In-flight food has long held a reputation as being less than appetising at the best of times, although there is no doubt that things are improving. With that said, one airline has completely bucked the trend, and has created dishes that are so beloved by customers that a restaurant has just opened so that people can enjoy them on the ground.

Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang at Santan Restaurant
Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak © Santan Restaurant

AirAsia’s Santan and T&CO brand was first introduced in 2015 as a gourmet in-flight offering. The food quickly proved to be a hit (last year over 24 million Santan hot meals were served in-flight, often sparking conversations on social media) and now, the brand has unveiled a new fast food restaurant at Mid Valley City Megamall in Kuala Lumpur. Popular dishes now available include Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak (a rice bowl that includes coconut milk, sambal, fried anchovies, crunchy groundnuts and half a hard-boiled egg) and Uncle Chin’s chicken rice, as well as pineapple fish noodles from Cambodia, chicken inasal with garlic rice from the Philippines and Vietnamese pho. Tea, snacks and desserts inspired by local flavours are also available.

Santan restaurant interior
The fast-food restaurant serves a variety of dishes from Southeast Asia © Santan Restaurant

The restaurant and café features a smart menu equipped with artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is able to recommend popular dishes based on time, past ordering patterns as well as demographic taste.

Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice at Santan
Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice at Santan © Santan Restaurant

“We have seen a significant appetite for our in-flight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region and this is our answer to that demand. We are very proud to extend what started out as an in-flight menu into new markets and reiterate our support for local and Asian producers, suppliers; apart from creating new job opportunities with affordable franchising,” said Catherine Goh, Mid Valley CityGeneral Manager of Santan Restaurant and T&CO Café. The company also said that the aim is to have five Santan restaurants open by the end of 2020 and 100 franchise-operated restaurants and cafés operational within the next five years.

More information is available at the official Santan website.

Read more: Why this Michelin-starred chef will no longer serve meat in her restaurants

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