Photo by Mark Parren Taylor
The Chinese adore fish and seafood and the best way to plumb the depths of this devotion is to visit one of Macau’s lively municipal markets, including atmospheric Red Market that’s conveniently close to the bustling streets of the Three Lamps District.
…AND DRIED FISH
As close to the Portuguese heart as kimchi is for Koreans, bacalhau – salted, dried cod – is a mainstay of many local kitchens. Even Chinese chefs use it in fried rice dishes – throwing in a few olives too – as an indication of how blurred the edges are between the city’s cuisines. The Institute for Tourism Studies Educational Restaurant (ift.edu.mo) offers a range of bacalhau dishes from classic Portuguese fritters to baked fillet with potatoes.
EIGHT IN THE EVENING…
With its dream-like interior, Grand Lisboa’s The Eight (grandlisboahotel.com) offers unmissable cooking that includes Australian lobster, roasted eel and its own interpretation of the classic Cantonese dish “Buddha jumping the wall” (with abalone, sea cucumber and maw) to more humble but nonetheless tasty fried river shrimp and silver fish.
…OR EIGHT IN THE MORNING
Humbler still – but no less delicious – Macau’s cafes are ideal for a perk-me- up breakfast or simple lunch. What could be better than Honolulu cafe’s spiced sardine sandwich (in a first-rate crispy white roll)? Or grilled sardines in the ozone-rich air at the southern tip of Macau? Hac Sa Beach Park Cafe and Fernando are near to each other on the black-sanded bay.
Abalone continues its reign as the most treasured seafood. Some chefs insist on only the best: hand harvested varieties are flown in from Japan (presumably in the first class cabin considering the prices). Wynn’s Wing Lei (wynnmacau.com) offers abalone with gold flakes (yes, luxury twice over) but an excellent abalone tart is on the dim sum menu at the Four Seasons’ Zi Ya Heen (fourseasons.com).
…AND PEARL PASTA
Grand Lisboa’s three Michelin star Robuchon au Dôme (grandlisboahotel. com) opens its á la carte menu with a seasonal caviar entree – a plate that oozes opulence. The lunch set menu is however supremely affordable and includes some of Joel Robuchon’s striking takes on classic French dishes. The saint-jacques, for example, finds pan-fried scallop on pearl pasta.
Local Eurasian children have long been known as Macanese, growing up on a fusion diet that draws on both parents’ heritage. Their food is not simply a merging of Cantonese and Portuguese, but a cuisine richly influenced by ports of call on the epic sailing route from Europe. Macanese crab curry, for example, epitomises this with its Goan-technique curry, spices from Melaka and Chinese cooking style.
TOUCH THE HEART
No visit to southern China would be complete without a taste of yum cha – and some of the world’s best can be enjoyed in Macau’s restaurants. Wynn’s Wing Lei (wynnmacau.com) makes dim sum that is as memorable as its immaculate service and dining room.