12 Hours in Macau | Where to Eat?
A group of heavyweight foodie friends from Hong Kong came to visit and wanted to eat all day for the 12 hours they were in Macau. I put together an itinerary and took them around a rented coach to stuff their faces for half a day. Because it was Chinese New Year holidays, quite a few of my favourite haunts were closed, so here’s the list of alternatives including all the spots we managed to cover in 12 hours. They arrived at 11am in Cotai and left on the 11pm ferry.
Taipa Side Da Li Lai Pork Chop buns 大利来猪扒包 This place is an institution, they used to have an outdoor eating spot where people sit to eat pork chop buns (30MOP normal bun, 36MOP for boluo bun), slurp noodles and nibble on their curry fishball sticks, but after a few months closure for a couple of months in 2010, they reopened and only did takeaways. I always recommend the buo luo “pineapple” sweet bun which gives a nice contrast to the marinated tender pork chop. Now there’s also a branch in Hong Kong on Lyndhurst terrace, I haven’t tried to see if they are the same.
Egg tarts at San Hei Lou A stone’s throw from the pork chop bun place is a cha chaan teng local diner that specialises in egg tarts – all sorts. A very local confectionery that most people just walk past missing the lovely smells that spill over onto the streets. They are famous for their birds nest Portuguese egg tarts, but I find that the textures somewhat don’t go as a whole and is better left cooking in soups—the usual way it’s consumed. The regular egg tarts are delish, the crust is more flakey buttery pastry than crumbly shortcrust base. The coconut milk version is interesting but if you’re strict about authentic Po tarts, go with the egg tarts without the fancy dress. A cup of tea and 2-3 egg tarts will set you back about 60-70MOP.
My top 4 egg tart list here.
For lunch options, A petisqueira OR Pui Kei. OR Seng Cheong for crab porridge on Kunya Gai street, also order the crab fried in salted egg yolk and the assorted fish, octopus, squid balls. (Go in a group to share, this would set you back about 120-150MOP per person). For pre-lunch appetiser, stop by Seng Cheong Crab congee on Kunya Gai and order the famous crab congee (serves about 3 persons) and if you’re a bigger party, order also the fried crabs coated in delish salted egg yolks that adds a creamy sandy rich layer to the fried crabs.
If you’re planning a Portuguese lunch, get reservations in advance for A Petisqueira. Order the clams, seafood rice and finish with a chocolate mousse. If you’re planning for something more local, go to my favourite little diner Pui Kei. This tiny cha chaan teng has wooden booth seats and three round tables in the centre and a huge red altar that rests above the kitchen window. The turnaround here is quick and most diners share tables with strangers, most eat quickly and leave.
Here is some of Taipa’s best pork chop noodles 吉利猪扒拉面 (jí lì zhu pá la miàn) 36MOP —opt for the dry version and top it with an egg to break the yolk for a delicious mix. Portions here are generous, the deep fried crispy pork rivals a good European schnitzel (in praise of its colonial history) and is served with bone in tack. You get served immediately here and your orders arrive within 10 minutes, wolf it down and head out just as quickly as other diners for the full local experience. 沛記 Pui Kei Cafe. 25 Rua da Cunha, Taipa, Macau (Kunya gai in Cantonese) .
Macau side On the Macau side, definitely have the shrimp roe bamboo noodles at Lou Kei – on my top Cha Chaan Teng list. Formerly a hole in a wall inconspicuous local diner, the renovated Lou Kei is featured on the Michelin guide with a bib for its shrimp roe bamboo rolled noodles and congee. The facelift in recent years includes a fully air-conditioned dining room with fancy matching plates, teapots and cutlery. It’s no longer the definitive cha chaan teng, but continues to draw in both the locals and tourists. People come here for the springy, perfectly al dente egg noodles generously dressed with shrimp roe and fresh shrimp dumplings. Be prepared to pay higher prices ranging from 35MOP up to 100MOP per person as menus come with good photos and English translations. Travessa de Inacio Sarmento de Carvalho Behind Grand Lisboa and 澳門葡文學校
Single origins One of the newest additions to the Macau café scene, run by Macanese entrepreneur Keith who is the only European certified barrista in Macau – and he carries the most interesting, exotic range of beans, filling colourful little cups for tastings and talks us through every selection of coffee. The space is tight but cosy and tastefully done up, stocked with beautiful colourful cups and professional machines and cutlery with a quirky edge. Cakes are sometimes available, but it’s the coffee people come here for.(30MOP and above for a cuppa)
Dumpling Town This namesake local diners do dumplings well here – from the mainstays of panfried pork and chives dumplings to shrimp dumplings in chilli oil, they have the works. My favourite is the chicken satay dumplings, they’re wrapped in a triangle shape have a savory gravy and bits of celery inside. And it is the milk tea here that keeps me coming back – almond milk tea, in place of evaporated milk added to tea at all cha chaan tengs. They’ve given such a lovely twist to traditional milk tea. Come after 130pm, that’s when the local crowds are done with lunch and you can have a seat. Prepare to share your table with strangers, it’s one of those eat and run places, with plenty of turnaround service. Lunch for two 150-170MOP Beco D Arruda No.7 R/C, Macau Tel: +853 2835 6633 Margaret egg tarts
I learnt something new the other day. Margaret is actually the ex wife of the man behind Lord Stow’s bakery, so expect to find the buttery flakey crusts Po’ tarts that you find at Lord Stow’s. More to the European palate. We rounded up our little tour before dinner at the Grand Hyatt lobby lounge for a small tasting of desserts – macaroons, canelés and the whole works before heading to the newly one starred michelin restaurant, The Tasting Room at Crown, City of Dreams for a chef’s degustation menu (MOP1118+ for 6 courses).
Other splurge dinner options: 3* Robuchon Au Dome, Don Alfonso, 2* Chinese restaurant Eight and the recent Chinese luxe dining addition to City of Dreams, Jade Dragon – reserve in advance for all these options and if you can get a Private dining room at Jade dragon that offers you intimate views of the kitchen!
If you have another 12 hours, here’s Part 2.