By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Sunday Nation
AFTER A CLOSURE that last two-and-a-half years, the Imperial Queen’s Park on Sukhumvit Soi 22 resumed operations late last year with a new sleek look. Rebranded as the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park and owned by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Group, it is not just Bangkok’s largest hotel with 1,300 guestrooms, but also Marriott’s largest property in Thailand and the debut of the Marquis designation in Asia Pacific.
The new Cantonese restaurant Pagoda is decked out in contemporary, yet strong Chinese accent.
The complete refurbishment has included the hotel’s dining facilities, which offer a range of culinary delights guaranteed to please different palates. Fine Cantonese dining can be found at Pagoda, an elegant space designed by PIA Interior that’s pleasantly contemporary but retains a strong Chinese accent thanks to oriental antiques and ceramics, lacquered tiles and Chinese furniture made more comfortable by upholstered seats and cushions in turquoise and reddish-brown. The central dining area boasts roofed components and a square-based structure that bring to mind its Chinese namesake.
The restaurant has 180 seats and features seven private rooms, plus a large function room. The kitchen is under the baton of chef Oscar Pun who worked with two major hotels – Macau’s City of Dreams and Beijing’s Shangri-La Kerry Hotel – before joining Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park as the new Chinese executive chef.
Pagoda has completely removed shark fin from its menu to alert consumers to the cruelty involved in the production of this so-called delicacy. Instead start the meal with dim sum, each cooked to order and served hot at the table in the ubiquitous bamboo basket. The classic dish of ha gao or Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Bt120) comes with soft translucent skin and a generous mouthful of shrimp with shredded asparagus adding a crispy texture.
Steamed Pork Dumplings with Abalone
The highlight of any dim sum order is the Steamed Pork Dumplings with Abalone. The dumplings are generously stuffed with shrimp, minced pork, shitake mushroom and topped with the whole abalone (Bt180 a piece). Equally delicious is the Xiao Long Bao (Bt120) – steamed dumplings with a juicy minced pork filling and hot broth, and Steamed Rice Rolls stuffed with shrimps that are first wrapped with rice paper and deep-fried until crispy and later wrapped with rice paper again and steamed (Bt150). The spring rolls are then seasoned with Hong Kong-style soy sauce that gives just off the right balance of sweet and salty.
Deep-fried Shrimp Spring Rolls
For something crispy, opt for Deep-fried Shrimp Spring Rolls (Bt120) and the Crispy Roasted Pork (Bt400) for which chef Pun carefully selects meat with alternating layers of skin, fat and flesh. The pork belly is not as oily as you might expect because it’s slowly roasted three times to ensure it’s crispy on the outside but soft inside.
Seafood fans will love the Steamed Boston Lobster with Egg White (Bt800). The lobster is firm and dense while the egg white sauce bursts with flavour.
The signature main dish is Beggar’s Chicken (Bt1,280). A famous Hangzhou delicacy, it features a whole chicken stuffed with seasoned pork belly, cured ham, needle mushroom, gingko and goji berry that’s first wrapped in huge lotus leaves and covered again with bread dough before being baked for hours at low heat.
“Legend has it that a beggar stole a chicken from a farm. The farm owner caught wind of the crime and chased the beggar down to a riverbank. To hide his loot, the beggar wrapped the chicken with lotus leaves and mud. Later that evening, the beggar returned to the river and with no cooking pot, he dug a hole, lit a fire and buried the chicken. When he unearthed it and cracked open the hardened clay, he found that the meat was both aromatic and tender. In Hangzhou, diners always order this dish to celebrate special occasions like birthdays and it’s a tradition to crack the clay-wrapped or bread dough-wrapped chicken three times with a wooden hammer,” says Pagoda’s manager Piyanan Karawa.
Though some restaurants follow the traditional recipe by covering the lotus leaf-wrapped chicken with clay, Pagoda substitutes the clay with bread dough. However, diners are invited to crack this baked dish three times with a hammer or invite a member of staff to do it for them. As it’s a time-consuming dish to prepare, only two servings are available each day. You can, however, order it in advance.
Steamed Sticky Rice with Crabmeat in Bamboo Basket
Ideal for a large group is the temping Steamed Sticky Rice with Crabmeat in Bamboo Basket (Bt1,900). Here the sticky rice is stir-fried with crabmeat, seasoned minced pork and preserved vegetables and then slowly steamed again in a bamboo basket for about 20 minutes with the whole meaty crab.
Steamed Ginger Milk Curd with Deepfried Pastries
Do leave a room for Steamed Ginger Milk Curd (Bt120) that goes well with two deep-fried pastries – one stuffed with mashed jujube and the other with custard.
Tea drinking is an integral part of every traditional Chinese meal and at Pagoda diners can explore a variety of rare leaves from the trolley service. The art of kung fu-style tea serving – which involves pouring the tea from a pot with an extremely long spout – is performed twice a day, at 12.30 and 7.30pm.
Pagoda is on the fourth floor of Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It’s open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm and for dinner from 6 to 10pm.
Call (02) 059 5999 or e-mail: