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Macau Food/Restaurant Recommendations


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#1 orangeblossom

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 01:22 AM

I will be in Macau for a day trip in Dec. As I have almost no knowledge of its cuisine (apart from Portuguese egg tarts and that bacalhau features in its cuisine), I would really appreciate some recommendations on good authentic Macanese food/restaurants/foodstuff to buy home.
Thanks.
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#2 aprilmei

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 08:23 AM

This place is excellent for Macanese food: Restaurante Espacio Lisboa. I don't have the address but the phone is (853) 88 22 26. It's on Coloane. Really good suckling pig (served with homemade potato chips), blood sausage, African chicken (very different from other versions of African chicken)... actually, everything we've tried here is good. If it's a sunny, not-too-hot day, ask for a table on the balcony. It's inexpensive.

If you want a luxurious French meal, try Robuchon a Galera in the Hotel Lisboa (on the main island) It's not a very nice hotel - full of Russian 'hos. And the decor of the restaurant is OTT. But the food is amazing. Joel Robuchon comes several times a year but even when he's not there, the food is excellent - probably the best French food in Asia (my French chef friends also think this). It's expensive, especially if you order things like the caviar with lobster jelly and cauliflower cream (I believe it's one of Robuchon's signature dishes from long ago) and sea urchin with fennel cream. But they have a very reasonable set lunch deal - three courses (about six choices for each course) for something like HK$250 plus 10 per cent. The tete de veau is excellent, and next time I go I hope the steak tartare is an option. Oh, and the wine list is truly astonishing and the mark-up is not that much.

While you're in Macau, you should definitely try Portuguese egg tarts. There are two famous place, Lord Stow's, which is right near Restaurante Espacio Lisboa, and Margaret's, which is a few blocks from the Hotel Lisboa. Both are very good. The owners of each were originally husband-and-wife but they got divorced - not amicably - and she opened Margaret's.

#3 jack daniels

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 09:47 AM

I recommend going to Fernando's Restaurant while in Macau. I my opinion it is the best food on the entire island. They have wonderfully fresh fish, especially the sardines.
It is located on the island of Coloane, so it is about a 15 minute cab ride from the Lisboa.

Edited by jack daniels, 24 November 2005 - 09:48 AM.


#4 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 10:05 AM

This is SO freaky... I just started dating a man who has asked me to go to Macao for a week in the spring. I had to confess I had no idea where Macao was and JUST spent the morning googling information about it.

I'll definitely report back with pictures if it comes to fruition!

#5 canucklehead

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 10:33 AM

I recommend going to Fernando's Restaurant while in Macau.  I my opinion it is the best food on the entire island.  They have wonderfully fresh fish, especially the sardines. 
It is located on the island of Coloane, so it is about a 15 minute cab ride from the Lisboa.

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When I lived in HK - I used to love going to Fernando's. But I have heard that things are not as good as they used to be *sigh* - isn't that always the way? However - it is inexpensive and I still think maybe worthwhile going. I always liked the Portoguese style roasted suckling pig, spicy crab hot pot, and grilled sardines. The tomato salad was a nice bit of vegetable in the meat heavy meal.

There are places in Macau that serve papaya milk shakes and ginger milk custards and - though I never bought any - Macau is supposed to be famous for its beef and pork jerky.

Have fun - Macau is a nice change (slowed down) change of pace compared to Hong Kong.

#6 orangeblossom

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 10:32 AM

Thanks folks. The portuguese egg tarts are definitely on my list and time permitting, given that it is on Coloane, I will try to make it to Fernando's (it's the one name that keeps popping up whenever I mention going to Macau).
Cheers.
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#7 aprilmei

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 08:05 PM

Thanks folks. The portuguese egg tarts are definitely on my list and time permitting, given that it is on Coloane, I will try to make it to Fernando's (it's the one name that keeps popping up whenever I mention going to Macau).
Cheers.

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Some people I REALLY respect (as far as food goes) love Fernando's but the one time I went there, I didn't like it much. Maybe we ordered the wrong things. It should be noted that they don't take bookings so if you go during prime time, you'll have to wait - sometimes for a couple of hours.

