JL 9 ORD-NRT First Class
I was the last passenger to board and was welcomed by four beautiful Japanese flight attendants who directed me to my seat, 2K. There was one other passenger who had originally been booked in 1A but had moved to 1K. I didn't feel it necessary to move at this point, and the cabin felt very private with only the two of us being served by three FAs. My first impression of the cabin was mediocre. Not because there was anything wrong with it but because it looks nothing like the pictures on JL's website. The leather and seats were more grey than tan and the design seemed more clinical, but these complaints were all superficial and only a product of different expectations.
I was offered pajamas and led to the larger of the two F lavs where the door was held open and then closed for me. This was an indication of the service to come, and the same FA was waiting outside to hang my clothing when I opened the door. There was no offer of PDB, which I understand is typical of Japanese carriers due to some Japanese government regulation. I was offered a selection of newspapers and a hot towel, which was the first of maybe five or six offered during the flight.
Hot towel and newspaper
Each FA came to my seat individually, kneeled, and introduced herself while pointing at her name tag. While the procedure felt robotic it was appreciated as I had trouble understanding their accents. This was a hint at what to expect ahead, as their English skills were quite limited. I have flown many international carriers and JL's FAs were by far the least proficient in English. This is typical of Japan, however, and I knew what to expect. I was given a large leather binder that contained the menu, wine list, immigration forms, duty free, and a small card signed by the FAs thanking me for flying with them.
Poached "Matsutake" Musrooms & Spinach
Fluke "Sashimi" Roll / Laver Jelly
Steamed Abalone dressed with Cream Cheese
Smoked Salmon & Egg Yolk "Sushi" Style / Sweet-simmered Chestnut
Soy-marinated Beef-Tongue / Grilled Lobster Miso Flavor
Sesame Tofu with Raisin / Simmered Prawn
Grilled Squid / Yam Jelly with Chopped Okra
Simmered Conger Eel & Vegetables
Steamed Greenland Halibut with Chestnut
Seasoned Rice with Crabmeat
We are pleased to offer freshly steamed Koshihikari rice.
Stewed Chicken in Japanese Soup
Bleu Cheese Cream with Celery Boat
Crabmeat Salad with Grapefruit
Hors d'Oeuvre (Choice)
Lobster and Foie Gras with Ravigote Sauce
Salad Appetizer with Salmon Cake, Tartar Sauce
Main Dish (Choice)
Grilled Fillet of US Prime Beef with Wild Mushroom Sauce
Free Range Chicken Breast au Jus
Miso Flavored Sea-bass with Pancetta Provençal Sauce
Maracuya Cake with Blueberry Sauce
A LA CARTE
Steamed Anglerfish Liver Mousse with Soy Vinegar Sauce
Jellyfish mixed with Sea Urchin
"Yakitori" - Skewered Grilled Chicken and Chicken Ball
Assorted American Artisan Cheese
Japanese A La Carte
TOKYO CURRY LAB. X JAPAN AIRLINES
Japanese Vegetable Keema Curry with Steamed Rice
~Tenderly stewed new feeling keema curry~
Eel "Teriyaki" & Grated Yam on Steamed Rice
Western A La Carte
Mushroom & Potato Chowder
Hamburger & Potato Chips
Crabmeat Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce
Japanese Hot "Udon" Noodles with Seaweed
Healthy Menu Selection
Prepared Fresh Fruits
"Natto" - Fermented Soybeans
Grilled Sablefish "Saikyo Miso" Flavor
Veal Ribeye Steak with Saffron Morel Sause
Vanilla Ice Cream
LIQUEUR & SPIRIT
Aperitif ∙ Cocktail
Tio Pepe Dry Sherry
Martini Rosso[sic] Sweet Vermouth
Martini Extra Dry Dry[sic] Vermouth
Lejay Crème de Cassis
Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Years
Suntory Hibiki 17 Years
L&G Woodford Reserve
Bombay Sapphire Gin
Brandy ∙ Liqueur
Rémy Martin X.O. Premier Cru
Baileys Irish Cream
Graham's Tawny Port 30 Years
Champagne SALON 1999
Champagne Dom Pérignon 2003
Domaine du Pavillon Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2007
Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris Grand Cru Kanzelerberg 2005
Weingut St.Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2011
Arvga Branca Vinhal Issehara 2011
Chateau Rauzan-Ségla Margaux 2007
Domaine Michel Gros Nuits Saint George 2006 or 2007
Kenzo Estate "rindo" 2007
Kusuda Wines Syrah Martinborough 2009
