On Monday, August 15, airasia launched its intercity food delivery service. In a panicked frenzy, I immediately placed an order for Wednesday, August 17, the soonest option available.
If you haven’t heard, airasia’s food delivery arm is now offering Klang Valley residents the opportunity to order food from Penang, with deliveries made every Wednesday.
We’re not talking about frozen or dry foods, either. These are warm meals cooked in Penang and delivered on the same day to your doorstep.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Penang, I think of char kuey teow. So, I pre-ordered a bundle of three duck egg char kuey teows (the lowest amount I could go) from Tiger Char Koay Teow.
The only time slot I could choose was 5 to 5.30 PM. This time range seems to be the sole option airasia is offering for now, which makes sense, since the food is cooked the day of the delivery.
Our office address in USJ didn’t work for some reason, so I set for the food to be delivered to my apartment in KL. Here’s how the whole experience went.
Not unreasonable prices
While the intercity delivery fee is only RM3, there’s also another fee of RM2.99 that’s counted as the delivery fee. In my opinion, RM5.99 per order is actually not bad at all. After all, orders within the Klang Valley can easily match that or even beat it.
The whole order cost me a total of RM50.09. The bundle of three was priced RM44.10, which makes each dish cost RM14.7.
A little bit expensive for some char kuey teow, I’ll admit, but it’s served with duck eggs and also some prawns, so I’m not too mad about it.
To make the deliveries worthwhile, only bundle options are available. Meaning no, you can’t just order one plate of char kuey teow from Penang.
This might be one of the biggest downsides of the service, because what on earth am I going to do with a bundle of three char kuey teows? Of course, if you have friends or family members, this would make sense, but for those living alone, you’re going to be eating the same dish for the next few days.
Becoming a guinea pig for airasia food
One problem I have with airasia is I can never find my actual street address in their location search bar. So, I messaged AVA, AKA the AirAsia Virtual Allstar, to troubleshoot the issue.
Midway through, I received a call. It was an unknown number, but seemed legit enough so I picked it up.
The person on the other line introduced themselves to me as a representative of airasia food, and said that they’d like to interview me regarding the intercity order since I’m part of the first batch of customers they’re serving.
Excitedly, I agreed. I did not know then what I signed up for.
On the day of the delivery, I first got a call from my rider at 5.03PM. He said he was 10 to 15 minutes away. Four minutes later, I received another call, but from a different number.
Turns out, it was the representative from airasia. They announced that they were in my apartment lobby, and would like to talk to me and film some content.
I was a little surprised, but since they were already in my apartment lobby, I agreed with the plan.
While waiting for the rider, the representative shared briefly how the intercity delivery works. First, riders will go around Penang picking up the food, which then gets put into the cargo section on a passenger flight.
From our conversation, it seems like the food gets packaged into secure boxes labelled “fragile”. Once it arrives at the airport, the food is apparently picked up by riders who directly bring it to customers.
This information differs from what I was shown on the airasia app, which seems to show that the rider is coming from KL Sentral. But the app could be wrong because my rider’s plate number was listed as “Test 123” on the app too, which I can assure was not true.
The airasia food representative also shared that the merchants partaking in this service currently are lesser-known names, because famous stalls in Penang simply don’t have the time to prepare bundles for airasia.
However, airasia is calling for more Penang merchants to join the programme, so hopefully down the road, customers will be able to have more options.
And perhaps if this model proves to be rather beneficial for merchants, we might see the bigger names start to trickle into the service.
On-time and well-packed
One of the main questions we had about this service was how fresh the food would be, and how securely packaged it had to be.
By the time it got to me, the food was already repackaged into a nice brown paper bag from airasia (that ended up a little wet because it was raining). The bag also came with a cute thank you note from airasia. Each item was individually packed into a plastic bag.
I was actually shocked to find that the bottom of each dish was still quite warm. Now, this could be due to the heat of the rider’s vehicle, the way the food was flown over, or even due to the airasia team reheating it upon arrival.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know the ins and outs of how airasia’s intercity food delivery works, so these are all just assumptions for now.
Unpacking the food, I noted that everything had been contained properly, with no leaks or breakages, though some condensation had built up in the containers (which is nothing unusual).
There were also a couple of airasia wet wipes packed inside the paper bag, a thoughtful touch for anyone who might be eating on the go.
Each dish was packaged in a plastic container, with a rubber band tying it together. There were no other seals on the container, which was surprising, but it could’ve already been removed by the airasia food team.
Time for a taste-test
My first impression of the actual food was that the char kuey teow looked appetising (though my colleague said I could’ve just been hungry).
There weren’t any strong smells, and the noodles were kind of sticking together, but that’s quite normal for char kuey teow.
There was also a fragrant banana leaf placed into each container which made the food seem all the more presentable and appealing.
As for how the food tasted, it wasn’t exceptional, per se, but it was definitely good. The prawns tasted fresh and the noodles had a nice chewy texture. The duck eggs were a bit dry, but still rich with flavour.
In short, the food was… nice. It was delicious, in fact. If I hadn’t placed the order myself, I would have had a hard time guessing that it was flown from Penang at all.
One of my biggest gripes with the intercity food delivery service is probably its limited timing for now. It’s quite unfortunate for me as I’m usually still in the office at 5PM on Wednesdays.
If it were offered on, say, weekends, I might actually become a repeat customer every so often. Heck, I’m kind of craving some Penang white curry mee as I’m writing this… There are some merchants offering the dish, but I’m quite worried as to how they’ll package it.
Another issue with the service is that I had to order a bundle of three, but only had the appetite for one. So, I kept the food in my fridge overnight and brought it into the office the next day. However, it had started to smell rather suspicious.
According to my colleague Joyce, the flavour of the day-old food isn’t bad, but the texture is off, especially for the seafood. She thinks that we could probably get more delicious and cheaper char kuey teow nearby.
Joyce is right, I suppose. It’s not like char kuey teow is non-existent in the Klang Valley. At the time of writing, she has literally gone out to get fresh char kuey teow.
Overall, I appreciate the novelty of the idea, but the intercity food delivery service does seem somewhat unnecessary.
In its current state, if I were to describe it in a nutshell, it’s your regular food delivery service with extra steps and at the very minimum, a 24-hour wait time.
Understandably, it’s in its infancy stage and from our experience, airasia has always been bold in experimentation as well as prioritised execution first and foremost, then refining it over time.
We’re definitely keeping our eyes on this service to see how it will take off over time.