#8 HKDave

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:42 PM

Fernando's is still good. One of my favorite things to do in Macau is waste a long weekday afternoon with a few friends and endless bottles of wine there, occasionally ordering another dish when we get peckish.

It's a big, non-aircon semi-outdoor Portuguese (mostly) and Macanese home cooking kind of place, not a white tablecloth restaurant, so don't expect anything fancy. And it's jammed and doesn't take reservations on weekends, when the HK crowds come to Macau. You can wait for hours for a table on weekends.

But come on a weekday, especially at lunch, and it's all locals, they take reservations even though you won't need them, and it is a much more relaxed place. No credit cards, and no English menu (it's in Portuguese or Chinese) Must try dish: their clams, which I've been trying to copy for years. Any bus going to 'Hac Sa' ends its route right in front of the restaurant. Tel 882 864

A similar menu can be found at the tiny O Manel, on Taipa, run by a former Fernando chef. Reservations needed - and they take reservations on weekends, unlike Fernandos. Tel 827 571

A slightly more upscale (and aircon) option is A Lorcha, opposite and up the street from the Maritime Museum. Must try: feijoada. Tel 313 193
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#9 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 05:14 PM

Thanks folks. The portuguese egg tarts are definitely on my list and time permitting, given that it is on Coloane, I will try to make it to Fernando's (it's the one name that keeps popping up whenever I mention going to Macau).
Cheers.

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Some people I REALLY respect (as far as food goes) love Fernando's but the one time I went there, I didn't like it much. Maybe we ordered the wrong things. It should be noted that they don't take bookings so if you go during prime time, you'll have to wait - sometimes for a couple of hours.

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I've recently spent a week in Macao and was there last year as well. While Fernando's is good and in a fun location (at the beach in Coloanne), A Lorcha is a far better restaurant and the restaurant of choice for locals in the know - no question. Been to both a few times recently. At A Lorcha the grilled dishes are cooked over real charcoal and they taste great. Try their distinctive and yummy African Chicken. Lord Stowes is located in Coloanne (not Taipa as was written in another post) and is a great place to go for a sandwich or continental breakfast and of course a Portuguese egg tart. They even have excellent bagels (made by them) and smoked salmon. There is a fun street in Taipa which has 10-15 restaurants, one after the other in a Chinatown type setting, and the specialty there is crab congee though they all have full menus and good reasonably priced Cantonese cooking. Worth an afternoon's stroll.

By the way we really enjoyed staying at the Westin resort on Coloanne if you're looking a hotel. It's a cab ride and 15 minutes away from the casinos but quiet and lovely.

#10 Franci

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 10:40 AM

Hi everybody, I am just back from Asia.
Thanks for all the suggestions, not only for Macao.

We went for lunch to Fernando. Thanks to Dave we couldn't miss the clams which actually were the thing I liked better

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The leitão assado

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and the sardinhas assadas I didn't like much (and I normally do)

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My husband was also very happy for the jerkies he bought and brought back to London :biggrin:

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And I bought some of the traditional cookies, although, don't do like me, read before you buy, the one with pork and sesame are a little too salty for me :huh:

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#11 hzrt8w

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 05:25 PM

My husband was also very happy for the jerkies he bought and brought back to London  :biggrin:
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Those look absolutely gorgeous!

Lucky him! In the US, meat products are banned by custom. (I think it is still the case, though I haven't travelled for a while.) For us we can't buy and bring back beef/pork jerkies. :sad:

When I visited Singapore, I also saw those lovely charcoal-grilled beef/pork jerkies similar to what's in your picture. They tasted really sweet and juicy.
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#12 CFT

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:03 AM

Lucky him!  In the US, meat products are banned by custom.  (I think it is still the case, though I haven't travelled for a while.)  For us we can't buy and bring back beef/pork jerkies.  :sad:

Meat products are banned by UK customs also, but people still try to sneak things in. The UK had a problem with Foot and Mouth disease in cattle less than 5 years ago which was attributed to imported meat product, so they have been advising travellers not to bring such items into the country.
Best Wishes,
Chee Fai.

