10 Can't Miss Macau Dishes
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 4 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. At the end I noticed that 7 of them were international selections, which was completely unintentional. For more Macanese, Portuguese and Cantonese choices, you can always check the Food Overview here: Macanese Guide, Portuguese Guide, Cantonese Guide. On another day, many of those dishes could have made this list too.
Save for desserts at Number 10, dishes 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 when in Macau.
Can’t Miss Macau Dishes #1: Coconut Chicken Soup ($30) & Stirred Noodle with Ba La Chuang ($31) 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 ($64) 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 in tandem 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
Can’t Miss Macau Dishes #3: Laksa Lemak ($78) at Katong Corner
I don’t even really like coconuts yet this is second coconut soup on the list. Whereas the coconut chicken soup at Ya Xiang is a Myanmar creation, this Laksa comes straight out of Singapore with love. It might not win any beauty pageants for how it looks, but you’ll go head over heels for its rich, somewhat creamy composition and scrumptious mix of shrimp, sausage, noodles and tofu.
Seductively smooth, it’s seafood soup with a bite, and great bang for your buck at only $78.
Location: Broadway Food Street, Cotai Strip
#4: Moqueca ($150) & Feijoada ($150) at Yes Brazil
Let’s start with the bad news – neither of these dishes are available everyday and usually have to ordered in advance. And even then, I’m not totally sure you’ll be able to get them if you’re a first time customer. They’re not part of the standard menu and I only learned about them my fifth or sixth time there, after I’d built up some cred and rapport with Yes Brazil’s lovely owner, Maria.
I also have no idea what type of fish the moqueca is made from either, only that it’s simmered in coconut milk and palm oil, but it’s not something you need to know anyway. As the old saying goes: one should not question miracles, only be grateful for them. (Okay, I might have just made that up now, but you get the point).
Whatever the moqueca is, it’s straight up marvellous, with a texture and taste that any Michelin chef would die for. It’s probably my favourite food on this list, and you definitely owe it to yourself to try it if you can.
The feijoada is nobody’s second choice either, prepared totally in the Brazilian style, not the Macau iteration that adds cabbage, pork knuckles, pig ears and whatever else they want to throw in there, including the kitchen sink.
Best suited to be eaten in winter, it’s thick hearty comfort food that’s addictive beyond all control, and only gets better the more often you have it. And with the price just $150, the value is ridiculous.
Location: Travessa Fortuna No 6
Can’t Miss Macau Dishes #5: 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 pricy 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
#6: Dim Sum ($48 to $138) 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 ($84), Puff Pastry with River Shrimp Handbags ($75), and Steamed BBQ Pork Buns ($66), 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 almost a decade now.
I’m also a big fan of their Deep Fried Pork Rolls ($48), Abalone and Pork Dumplings ($108) and Lobster and Black Truffle Dumplings ($108).
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
Can’t Miss Macau Dishes #7: Curried Scottish Scallop Soup ($108) & Quilon Fish Curry ($152) at Golden Peacock
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, each spoonful descending deep into unbelievable depth and texture.
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
#8: Everything at Urban Kitchen ($248 to $578 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 unrivaled, 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
Can’t Miss Macau Dishes #9: Rib Eye Steak ($378/12 ounce or $498/16 ounce) at Copa Steakhouse
Maybe the only steak that’s any good at the Copa is the rib eye, but man, do they ever get it right. Everything that makes a great steak great is on show with this bad boy: slightly charred crust, tantalizing texture and meat that just melts in your mouth.
Don’t waste your time with any of the complementary sauces that just get in the way, because it’s perfect off the grill. Probably just as good as any steak you’ve ever had in the West, the only problem is that it’s priced like that too.
Location: Sands Macao, 3rd Floor
#10: Desserts ($40 to $50) at Cafe Bon Bon
The Darling Diva of Desserts (my nickname), Betty Fung, cut her teeth at the Ritz-Carlton Cafe as a pastry chef in 2014, before opening Cafe Bon Bon in 2015. With a patisserie degree from the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris she’s a force to be reckoned with, and you absolutely need to try her Lavender Lemon Tart ($40), Guava Raspberry ($42), and Tiramisu ($45).
It’s a toss up which one I like best, from the beautiful sour tang textures of the soft smooth Lemon Tart, to the sponge cake mousse goodness of the Guava Raspberry, to the rum infused butterscotch sweetness of the Tiramisu, they’re all spectacular. The Little Paris ($50) is another good option too, particularly if you’re a chocolate lover and like strong cake like desserts.
Cafe Bon Bon also serves great soups and mains too, so by all means, make a whole meal out of it. And when it comes time for desserts, just sit back, relax, and take that slow sweet dive into oblivion.
Location: Rua de Espectacao de Almeida No 1
Now I think it’s time to explore 10 Iconic Macau Restaurants!!