If there’s one place I wish I could pick up and take back to Zhuhai with me, it’d be MacauSoul. I don’t know how many times the past year I’ve thought to myself, man I really want to go to MacauSoul tonight, only to realize that I wasn’t in Macau. I might as well have been a million miles away.
Situated near the ruins of St Paul’s, this amazing little wine bar just gets it. In stark contrast to what Macau has become the past ten years, full of flash and fluff, the fake and the frivolous, MacauSoul gets by without any gimmicks.
Owned by a retired British couple by way of Hong Kong, MacauSoul was started up as their retirement hobby, or perhaps more accurately, their retirement hangout. Their goal was to open the kind of bar they’d enjoy going to, and I for one, can fully appreciate their fine taste.
Full of artwork, old photos of Macau and furniture that actually came from their Hong Kong apartment, the interior of MacauSoul is warm, hospitable and extremely homey. I think that’s why I love the bar so much, because it’s so real.
People don’t go to MacauSoul to style or be seen; instead they come to relax and to talk, to enjoy a splendid bottle of wine over an excellent spread of food, while some 1950’s jazz plays in the background. There is no pomp or pretense, pizzazz or pageantry, only people enjoying their time together with other people, and doing so in a special classy venue.
The owners also care a great deal about their customers, far more than ordinary bar owners at other establishments. Let me share a story from my personal experience. When it comes to bar responsibilities, David and Jacky seem to split them: David is in charge of the wine and Jacky takes care of the food.
One time when I was in Macau for a week David was back in Britain and Jacky was running the bar by herself. David knew I had pre-ordered a few bottles of wine and he made it a point to call Jacky everyday to make sure she used the proper wine glasses, the proper decanter, and let the wines breathe the right amount of time. That, to me, is unheard of. How many bar owners are going to care enough to do that?
With only the ground floor usually open, it’s imperative that you make reservations in advance. One of the perils of opening a bar as a retirement hobby is that David and Jacky aren’t really in it for the money. Hence, MacauSoul’s business hours can be a little unpredictable. Sometimes it closes for a month or two at a time, and even on days when it is open, it doesn’t always make it to closing time.
I’ve shown up there before at 9 pm only to see David walking out the door shutting up shop an hour early. He just looked at me and said, “I’m 70 years old man, I want to go home.” Point well taken sir, I should have made reservations.
The upside of not being in it for the money, of course, is that the wine and food are dirt cheap. As far as I can tell, their prices are at least 70% cheaper than other Macau establishments, and sometimes 100% cheaper.
Delicious (and full) plates of fresh meat, cheese, hummus and salad run only $65 to $220, while bottles from their large and exclusively Portuguese wine list start from about $220 and up. Patrons who visit are expected to order at least half a bottle per person, which is not unreasonable given the low cost.
As for which food to order, it’s all amazing, but here are my personal favorites.
Every five years or so, MacauSoul will offer live jazz entertainment in their basement performance area free of charge. It’s been so long since they’ve had a band night that I’m afraid there won’t be another one, but perhaps I’ll be proven wrong.
The best way to keep tabs on live shows is to sign up for their mailing list when you’re at the bar, or to frequent their website at www.macausoul.com.
Business hours at MacauSoul are from 3 pm to 10 pm on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and from 3 pm to 12 am on Friday and Saturday. Last orders are taken 45 minutes before closing.
Now go there and enjoy!! (Before it’s too late!)
For more pictures of MacauSoul, please check out A Ping’s amazing work here: MacauSoul 2016.