(Last updated: November 13, 2023)
I stopped by Banza for a quick lunch in October 2023, and came away with mixed results. The restaurant has changed hands since my original review in 2014, after the first owner sadly passed on. It seems to be tied to a conglomerate of restaurants now, none of which have any serious following around town, rightly understood to be tourist traps run by faceless corporations. So indeed, tread lightly with this one, as what appears to have once made it special all those years ago is no longer the case now.
They offer about 4 set lunches daily ranging in price from $98 to $128, while extra glasses of wine are just $15. I tried the one for $108 which was composed of a starter, main, and small dessert.
When the tuna salad opener came out, I swear to God I thought it was an amuse bouche! I mean, there might have been four spoonfuls of it, it was that pathetic. Even Robuchon Au Dome gives you more food, for Pete’s sake!
The rub was that it was absolutely phenomenal, with a texture and taste to die for! In so much as a salad can be remarkable, this bad boy was remarkable, and it would probably behoove everyone reading this review to order it as a main on its own, rather than be teased with 20% of a masterpiece.
The favas in comparison were ordinary at best, done in by too much salt and not enough beans, while I had to order extra rice just to feel full. A decent three star dish, it could have been done better and it could have been done worse. Either way, I certainly have no interest in trying it again.
The meal was rounded off by a small cup of chocolate mouse and an espresso, which is typically how meals in Portugal end.
Given its inferior location in an uninteresting part of Taipa, I no longer endorse tracking it down and giving it a try. Too many places in Taipa Village are far better, especially O Manuel, La Famiglia and A Petisqueira.
What follows below in the original review from 2013 or 2014.
Banza is another Maven of Macau special, an anonymous little restaurant far off the beaten tourist path, but highly regarded by the Portuguese in town. The very antithesis of style and swank, it’s working class through and through, made by the locals for the locals.
Menu prices are excellent and their weekday lunch special is of particularly good value – only $88 for one soup, main and dessert.
I visited on a Sunday afternoon and stuck out like a sore thumb, the only one speaking English in a sea of Portuguese. Every other table was occupied by local families, who all seemed to know each other and go there regularly, a beautiful reminder of Macau’s rich colonial past.
Keeping just with seafood, I tried Shrimp Soup ($48), Octopus Salad ($98), Shrimp Rissole ($48), and Grilled Sea Bass ($180).
Extremely consistent, each dish was prepared well and of solid portion size, especially the soup and salad.
The grilled sea bass could have used better sides to make it more of a complete dish, but that was my only complaint.
All told the bill came to $430, a very fair price for the quality of food that I had.
Before choosing Banza, you need to be clear on what you want out of your dinner or lunch. It offers has zero star appeal or Wow Factor, and is definitely not the place for selfies or Instagram.
Far away from the glitz and glamour of the Cotai Strip, the restaurant hasn’t caught on with tourists yet and probably never will. And that ultimately might be the best reason to track it down and give it a try.