#13 Toliver

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 04:07 PM

Instead of starting a new discussion, I thought I would bump this one back up.
This weekend on PBS, "Martin's Yan's Chinatown Cooking" featured Macanese cooking which has been heavily influenced by the Portuguese. He said it's one of the few chinese cuisines where bread is served with each meal. On the show he made two dishes which featured potatoes. One dish had deep fried potato quarters (I believe) and the other involved making mashed potatoes "footballs" (I apologize for not knowing the correct cooking term for this), dipping them in an egg mixture, breading them and then deep frying them.
I was intrigued because potatoes aren't really an ingredient I think of when I think of chinese cuisine.
Does anyone have anymore Macanese recipes? Or experiences with the cuisine?

edited to add: I did a little bit of online research and wasn't able to find out what the main differences were between Macanese cooking and other chinese cuisines. Wikipedia mentioned seafood is quite often featured in Macanese dishes but then other chinese cuisines also feature seafood. So what makes Macanese cooking different?
edited once again to add: They also use balachu(sp?), salted cod (a dried salted fish used in many European cuisines). On this episode, Martin Yan cooked a dish with the cod which I, again, found intriguing since I hadn't seen it in other chinese cuisines.

Edited by Toliver, 11 September 2007 - 04:28 PM.


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#14 aprilmei

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 08:12 PM

Instead of starting a new discussion, I thought I would bump this one back up.
This weekend on PBS, "Martin's Yan's Chinatown Cooking" featured Macanese cooking which has been heavily influenced by the Portuguese. He said it's one of the few chinese cuisines where bread is served with each meal. On the show he made two dishes which featured potatoes. One dish had deep fried potato quarters (I believe) and the other involved making mashed potatoes "footballs" (I apologize for not knowing the correct cooking term for this), dipping them in an egg mixture, breading them and then deep frying them.
I was intrigued because potatoes aren't really an ingredient I think of when I think of chinese cuisine.
Does anyone have anymore Macanese recipes? Or experiences with the cuisine?

edited to add: I did a little bit of online research and wasn't able to find out what the main differences were between Macanese cooking and other chinese cuisines. Wikipedia mentioned seafood is quite often featured in Macanese dishes but then other chinese cuisines also feature seafood. So what makes Macanese cooking different?
edited once again to add: They also use balachu(sp?), salted cod (a dried salted fish used in many European cuisines). On this episode, Martin Yan cooked a dish with the cod which I, again, found intriguing since I hadn't seen it in other chinese cuisines.

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That's odd; I've always thought of Macanese cuisine more as Chinese- and-other-cultures-influenced Portuguese cuisine rather than Portuguese-influenced Chinese cuisine. The Portuguese colonised Macau centuries ago - it was only recently "returned" to China; the Portuguese presence is extremely obvious in the architecture and culture. The food is unique; I don't think you would find the Macanese dishes on a traditional menu in Portugal, and you certainly won't find the dishes on a menu in other parts of China (unless they specialise in Macanese cuisine).
Toliver, were the mashed potato things croquettes? Potatoes are eaten in certain parts of China but not as much as rice (in the south) and wheat and other grains in other parts. And while bacalau is not traditionally eaten in China, we do eat many other types of salted fish.

#15 Toliver

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 10:49 AM

Toliver, were the mashed potato things croquettes? Potatoes are eaten in certain parts of China but not as much as rice (in the south) and wheat and other grains in other parts. And while bacalau is not traditionally eaten in China, we do eat many other types of salted fish.

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I can't recall specifically if Martin Yan called them croquettes but the finished product certainly looked like croquettes. He used two large spoons to create the football shape (tournage?) before breading. I found it a little humorous because as he was finishing making the football shape, it fell off the spoon and into the bowl of mashed potatoes. He quickly fished it out of the bowl and moved onto the breading portion of the recipe as if nothing had happened. Such a pro!
After more Googling, I'm also finding references about Indian/Thai influences in Macanese cuisine since it sometimes uses curries and coconut/coconut milk as an ingredient. On this specific episode, Martin was in Macau where he featured a guest chef who used coconut in the recipe he was preparing (I think it was used as a breading for fish before deep frying in the wok).

