New Abu Dhabi restaurant recreates aircraft interiors and onboard dining experience

On the menu are street food dishes from all over the world

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As travel has become difficult for many during the pandemic, recreating the onboard experience for those who miss escaping home has turned into a trend. From flights to nowhere and pop-up dining experiences on an Airbus A380 to auctioning off a pair of A380 superjumbo business class seats – people have certainly been getting creative in a bid to scratch that travel itch.

The latest from Abu Dhabi is a new restaurant called Transit Terminal Food that opened in July on Defence Street with interiors exactly like those you'd find on a plane, from the seats to the table trays and even cabin announcements.

Take a look through the photo gallery above to see more of the interiors and food from this quirky restaurant.

It's the brainchild of Mohamed Basha, who wanted to bring a taste of the world to the UAE amid the pandemic.

"I am a traveller. I have visited more than 100 countries," Basha tells The National. "I have tasted a lot of local foods and that's why I was thinking during Covid-19 how it's been difficult for people to travel and eat famous food in the streets of the world."

The menu, which is designed to look like a boarding pass, includes a Parisian-style shrimp baguette, currywurst for Germany, South African boerewors, Belgian waffles, quesadillas to represent Mexico, and all manner of burgers on behalf of the US. More obscure options include the khachapuri for Tbilisi, Georgia and kumpir potato for Istanbul, Turkey.

These dishes are served to customers by a waiter or waitress dressed in a cabin crew-style uniform.

"I was focusing on the foods that are famous in the countries' capitals' streets and that people travel to in order to try them," says Basha. "We have food from more than 30 countries."

This changes monthly, too, he explains. "We add a new destination every month. We opened the restaurant in July and in August we have added new foods such as salmon, a pineapple burger and the Egyptian dessert called The Bomb."

A soaring global trend?

This style of dining experience is nothing new. Back in 2012, an Airbus A380-themed restaurant opened in Chongqing, China, while fine dining is popularly available aboard a recreated Boeing 747 at the Pan Am Experience in Los Angeles, although that has been suspended temporarily amid the pandemic, according to a notice on its website.

The pandemic has actually given rise to these kinds of experiences. Singapore Airlines, for example, in October organised a pop-up dining experience on board a parked superjumbo A380 at Changi Airport, which reportedly sold out within 30 minutes.

In 2020, Australian airline Qantas also offered a flight to nowhere, departing from Sydney and flying over the city, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, before arriving back in Sydney seven hours later. Initial tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes.

The airline did it again in May, allowing passengers to admire the supermoon and full lunar eclipse from 12,000 metres in the sky. Tickets for that sold out in two and a half minutes.

While these flights to nowhere are undoubtedly popular, they've not been short of criticism, however, amid concerns over their carbon impact and financial viability.

Updated: August 16, 2021, 5:22 AM