Siem Reap played host to an ambassador with a difference last Friday, in the form of the esteemed Thierry Giraud, ambassador for Martell cognac which celebrates its 300 year anniversary in 2015.
Giraud himself is the real thing in that he was born and raised in the Cognac region of France, hailing from a winemaking family that have for several generations supplied wine for Martell to distill.
He lobbed into town with a team from Pernod Ricard as part of a push to promote cognac in Cambodia. In the wake of the spirits’ overwhelming success in China, the team decided to introduce Martell to Siem Reap during a pairing dinner at leading Chinese restaurant, The Emperors of China in Kings Road.
The luxury restaurant first opened in Phnom Penh in 2009 and the 200-seater Siem Reap branch opened last year. Hosting the Martell pairing dinner was the founder of The Emperors of China and main chef, Dick Wong, a Hong Kong expat and now managing director of Wong and Meas Restaurant Co, Ltd.
Martell dominates the world’s cognac market and has 15 cognacs in its collection. Three varieties – VSOP, Cordon Bleu and XO – were savoured during the dinner which also gave diners an opportunity to sample the restaurant’s cuisine.
Dick Wong explained that the main influence of the cuisine is from Hong Kong where he grew up, but dishes such as as Peking Duck and Xiao Long Bao are Shanghai and Beijing influences. He added that he believes in producing authentic Chinese cuisine that is lacking in Cambodia.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and diners were able to sample the full gamut of the restaurant’s fare with a sweeping range of a dozen dishes served during what was indeed a feast.
Highlights of The Emperors of China menu on the night included double boiled five herbs with chicken, braised sliced sea snail cucumber, sautéed slicked pork with winter bamboo, grilled king prawns in shell with chilli wine sauce, and braised two kinds of vegetable with black mushroom.