Portuguese Food Guide
Portuguese restaurants in Macau tend to be consistently good for a very simple reason. Many of the chefs who run them are Portuguese and were trained in Portugal, before crossing the ocean to set up restaurants here. In fact, the majority of Macau’s most well known restaurants are Portuguese joints that have been open for 20 or 30 years, a true testament to their quality and class. They’re often very good value too, far more economical than the gouging that typically goes on when sampling International fare in the big name casino hotels.
Menus in Portuguese restaurants tend to be about 40% meat and 40% seafood. Cod is a signature dish and is prepared in a multitude of ways, while octopus, sardines, squid, lobster, shrimp and prawns are also heavily featured. Paella, or seafood rice, is another popular option, with some restaurants serving it more in a soupy form. If you’re more of a meat lover, pork, beef, chicken and lamb are all standard offerings that are easy to find everywhere.
Without further ado, here are some of my favourite Portuguese dishes in Macau.
1. Caldo Verde @ Fernando ($40)
The most classic of all Portuguese soups, Caldo Verde (vegetable soup) is a staple offering in every Portuguese restaurant in town. Extremely simple, it’s made with potatoes, onions and kale, and sometimes topped off by a slice of smoked pork sausage.
A good Caldo Verde soup needs to be thick and hearty, which is why I like the bowl at Fernando’s so much. They do it right, unlike so many other joints in town that serve something that’s as thin as water, with no substance or soul.
2. Codfish Cakes @ Dom Galo ($60)
A staple Portuguese appetizer, cod fish cakes are a tasty snack to start meals with, often prepared with potatoes, bread crumbs and parsley.
I’m a big fan of the ones at Dom Galo because they’re crispy, smooth, and actually quite heavy on the cod, which you don’t always get. In more than a few places they’re more like potato cakes instead, totally disappointing and inappropriate.
3. Macau Sole @ Solmar ($130)
When it comes to seafood, cod is at the top of the food chain in Macau. Every Portuguese restaurant prepares it in a million different ways, but I’ve always preferred the locally caught Macau Sole instead.
Fresh and light, Solmar serves a tasty cut in a joint that’s just a treat to be in, with its old school 1960’s vibes front and center. Oh, and the wine list is pretty darn good too.
4. Duck Rice @ Vic’s Restaurant ($138)
The best Duck Rice in town is served up by Chef Martinho Moniz at the criminally underrated Vic’s Restaurant at Rocks Hotel.
So moist and succulent, it’s a splendid mix of super tender duck and oven baked rice that’s slightly crispy, topped off with slices of smoked sausage. Juices from the duck escape and get absorbed into the rice, which allows extra flavour to seep into every bite. It’s perfection on a plate.
5. Suckling Pig @ Fernando ($186)
The Portuguese have a love affair with pork that’s well known and suckling pig is one of their few traditional pork dishes that’s ready available all over town. The key is the texture and how well the (hopefully) crispy skin makes sweet beautiful music with the soft tender meat. If that’s done right then everything just flows and the full flavour of the slightly smoky pig just comes right through.
Fernando makes a great Suckling Pig, perhaps the second of three dishes that he does better than anyone else in town. (FYI, the third would be his Grilled Sardines.)
6. Codfish with a Bouillabaisse Jud and Rouille @ IFT Educational Restaurant ($250)
There’s a saying in Portugal that there are hundreds of different ways to prepare cod, one for every day of the year, and I believe them. The overwhelming fish of choice in Macau, I’ve never quite gotten the love though, as it’s often overwhelmingly salty and oily, with all the texture and consistency of a raw cadaver. If you simply must try it though, IFT’s Educational Restaurant prepares a very tasty serving more akin to a seafood soup, using elegant bouillabaisse jus and rouille.
For a cheaper alternative, I’ve also had good luck with the grilled cod ($125) at Apo Mac too, so that might work as well.
7. Mirandesa Steak @ Fado ($260)
Steak prices in Macau can be oppressive, but this rib eye at Fado is great value for money, costing only $260. Much closer in texture to braised beef that’s been slow cooked for hours, the meat is extremely soft and tender, covered in a mouthwatering olive oil and garlic sauce.
Free range Mirandesa cows are renown for providing the best cut of beef in Portugal, so just count yourself lucky that it’s also available in Macau too.
8. Seafood Rice @ A Baia ($378)
Seafood Rice is the signature dish at one of Macau’s most authentic Portuguese restaurants, A Baia. Served in a rich tomato broth sauce, it’s a soupy masterpiece chock full of clams, shrimp, fish and lobster. Unlike its cousin Spanish paella, which is predominately dry, Portuguese seafood rice is wet and wild, so prepare to get sloppy and dive right in.
While it is undoubtedly pricy, it’s not meant for solo diners, with one serving more than enough to feed two or three people.
9. Serradura @ Litoral ($38)
For desserts, be sure to try serradura, which literally translates as “sawdust”, and is generally made with whipped cream, condensed milk and crushed biscuits. Sometimes it has a harder consistency similar to ice cream, while other times, it’s softer and creamier, more akin to a pudding.
Castico had made the best serradura in town for a number of years before falling off the rails sometime in late 2017. That means the title has reverted back to Litoral by default, very welcome news considering it’s the superior restaurant by far and the White House of Macanese cuisine.
Portuguese Food Guide: Portuguese Restaurant Recommendations
Truth be told, Portuguese food in Macau isn’t as good as it is in Portugal, but that’s quite a big ask. It’s still pretty awesome nonethless, and here are five restaurants where you can never go wrong.
Remarkably consistent, A Petisqueira is the most popular restaurant on this list, with reservations essential everyday of the week.
Location: Rua de S. Joao, no. 15, Taipa Village
Phone number: (853) 2882 5354
Straight out of Iberia with love, this fun colourful restaurant never disappoints. And with a menu as big as a phone book (remember those?), you’re bound to find something you like at Dom Galo.
Location: 32 Avenida Sir Anders Ljungstedt
Phone number: (853) 2875 1383
Anyone interested in trying Macau’s most authentic Portuguese restaurant? Yes, I thought that would get your attention! For tried and tested true Portuguese food, there’s only A Baia, OH YEAH!
Location: Rua de Londres no. 88
Phone number: (853) 2875 1465
A Macau institution that’s been open since the 1970’s, Henri’s Galley just keeps getting better with time.
Location: 4G-H Avenida da Republica
Phone number: (853) 2855 6251
Meet the most exciting young Chef in Macau, Martinho Moniz, who has single-handedly made Vic’s Restaurant relevant again.
Location: Rocks Hotel, Fisherman’s Wharf
Phone number: (853) 8295 6580
Keep reading to learn all about Cantonese Food in Macau!