I head to the Cathay Pacific First Lounge before my flight to Hong Kong; it’s my favourite Lounge in London Heathrow (T3) and I use it whenever I’m traveling with a Oneworld carrier. There is nothing quite like having a leisurely glass of wine and enjoying the views of the tarmac.
There is wide array of snacks and breakfast items available on the buffet table, as my flight leaves at midday so I was at the tail-end of the breakfast service.
There is a dining room with a reasonable à la carte menu. I opt for the selection of dumplings and the wonton noodle soup.
The lounge is like the Pier First Lounge in Hong Kong and I spend most of time enjoying the decor and ambiance before my flight.
Cathay has a small First Class Cabin with 6 seats in a 1-1-1 configuration. The suite, which has a very large chair with an ottoman for a dining companion. The suites have three large windows to enjoy the views of the clouds. The suite is open with wood grained finishes, the upholstery is a light beige and the interior of the suite is padded with soft leather. The focus is more on soft tones with an understated luxury rather than bling. A large dining table is stored to the left of the suite, near the window.
There is a 17-inch TV screen which is stored in the side of the Suite. Next to the TV screen (to the right) is a mini closet for storage of suits and shirts. The TV screen detaches and moves directly in-front of you when you decide to view the in-flight entertainment – this gives you the flexibility to continue viewing your programme during take-off and landing.
You can easily adjust your seat with the touchscreen controller and you can even enjoy massages from the seat. The suite has remote controls for lighting and the in-flight entertainment in the side with a storage section beside for your essentials (passports etc.) during the journey.
The Amenity Kit & Pyjamas
Cathay provide pyjamas and these are designed by Hong Kong fashion house Pye. We are also provided with noise-cancellation headphones for the journey. The pyjamas a pretty luxe and comfortable, while I’m not into the green look they do the trick.
The amenity kit is an Aesop grey compact case which is pretty simple and lacks the luxe you see in the Emirates and Etihad amenity kits. There are the staples; toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, earplugs, comb and a microfibre cloth. There are only two main beauty products an Aesop Rosehip Seed Lip Cream (which is useful) and Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum. The kit focuses on practicality rather than luxury. Personally other than JAL, Etihad and Emirates I found most of the other amenity kits pretty disappointing. Even Qatar has ditched the luxe Armani cases they had when they introduced First on the A380. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.
Caviar with traditional garnishes; blinis, chives, creme fraiche and chopped eggs
Cathay Pacific source their caviar from Calvisius. I have reviewed this on a prior flight with Cathay, so here is the background:
“They use Calvisius Venise which is a Siberian caviar from Calvisano, a town in the province of Brescia, Italy. The area is rich in spring water and the purity of the water creates an excellent ecosystem for the sturgeon which provides the caviar. It takes approximately seven years for the sturgeon to reach maturity for harvesting and they are given the best of care throughout.”
The caviar has a dim darkish colour with a shimmering translucent glow. The jelly-like texture and light moisture is enticing to the tongue. There is a beautiful minerality to it which is quite indescribable. The caviar is Malassol (which means it has ~3% salt), so there isn’t the hard salinity hit as found in other caviars.
The view from the clouds seems oh so magical I don’t want this moment to end. The alluring flow of the Amour de Deutz Blanc de Blancs, the assertiveness of caviar’s natural flavours paired with the buttery pillowy bilinis and accompaniments. It’s the perfect dish to enjoy as the Minons buckle up for their flight of adventure.
Deutz Cuvee Amour De Deutz, Blanc de Blanc, Champagne (2009)
This is a lovely blanc de blanc champagne which is made mostly from grand cru chardonnay from both Avize and Mesnil-sur-Oger (the town where my favourite Salon champagne comes from).
The champagne is an excellent choice by Cathay; I do love my blanc de blancs. It is expressive with wonderful perfumed floral aromas along with some notes of apples and peaches which fritter effortless through the nasal senses. It is well balanced with good citrus flavours, flowy acidity and a flourishing minerality which tantalises the palate.
White Zucchini Soup
The soup is reasonable. It is smooth, delicate and creamy with a very mild flavour. There is some nice textural crunch from the croutons.
Personally one of the best soup dishes I’ve had has been with Cathay, which was a Truffle Potato Leek Soup on a New York to Hong Kong flight. This soup was a solid dish but lacked a creative spark of the other soup.
