10 Can't Miss Macau Dishes
(Last updated: August 20, 2023)
Way back in 2014, I was dining solo at Carlos and had the good fortune of making acquaintances with a couple of priests and elderly Macanese man who went there every day for lunch. Out of the blue they just invited me over to their table and we started chatting about Macau, how the city was changing and what the best options around town for food were.
They told me they had the culinary scene cased, that they chose restaurants purely on the basis of what they wanted to eat. When it was time for chicken, they knew to go here, and when they wanted minchi, they knew to go there. As I sat back sipping their whisky trying to soak up as much as I could, I thought to myself: Man, these guys are everything I want to be, minus the black robe and celibacy, of course.
Fast forward 10 years and about 125 restaurants later, and I feel like I’m finally approaching their level, which is why I’ve prepared this list of 10 Can’t Miss Macau Dishes. Selections are arranged in order from cheapest to most expensive, and weren’t influenced in any way by popular sentiment or marketing spin or what X magazine or travel blog have to say. It’s my list through and through, and here’s hoping you can make good use of it when choosing what to eat in Macau.
#1: Coconut Chicken Soup ($32) & Stirred Noodle with Ba La Chuang ($33) at Ya Xiang
Great food doesn’t always have to cost a fortune and these two dishes at Ya Xiang are prime examples why. I can’t really decide which one is better, so I’ve included both of them on the list.
Take your pick between a slightly spicy soup with soft noodles that melt in your mouth and a deceptively simple yet skillful pairing of shrimp paste to the same kind of noodles, that just teem with taste and texture.
Both incredible as they are, I doubt either could be improved in any way.
Location: 27 Rua de Fernao Mendes Pinto
#2: Crab Paste and Wonton in Noodle Soy Sauce ($68) at Niu Ji
There are plenty of tasty crab paste dishes in Macau; the same goes for wontons, which are basically dumplings, just with a thinner wrapper, often filled with shrimp. I’d been a fan of both for years before stumbling upon the ultimate truth at Niu Ji, that just like Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, the crab paste and shrimp wonton complete each other, and are so much better together than alone.
The only question is whether one bowl is enough, and that answer is probably no!
To that end, if you’re still hungry and want to try something else, the Spicy Curry Beef Noodles for $36 are another good choice. The spice doesn’t lie here either, it lowers the BOOM!
Location: Edificio Iat Fat, R. de Cinco de Outubro
3. Duck Rice ($158) at Vic’s Restaurant
The best Duck Rice in town is served up by Chef Martinho Moniz at the criminally underrated Vic’s Restaurant at Rocks Hotel.
Mouthwateringly moist, it’s a superb mix of tender duck and oven baked rice that’s slightly crispy, topped off with slices of smoked sausage. During preparation, juices from the duck escape and get absorbed into the rice, which packs more flavour into every bite. It’s perfection on a plate.
Location: Rocks Hotel GF, Fisherman’s Wharf
#4: Roasted Pigeon ($160) at Fat Siu Lau
Situated in the former red light district on the Street of Happiness, Fat Siu Lau has been around since 1903, and after trying their roasted pigeon you’ll know why. One of Macau’s oldest and most guarded recipes, the star is the secret sauce that complements but doesn’t conquer, providing the perfect foil to the slightly crispy skin and soft juicy meat.
Sure it’s pricey and the preparation time can sometimes be long (45 minutes), but it’s stood the test of time for a reason – nobody in Macau does it better.
Location: Rua da Felicidade No 64
#5: Dim Sum ($78 to $168) at the 8
Dim Sum at the 8 is more than just food, it’s where passion and professionalism team up with creativity and care to produce culinary works of art. Just take a look at the adorable Cristal Blue Shrimp ($120), Puff Pastry with River Shrimp Handbags ($90), and Steamed BBQ Pork Buns ($90), and tell me if you’ve seen better looking food anywhere, anytime! I didn’t think so!
The detail that goes into some of the dim sum preparations is just phenomenal, and probably one of the reasons why the 8 has had 3 Michelin stars for over a decade now.
