerings with its Santan-inspired meals reflecting the richness of the region's cuisine. Now everyone can fly and savor unique regional flavors adding yet another layer to the onboard experience...with AirAsia (for more on AirAsia, check out my previous posts, An Afternoon with Pacman via AirAsia and Going the Distance with Pacman at Midas Cafe, and more posts on my other travel blog, Summer's Here: AirAsia Celebrates Return to Clark Airport with Inaugural Flight to Kalibo, I Am AirAsia Travel Photographer: AirAsia and Nikon Launch Search for Best Travel PhotographerGoing the Distance with Pacman and AirAsia and Pacman Up Close).

Santan, a Malay term to describe coconut milk, is a common ingredient among many regional Asian dishes, yet each cuisine is distinct from the other. From Thailand's famous Green Curry to Malaysia's Nasi Lemak, the infusion of coconut milk along with Asian spices adds a creamy and savory richness to the region's iconic dishes.  The versatility of coconut milk as an ingredient and cooking base is reflected in the various offerings of AirAsia, showcasing the best of the region. Aboard AirAsia Flight Z2 942 to Kuala Lumpur, I sampled the newest addition to AirAsia's wide range of Santan meals, the Thai Green Curry with Rice (P 149 ala carte/P 199 Combo), an aromatic and fragrant dish with authentic Thai spices and soft, fluffy white rice.

Served fresh and hot with all its flavors at its peak, the Thai Green Curry with Rice delivers bold and contrasting notes, with the heat from the spices tempered by the creamy coconut milk capped by the subtle sweetness of the vegetables. It's the blend of flavors, with each note complementing without overpowering the other that makes this dish so comforting. The distinct flavors of the creamy coconut-milk infused sauce, the rich blend of spices, the tender chunks of chicken, the fresh vegetables, and the soft rice combine in a seamless blend giving AirAsia's inflight meals a flavorful and competitive edge over other carriers in its class. Impressed, this is just a preview of even more flavors yet to come...

After a satisfying Santan meal and a short nap, we finally arrived, touchdown Kuala Lumpur International Airport...

A short walk through the expansive and spacious interiors of Kuala Lumpur International Airport leads you to Tune Hotel, our home for the next three days. Conveniently located right beside Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Tune Hotel is your own private sanctuary ideal for lengthy layovers (stay tuned for more on Tune Hotel on my next post, Well-Tuned: Smart, No-Frills, and Uncomplicated at Tune Hotels KLIA Sepang).

The next day, a short walk from Tune Hotel takes you to AirAsia's corporate headquarters, RedQ, located near the busy Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The heart of AirAsia's expanding operations, RedQ was the stage for the first ever Santan Food Festival and largest inflight food tasting event in Asia.

The Atrium at RedQ is an impressive multi-tiered layout with a spacious and open center area, a sleek and modern workplace reflecting AirAsia's youthful and dynamic image. And first impressions do count, punctuated by the iconic red splash of AirAsia's corporate identity and branding. Seeing red and loving it, at AirAsia's impressive RedQ.

AirAsia employees use the central open area for short casual meetings, a leisurely meal, or just a spot to chill before the next assignment. One can now understand where AirAsia sources its inspired and innovative approach, as it continues to change the game and lead the regional aviation industry. There's an upbeat and dynamic vibe that permeates throughout RedQ, that same enthusiasm that carries over down the line throughout the system reaching and engaging each customer contact point online, at the desk, and onboard. And there's no better stage than this for the Santan Food Festival by AirAsia.

The busy workplace continues to hum without skipping a beat, as the various food stations were set-up for the Santan Food Festival. Each station represented an iconic dish from one of AirAsia's Southeast Asian markets, giving the Santan Food Festival a vibrant regional vibe.

Air Asia's Santan Food Festival, the largest inflight food tasting event in Asia, gathered more than 200 members of the media and key influencers from 16 markets, specifically Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

The casual atmosphere at RedQ was infectious as guests were entertained by lively performances from the AirAsia X Cabin Crew and internet sensation, AirAsia's very own dancing  flight attendant, Assraf Nasir. The different food stations were then formally opened, and it was time to experience Air Asia's Santan Food Festival...

Sampling portions of AirAsia's Santan meals were served, reflecting the diversity and richness of Asian flavors. AirAsia's first restaurant brand in the sky is off to a great start...

Each distinct dish recreates the authentic flavors of the region, from the savory Miso Chicken with Garlic Rice... the mildly spicy Korean Kimchi Stir-Fried Chicken. The flavors are real and upfront, forever changing my perception of the usual inflight meal. It's yet another innovation from AirAsia as it constantly finds ways to enhance the onboard experience. 

