Sold-out meals cause a buzz online, but are they really worth a visit to the airport?
This month, a unique vending machine appeared at Haneda Airport, filled with in-flight meals.
That’s right – now you don’t even have to step on a plane to get a taste of what the world’s airline passengers are having, because this machine is operated by Cosmo Company, which provides in-flight meals to big airline companies like Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Air New Zealand.
The machine is well worth traveling to Haneda Airport for, even if you aren’t booked on a flight, and that’s what a lot of people have been doing, because stock has been selling out regularly since it first made its debut on 3 June.
▼ There are five types of meals on offer, priced at 980 yen (US $ 7.28) each.
Located in the public entrance area on the first floor of Haneda Airport Terminal 2, this rare vending machine sells its meals frozen, so you can either take them straight home if you’re living in Japan, or pop them in your luggage and take them on the plane for heating after you arrive home, wherever your home may be.
▼ We purchased all five meals and took them home for a taste test, popping each one in the microwave on defrost for two minutes and then heating them at 500 Watts for five minutes.
▼ Coq au vin
Our introduction to the international in-flight meal range was this classy French dish of chicken braised in red wine. The taste was what you’d expect from an on-board meal – a good, reliable version of the well-known dish, with a warming, familiar flavor. The chicken and demi-glace sauce combination was surprisingly delicious, and the bed of fettuccine pasta it sat on was also much better than expected. All in all, we’d rate it highly, compared to other similarly priced frozen meals on the market.
▼ Prawn Yuzu Kosho Cream Sauce
Those who like a bit more kick to their meals should definitely try this one, as it contains a good hit of yuzu kosho, a Japanese paste made from fresh chillies and the juice and rind of yuzu citrus. It’s similar in taste and texture to a doria, as rice gratins are known in Japan, and just as tasty and satisfying.
Needless to say, this is a popular Spanish dish. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many prawns and squid as we would’ve liked here, but it’s on board with what you’d expect from an in-flight meal. The taste is definitely good, though, and if you were to open this up on a flight, you’d certainly be impressed with your meal.
▼ Gapao Rice
This classic Thai dish often makes an appearance on in-flight menus, and this one was well made, with a good quality of ingredients and a nice, well-rounded, slightly spicy flavor.
▼ Massaman Curry
Massaman has often been described as the “king of curries”, and this one ranked highly in terms of flavor. With two large chicken pieces, this made for a satisfying meal, and the Jasmine rice was surprisingly well made. This one got two thumbs up from us, as a very well-made frozen meal.
All five of the in-flight meals from the Haneda Airport vending machine were delicious and generous in their serving sizes. Definitely worth the price you pay for them, and a great way to add a bit of the high life to your everyday meals.
The only problem with these meals is how hard it is to get your hands on them. Even when we visited the machine, we were hit by a hurdle, because…
▼… every single product in the machine had sold out.
So how did we manage to buy all five of them? Well, we called the toll-free number on the vending machine, which was there so customers could notify the company if there was need for a restock. However, according to the person we spoke to, all the items, except the massaman curry, were out of stock at the company headquarters as well. The in-flight meal vending machine has proven to be far more popular than they had anticipated, and the company is doing its best to keep up with demand.
▼ Calling the company wasn’t all in vain, though, as they were able to direct us to another sales point inside the same terminal building.
▼ The Soraben Kobo store on the second floor was selling the exact same frozen meals!
While the purchase method may not have been as exciting as the automated process at the vending machine, we were just relieved that we were able to buy the meals and not have our trip to the airport be in vain.
Even staff at Soraben Kobo didn’t know about the existence of the new vending machine, and were surprised to hear that it had sold out. However, the new machine has caused such a buzz online that those in-the-know have been stocking up on the meals, so hopefully the company will be able to amp up production to meet demand.
And hopefully they’ll consider widening their reach to join other frozen meal machines in Tokyo.