One of the reasons I went to Macau was to indulge in a food trip. But I believe I did more walking and seeing the sights than e-a-t, especially after busting what little budget I had on shopping in Zhuhai. I suppose there is now an exciting food scene in Macau because of the casinos and the arrival of different cultures there. But the old reliables of Portuguese and Macanese cuisine are still there and what you’re bound to see is a country that delights in its food, especially sweets and pastries.
Any visitor to Macau would have to check out the original Lord Stow’s bakery in Coloane, which is a bus ride away from the city center. I entered the garden cafe not knowing that there are two Lord Stow’s stores just a few meters away. In there a family feud or something? They were all offering the world-famous Portuguese egg tarts , known in Macau as pastel (or pasteis) de nata. The Filipino waitstaff told me the real Lord Stow, a Brit, died just this year.
I love egg tarts, especially when they’re hot! Lord Stow’s has made a name for producing a flaky crust and soft to the bite custard that crumbles perfectly in your mouth. It went well with the fruit tea I ordered. Just regretted though ordering two tarts when just one made me full. Can you imagine all the egg yolk they put inside?
Another bus ride away is the village of Taipa which appealed to me because of its pretty landscaping and its restaurant row. Rua de Cunha is their declared Food Street but there are also restos on other streets. I was on a mission to find “O Santos” Portuguese resto because it had been mentioned in some publication. It turned out to be a cozy hole in the wall filled with banners, framed newspaper clippings and knick-knacks. The food in O Santos is authentic Portuguese home-cooking. The baked duck rice was flavorful, the salad was fresh and crunchy and there was a chicken stew I ordered which reminded me of curry, only that this one was marinated in white wine and simmered in milk. Aside from the bacalhau, their roast suckling pig (cochinillo or lechon to us) is very much in demand and rightly so. People from Hong Kong come to the place for this.
This is me with Mr. O Santos himself, a jolly fellow who’s married to a Filipina from Angeles City. The wife tells me that O Santos used to be a marine cook and so it’s only proper that they opened the restaurant in 1989. It has been a husband-and-wife operation since then, and they do things like prepare the dishes themselves with the help of some staff. I realized that Portuguese cuisine has some similarity with the Spanish cooking we’re all accustomed to.
Nga Tim Cafe is another excellent restaurant to try when you want to get a taste of Macanese cuisine. It boasts of home-style cooking and the atmosphere itself is very homey. Nga Tim is located in Coloane, beside the colorful Chapel of St. Francis Xavier which contains the remains of Christian martyrs from Japan, Korea and Indochina. Macanese cooking is a combination of Portuguese, Chinese, African and Southeast Asian influences and Nga Tim is the place to try when you’re craving for Galinha Africana (spicy barbecued chicken). The diverse menu also includes specialties like Caril de Caranguejo (curry crab), bacalhau (either roasted, boiled or stewed), braised oxtail with sanpian wine, roast leg of lamb and stewed rabbit a la Portuguese.
My guidebook said a must-try dessert while in Macau is the serradura, and so I did! This is some kind of Macanese pudding made of cream, condensed milk and crushed biscuits.
When it’s time to buy take-home goodies or pasalubong, Pasteleria Koi Kei is the way to go. They have several shops in the tourist areas like Senado Square. Their almond cookies are divine. I bought here reasonably-priced Portuguese sardines as well, dried fish, nougats, dried meat cuts and delicious peanut cookies.
Pastries prepared in front of you are a common sight in Macau’s streets.
My Macau food directory:
Lord Stow’s Garden Cafe
Rua de Cordoaria, 105, Coloane Village, Macau
Tel 288 818 51
Alternative: (in the city center)
Margaret’s Cafe e Nata
17B Rua Comandante Mata e Oliveira
Tel. 287 10 032
Cafe Ou Mun
12 Travessa de Sao Domingos
O Santos Comida Portuguesa
20 Rua de Cunha
Tel. 288 275 08, 288 255 94
Nga Tim Cafe
8 Rua Caetano
Sao Xavier Sqaure Area Coloane
Tel. 288 820 86