Macanese Food+ Back

Introduction

 

Macau’s unique history has always given it a leg up on other dining destinations.  The Portuguese brought a slice of Iberia to the Orient, the local Southern Chinese introduced Cantonese food from Guangdong and Fujian, and then Macanese cuisine developed at the end, a truly unique world food culled from Portugal’s great Naval expedition Eastward, and the integration of spices, vegetables and other ingredients from Africa, India, Indonesia and China.  It's all resulted in Macau being home to the best Portuguese food in Asia, the most authentic Cantonese fare outside of the mainland and Hong Kong, as well as one fantastic local cuisine created and developed through the centuries by the Portuguese, yet strangely enough can't be found in Portugal, only in Macau. 


The dining scene has also benefited greatly from the expolosive growth of the casino industry over the past 15 years, as evidenced by the 2018 Michelin Guide, which awarded stars to 18 of Macau's restaurants, quite an impressive achievement for a city that doesn't even a million people.  The addition of superlative French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Indian cuisine has turned Macau into a true world class dining destination, one that only promises to get better in the years to come.


In this section, I'm going to break it all down for you, by introducing the different styles of food and snacks, as well as recommend restaurants that I enjoy visiting myself. 

 

Let’s kick it off with a special local cuisine that's basically unavailable anywhere else on the planet.


Macanese food


One of the world’s first fusion foods, Macanese cuisine is fundamentally Portuguese in origin, structure and cooking style, but international in its use of spices, ingredients and seasonings.  It dates back to the foundation of the city, when Portuguese sailors took recipes from home and tried to make them work halfway across the world.  Faced with an inevitable shortage of traditional food supplies, they were forced to use African, Indian, Malaysian and Chinese ingredients instead, integrating them with classic Portuguese dishes to create a brand new world cuisine. 

 

A true fusion food in every sense of the word, integral ingredients in many Macanese dishes include balichao (Chinese shrimp paste), garam masala (Northern Indian/South Asian seasoning), coconut and coconut milk (Indonesia/Malaysia), mui de gargenta (Chinese plums), goji berries (red Chinese berries), turmeric (Indian curry or colouring agent), and tamarind (African and Indian fruit), among others. 
 
If you’d like to learn more about Macanese cuisine and how to prepare it, there’s a great cookbook on sale for $170 at the Portuguese bookshop near St. Dominic’s Church called “The Cuisine of Macao from My Grandfather’s House.”   

 

Here are a selection of my favorite Macanese dishes:

 

1. African Chicken

a bowl of African Chicken at Henri's Galley

2. Minchi 

a plate of Minchi at A Vencedora
 
3. Feijoada 

 



4. Pork with Balichao and Tamarind  

 



5. Macanese Chilli Shrimps

 



6. Portuguese Chicken

 


 
7. Macau Sole   

 



 
In terms of restaurants, it’s difficult for me to recommend ones which are 100% Macanese, because I’m not sure that they exist.  Maybe the best I can do is list restaurants which are pre-dominantly Macanese or at least half Macanese, and hope that’s good enough.

Litoral

 

The White House of Macanese cuisine has been delighting diners since 1995.

 

Location: Rua do Almirante Sergio 261-A
Phone number: (853) 2896 7878
Price: $300/person

 
Carlos

 

Laid back restaurant impresses with one of the largest Macanese selections in town.

 

Location: Rua Cidade de Braga
Phone number: (853) 2875 1838
Price: $200/person

 

Rickshaw

 

Classic cafe owned by the grandmother of Macanese cuisine, the venerable centenarian Aida de Jesus.

 

Location: No.69 Avenida Sidonio Pais
Phone number: (853) 2856 5655
Price: $100/person

 

Educational Restaurant

 

IFT is on the list primarily because of their Portuguese and Macanese buffet held every Friday night, which costs $280 (adult) and $140 (child).  Apart from that, African Chicken, Minchi, and Pork with Balichao and Tamarind are available on their a la carte menu.

 

Location: Pousada de Mong Ha
Phone number: (853) 8598 3077
Price: $250/person


Chef’s Table

 

The Chef’s Table is private dining only, and only an option for larger groups, since the minimum booking is for 10 people.  Prices are very good with one soup, appetizer, salad, dessert and one to two main courses $500 per person.  In addition to Macanese food, Portuguese and Vegetarian selections are also available.  Please note that bookings have to be confirmed at least 3 days prior to the event date.

 

You know, maybe if I had 10 friends in the whole world, then I'd definitely give Chef's Table a try.  Until then, sorry....  

 

Location: Avenida Do Coronel Mesquita 46-48
Phone number: (853) 6685 5889
Price: $500/person

 

Keep reading to learn all about Portuguese Food in Macau!