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Old Jan 16, 14, 1:16 pm
  #8  
tng11
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
"Asiana's Kaiseki is better than ANA? Impossible!" (OZ101 NRT-ICN 744 First Class)

OZ101 NRT-ICN
Boeing 747-400
December 13, 2013
Scheduled: 12:30-15:00
Actual: 12:48-15:04
Seat 1K


Ever since I started flying when I was a child, I've always had a fascination with big airplanes, especially the Boeing 747. To some extent, I still view it as the legendary queen of the skies, but I'll admit the Airbus A380 has overtaken its place in my heart. That said, I've never flown the 747 in the nose, and this flight was special to me because of that.



Thankfully, I was flying First today and didn't have to wait in that line-up. If I had one thing to nitpick about, was that First passengers were mixed in with Business passengers.



Within seconds of taking Seat 1K, the purser came over to introduce herself. She presented me with the drink menu, and I chose the Pol Roger 1999 Sir Winston Churchill champagne.

There's no question that the First Class product on the 747 is starting to look a bit tatty in places. The seat isn't the widest, nor the most private, and the screen is quite pixelated. Something feels odd about the cabin, as if the space hasn't been well utilized. Nonetheless, this still blows out of the water any domestic F or J product offered by the likes of AC, UA or AA. It was more than adequate for a 2.5 hour hop to Seoul.







Almost immediately, she returned with the bottle and a glass and poured the champagne beside my seat. She also plated some warm nuts right at my seat and wished me a pleasant journey. I had a feeling this was going to be an awesome flight.



The ISM and assistant purser also came around to introduce themselves, and to wish me a pleasant flight. Boarding was complete, and the load was 3/10, with the others seated in 1A and 3A.

Until we started moving from the gate, the purser made sure my glass was never empty. I had about 5 glasses of the Pol Roger before we had even departed.

The captain advised that our flight time would be just over 2 hours, and that there was some heavy traffic to liftoff, apologizing for the delay.

This was my first time sitting right in the nose of the 747, and the takeoff was definitely a very special experience. (I took some video, and will upload it here soon.) Shortly after the takeoff, the senior purser came around to each passenger individually and pointed out Mount Fuji on the left side as we were continuing our ascent.





Soon after, menus were distributed. I chose the Kyo-Kaiseki, and was offered more of the Pol Roger, which I declined. I felt awful that it was going to go to waste, considering that no one else was having champagne in the cabin. On another note, I was very impressed that they offered a multi-course Western menu on such a short flight.



The table was made, and the first course was promptly brought out. It was an abalone appetizer, which was plated on a beautiful dish, with amazing garnishes. It was very fresh and tender.



Next, some warm sake was brought out as an accompaniment to the meal. The main tray was then brought out seconds later, with the hot course brought to my seat separately.



Despite being served all on one tray, all I can say is WOW! Everything was absolutely delicious, and the eye appeal factor was definitely higher than the ANA Kaiseki I had the day before.

The tuna and squid sashimi was very fresh. The salmon roe again, was too salty and not the same as what I had at Tsukiji earlier that morning.



The sea bream in some kind of sauce was also great.



This was the only dish I didn't really like. It was some form of stewed pumpkin in a thick sauce served cold.



The main dish was absolutely sensational. There was a prawn, conger eel and a portion of black cod, all of which were very fresh and cooked very well. The rice was fantastic and fresh, though I merely picked at it.



The dessert consisted of a green tea mousse,with another dumpling like morsel. It was great, but I was so full that I couldn't finish.



The tray was promptly taken away, and I turned the seat into a bed to catch a quick nap with about 1:20 to go. The seat was comfortable, but it didn't seem to go fully flat (the seat back was at a small incline.) it was perfect for a quick nap though.

With about 20 minutes to go, I woke up to our descent into ICN. I was pleasantly surprised someone had brought a blanket to cover me up during my nap.

The crew came around again and asked me how the flight was, and if I wouldn't mind filling out a comments card, which I happily obliged.

The descent and landing into ICN was spectacular from the nose of the 747.





At ICN, there was quite the delay in taxiing to the gate, and we arrived at the gate just about 20 minutes late.

We then deplaned with the business class passengers. If I had to nitpick they only opened the second door, so there was quite a bit of traffic before we were let off.

A quick walk to immigration, there was a very short queue and I was at the baggage claim in 10 minutes. Almost immediately, my bags appeared. YYZ could use a lesson in efficient baggage handling and what Priority tags actually mean!

In the main terminal, I struggled a bit to get the bags off my backpack. Afterwards, I caught the AREX train to Hongik University, where I would be staying with a friend.



Verdict: Asiana's First Class product absolutely exceeded my expectations. The service was of a level one would expect on a long haul flight, and the crew was extremely polite and attentive, yet not robotic. The food was absolutely excellent, and I'm tempted to give the Kaiseki the edge over the one I had on ANA, which probably is because it was catered out of NRT and not JFK.

I was so impressed, that I thought about giving up on trying to look for LH F on my return, as I was at the time, routed on OZ F from NRT-ICN-JFK. If the product on the short haul was so good, I can only imagine what it will be like long haul in the new Suite product. Only thing is I have another Suite flight in early May, while I want to hedge my bets and try out LH F in the 744 as well as the FCT before it goes away, or is blocked off to *A partners.

(I wrote this section back in mid-December, and I did end up taking LH F in the end)
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