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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”
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#16 HKDave

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 12:00 AM

The 'mashed potato football' sounds like pastis de bacalhau, which is pretty much as you describe but also contains salt cod. It's possible that Yan, who is (ahem) not a stickler for accuracy, skipped the salt cod for his TV audience. Macanese consider the dish one of their own, but it's basically Portuguese.

I'd agree with aprilmei that Macanese food is largely based on Portuguese (or Portuguese empire; dishes like feijoada often appear on menus in Macau), with Chinese and other outside influences, rather than the other way around. The other outside influences came from the Portuguese empire's travels. They picked up things like chilies, potatoes and tomatoes in their American settlements, peanuts from Africa, spices from Goa, Malacca and Timor, and were largely responsible for introducing them to East Asia. It's hard to imagine, but the Indian, Thai and Sichuan cuisines didn't have chilies before the Portuguese arrived here.

There are very few Macanese cookbooks. Jackson's "Taste of Macau" is available through Amazon in the US. An interesting book that shows the Portuguese culinary influence on the world in recipes is Hamilton's "Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters", but it's out of print.

I've been to Macau a couple of times in the last month or so, and here's an update. Sadly, the Macau I knew and loved from as recently as a year ago is gone. The opening of several mega-casinos, most recently the Venetian, has transformed the sleepy backwater into a place where it can take over an hour to get through customs at the ferry terminal on any day of the week, and it can be totally impossible to find a taxi at times. The only good thing is that the current boom is so poorly planned that it seems likely that in a few years it will be followed by an equally spectacular bust.

Robuchon at the Lisboa remains a very good deal for lunch, but ignore the menus on their website; they're totally out of date (although the prix fixe prices are correct). Reservations required. Huge wine list, and the best cheese board in this part of the world. The most incongruous thing about an elegant meal at Robuchon is running the gauntlet of very obvious prostitutes working the ground floor of the hotel on your way out.

For those who want Portuguese/Macanese but are tired of Fernandos, or who just want air-con, tiny O Manel (mentioned upthread), or tiny A Petisqueira (tel 825354), both in the older part of Taipa, remain good alternatives, but reservations are needed at either. Fernando's now has an English menu. The last 3 times I've been to Fernando's they've been out of the clams, which as basically taken them off my list. O Manel does the clams better, anyway.

Aurora at the Crown casino looks very promising and some local friends speak highly of it. I only had time for a drink there but liked what I saw in the open kitchen and on the menu. The staff told me they're slammed on weekends but weekdays are civilized. They're on the list for next visit.

If you want to pretend Macau hasn't changed in 20 years, a slow lunch at the outdoor Nga Tim in Coloane Village is the real deal. The menu is semi-Cantonese but has all the usual Macanese favorites. Tel 882086. Inexpensive. Chan Chi Mei restaurant, on the same street, is run by the same people.

Pizzeria Toscana, formerly across from the ferry terminal, is now hidden in the basement of a building in the Barra. Same not-bad, not-great Italian food. Tel 726637.

There's a pretty decent Sichuan restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf, called Hero. Tel 728 807. I've tried them a couple of times at lunch and had no problem getting in without reservations.

Oh, and all 6-digit Macau phone numbers now need a '28' prefix when dialing.

edit: grammer...

Edited by HKDave, 16 September 2007 - 12:04 AM.

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#17 Fengyi

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 07:00 PM

The 'mashed potato football' sounds like pastis de bacalhau, which is pretty much as you describe but also contains salt cod. It's possible that Yan, who is (ahem) not a stickler for accuracy, skipped the salt cod for his TV audience. Macanese consider the dish one of their own, but it's basically Portuguese.

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I had these yesterday! I had helped organized the first ever Madeira-tasting dinner in Beijing and had decided to hold it at one of the only Macanese restaurants in Beijing (I thought the food and wine matching possibilities were good...besides the whole Portuguese thing...)

We had the Pastis de bacalhau with some Vinho Verde to kick off the affair...and then paired three different Madeiras with various Macanese dishes (i.e. Rainwater with African chicken and roast goose; 5yr old Rich with chargrilled beef and macanese curried vegetables - excellent pairing!; 10 yr old Malmsey with egg tarts and crema caramel). All courtesy of the Broadbent Madeira Company bringing Madeira into China (way-hey!!!)

