Air Koryo:

The North Korean airline has launched a surprise new menu item on its flights to Pyongyang – a vegetarian burger!

Frequent flyers with Air Koryo will be familiar with its dish of the day, the mystery meat hamburger.

The burger has long been considered to be part of the quintessential North Korean experience; as the country's only international carrier Air Koryo offers the first taste of the DPRK when tourists board their flight in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang or Vladivostok.

Although the flight from Beijing to Pyongyang is just under two hours, Air Koryo always offers its famous hamburger to satisfy in-flight cravings.

The Air Koryo 'mystery meat' burger.

The Air Koryo burger has become famous in its own right with stories written in the press and a few eager travellers posting about it on social media. For many it’s referred to as the mystery meat burger although Air Koryo staff say its main ingredient is chicken.

On our most recent tour to North Korea, I was travelling on Air Koryo with a large group of passengers. Having already eaten I was not in need of the burger so politely refused. Upon my refusal the Koryo member of cabin crew asked if I would like the vegetarian option, which has never happened before. I accepted the vegetarian option so as to compare meals.

From the outside, the bun looks the same with a light dusting of sesame and it had a similar aroma. The difference is evident when the top of the bun is lifted: the vegetarian option is far from being a burger but rather a fine collection of halved cherry tomatoes on a bed of coleslaw. If you're after a quick snack then it wasn’t too bad. Not the most filling meal ever, but a welcome introduction for vegetarians travelling into North Korea.

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