Street Food Guide I+ Back

(Last updated: May 22, 2018)

 

Most of my biggest letdowns in Macau - outside of the Craps table of course, and/or some wicked combination of fast women and slow horses - have revolved around dining experiences in expensive high end restaurants.  More than a few times, I’ve bought the hype hook, line and sinker, sauntering in with money to burn only to walk out later two hours later destitute and half delirious, repeating to myself, I haven’t felt pain like that since prison, I haven’t felt pain like that since prison.  (Honestly, with some of these places, it’s a total con job, how reputation gets built up and accolades earned.  They write their own press clippings and reviews half of the time.)  In a city built on risk and reward, on spin jobs and suckers, where fortunes are won and lost on the roll of a die, even dining out can be a serious hazard, especially when the Michelin stars come out early at night.

Fortunately there’s an easy way to navigate the peril, and that’s to hit the streets!  Some of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in town can’t hold a candle to what's sold in small stalls, carts or markets, at a fraction of the cost.  Besides that, rolling up your sleeves and doing it like the locals do is one reason travelling can be so fun, and considering that most of it costs less than $5 US dollars, there's basically no downside in trying it.

Three rules before we begin:

1. No desserts make the list because I want to focus on dishes that could be considered proper meals.  Besides that, I've already got a good snack section for your sweet tooth here: Local Snacks.

2. Alright, this is a big one.  If I personally don’t like the food, it won’t make the cut.  Unless....

3. The street food is so popular and widespread that I’m obligated to mention it, and I’ll include those at the end.

Alright hard core foodies, let’s get it on, starting off with sandwiches and buns.

 

Pork Chop Buns... and Other Buns

 

We have to start here because pork chop buns might be the most classic of all Macau street foods, widely available in many restaurants, tea houses and bakeries.  The industry leader is Tai Lei Loi Kei, but their pork chop buns are a total disgrace, not to mention wickedly overpriced ($45).  If you want to wait in a line for something that tastes disgusting, dry, and half dead, be my guest, but there are much better options out there. 

 

To that end, I’d like to recommend 新鴻發咖啡美食, a small neighbourhood cafe located near Lou Lim Ieoc Park that’s been open for over 20 years.  It’s so local it doesn’t even have an English name, but it’s still easy to find, right on the corner of Rua do Almirante Costa Cabral and Aldofo Loureiro, across the road from the Ye Ting Residence.  

 

 

 

Their Pork Chop Bun is served on a crispier bun and they don’t skimp on the meat, a really good choice for only $23.  They also do pretty good Steak Buns ($25) and Sardine Buns ($23) too.     

 

 

When ordering pork chop buns, you sometimes need to choose between Bun (面包), Toast (多士) and Sandwich (三明治).  As the names indicate, a bun is a bun, as indicated in the first picture, while toast is toasted bread (2nd picture) and sandwich is bread that hasn’t been toasted, as indicated in the third picture.  I'd just stuck with the bun in most cases.

Chicken Bun     
 

Pork Chop Buns might get all the press, but I’m a much bigger fan of Macau’s less heralded Chicken Bun, especially the one sold at Lam Kei on the Lane of Angels, Travessa dos Anjos.  (That’s the handy little road that links Rua do Campo with Rua de Pedro Nolasco da Silva.)  Served in a soft bun, it’s both salty and greasy in a seductively succulent way, amazing value for only $26.  Don’t expect too much service when you order; the ladies there won’t smile and they don’t care, but a Chicken Bun this good is totally worth it. 

 

 

Beef Tongue Bun

 

And just to prove that we are in Asia, Macau also serves up a strangely good Beef Tongue Bun at Sai Van On Kei, a small restaurant opposite Lou Kau Mansion that’s been in business since 1954.   Costing only $19, it’s served in something of a soft baguette, and actually tastes a lot like normal beef, just a lot more mushy and tender, almost like a paste.  If you can get past the fact that it's a cow’s tongue, then you should enjoy it a lot.  
 

 

Another dish I’d like to recommend at Sai Van On Kei is the fried beef macaroni for $41, a special item that’s not included on the menu, but is available if you ask.

Taiwanese Pepper Meat Bun

 

Between Senado Square and St. Paul’s, there’s a little road that winds upward named Run do Monte, home to the very small Dai Gwan, which features no inside seating.  It seems to live off one snack only -  the Taiwanese Pepper Meat Bun - which Michelin also digs to some extent, judging from the signs on the restaurant.  A tasty treat served in a crispy sesame seed bun, the inside is a mix of pork, green onions and pepper sauce.  Costing only $18, it’s well worth trying.

 

 

 

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