PREMIUM JAPANESE SAKE
Isojiman, Sakatomo, Junmai Daiginjo, Emerald
Sharaku, Junmai Daiginjo, Shizuku-tori
Premium Japanese Shochu
PREMIUM JAPANESE TEA
ROYAL BLUE TEA "Queen of Blue"
JAL Original Drink "SKY TIME"
Oolong Blended Tea
Cold Green Tea
Still Mineral Water
Sparkling Mineral Water
Japanese Green Tea "Sen-cha"
Roasted Japanese Tea "Houji-cha"
Selection of Tea
(We proudly serve you "Mariage Frères" Tea of France)
Orange Pekoe Ceylon
Earl Grey Impérial
"Marco Polo" Flavory Tea
"Bourbon" Herbal Tea Non-Caffeine
JAL Café Lines
We departed a few minutes late but expected an early arrival due to a flight time about an hour shorter than blocked. The 77W blasted into the sky almost alarmingly quickly with those wonderfully powerful GE90s. I really can't wait to fly one in American's beautiful livery, hopefully some time next year
When the bell chimed for 10,000 feet the FAs sprung into action. There was a little bit of confusion when I was first approached, in retrospect I think she was just suggesting I look at the menu, but I ordered the Japanese option with caviar to start along with a glass of the Salon 1999 champagne. A very small champagne flute was promptly delivered along with a tablecloth and silverware set wrapped in a napkin. The champagne was poured at my seat.
Napkin and silverware
Salon 1999 Champagne
It was interesting, but a bit dry for my taste and after two glasses I switched to the 2003 Dom Perignon whose honey sweetness I adore (which is interesting because I'm usually a fan of drier whites). Soon amuse bouche were offered along with a set of different Japanese snack mixes. I really enjoyed the dried lotus root from the snack mix.
Amuse bouche and Japanese snack mix
Next the caviar plate was offered (the Dom continued to flow) with the usual garnishes. The lemon peel had been artfully cut which while pretty was extremely impractical as it makes it nearly impossible to squeeze the juice without making a mess.
Caviar with traditional garnishes
An FA asked if I wanted the Zatsuki of poached Matsutake mushroom with spinach, which was excellent. At first I couldn't find the chopsticks as they were underneath the purple napkin I assumed was decorative as I already had the napkin delivered with the silverware. After figuring this out an FA seemed shocked to see me using chopsticks. I bet most Westerners don't order the Japanese option anyway, but everyone I know can use chopsticks proficiently. Perhaps it's a Seattle or west coast thing.
Poached Matsutake mushroom with spinach
Next I was brought the Japanese appetizer. It was packaged in a beautiful two tier wooden box wrapped with a ribbon. Everything inside was delicious, though I confess I wasn't really sure what it all was.
Japanese appetizer box
Clockwise from upper-left: sesame tofu with raisin and simmered prawn, soy marinated beef tongue, simmered conger eel with vegetables, fluke sashimi roll with laver jelly, smoked salmon and egg yolk with sweet-simmered chestnut, steamed abalone dressed with cream cheese
After that was cleared I was offered rice and asked if I wanted crabmeat on it. Who would ever say no to crab? (An aside, but I maintain that Dungeness crab is the best in the world and vastly superior to lobster) The halibut was easily the best I've had and the chicken soup good too.
Steamed rice with crabmeat
Steamed Greenland halibut with chestnut, stewed chicken in Japanese soup
After all my food was cleared the FA asked if I wanted anything else to eat. At first I said no but she pushed me saying there had been some misconnects so I conceded and asked for some more caviar and Dom. I was pretty full at this point but accepted the offer of dessert, though only ate a few bites as it was pretty mediocre.
Maracuya cake with blueberry sauce
She asked if I wanted the Japanese dessert too and when delivering it struggled to explain what it was. I could see that it was mochi so interrupted the awkward silence which elicited a relieved smile.
I asked for a cup of the Grand-cru Bellavista Farm Colombian coffee. It was delivered in a french press with an hourglass counting down the brewing time. As a Seattleite I was happy to see such attention to detail with coffee. It was easily the best cup I've ever had in the air.