Anyway, if anyone reading this is off to Macau, I can really recommend the lighter Madeiras with Macanese food - particularly with the coconut 'Portuguese' sauces!
Of course, in the heat of Macau, Vinho Verde is also very good!! :biggrin:
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#18 BonVivant

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 09:06 AM

i think it's most likely Pastéis de Bacalhau (à Portuguesa). an extremely popular snack with beer in Portugal. as the name suggests, it contains bacalhau.

if you think something tastes 'different' in Macanese food but can't put a finger on it then it's probably the balichão, which every Macanese household has its own version. smells/tastes a little bit like belacan but not exactly. much better! :) [balichão looks brownish [upper right corner].

while in Macau i was really looking forward to eating Lord Stow's pastéis de nata but the Lord disappointed me. i'm very critical of others' pastéis de nata having eaten these delicious little tarts countless times in its country of origin, including the most famous of all.

anyway, Portugal and things in it, or related to it are something close to my heart... i could talk about it for days! :raz:

bom apetite!

#19 HKDave

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 05:27 AM

Just back from another Macau visit. Here's the latest:

Il Teatro, Wynn Casino. Overlooks the dancing fountains, and is one of the few restaurants at the Wynn that's not inside the casino (which means you can take kids there; no under-18s allowed in Macau casinos). Good modern Italian cooking from a beautiful kitchen, and as long as you stay away from the big meat courses it's not absurdly expensive. But I didn't feel that the kitchen's skill level was up to the prices, and until it is, I doubt I'll be back often. We had a tuna appy that looked like something I might have plated with in the first week of culinary school. Excellent sommelier; he's Jenthew Yung, ex-Spoon HK.

We hit Robuchon at the Lisboa again (see upthread) for lunch and this time was even better than last (and yes, aprilmei, we did the 4 course menu this time.) The amazing sorrel veloute is still on the menu, and there's now an incredible lightly-smoked foie terrine. Despite it being race week, the place was almost empty, which is a bit scary. And for the second time in a row, we weren't offered the sweets with our coffee, even though it's part of the menu. Maybe they could see that I was about to pop a button from the previous 2 hours at the table and though it would be dangerous if I ate more. It is hard to see how the old Lisboa is going to stay open; it increasingly looks like a dump compared to the new casinos.

Club Militar has a great location - in the pink colonial building just opposite the Grand Lisboa - and a MOP108 lunch buffet that's one of the better deals in town. Soup, salads, a fish and a meat main, desserts. The a la carte menu looks good, too; I'll try that next visit. You'll hear plenty of Portuguese spoken at other tables; this is one of the last bastions of old expat Macau. Despite being a private club, the dining room is open to the public. Reservations are a must.

I can see myself becoming a late-night regular at the Chinese noodle place overlooking the main casino floor at the staggeringly tacky Grand Lisboa. Inexpensive, never busy, really good mainland-style noodles and dumplings, all made in-house. Order bat bao cha and you get a kung-fu demonstration for something like MOP5; they've got one of those guys with the long-spout teapots who can really put on a show.

The main casino bar in the Sands has got to be the cheapest place to drink in Macau, if not on Earth. MOP25 for almost everything on the bar menu, including Belgian beers and 12 year old whiskey. Cheesy dancers but a great house band at the moment.

Visited the Venetian, and all I can say it that it's big. Absurdly big. And it's not even finished. There are a truly silly number of F+B outlets there and I'll probably get through life without trying very many of them. The place feels more like a giant shopping mall than a casino and has nothing to do with Macau; you could just as easily be in the one in Las Vegas if so many people weren't speaking Mandarin. I can't say that I liked it much but they don't build casinos to appeal to me; I just eat there. Some friends have opened a Brazilian churrasco place in there, complete with Brazilian chefs and carvers and charcoal grill, so I've got to give that a try. The Morton's in there has their traditional 5-7pm free beef fillet sandwich bar snackies.

