AirAsia has joined forces with its inflight catering partner to open a fast food outlet in Kuala Lumpur that sells airline food, specifically the food you’d find on AirAsia flights under the Santan and T & CO brand. 

AirAsia’s inflight food is usually okay, but would you pay to eat it on the ground? Photo: Kentaro Iemoto via Flickr.

Today Kuala Lumpur, tomorrow the world

Officially, it’s not a fast food outlet. Although it’s located in KL’s Mid Valley Megamall and looks suspiciously like it is modelled on McDonald’s, both AirAsia and Santan and T & CO prefer to call it a restaurant and cafe. 

And you can tell AirAsia has its fingers in theis restaurant’s chicken rice. With typical AirAsia think bigness, the operators plan to have five Santan restaurants opened by the end of 2020 and 100 franchisee operated restaurants and cafes within the next three to five years, expanding globally.


If Tony Fernades’ Tune Hotels had worked out as planned, in a year or two you could have flown on one of his planes to a destination, stayed there in one of his hotels, and eaten in one of his Santan and T & CO restaurants. Imagine, all you’d need is an AirAsia range of clothing to wear to have a very AirAsia themed holiday.


AirAsia usually isn’t terrible

But I digress. Despite being a low cost carrier, AirAsia performs okay on the food front. Agreed, it’s not Singapore Airlines first class, but South East Asian style wet dishes tend to hold up well to the rigours of mass production, snap freezing, and reheating in airline galley ovens. Unlike the dried out fish or overcooked beef atypical of a western airline, AirAsia’s South East Asian style meals usually manage to remain presentable and reasonably tasty.

The restaurant, located in a mall, more properly resembles a fast food outlet. Photo: AirAsia.

But scoffing a tray of reheated THB15 chicken rice inbound to Kuala Lumpur is one thing, would you necessarily feel the need to do it again once on the ground. Especially in a place like KL where there is so much good food to be had? Catherine Gob, GM of Santan Restaurant and Cafe thinks so. In a statement provided to Simple Flying she said;


“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.”

In addition to the aforementioned chicken rice (which I had on an AirAsia flight earlier this year and wasn’t half bad), in-flight menu items like nasi lemak, pineapple fish noodle chicken inasal with garlic rice, and onde-onde cake can all be snapped up from RM12 (less than USD$3). Looking at the promotional pictures from the restaurant’s opening, the presentation looks a bit snazzier than when eaten on AirAsia. Maybe they are channelling the AirAsia premium flatbed cabin experience.

The AirAsia redang chicken with biriyani rice as served in seat 28B looks like this. Photo: Alpha via Flickr
However, presentation will be a bit slicker in the restaurant. Photo: AirAsia.

It’s not just a snack, it’s a personalized digital journey

But just when I’m getting interested, the statement provided to Simple Flying goes on to say how my potential dining experience will be “enhanced” through a personalised digital journey. The restaurant’s smart menu is equipped with AI and machine learning and will be able to recommend dishes based on time, previous ordering as well as “demographic taste”. It sounds about as tempting as a colonoscopy.

If you can get past having your lunch turned into a personalised digital journey aided and abetted by AI, Santam and T & CO is doing a deal at the moment – nasi lemak with chicken rendang for RM5. They’ll even throw in a free coffee if you download their app.

Of course, to get this sterling deal you need to be in Kuala Lumpur or heading there soon. But the stars align on this front and AirAsia has some very good fares at the moment.

Airline food, would you pay to eat it on the ground? Post a comment and let us know.