It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of AirAsia‘s inflight meals, never failing to pre-book at least one meal even on the shortest flights, with the exception of tickets booked less than 24 hours to departure when I’m unfortunately not allowed to pre-book any meals. When a viral picture of a shop hoarding of Santan at Mid Valley Megamall appeared on Facebook 3 months back, I knew I had to go try out my favourite airplane meals on the ground once it opened.
And on 3 December 2019, Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe finally did. Now Everyone Can Eat Without Flying.
Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe is located at East Atrium, Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur.
The shop lot is F-051, but is easily identifiable with the giant Santan wording on the side of the shop lot.
The interior of the Santan Restaurant. My first impression was “Why are there already people filling up almost the entire restaurant on a Thursday morning at 11am?”.
Meals can be ordered from the self-service kiosks on the wall. An ordering counter is also available, without extra “counter ordering fees” unlike staffed check-in counters at the airport.
The combo menus include a Calamansi Iced Tea alongside all main dishes.
The pricing at Santan is simple and affordable. All Combos are priced at RM15, though this makes it actually slightly more expensive than pre-booking on board an AirAsia flight, but cheaper than buying on board since it comes with a drink too, while on-board sales does not come with a drink.
All a la carte mains are priced at RM12.
Just like a plane, there is a menu of instant noodles on offer, but why would you want to do that.
I ordered a Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng (by mistake) and Roti Bom with Chicken Curry. I thought I had clicked the Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang as I thought it would be the first item to show up, but apparently I made a mistake and Ayam Goreng was the first in the menu.
As this is not an international flight but a domestic physical restaurant, 6% SST is charged. Payment can be done in cash at the counter, or at the kiosk directly using a credit or debit card.
My receipt for my in-flight meals, paid by credit card.
Heading to find a seat.
Santan prides itself in supporting local and ASEAN producers.
Just like a fast food restaurant, you have to pick up the food yourself when your number is called.
Just like AirAsia‘s new Airbus A321neos, USB charging sockets are available by the counter seats.
I picked a counter seat for this USB charging socket, and is also closer to the pick-up point for my food. There are no additional charges to Pick A Seat in the Santan Restaurant – all seats are free seating.
After about 7 minutes, my meals were ready to be collected. That was fast.
My Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Combo for RM15.90 including SST. The Combo comes with a bottle of Calamansi Iced Tea.
I won’t lie, I was slightly disappointed in myself for choosing my Nasi Lemak wrongly as I had wanted to go for the Chicken Rendang instead for a fairer comparison to the in-flight meal. But this briefly describes my feeling towards the Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng:
May I say that the Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng tasted better than all Santan Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemaks I have had in-flight before. The rice itself tasted similar, though more fresh and coconutty with a stronger santan taste (no pun intended), probably due to the humidity on the ground as compared to the dry air on board an aircraft. On top of that, the Ayam Goreng was very well spiced and crispy, and yet had a bit of the unique Rendang sauce that Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak always comes with.
Dare I say it? Dare I say it?
The Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng is the first time I have had CRISPY RENDANG CHICKEN, and it tastes absolutely AMAZING. I might even order this Ayam Rendang Crispy again and might forget about the actual Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang since that will definitely not be spiced and crispy. Eating it on the spot in the Santan Restaurant probably helped, as the chicken wont be crispy any more with so much sauces and flavours in the Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng if left for long, especially if ordered as a takeaway.
Also, I should add that the portions in Santan Restaurant are bigger than the in-flight meal boxes, which made me feel full quickly.
For a snack/dessert, I ordered a Roti Bom with Chicken Curry for RM10.60 – not something you can safely sell on board a plane with crew and passengers consistently telling each other from the airport to the plane “Saya nak Roti Bom“.
The Roti Bom tasted okay for the first and second pieces I had, though I’m not sure if it’s freshly fried as it tasted a little bit microwaved. The Chicken Curry was also a little bit watered down for my liking. I guess I prefer my Dhal and Sambal combination when I’m in Malaysia. Also, I’m not sure about Malaysia, but in Singapore, I don’t eat sugar with curry. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good when eating the Roti Bom with just a hint of curry rather than having it banjir.
Unfortunately, problems started on my third piece of Roti Bom, with a significant raw part of the Roti in the middle.
As I poked on the crispy top with my fork, it also came off easily, revealing a very doughy bottom, near the undercooked/raw part. Nevertheless, I was feeling quite full already with the big portion of “Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang Crispy” and first two pieces of Roti Bom, so I didn’t want to pursue it much. The two pieces earlier were more than enough for my lunch.
I did, however, inform a staff at the pick-up counter about this raw part so that it doesn’t continue for the other Roti Boms being sent out, and she was very apologetic, immediately taking a photo of the raw food, and taking the dish back to the kitchen. When I said I don’t need to exchange it for anything, and just let her know about this, she still made sure of it, saying, “You sure I can’t get you something else?”
On top of having the best cabin crew, AirAsia now has the best fast-food restaurant staff too.
Near to the entrance, the T&CO Cafe is in a small corner on its own, though customers can bring their food and coffee in between the two sections.
The T&CO Cafe sells coffee, tea, juices, wraps, cakes, sandwiches and onigiris from the AirAsia Santan on-board menu. The menu seems to be more extensive than the original T&CO Cafe before the slope to the linkbridge to The Gardens. Perhaps I’ll give them a shot next time. I’m going to need plenty of trips to KL now to try out all the menu items at Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe in Mid Valley Megamall.
The Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe is located beside the famous Madam Kwan’s.
After draining full-service airlines in ASEAN, Tony Fernandes is now bringing down the Nasi Lemak scene in Malaysia too. (Note: I’ve never liked Madam Kwan’s Nasi Lemak and felt that it’s overrated as it does not have a significant santan taste in it. No pun intended.)
Despite airplane food being well-known for tasting dry and sad, AirAsia is probably the only airline in the world which passengers crave airplane food on, with AirAsia even having to limit the number of meals (2) that one can pre-book on each boarding pass, and even having a separate set menu on board for people to tapau back off the plane. Now, they’re even listening to the wishes of the people who crave their in-flight meals when not flying by serving their in-flight meals on the ground. I believe most other airline would never be successful even by serving regular in-flight meals to pre-book *cough*Scoot*cough*Jetstar*cough*Lion*cough*, let alone to open a dedicated restaurant for it with a full crowd on a weekday morning, not at a meal time.
Congratulations AirAsia, and you’ll be seeing me a lot more in Mid Valley now to eat your food. (All my 4 AirAsia flights in 2020 so far are only on QZ and I don’t have as many flights as compared to 2019 when I am now a Platinum member based on flight sectors only, rather with spending as I only have 750 BIG Points accumulative. I’ll also probably be using Starmart Express Air Asia Liner rather than actually flying AirAsia to KL. I’m sorry.)