Salad of prawns, avocado, cherry tomatoes, baby romaine and new style cocktail sauce
This would have to be one of my favourite salad dishes. Forget the simply dry mesclun leaves this dish is special; there are the succulent prawns which are done just right; firm, not overcooked and full of their natural flavours, the creamy smooth avocado and fresh crisp romaine leaves and the juicy tangy cherry tomatoes. The dish is full of fresh and refreshing ingredients which are then accentuated by the tang and mild spice of the cocktail sauce. It’s such a wonderful experience and goes well with the champagne.
Seared Lamb Rack, pea mousseline, smoked red peppers and chimichurri
The Lamb Rack ticks the taste, aesthetics and textures box in what is a pretty stunning. There is the smooth pea mousseline, the smokiness of the red peppers and herby tangy flow of the chimichurri and the delicate peas which surround the dish. The lamb is juicy, tender and succulent and ravishes the palette. It’s a dish which fires on all cylinders and it’s easy to see why this is a winner.
Chateau Lynch Bages, Grand Cru Classe, (2004), Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
I pair this dish with Chateau Lynch Bages. This is a flagship Cathay Pacific wine which was served in most of its First Class routes, however it has now been scaled back to just the London to Hong Kong route. I am delighted to see it on the menu and it proves the perfect accompaniment to the lamb. The strong cassis, dark cherry and currant aromas display their elegant presence on the nose. On the palate mild blackfruit flavours run rampant with integrated notes of tobacco, mocha and spice notes as nice smooth tannins round out the experience.
Crunchy hazelnut praline with warm chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and fresh mango
The dessert is plated oh so perfectly. There is a mix of colours with the brightness of the mango and raspberry, the darkness of the chocolate top and light brown mousse. There is a crunch of the praline, the rich milky chocolate and soft creme mousse. It’s a decadent dish that paints the tongue with many different textures.
After the lunch service, the sun begins to escape over the horizon providing the most magical sunset views.
I eventually feel like I need some rest as the flight enters into the dark skies en-route to Hong Kong. I request the bed to be made; the seat transforms into a fully flat bed. A large thick comfortable mattress forms the base with a 500-thread count cotton duvet. The pillow is a dream and I drift off to sleep soon after the bed is made.
It’s the perfect moment as the skies dim and jet-lag seeps through the senses and I manage to enjoy a solid sleep.
Eventually the light begins to pierce through the cabin to awaken me and I decide to enjoy some breakfast in bed. I am quite into an episode of Frasier and continue to watch it through the breakfast service.
Sliced cod and mushroom congee with pan fried turnip cake with XO sauce
The congee is smooth and rustic and I do love the delicate flavours of the fish and earthiness of the mushroom. The XO sauce gives the dish a special kick and I absolutely loved the turnip cakes.
Eventually the flight nears Hong Kong and the cabin gets the little brighter. I enjoy a lovely sunrise and dew extra glasses of the Chateau Lynch Bages before we land. It was a rather enjoyable flight.
I’ve compiled a little video diary of some of the highlights of the flight; the beautiful sunrise, sunset and wonderful cuisine, the suite and the lounges in Hong Kong and London. Hope you enjoy it.
Background music: Sweet Lovin’ (featuring Bryn Christopher) by Sigala.
Cathay has a pretty solid First Class offering. The suite is not enclose but is very spacious and with only six suites the cabin is very private. The food and beverage were on point; with a beautiful a caviar course, rustic salad of avocado and prawns, the perfect lamb rack and a hazelnut dessert. While there are other airlines that do have some special touches like tasting menus, Japanese omakase and private chef’s, its hard to fault the dining options on this flight. The presentation of the food was also a stand-out which is sometimes that has slipped in recent years on other carriers.
The service levels were solid, probably JAL is a clear frontrunner here, but the staff on this Cathay flight were attentive without being intrusive and were accommodating in all respects. The pyjamas were decent, although I think there are other airlines that do slightly better but to be honest there isn’t much of a differential here to make it meaningful. Where Cathay does let itself down is the amenity kit. The kit doesn’t compare to Bvlgari, Armani and Christian Lacroix kits that are handed out by other premium carriers.
The IFE selection is quite broad and has some old favourites which I love and adore (Frasier, the Minions, Indiana Jones etc.). Lounges are an important part of the travel experience and Cathay outshines the competition both in London (T3) and Hong Kong (where I had a long layover before my flight back to Sydney). The lounges in Hong Kong are a dream with cabanas, day beds, massages, a la carte dining and champagne bars. Cathay proves again it delivers a solid First Class experience even if it is without the bling of some of its competitors.