I’m also a big fan of their Deep Fried Pork Rolls ($78), Abalone and Pork Dumplings ($120) and Lobster and Black Truffle Dumplings ($120).
Keep in mind that the 8 only serves Dim Sum at lunch, so be sure to make your reservations then.
Location: Grand Lisboa, 2nd Floor
#6: Curried Scottish Scallop Soup ($108) & Quilon Fish Curry ($152) at Golden Peacock
Update: Golden Peacock has been closed since 2020, but we retain hope that it still may return in the future. The signage is still up at the restaurant and the notice outside only says “Temporarily Closed”.
Death, taxes, Golden Peacock with a Michelin Star.
Macau’s premier Indian restaurant has had one since 2013, and so long as Head Chef Justin Paul stays in charge, that won’t be changing any time soon. It takes over 12 hours and two separate boilings to get their Curried Scottish Scallop Soup ready for serving, an eclectic mix of bay leaves, ginger, garlic, cumin, tomatoes, mango puree and fennel seed. So rife with flavor, it’s the kind of soup that begs to be savoured, flashing both tremendous texture and balance.
Double up with the Quilon Fish Curry next, fresh Dutch black cod fillet infused with French banana shallot, Indian green mango and their own natural coconut paste prepared on the spot in Northern Indian style.
It’s so good that it just might re-calibrate your understanding of how good a curry can be. I know it certainly did for me!
Location: Venetian Macao, Ground Floor
#7: Roasted Chicken ($180) at O Manuel
No matter which country you come from, you’ve probably been eating chicken all of your life, so this dish shouldn’t need too much explanation. While it’s not the most exotic food on this list, the Roasted Chicken at O Manuel is still an exceptional dish.
Think of the best chicken you’ve ever had in your life and then come try this. You won’t be disappointed.
#8: Seafood Paella ($205) at A Petisqueira
A Petisqueira may be a Portuguese restaurant but they do their paella more in a Spanish style, meaning dry and delicious. Medium grain rice infused with clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster is a combination that cannot disappoint, and I’ve been enjoying it for almost a decade now. Truth be told, I could probably put about 6 different dishes from A Petisqueira on this list and they would all fit, as it’s probably the best Portuguese restaurant in Macau.
Known as Arroz do Marisco in Portugal, Seafood Rice was named one of the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy in 2011. If you want to try the more traditional Portuguese version, which is wet and wild, and more similar to a risotto, just with more sauce, I’d recommend Espaco Lisboa down in Coloane Village.
Location: Taipa Village, Rua de S. Joao, no. 15
#9: Naughty Pork Ribs ($270) at Naughty Nuri’s
Like the roasted chicken above, the pork ribs at Naughty Nuri’s are probably something you can find almost anywhere in the world. That’s to say, I wouldn’t have included them on this list unless they truly were special, and I seriously doubt anyone in your town is making them better.
Everything that makes great ribs great is on show with this bad boy: perfectly charred crust, tantalizing texture and meat that just melts in your mouth. Don’t bother with any of the complementary sauces that just get in the way, because it’s perfect off the grill. Situated on the picturesque Street of Happiness, the location is absolutely phenomenal as well.
Location: 7 R. da Felicidade
#10: Everything at Urban Kitchen ($358 to $688 for Lunch and Dinner)
Okay, maybe that’s going a little too far, but there is no better buffet in Macau at the moment than Urban Kitchen. Truly unrivalled, the seafood section is out of this world, and there’s always a lot of other great Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine on offer as well.
In particular, make sure to try the Roasted Peking Duck, Grilled Portuguese Chorizo, and Suckling Pig if they have it, the latter of which is usually only available on weekends.
It’s often very difficult for a buffet to both be comprehensive and of very high quality, but Urban Kitchen walks that tightrope with remarkable ease. It’s basically bulletproof and the only one you need to try when in town.
Location: Galaxy Hotel, JW Marriott Hotel, 1F
Now, take some time to explore 10 Iconic Macau Restaurants!