Outside the casinos, the current labour situation and massive rent hikes are killing small chef-owned restaurants in Macau. Places are literally closing their doors because they can't keep staff. The big casinos are hiring staff by the thousands and they have no problem getting permission to bring in as many foreign workers as they want; the little guys can't compete with casino wages on local hires and are getting buried by Macau's incompetent bureaucracy when they apply to import any staff, and these days are facing doubling or quadrupling of their rents when their leases come up. It's sad to see, and it's going to get worse.

The taxi situation isn't getting any better. Learn the local bus routes (good luck) or plan your life around casino shuttle buses (to get from casino A to B, take casino A's bus to the ferry pier, and hop on casino B's bus there; it's often faster than waiting for a taxi at busy times of day).

I heard that there's a new Macau cookbook in the works from the Council of Macau Communities (the Macanese diaspora organization) but so far nothing solid on that...
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#20 Ohba

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:58 AM

Ah, casino culture. Lovely, isn't it?

#21 WillLack

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 08:27 PM

I really don't think you can't beat Fernando's - yes you can't book - but get their at 11.30/11.45 no problem - the menu is only in Portugese - but there are pictures! Its a once a year treat for me to eat there and I'd recommend it to anyone. I love the garlic prawns and the roast chicken - they do something special to it because the skin is so crispy and the flesh so moist - and the beef stew is a revelation - I am hungry just thinking about it - my 3rd favourite restaurant in the world....

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#22 insomniac

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 02:44 AM

I too love Fernando's and yr pix brought it all flooding back...thanks Will. ps. one of my favs is the clams in a sort of spicy coriander sauce...

will be interested to hear how the Club Militar is these days HKDave, have spent many a long lunch there but not since the shiny new casinos came online. ps. Lisboa a slightly seedy dump, a bit like walking thru an old movie, isn't it, ??...always expected to see Humphry Bogart leaning on a post, smoking a non-filter :smile:

#23 HKDave

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 08:48 PM

I really don't think you can't beat Fernando's - yes you can't book - but get their at 11.30/11.45 no problem - the menu is only in Portugese - but there are pictures!  Its a once a year treat for me to eat there and I'd recommend it to anyone. I love the garlic prawns and the roast chicken -  they do something special to it because the skin is so crispy and the flesh so moist  - and the beef stew is a revelation -

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You can book, just not on weekends. If you get there at 11:30 you'll just have to wait; they open at noon. It's no problem getting in on weekdays, in any case; and that's certainly the best time to visit Macau these days. And they do have an English menu now.
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#24 HKDave

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 09:01 PM

I too love Fernando's and yr pix brought it all flooding back...thanks Will. ps. one of my favs is the clams in a sort of spicy coriander sauce...

will be interested to hear how the Club Militar is these days HKDave, have spent many a long lunch there but not since the shiny new casinos came online. ps. Lisboa a slightly seedy dump, a bit like walking thru an old movie, isn't it, ??...always expected to see Humphry Bogart leaning on a post, smoking a non-filter :smile:

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I'm with you on the clams, insomniac. Best dish there. The problem is that the last 3 times I've been there, they didn't have them. When that happens, they'll offer to do the prawns in the clam sauce, but the result isn't the same. So if you want to be sure of getting clams, O Manel on Taipa almost always has them, and does them at least was well (it's owned by Fernando's former chef, who claims to have developed the recipe). Reservations a must at O Manel for any meal.

The sauce just seems to be white wine, garlic, coriander, a bit of chili and butter, but mine have never come out as well as theirs... maybe it's those tiny clams.

I ate at Club Militar a couple of weeks back and enjoyed it. Not too fancy, and the FOH staff is now all Filipino, but the food - Portuguese with a few Macanese touches, like a duck rice that someone ordered at the table beside us and I'm definitely ordering next visit - was decent and it's a very good deal.

That's not Bogart leaning against a post at the Lisboa, that's just me... wondering how I'm going to find a taxi on a weekend in Macau.

Edit: punctuation.

Edited by HKDave, 02 December 2007 - 09:02 PM.

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#25 insomniac

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 06:11 AM

That's not Bogart leaning against a post at the Lisboa, that's just me... wondering how I'm going to find a taxi on a weekend in Macau.

:smile:
yr shuttle bus tip is a good one, sort of like getting in a lift in HK that's going down when you want to go up :cool:

can recommend Macao buses, nice and compact...

