MA­CAO

Wan­der­ing the streets of Ma­cao, re­cently named a UNESCO Creative City for Gas­tron­omy, will re­ward you with sweet, savoury and sur­pris­ing din­ing des­ti­na­tions, writes Chris­tine Retschlag.

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Contents -

The Miche­lin Guide cel­e­brates street eats as well as fine din­ing in this cul­tural melt­ing pot

The aroma of in­cense pirou­ettes in my di­rec­tion, tempt­ing me to turn to­wards Ma­cao’s Pak Tai Tem­ple. I pause, snatch an in­tox­i­cat­ing breath and ut­ter a quick prayer to the Bud­dhist spir­its, but it’s a feast I’m seek­ing on this par­tic­u­lar day and I force my­self to move on.

I am­ble through the cob­bled streets of Taipa Vil­lage where I am both lost and found. Trav­ellers say Rome is a great city to lose your bear­ings in, but Ma­cao is a mas­ter­piece.

I wan­der through a maze of lanes bear­ing Por­tuguese sig­nage and ram­bling build­ings painted in pink, green and Mediter­ranean blues. But I’m not in Europe, I’m in mod­ern Asia, which has some­how taken 450 years of Por­tuguese his­tory and mar­ried it with Chi­nese cul­ture to cre­ate a feisty fu­sion of food ex­pe­ri­ences.

Taste Taipa’s street food I walk down one al­ley­way and spot a Por­tuguese es­tab­lish­ment called An­to­nio’s on one side (the menu lists a po­tent Por­tuguese crab curry that makes my mouth wa­ter) and, on the other, a tapas res­tau­rant (also run by An­to­nio) in a slim, two-storey build­ing. I make a men­tal note to come back later.

But first, I have big­ger fish to fry. I’m ex­plor­ing Taipa Vil­lage in a quest to un­earth its street food de­lights, guided by one of three walking tours rec­om­mended by the Taipa Vil­lage Cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion. I wan­der down an­other laneway punc­tu­ated with street art be­fore find­ing my­self in Cunha Street. At Cafe Tai Lei Loi Kei, I’m handed a cup of sweet mango juice, which proves the per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to crispy pork chop buns, a Ma­canese spe­cialty.

The savoury scent of this pork chop del­i­cacy, which has been mar­i­nated and fried be­fore be­ing wedged into a bun, stalks me down the street.

While this one is good, I’ve heard there’s even bet­ter in town at Sun Ying Kei along Rua Da Ale­gria, earn­ing it a spot in the 2017 edi­tion of the Miche­lin Guide Hong Kong Ma­cau.

A Miche­lin first In what crit­ics are hail­ing a culi­nary coup, for the first time 12 Ma­cao street food ven­dors were in­cluded in the Miche­lin guide. While tech­ni­cally not awarded Miche­lin stars, th­ese street eats were re­garded as be­ing so fine that they were rec­om­mended in the Street Food cat­e­gory.

I men­tally swill this in­for­ma­tion as I con­tinue my culi­nary tour, dis­tracted by the pur­ple hues of Old Cher­rykoff, a sweets store, where the owner ac­tively en­cour­ages me to chew some nutty nougat.

Ma­cao is ar­guably best known for its Por­tuguese egg tarts and I am de­lighted when I dis­cover that Lord Stow’s Bak­ery, which I stum­bled upon on a pre­vi­ous trip here a decade ago, is not only still in op­er­a­tion, but has made it into the Miche­lin Guide Street Food cat­e­gory.

Th­ese tarts have creamy cus­tard cen­tres, a pas­try crust and a seared top. You’ll find them in charm­ing Coloane.

Next up is new eatery DiGREEN (Di­a­mond in Green), which serves ice­cream in char­coal cones and durian, co­conut and mango-flavoured pop­si­cles.

If I were brave enough to sam­ple the much-de­bated durian, it would be at the Miche­lin Guide Street Food list­ing, Le­monCello Ge­lato, in the vicin­ity of the baroque St Do­minic’s Church, or at the Miche­lin-men­tioned Ge­latina Mok Yi Kei, sand­wiched be­tween the I Leng Tem­ple and the Mu­seum of Taipa & Coloane His­tory.

There’s much food for thought, quite lit­er­ally, on my jour­ney around Ma­cao, dis­cov­er­ing its Miche­lin magic. Three Can­tonese restau­rants – Lai Heen, Ying and Pearl Dragon – earned one star for the first time and two Ma­canese es­tab­lish­ments – the Chi­nese eatery Feng Wei Ju and Ja­panese res­tau­rant Mizumi – scaled the lad­der from one to two stars.

A grand to­tal of 19 of Ma­cao’s fine­din­ing restau­rants were awarded Miche­lin stars in this re­spected tome.

Yee Shun Milk Com­pany, which serves bowls of Chi­nese steamed milk pud­dings, has been in­cluded. Then there’s Fong Kei in Taipa, near Ge­latina Mok Yi Kei, a pas­try shop that adds pork to cook­ies, and Dai Gwan, near the pic­turesque Se­nado Square, whose black pep­per buns are all the rage.

It would be easy to keep wan­der­ing Ma­cao’s streets din­ing on Miche­lin­rec­om­mended street food, but there are some no­table fine-din­ing restau­rants worth vis­it­ing while you’re in town.

Posh nosh

Lo­cated in the Grand Lis­boa Ho­tel, The Eight is Ma­cao’s first and only Chi­nese din­ing venue to be awarded three Miche­lin stars for four con­sec­u­tive years. Or­der­ing the chef-rec­om­mended Sig­na­ture Dish Set Menu is a must; one of the stand­outs is the roasted pork belly with shred­ded jel­ly­fish and caviar.

In the same ho­tel, you’ll also find the three-starred Robu­chon au Dôme, the epony­mous eatery of French chef and restau­ra­teur Joël Robu­chon. Don’t miss the seared rib eye Kagoshima beef with can­dele mac­a­roni pasta and girolle mush­room.

Over at The Vene­tian Ma­cao Re­sort, check out the one-star Golden Pea­cock’s tra­di­tional In­dian cui­sine, which has en­joyed its Miche­lin rat­ing for four con­sec­u­tive years.

My tour ends right back where it started, at An­to­nio’s, where I se­lect the $22 tapas menu.

It fea­tures a gaz­pa­cho, just right for this hu­mid day, fol­lowed by salty sar­dines and but­tery pota­toes. I fin­ish with a crème brûlée. I wash all of this down with a req­ui­site red, Por­tuguese of course, and on this fine food day, I feast like a Miche­lin mae­stro.

0704 Pearl Dragon of­fers a so­phis­ti­cated fine-din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence © Scott Brooks 05 A dish at Pearl Dragon 06 The ru­ins of St Paul’s, a 16th-cen­tury cathe­dral 07 Kash­miri ro­gan josh at The Golden Pea­cock © The Vene­tian Ma­cao. Im­ages 01, 04 and 06 © Stu­dio City Ma­cau/ Melco Re­sorts & En­ter­tain­ment

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