Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sakura-ficing Miles - Japan Airlines First Class, Tokyo-Narita > Chicago O'Hare (777-300ER)

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Seven of the eight seats in First Class were occupied, so I found the attention on the return leg a bit less polished than the outbound (where only three of eight seats were taken).  But the flight was still outstanding.

Japan Airlines 010, Tokyo-Narita > Chicago O'Hare
First Class, Seat 2A

Seat 2A, reclined

The amenity kit was waiting at my seat when I boarded; flights from Japan offer the red Porsche Design kit (rather than the grey version from my first flight).  A flight attendant offered me a glass of champagne and invited me to change into pajamas.

Amenity kit & Champagne

There was plenty of room for my carry-on bag underneath my seat, and nobody seemed to mind that I had my messenger bag on the ottoman for takeoff.

Carry-on stowage

Bose noise-cancelling headphones

After takeoff, the flight attendants distributed food and drink menus.


JAL's website, helpfully, offers PDFs of their menus in advance of the flight:

Japanese menu

Western menu

Snack menu

We started with a trio of amuse bouches.

Amuse bouche

And a glass of Salon Champagne.

Salon Champagne

I asked if I could do the Japanese menu, but start with caviar from the Western menu.  That was no problem.

Caviar, egg yolk cream, and crispy rice wafers

Caviar wafer assembled

Then the Japanese meal began with a quintet called "Seasonal five colorful delicacies;" the entire meal was designed to conjure springtime images.

Springtime delicacies

Clockwise from the top left:

Simmered orient clam with Japanese butterbur miso

Egg cake

Tender simmered octopus

Boiled firefly squid

Simmered conger eel "sushi" wrapped with sakura leaf

The inside of the sakura leaf contained eel with seasoned rice.

Simmered conger eel "sushi" wrapped with sakura leaf

All five were excellent; the octopus was probably my favorite.  Next was the owan (clear soup) course.

Owan presentation

Japanese clear soup with sakura petals, bamboo shoots, fish mousse, and simmered abalone

Next, a seafood course.  The potato-egg-urchin-caviar combination was my favorite dish of the meal.

Prawn & pen shell 'sashimi' style with bamboo shoots and "wakame" seaweed (right)

Cold steamed egg custard with sea urchin with layer of smoked potato potage accompanied by caviar

And the main course, accompanied by rice with peppered baby sardines and miso soup:

Main course presentation

Dainomono: Braised beef cheek & potatoes

Japanese pickles

The flight attendants served all three Japanese desserts together rather than ask for individual selections.

Dessert trio

The Roppongi pudding is branded with the logo of Ryugin, which is one of Tokyo's twelve three-star Michelin restaurants.  The restaurant is in the Roppongi neighborhood, popular for its night-life.  Roppongi pudding is a type of purin, or crème caramel flan, and is one of the restaurant's signature dishes.

Roppongi pudding

Condensed milk sherbet with lychee yogurt sauce & strawberry

Japanese-style baked pistachio cake

After dinner, I had a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue as a digestif.

Johnnie Walker Blue

The whisky came with arare (mixed rice crackers) and dried natto (fermented soy beans) as accompaniments.

Drink accompaniments

I passed on the natto but appreciated the arare.

Arare mix

The flight attendants converted my seat into a bed:

Seat 2A in bed mode

Seat 2A with mattress pad and duvet

I woke up a few hours later near the border of the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta.

O Canada

I ordered a shoyu (soy-sauce) ramen off of the snack menu:

Ramen presentation

Shoyu ramen

It's a fairly small portion; perfect for a mid-flight snack.  Note that JAL doesn't serve breakfast on this route, but the a la carte menu offers plenty of choices.

Shortly before landing, the flight attendants thanked each passenger for flying with JAL and offered a small box of chocolates from chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin.



Our landing approach took us past O'Hare, just north of the Loop, and over Lake Michigan.

O'Hare, Lake Michigan, and the Loop skyline


We flew over the Chicago River and the River North neighborhood, with the John Hancock Building in view:

River North

Chicago Loop and Lincoln Park

Although we entered the plane from Door 1L (the front of the first-class cabin), we excited through Door 2L (in the business-class cabin).  JAL doesn't offer ground services upon landing or escorts through immigration for first-class passengers.

But with the help of Global Entry, I was the first passenger to the baggage claim.  JAL had a separate claim for premium-cabin checked bags.  Bags with first-class tags came out first.

Baggage Claim

The early-morning arrival of Flight 10 makes the time-zone adjustment much harder.  But the comfortable bed made rest much easier mid-flight, letting me stay up the rest of the day to get back onto Chicago time.

Sakura-ficing Miles - Tokyo 2017
1. Introduction
2. Lounge report - American International First Class Lounge, Chicago O'Hare
3. Japan Airlines First Class, Chicago-O'Hare > Tokyo-Narita (777-300ER)
4. Lounge report - Japan Airlines First Class Lounge, Tokyo-Narita
5. Japan Airlines First Class, Tokyo-Narita > Chicago O'Hare (777-300ER)

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