PAL's Business Class Passengers Are in for a Treat with an Inventive New Menu From Chef Tina Legarda


When Philippine Airlines wanted to change up its business class menu offerings, they turned to Chef Tina Legarda of Parañaque’s Bamba Bistro. They already collaborated with celebrity chef JP Anglo earlier this year, and the legacy airline looked for somebody new to keep things fresh and exciting. 

For sure, Legarda’s inventive takes on classic Filipino and international cuisines is well-established, particularly through her years-old restaurant inside BF Homes, but clearly there is no shortage of Filipino culinary talent, so the obvious first question is, why her?

Chef Tina Legarda's Breakfast Burrito for PAL's new business class in-flight menu

Photo by PJ Cana.

The PAL team said they scoured the local culinary landscape and consulted blogs, influencers, and reputable names within the community to come up with a short list of chefs they could work with to develop the new menu. Afterwards they went and sampled the food themselves and ended up being thoroughly impressed with Legarda’s “gourmet comfort food” at Bamba Bistro.



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They ended up asking the chef if she would consider working with the airline to develop a special one-off menu that would be served to passengers of PAL’s business class flights, specifically those traveling to and from North America.

But Legarda took a while to say yes. It was a daunting task, she admitted during a tasting of the new menu at Bamba Bistro to select members of the media and PAL representatives on Wednesday night (November 16). But she eventually took the challenge on and ended up with a carefully curated selection of tasty meal options to liven things up for passengers up in the air.

Nasi ng Bayan

Photo by PJ Cana.

At the event, Legarda presented a 10-course tasting menu of the exact new dishes that will be offered to actual trans-Pacific business class passengers. Off the bat, the Kalabasa Soup was a clear winner; thick, warm, and comforting, the twist on the usual pumpkin soup had a lemon gremolata and candied pili nuts. It was a favorite of nearly everybody in the room.

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The Luzviminda Salad was a light but flavorful mix of romaine lettuce, ricotta cheese, and a lychee vinaigrette. It was followed by a Crab Mie Goreng, a noodle dish topped with crab and green onion and a scrambled egg on the side. Legarda, who is a self-confessed noodle lover, said she wanted to include something related to our neighbors in the region like Indonesia and Malaysia.

The next dish was an open-faced Breakfast Burrito filled with chicken barbecue, scrambled eggs, java rice, lettuce, tomato salsa, and ranch dressing. The chef cautioned that it was a bit messy to eat, but managed to convince the PAL folks that it was worth having it as a breakfast option for diners.

Boeuf Short Ribs

Photo by PJ Cana.

The next three dishes were the mains, and all had their strengths that would likely make it hard for passengers to choose. The first was a perfectly cooked Pan-Fried Snapper with whipped potatoes, roasted garlic butter sauce, steamed asparagus and a lemon chimichurri.


Legarda admitted that the next dish was the one she focused on and spent the most time developing: a chicken barbecue option she called Nasi ng Bayan. The boneless meat was coated in a coffee and anato sauce, and drizzled with a peanut sauce and served with lightly flavored coconut rice and pineapple scallion salsa on the side. 

Finally, the Boeuf Short Ribs was a piece of tender beef cooked in Dijon demiglace cream, with button mushrooms, steamed asparagus, and whipped potatoes. 

The meal was capped off by a dessert option called Banana Budino Trifle, or what Legarda initially called a “banana pudding on steroids”: banana cake, caramelized bananas, chocolate ganache, whipped cream, and walnuts for texture. 

Pan-Fried Snapper

Photo by PJ Cana.

Two other options are included in the new business class menu that weren;t served at the tasting event: a take on tapsilog called “Gyu-Silog” (beef yakiniku in sesame butter, egg roll, and roasted leeks fried rice), and Milkfish Inasal (bangus, banana fried rice, salted egg and atsara). 

Research and development on the menu took months, but Legarda said she was happy and proud of the outcome and hopes passengers who get to try it would appreciate the work she and the PAL team put in.

There was a question about when the inflight meals of economy passengers would be updated, and the PAL team said they were “working on it.” That gives the rest of PAL’s passengers something to look forward to.

The new business class menu was rolled out in November 1 and will be available for flights from Manila to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, Vancouver, and Toronto until the end of the year.


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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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