COD AND CHOPSTICKS
Restaurants in Macau offer a touch of Portugal, blended with ancient and modern China, writes Libby Peacock
PICK your cuisine: in Macau there is Cantonese, Portuguese and Macanese (which is a combination of Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Malay), and just about every other flavour, from Italian to Shanghainese and Japanese.
I find dishes such as caldo verde (a potato vegetable soup), bacalhau (dried salt cod), Portuguese sausages and African chicken cropping up everywhere and there are good prawn dishes, too. Here are some Macau restaurants that deliver the city’s unique blend of flavours.
For authentic Portuguese food, a great atmosphere, pretty interior and good prices, seek out A Lorcha (Rua do Almirante Sergio), just a stone’s throw from the A-Ma Temple and Maritime Museum. I feast on a delicious lamb stew (enough for two) for MOP88 ($13) and tender stuffed calamari. A bottle of Portuguese wine (MOP85) hits the spot. The meal comes with a complimentary basket of freshly baked rolls (not just warmed up). Service is amicable but not speedy. Just sit back and relax.
Also on Rua do Almirante Sergio, Restaurante Litoral has a good reputation for its Macanese dishes such as curry shrimps, fried prawns and stewed duck with herbs.
For excellent but simple dining, take a stroll on the cobble-stoned streets and head to the old part of Taipa Village on Taipa Island (connected to Macau by a series of bridges). Every local knows Cozinha Pinocchio, a spacious, quite famous restaurant, on Rua do Sol, serving Macanese dishes such as charcoal-grilled squid (MOP78), Portuguese fried rice (MOP32) and Portuguese sausage. I also try typical Cantonese vegetable dishes with garlic. The pork ribs are decadent but tasty and a glass of sangria is MOP25. The one-sheet menu has photos of every dish.
Moving on from Pinocchio’s wooden puppets to baby elephants, nearby Dumbo Restaurant (near the entrance to Taipa Village, look for a big sign with Dumbo the elephant floating airily), is a large space serving Macanese food. Small, and unpretentious, A Petisqueira, on the corner of Rua de S. Joao and Rua das Virtudes, just off Taipa Village’s main road, is famous for its traditional Portuguese fare and selection of excellent cheeses.
In Coloane, at 9 Praia de Hac Sa, near the Hac Sa beachfront, I find one of Macau’s most famous restaurants, the rustic Restaurante Fernando (widely known, simply, as Fernando’s). Don’t expect anything grand here, and the menu is in Portuguese, but there are photos to help you choose. The food is hearty and wholesome: calamari frito com alho, calamari with garlic (MOP160) or sardinha assada na brasa, grilled sardines (MOP66), but the atmosphere is even better. Book ahead or you will be disappointed.
Macau may be a long way from the Mediterranean, but for Italian food those in the know swear by the humble Pizzeria Toscana on Calcada da Barra near the ferry terminal. The walls are graced with signed photographs of the celebrities who have dined here. For more upmarket Italian, the Grand Lisboa Hotel’s Don Alfonso on the third floor, Avenida de Lisboa, with its southern Italian cuisine, boasts Michelin-starred chef Alfonso Iaccarino.
And every sweet tooth must try Macau’s pastries, the most famous of which are Portuguese egg tarts. Margaret’s Cafe e Nata (near Senado Square, on Rua Almeida Costa Cabral) is a tiny, bustling footpath joint with wonky tables and grey plastic stools, offering arguably the best pastries you’ll find anywhere. The egg tarts are fresh, creamy and straight from the oven. This is a great place for a cheap breakfast or coffee break. A huge croissant with cheese and ham costs MOP12.
The Senado area offers more than peoplewatching and old buildings. Find more Portuguese egg tarts (and great noodles and congee) in a more elegant (and touristy setting) at Wong Chi Kei on the square. (Wong Chi Kei has a famous sister branch on Wellington Street in Hong Kong.)
Meanwhile, near the ferry terminal on the waterfront lies Macau’s new Fisherman’s Wharf (www.fishermanswharf.com.mo), a shop and restaurant-lined strip with a united nations of architecture and food styles, from an African village and Arabian minarets to a Chinese imperial palace and man-made volcano (which erupts at intervals). This is Macau, but not as you know it.
The spicy Szechuan dishes at Hero Chinese Restaurant (Amsterdam, Fisherman’s Wharf) are not bad, and the suckling pig at sister restaurant Camoes, at Shop 101, LisbonEvora on Fisherman’s Wharf, serves modern Portuguese food and comes highly recommended by locals. And, for a final taste of Macau, The Wine Museum at the Tourism Activities Centre near the ferry terminal has displays and tastings, priced at MOP15 for visitors over 18, including wine tasting (closed on Tuesdays). Libby Peacock is a journalist with www.smarttravelasia.com.
Jetfoils and catamarans connect Hong Kong and Macau with an average journey time of one hour. www.turbojet.com.hk www.nwff.com.hk www.macautourism.gov.mo
Fresh from the oven: Margaret of Margaret’s Cafe e Nata, one of Macau’s top spots for breakfast, with a batch of traditional Portuguese egg tarts