The fresh snap of plump prawns with its briny sweetness, the soft yet firm noodles, and the medley of rich spices come together in AirAsia's Pad Thai with Prawns, another dish with textural and rich flavor contrasts.

The popular Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice, the Malaysian version of Hainanese Chicken Rice, includes richly seasoned rice topped with tender slices of roast chicken and served with Uncle Chin's secret chili, ginger, and garlic sauce, is another favorite. The subtle richness of the tender roast chicken is kicked up by the sharp notes of the spicy sauce, perfectly rounded out by soft, fluffy, and seasoned rice for another winning meal aboard AirAsia.

The culinary event even featured a cooking demo for the popular Thai Green Curry with Rice meal, a personal favorite, with AirAsia Regional Manager of Group Inflight F&B Chef Calvin Soo aided by some of Asia's top influencers, adding to the celebratory feel at AirAsia's RedQ.

And there's more. AirAsia customers can enjoy a wide variety of signature hot meals, from the traditional Malaysian Pak Nasser Nasi Lemak and Indonesian Nasi Kuning Manado...

...Roti Jala with Chicken Curry, South Indian Delight, and even the comfortingly familiar Filipino Chicken Adobo. It's flavorful options like these that sets AirAsia's inflight service apart, think of it as a unique and flavorful upgrade to the onboard experience.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Kamal's Mee Goreng Mamak, Ashok's Butter Masala Chicken Biryani, Nasi Dagang with Chicken Curry, along with sandwiches and wraps, and Kid's Meals too, AirAsia offers both value and authentic flavors for a memorable onboard experience.

Authentic. Regional. Asian. With so many flavorful options onboard, flying AirAsia is the way to go. And you'll be glad you did. It's a great way to start any journey...with AirAsia.

Greeted by loud cheers, AirAsia's main man arrived, Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandez, and the AirAsia Santan Food Festival reaches a frenzied and energetic pitch. Along with members of AirAsia's top management, Tony Fernandes welcomed guests to the Santan Food Festival with his friendly and warm signature smile...

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandez met with the different delegations to explain the unique culinary concept, another game changer in AirAsia's continuous stream of innovation. "Food is a great unifying factor across the region. What we are doing is bringing the wonderful flavors of Asean into Santan to create a unique food experience onboard. The flavor profile and pricing of inflight food has always been a challenge but we believe that with Santan, we can create the first restaurant brand in the sky that is both tasty and affordable," said Tony Fernandes.

Tony Fernandes also revealed hints of more innovative programs, as innovation never stops at AirAsia. "In line with our digitalisation efforts, we will leverage on data we have from more than 400 million guests carried over the years to create better, more innovative inflight offerings, including for Santan. We will implement an electronic point of sales (ePOS) system soon that will make ordering and payment as easy as a restaurant and allow us to better understand what our guests want. We are also exploring the use of green packaging and inflight coffee trolleys to enable us to serve freshly brewed premium coffee onboard, and we will continue working with local Asean enterprises and farmers in developing F&B products," added Tony Fernandes.

AirAsia's Santan Food Festival is just one of many innovative initiatives, with many more yet to come and in the pipeline. To enjoy your Santan meal on your next AirAsia flight, customers are encouraged to pre-book their meals and enjoy even more savings with the Santan Combo Meal. Guests who pre-book will be assured of meal availability as well as priority meal service onboard.

Three flavorful and memorable days in Kuala Lumpur comes to an end, as we head to Kuala Lumpur International Airport for the flight back home to Manila. Onboard, memories of an awesome experience in KL linger, grateful to be part of AirAsia's Santan Food Festival, and one last look at KLIA 2.

In full circle, the smooth flight back to Manila aboard AirAsia Flight Z2 943 seals the final link in an amazing journey of regional flavors. But not before one final taste of Santan, with AirAsia's popular Uncle Shin's Chicken Rice.

The popular Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice (P 149 ala carte/P 199 Combo) recreates the richness of Santan's regional flavors, with just the right level of heat, a regional signature, tempered by the soft seasoned rice. Nothing like rich flavors to complete your onboard experience with AirAsia.

And just like that, you're home.

Terima Kasih Malaysia. And thank you, AirAsia. Now everyone can fly. And savor the rich and authentic flavors of the region...with AirAsia.

You can follow the AirAsia Santan journey through the hashtag #AirAsiaSantan and #SantanFoodFest or the latest AirAsia news, activities, and promotions on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Tune Hotel is located at Lot PT 29, Jalan Klia S4, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, 64000 Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia or call +60 3 8787 1720 for inquiries and more information.

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