3 Sardines

(Last updated: April 3, 2024)

Shameful, wicked, wretched.

Lame, weak, disgraceful.

Never. Ever. Again.

3 Sardines got some good hype by friend of the website BradJill, who is so active on Trip Advisor that I originally thought that website was theirs when I first discovered it in 2010. After they gave such a glowing endorsement of 3 Sardines I couldn’t wait to visit it, making it my first order of business post Covid.

3 Sardines exterior

Just don’t make the same mistake I did. It turns out 3 Sardines is run by the same conglomerate that oversees the atrocity that is Albergue 1690, so we should know exactly where this is going.

Arriving at 10:15 we were seated and told the joint closed at 11:00, but we had enough time for a meal and a bottle of wine. Now, closing hours in Macau are somewhat nebulous constraints that aren’t really adhered to most of the time, especially when there’s a decanter on the table. Call it the Portuguese tradition, call it whatever you want, but I thought our patronage would get longer than the 45 minutes we strictly speaking had. But nope, the bill was succinctly served at 10:55, a not so subtle hint that only means one thing: get the F#%3 out.

Three Sardines bar

Perhaps I would have felt that slap in the face more than I did, but for the fact I wanted to leave anyway. The tapas were, in no uncertain terms, absolute trash that I struggle to even call supermarket quality. By that I mean, head into any corner store, buy a frozen box of something, toss it in the microwave and it’ll be just as good as what’s served at 3 Sardines.

Cod Fish Cakes at 3 Sardines
Cod Fish Cakes

Wanting to give it a fair shot as I’m wont to do, I ordered 9 different kinds, and maybe only two of them were any good: the Cod Fish Cake ($10) and Mushrooms with Ham ($68).

Mushrooms with Ham at Three Sardines
Mushrooms with Ham

Everything else was substandard, in particular the Baby 3 Sardines ($38), which is a house special. As the words suggest, a house special implies some sort of specialty, but there was nothing doing with these bad boys.

Baby 3 Sardines at 3 Sardines Macau
Baby 3 Sardines

They were just typical sardines hooked onto a fishing pole for effect, a catch I wanted to throw back in the sea after finishing the first one.

36 Months Cured Ham at 3 Sardines
36 Months Cured Ham

The 36 Months Cured Ham ($78) were thin dry slabs of salt which made for a rather apt description of the lifeless Chorizo ($48) as well.

Chirozo at Three Sardines
Chirozo

My friend couldn’t finish the Portuguese Cheese ($58), obviously not finding much of value there, while the Stuffed Crab Shell ($88) was a mouthful of cream that tasted more like egg. If the crab was there, I’m still sort of wondering where exactly??

Portuguese Cheese at 3 Sardines
Portuguese Cheese
Stuffed Crab Shell at Three Sardines
Stuffed Crab Shell

The Fried Green Beans ($38) were prepared tempura like, in that they were coated in batter and presumably deep fried, which is a style of food I’ve never gotten into. If I’m in Japan then maybe, but quite what it’s doing in a Portuguese tapas bar is beyond me.

Fried green beans at 3 Sardines
Fried Green Beans

The Sautéed Mushrooms ($58) concluded the misery, but it was totally uninspiring minus the ham, so just order it that way instead.

Sauteed Mushrooms at Three Sardines
Sauteed Mushrooms

Besides the food, the decor is just as laughable, no doubt put together by some agency somewhere staffed by people who have never been hip in their lives. Rocking birdcages and trees, assorted antiques and what seem to be vintage porn magazines, it’s just trying way too hard to be something it’s not.

Assorted antiques at 3 Sardines Macau

If the idea was to re-create the living space of some odd eccentric from 1971, then well done, but that doesn’t make it an appealing place to eat.

Vintage porn magazines at Three Sardines

Tapas is basically restaurant talk for rip off and as travellers we should know that going in.  3 Sardines really knows how to turn the screws though and it could not have been more of a synthetic manufactured experience from start to finish. Pure trash from top to bottom, made by tourists for tourists, locals aren’t touching it with a ten foot pole and neither should you. We have MacauSoul for the love of God, and even Mico too, where you get the same sort of quality food and wine, for a third of the price.

All told I shelled out $946 for subpar eats, mediocre wine and contrived corporate kitsch. Stay far, far away.

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