(Australian Associated Press)
You can pretty much go a whole week in Macau without seeing a chip. On your plate, that is.
Sure, some establishments serve chips all day – but of a different kind; Macau has more casinos per square metre than just about anywhere else in the world.
But the food here is different and fresh, and your taste buds will love you for it. Macau offers a foodie-inspired holiday with a twist – the fusion of Portuguese and Chinese food is delightful.
From street foods sold out of battered pans and burning hotplates along the cobbled alleyways of old Macau, to do-it-yourself traditional Chinese hotpots and fine-dining European and Asian restaurants, there is something for all tastes.
For the wow factor, there’s the revolving 360 Degrees Cafe at Macau Tower, where a huge seafood platter and buffet will cost around $A80 (without alcohol) – just make sure you do the bungee jump from the tower before dinner.
Those wanting to create their own fusion of tastes should try Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel’s Xin restaurant, where a market-style buffet offers a huge selection of flavours. There are several kinds of meat, chicken, fish and seafood, vegetables, won tons, tofu and eggs, as well as various types of noodles and rice.
Waiters will set you up with your choice of medium, hot or mild broth and set it bubbling on individual burners at the table before you visit the buffet for your dipping sauces and ingredients.
For something completely different, take a quick trip to France at The Parisian Hotel’s half-sized replica Eiffel Tower, where you can dine at the premier La Chine restaurant. Entry is through a wonderful Versailles Palace-style hall of mirrors in the style of art deco.
Chef Chung Kuy Fai offers some brilliant fusion tastes and mouth-watering dishes – you’ll wish you could take him home with you. Appetisers range from $A8 to $A16, specialties between $A18 to $A40, vegetables and noodles around $18 and desserts $A7 to $A18. Try the chilled mango and tapioca soup for dessert, which is light and refreshing.
I enjoyed another lovely dining experience at Litoral Restaurant in old Macau, where succulent crumbed crab, garlic prawns and succulent African chicken are specialties. Opened in 1995, Litoral gained a Michelin recommendation in 2012. It’s popular with the super rich as well as locals and visitors, and prices are still quite reasonable.
A 15-minute drive into old Taipa village at the other end of the Cotai Strip to Coloane is well worth the effort, especially if you make a booking at Antonio, the traditional Portuguese restaurant that opened in 2008 – with a Michelin recognition every year since.
The restaurant is found in one of the town’s narrow walkways and has a warm and cosy interior, decorated with traditional Portuguese tiles. There’s a range of starters, including the traditional cod fish cakes and very impressive roasted Portuguese sausage, served flaming and carved at the table. Prices start from around $A24/$A29.
Main courses, including what Australians would call “paella” – but don’t dare call it that to a native Portuguese – and steak topped with egg, cost around $A40.
If you’re after something more formal and up-market, try Wynn Palace’s Wing Lei Palace. Mouthwatering Cantonese cuisine is served in luxurious surrounds with panoramic views of the hotel’s fountain performance lake. This place isn’t cheap, so for some it makes for a rare treat. But beware, you may never want to eat Cantonese food anywhere else again.
La Paloma at the tiny boutique hotel Pousada de Sao Tiago served us a Spanish feast of fish and chicken croquettes, accompanied by salad and fresh-from-the-oven cheese and chorizo bread that was a delicious combination of a crunchy crust and soft, light middle. We also enjoyed mushroom soup poured at the table, and an impressive paella with crisp vegetables in a light coconut milk.
Prices are in the mid- to high-range, with tapas choices from $A20 and soups about $A15, mains under $A80 and desserts between $A10 and $A15. A tasting menu costs about $A260 per person or $A400 with wine pairing.
The restaurant boasts 10,000 wine labels – around 20,000 bottles – from Spain and around the world. You can also enjoy a drink pre-dinner on the Australian crocodile skin chairs in the shady haven of 200-year-old trees.
I loved the variety of cuisine in Macau. The ingredients were fresh, the choice was immense and prices reasonable – so I even had change to grab some chips of a different kind.
(*All prices approximate.)
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: Macau is about nine hours from Australia’s eastern seaboard. Cathay Pacific offers flights to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities (www.cathaypacific.com.au), while ferry transfers can take you direct from Hong Kong Airport to Macau. It is important to book return ferry tickets before you leave (approx $A90 return).
STAYING THERE: There’a a range of hotels to suit all budgets. Rooms at The Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 (www.sofitel.com/Macau) start from around $A160 per night, while the recently opened The Parisian Macau (www.parisianmacao.com) has various deals starting from around $A180 per night.
PLAYING THERE: For more information: www.visitmacao.
* The writer was a guest of Macao Government Tourism Office; Cathay Pacific; The Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16; The Wynn Palace; The Parisian Macau; Wynn Palace Macau.