#26 HKDave

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 03:03 AM

Macau update... just spent a few days mid-week (the best time to visit) there. Only time for a few meals.

I'll start off with a place that I've been keeping quiet about: the 'IFT Educational Restaurant' on the IFT Campus at Mong-Ha Hill. It's the training restaurant for Macau's tourism school, so service can be a little variable but at its worst is still better than in most Macau restaurants these days.

They recently renovated and sadly the tablecloths are now gone. But the (student-cooked) food is still absurdly good value. Apps from MOP 30, up to MOP60 for foie terrine. Mains MOP60-90, and that's including some first class seafood and beef fillet. The food is best described as Macanese/Portuguese influenced fine dining. Solid, reasonably-priced Portuguese wine list, too. Because it's government-run, there's no tax or service charge. Open breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon-Fri; closed weekends and all holidays. Friday dinner is Macanese/Portuguese buffet, and that's crowded. Resos a good idea at any time. Tel 2851 5222; no bus goes up Mong-Ha so tell a taxi driver "mong ha ban goon". The restaurant is at the turnaround at the highest point the taxi can drive.

Club Militare: no big changes here, although it was less busy than usual. This is still the Portuguese expat downtown lunch spot and everyone else in the room seemed to know each other. They had their usual lunch buffet (around MOP110), but we opted to go a la carte: pasteis de bacalhau with warm black-eyed peas and a very generous plate of properly sliced pata negra ham for starters, green salad, and duck rice and crispy-skin suckling pig for mains. And some dessert for my delectable companion, and a bottle of vinho verde and a brandy and coffee and a big bottle of mineral water. This was more than we could eat; total was under MOP700. The cooking wasn't quite as good as on previous visits; the home-made potato crisps with the pork were limp and weren't seasoned (in fact everything seemed a little under-seasoned this time), and salads weren't properly dressed. But overall it was a fine meal, and I'll be back. Lunch and dinner, tel 28714009, no obvious sports clothes allowed (jeans are ok), resos a good idea at lunch but not usually needed at dinner. It's the old pink building beside Grand Lisboa casino.

Alfonso III: I hadn't tried Alfonso III before, but it has something of a reputation as an old-school Portuguese place. It's on Rua Central near São Lourenço church, and near the police HQ. It took 2 exceptionally rude phone calls to secure a reservation - which turned out to be unnecessary; they're not exactly busy.

We ordered basics: chorizo, clams, pork liver, grilled chicken and salad. The food was ok... except the salad, which was a mound of wet limp shredded iceberg, and except for the bread, which was limp buns. But the service... this is a restaurant that just doesn't give a damn. Full plates coming up from the basement kitchen were put on the floor (!) at the top of the stairs for pickup, buns coming off other tables - even buns that had been torn in half - were thrown back in the bread bin in full view of guests, and then served again. When our sullen waitress was asked by the other server if we had ordered anything to drink (nobody bothered asking us), she just shrugged and walked away. When we finally were able to order some wine, it was brought, already uncorked, and plunked on the table - no ice bucket, no pretense of presentation or tasting or pouring, even though she had exactly zero other tables to deal with at the time.

This was all happening while the owner was seated alone at a table facing the corner, with his back to the room. He didn't look at us all night. Like I said, this is a restaurant that doesn't give a damn. I assume they look after their regulars better than visitors, but for the rest of us, I'll chalk this up to taking one for the team. My worst restaurant experience in Macau, ever.

After that, we wanted our final meal this trip to be a guaranteed good one, and that made it easy: Fernando's.

Their salad - just green-leaf lettuce, ripe tomatoes, sweet white onion, good olive oil... the difference in attitude from Alfonso was made absolutely clear right there. Fernando's excellent Portuguese buns come to the table warm, fresh and crusty. Our mains were grilled sardines (again, just fresh fish and salt; they're excellent at this time of year and we saw them on almost every other table as well) and what used to just be called beef steak but now seems to be called drunken steak (it's the one without the egg); it's a cheap mystery cut of beef served with an addictive sauce that I have no idea how to make. The french fries with the steak, which were average on previous visits, were a lot better this time.

