(Last updated: January 26, 2024)
Not to pat myself on the back too much, but everything I wrote in my first O Manuel review was 100% spot on. His best dishes are absolutely phenomenal, easily rating as some of the best Portuguese food in town. In addition to the world class Roasted Chicken ($180), he also does amazing Codfish Cakes ($15/piece), Roasted Piglet ($110/half), Favas ($140), Feijoada ($180) and Seafood Rice ($280).
Both bean stews, in particular, are just to die for, and simply must be paired with rice and some of their house wine, which is quite special in itself, not to mention very affordable ($95 for 500 ml and $180 for 1 Litre).
Prepared in the traditional Portuguese style, Seafood Rice is one of their signature dishes. Unlike it’s drier Spanish cousin Paella, O Manuel’s version is wet and wild, and somewhat spicy to boot, giving it a welcome kick.
The Chirozo appetizer ($60) is good bang for the buck and another worthy selection, especially if you’re drinking wine. The salt levels are not for the feint of heart though, but such it is with most Portuguese food, in particular, their pork.
O Manuel seems to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance post Covid, so much so that it just might be THE restaurant to visit now in Taipa Village. Serving extremely authentic Portuguese fare, just choose anything off their daily special menu, and you won’t be disappointed.
On the flip side, his desserts really pale in comparison and can be ignored completely. Manuel is clearly no pastry chef, as his seradurra and mousse obviously show.
At least neither of them are very expensive, only running $30 each, so we can live and let live here.
Where I’m not so forgiving, is with the bread and olives, because they won’t be free. I was shocked to see an extra $25 on the bill at the end of the night, since bread is normally given on the house in many Portuguese restaurants. Olives usually aren’t part of the deal, but no one said anything about a fee when I was offered them. Kindly save those cheap tactics for the tourists mate, and keep me out of it. At the end of the day, it’s just plain disrespect, is what it is.
I’ve also heard negative reviews of the steak, duck rice and grilled octopus, so it’s probably best to steer clear of all of them.
What follows below are details of my first visit there, over a decade ago in 2012.
It seems to me that the two most similar restaurants in Taipa Village are O Manuel and O Santos. Neither place is fine dining, nor particularly expensive, and both specialize in no frills down home Portuguese cuisine. (It turns out that there might be a reason for the similarities. Both Manel and Santos came to Macau around the same time and worked for the Pousada de Coloane restaurant. I think there might have been another famous chef working in that kitchen as well, a Mr Fernando who of course has his own place near Hac Sa Beach.)
The main difference between O Santos and O Manuel is the consistency of the food. When I ate at O Santos, everything was pretty good, maybe 3.5 stars out of 5, while O Manuel’s food was much more hit and miss.
The Roasted Chicken was phenomenal – 5 stars out of 5 – and the Stew was another good choice (4 stars), rich and moist.
While the prawns looked great, they lacked taste and were only average (2.5 stars) and the final chicken with rice dish was horrible.
It tasted like it was a week old and we couldn’t even finish it (0 stars).
All of this is to say that it’s probably best to ask Manuel what his signature dishes are and what’s fresh that day. If you stick to his suggestions, O Manuel is probably a 4.5 star restaurant, and worth your return patronage because what he does well he does really well. His Roasted Chicken is quite possibly the best in town, and as I’ve learned on subsequent visits, so are a lot of other things!
Before going there, I’d heard that Mr Manuel carries the reputation of being a hothead with a bad temper, who can be rude to his customers. The day I was there though I saw none of it and he was perfectly fine to us. He was even nice enough to take a picture with my friend who was in Macau to model over at the recently opened Sands Cotai Central (now Londoner Macao).
To find O Manuel, it’s on the same street as the lovely Sam Seng Temple.