Generally, budget airlines aren't known for having great food. But AirAsia, a low-cost airline based in Malaysia, is so confident about the quality of its in-flight meals that the company opened a fast-food restaurant featuring its signature in-flight dishes.
On Monday, AirAsia opened Santan (which means coconut milk in Malay) in a megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A spokesperson for AirAsia tells CNBC Make It that it made the move because customers have a "significant appetite" for its in-flight menu (which was designed by a team of five chefs) even when they're not in the air.
According to the spokesperson, the airline's Nasi Lemak dishes (a Malay rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf) sold out by the end of lunchtime on opening day.
AirAsia said it plans to open four more locations by end of 2020, and then 100 franchise-operated restaurants and cafes within the next three to five years.
So what does an airplane food restaurant and menu look like?
Each Santan restaurant will feature smart menus that will be equipped with artificial intelligence to help recommend dishes to customers based on time, past ordering patterns and demographics. Customers will also be able to place orders online or through Santan's mobile app. Prices for meals are 8 to 15 Malaysian ringgit, or about $2 to $4.
Santan's most popular dish is chef Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang, which is described as a coconut rice dish with chile sauce and a chicken stew. The meal also includes fried anchovies, half a hard-boiled egg and some nuts.
Santan also serves a Vietnamese Chicken pizza...
...Cambodian Pineapple fish fillet with noodles...
...Thai-style basil chicken with rice and a fried egg...
...and Uncle Chin's chicken with rice.
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