African chicken. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
The Portuguese have played a huge role in shaping the cuisine of Macau, one of China’s special administrative regions.
Similar to the Philippines which was colonized by Spain, Macau was ruled by Portugal in the 16th century. Wives of Portuguese sailors used cooking techniques from back home and incorporated Chinese ingredients and spices, resulting in many unique dishes. It is, as most people say, a great blend of East and West.
Interestingly though, Macanese food is not the dominant cuisine of Macau. Cantonese food dominates the culinary scene here with restaurants scattered around the area, even in the big casino hotels.
Still, there are quite a number of dining spots dedicated to Macanese cuisine, and one of them is Café Litoral, a branch of the award-winning Restaurante Litoral in Macau’s inner harbor. The small, quaint café is part of a row of restaurants at the end of Taipa’s food street, Rua do Cunha, and is right across the Cotai Strip.
Since it opened a few years ago, Café Litoral has been the go-to place for authentic Macanese food, noted Sindy Hoi of the Macau Government Tourist Office. The restaurant has been attracting both locals and tourists for its heirloom dishes served in a relaxed atmosphere.
Reservations are encouraged here as the place easily gets packed, especially on weekends. We dined here on a Saturday night as part of a tour organized by the Macau Government Tourist Office and the budget carrier Air Asia Zest, which recently launched flights to the special administrative region.
The dishes served at Café Litoral are nothing fancy, but these hit the spot with their home-cooked feel.
Our meal started with a plate of chorizo and ham – which were finished immediately – and golden brown codfish cakes. The croquettes had a delightful crunch, and the creamy cod filling did not disappoint.
Codfish cakes. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
Next came a very simple serving of clams simmered in white wine, olive oil and lemon, a clear example of how a few fresh ingredients can make a great dish.
Clams in white wine sauce. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
Several other dishes followed, from salad to steak and fries, but two items particularly stood out. One is fried rice topped with the delectably sinful suckling pig, and the African chicken, another Macanese staple.
Barbecued and covered with a slightly spicy sauce made of coconut milk, garlic, butter and paprika, the African chicken is moist and rich in flavor.
For dessert, we had Serradura or sawdust pudding, which is made of vanilla whipped cream and crushed biscuits. It is not too sweet, with the crushed biscuits adding a nice layer of texture to the creamy concoction. We also tried a chocolate version, which may be more appealing to those who have a sweet tooth.
Serradura and chocolate pudding. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
All in all, Café Litoral offers a good introduction to Macanese food, having been recommended by both locals and the Macau Government Tourist Office. If you are planning to visit Macau, make sure to drop by this restaurant.
Rua do Regedor, Bloco 4
Wai Chik Kok No 53-57, Taipa, Macau
Open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m, and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For reservations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.