Both of us were shaking our heads; how does this place get it so right? It's not remotely fancy (no air-con, no credit cards), the food is simple, and the service is best described as 'efficient', but I have to strongly disagree with reports that it's somehow gone downhill. I've been coming here for about 15 years and the most impressive thing about Fernando's is their consistency. While some traditional Portuguese restaurants in Macau may do some dishes a little better these days, none are dramatically better. The real issue people seem to have with Fernando's is that it's not remotely fashionable and has zero snob appeal. Everyone knows about it, and it's in every guidebook. We were there for a weekday lunch, which used to be just a couple of tables of locals, and this time it was full of tourists, and there was a wait for tables. I don't care; the food is still good, the weird atmosphere still appeals to me, and I hope it's there for another 15 years. Tel 2888 2264. Tell any taxi driver "Fernando" and you'll get there, or save MOP80 and take bus 21A or 25 heading south to the end of the line at Hac Sa beach.

A couple of bars... the main casino bar at the Sands has raised prices a little but is still the place for inexpensive quality booze and good bands. It is the only bar on earth you might see an African-American singing patriotic songs in acceptable Mandarin to an appreciative audience of mainlander gamblers (the sight is enough to make them look up from the baccarat tables), followed by a troupe of lightly-clad young Aussie women flouncing around to 'Candyman' (less reaction from the gamblers), followed by a Filipino long-hair rock band covering old-school heavy metal (no reaction at all). Something for everyone, and it all seems to make more sense as the evening wears on. And Old Taipa Tavern in (you guessed it) old Taipa village is a decent place for a pint of Guinness, complete with the inevitable whinging expats. Unlike many other establishments in Macau, they seem to understand the mysterious effect that attractive barmaids can have on alcohol sales.

Macau cookbook update: the are 3 new ones that I'm aware of. The IFT has 2: "The Art of Modern Portuguese and other IFT Delights" at MOP100, and another more Macanese one whose name escapes me at MOP250. Both are available at the IFT restaurant. I had a quick glance through them, but neither seemed destined to be the Great Macau Cookbook.

Also, the Council of Macau Communities cookbook I mentioned upthread back in November is now in print. It's called "Macanese Cooking - a Journey across Generations" by Cecilia Jorge, and it's supposedly available at the Portuguese Bookstore on Rua St Dominic. Three editions; Chinese, Portuguese and English, MOP250. I haven't checked it out yet.
Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

#27 Prawncrackers

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 09:57 AM

Thanks HKDave for the latest update. We're back in HK at the end of October and am planning a day trip to Macau as we've never been. So if we absolutely had to choose one place to eat then it would definitely be Fernando's. What about the best Po Tarts and pastry shops in general, if we had to choose one, which would it be and where is it?

#28 HKDave

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 10:18 PM

What about the best Po Tarts and pastry shops in general, if we had to choose one, which would it be and where is it?

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There are 2 places that are equally famous for Portuguese egg tarts, Margret's Cafe e Nata and Lord Stowes; in fact Margaret Wong and Andrew "Lord" Stow used to be married. Margret's is downtown, in a lane between Leal Senado and the Lisboa, and Lord Stow's is in Coloane Village, a couple minutes by bus or taxi from Fernando's.

BTW, you also can also get Lord Stow's tarts at a shop in the lobby of the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong... but they won't be hot from the oven there.

For Macanese pastries and candies, there are 2 well-known chains that sell all the usual local stuff (almond cookies, peanut candy, pineapple buns etc) and have outlets all over Macau: Koi Kei and Choi Heong Yuen.
http://www.koikei.co...roduction-e.htm
http://www.choi-heon...ent/en/main.php
The latter has a shop in Yaohan (near the ferry terminal) if you want to shop on your way back to HK.
Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

#29 Prawncrackers

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 03:47 AM

Splendid, the wife is happy for all the good info.

#30 Prawncrackers

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 01:02 AM

Actually, doing a bit more planning for our trip. Do you think we’ll be rushed for time going to Fernando’s all the way down there? Especially on a day trip and our first time. Plus does Fernando’s only do Portuguese food? Because I could go to Portugal for that! Where are the best places to go for local Macanese food?