I was invited by the Macau Government Tourism Office-Philippines (MGTO) together with other travel writers and bloggers for a familiarization tour to this interesting place last May and it was a beautiful experience with its cuisine, glitz and old world charm. Little Turtle’s cantonese dishes wowed us when we tried it. But discovering other aspects of Macau cuisine, beyond egg tarts and international fare, was a pleasant discovery that have parallels with our own Filipino cooking. These three restaurants showcase what Macau food is all about, with a bent on Portuguese and Macanese.
MIRAMAR is seafood heaven. No, make that Portuguese seafood heaven: occidental dishes from the colonial motherland of old, fresh from the waters with its distinct flavors and ingredients whipped up by the resident lady chef.
Bacalhau a lagareiro cooked with garlic, potatoes and swimming in olive oil. It’s rather too salty for one’s taste but it harkens to a past when the only way of preserving fish and meat is through salinization. It is similar to our own bacalao, a Spanish dish that is mostly served during Holy Week in the Philippines.
Croquettes of codfish and shrimp were also available. It’s not all about fish though as the restaurant also serve meat. We had perna de carneiro assada no forno com batata assada (oven cooked leg of lamb with roast potatoes) which was tender and succulent, one of the best dishes we had. Of course, desserts completes dinner with egg pudding and mousse de chocolate being served.
ANTONIO is one of the best restaurants for good original Portuguese cuisine. The restaurant was established in 2007 and was given a recommendation from the prestigious Michelin in 2008. The chef has been in Macau for 13 years with his Filipino wife and living along a street known for Portuguese style old buildings.
Between bites of pata negra, that delicious southern Iberian leg of ham, we indulged on a cocktail of prawns and portuguese cheese, savored arroz de marisco a Antonio, which is really good with its plenty of fresh seafood ingredients and many other notable Portuguese meat dishes. Best of all, 75% of the ingredients are sourced from Portugal.
Like the Spaniards, the Portuguese has a sweet tooth based from the number of desserts not only in this restaurant but also in the other two. Most of these are custards called bebinca, which made me smile since in the Philippines, bibingka are rice cakes. The flan pudding was so creamy and sinful which is similar to our leche flan while an egg custard was torched infront of us to caramelize the top.
RISTAURANTE LITORAL specializes in Macanese cuisine. It is original fusion food blending the oriental and occidental flavors. It is not just limited to Chinese and Portuguese cuisine but an amalgamation of the different dishes from Portuguese colonies in the Far East as well as India. Thus, a very eclectic fare that is so rich and robust.
The restaurant is one of the established and perhaps notable spot that offers Macanese cuisine. In fact, it was awarded as one of Macau’s Best Restuarants in 2009.
The ambience is old world and charming. A rather small place but still enough to provide your own personal space. But then, the food is just so memorable. There’s galinha africana (African chicken) stewed to flavorful perfection. Chamussa (curry beef cakes) reminds one of the flavors of India while the croquetes de carne are portuguese meat rolls.
Then there’s canja de galinha (chicken rice soup), caril de camarao e carne de caranguejo (curry shrimp and crabmeat) and peixe no forno a litoral (baked fresh fish) that already left us full. Not to be outdown, a flurry of desserts arrived: serradura (biscuit mouse), gelatina de coco (coconut gelatine), bebinca de leite (coconut milk custard), mousse de chocolate (chocolate mousse) and three kinds of puddings: pudim de manga, oros, and cafe (mango, egg and coffee pudding respectively.)
Macau is really a gourmand’s heaven offering a gustatory feast that is uniquely Macau.