COD AND CHOP­STICKS

Restau­rants in Ma­cau of­fer a touch of Por­tu­gal, blended with an­cient and mod­ern China, writes Libby Pea­cock

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

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.

Check­list

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

Pic­ture: Justin Guar­iglia/Cor­bis

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

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