Marco Polo – A lunchtime experience

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There is a very strong connection between Marco Polo and China.  He was not the first European to reach China, but he was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience.  His book inspired Christopher Columbus and many other explorers.  His exploits perhaps also inspired the Montien Hotel to name their Chinese restaurant after him.

The Montien is really one of Pattaya’s icons (I stayed there in 1975 when it was called the Regent of Pattaya), but since then, their Marco Polo Chinese restaurant has become another of Pattaya’s icons.  Opened in 1987, it is renowned for its high standards, and that is in turn indicative of the high standards of chef Khajorn Rangpitakun, the Chinese chef who has been cooking at Marco Polo for 27 years.

The Dining Out team has been to Marco Polo several times in the interim, and the welcome you get is always warm and generous.  The restaurant, if you are unsure, is in the Montien Hotel on Second Road, which is around 100 meters from the Pattaya Central and Second roads intersection.  Enter the lobby and look to your right and you will see the Marco Polo.  The restaurant itself is quiet with carpeted floors, some alcoves and three private dining areas for 10 to 30 diners.

Table settings are of high quality and the large starched napkins are needed for folks like us who are not all that adept with chopsticks.  However, requests for spoons and forks are quickly and happily met (in fact I didn’t have to ask, our waitress could see I was in trouble with the chopsticks and supplied the cutlery)! The table carousel had another wildly ornate Chinese carousel on top as well, with so many dishes displayed, I was sure I was not going to get through them all – but, just for you gentle reader, I gave it my best shot.

The best way to approach a Chinese meal is as a group, which is what we did, including Chef Khajorn to guide us.  Several dishes were soon on the carousel. The dim sum choices covered deep-fried items such as the mashed taro, pan-fried choices as the garlic chives cake and many steamed items including steamed buns with many different fillings.

We began with some deep-fried items, with fried delicate bean curd my first item.  A great way to start, followed by the deep-fried taro.  The crispy covering just melts in the mouth, and I have yet to find anyone who does not enjoy this dish.

We finished our lunch with the famous Peking Duck (Beijing Duck?) where you eat the skin, then follow with duck soup and then a diced duck dish (three ways), so every part of Donald is eaten – and we enjoyed it very much.

The Montien’s K. Pornpimon was kind enough to send me the list of dishes we tried (for you) and as well as the three-way duck, it included Deep-fried Shrimps with Sesame Cream Salad (one of my favorites), Shrimp Spring Rolls Hong Kong Style, Cold Chicken Fillet in Chinese Wine, Fried Pork Spareribs with Sweet and Sour Sauce, then Dim Sum items Fried Delicate Bean Curd, Deep-fried Mashed Taro, Deep-fried Spring Rolls, Steamed Bun with minced Pork, Steamed Bun with Sweet Cream, Steamed Pork Dumpling, Steamed Shrimps Dumpling, Ha-Kaw Filling with Chives and Steam Stuffed Lettuce with Crab Stick.

From all those my favorites were the duck soup and the fried pork spareribs with sweet and sour sauce, but there was something for everyone.

With alcoves and private dining areas, Marco Polo is an excellent venue for lunch or dinner.  I can honestly say that we have never had a bad experience at the Marco Polo (lunch or dinner) and can consequently give this restaurant a Highly Recommended rating.

By the way, the Marco Polo is also open every day for dinner from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m., with a full dinner menu.

Marco Polo Chinese Restaurant, Montien Hotel, Pattaya Second Road, Central Pattaya, telephone 038 428 155, and 038 361 340 XTN 1620. email [email protected], website www. montien.com, lunch 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. (dinner 6 p.m. till 10 p.m.) and secure parking within the hotel’s car parks.