Now an autonomous region just an hour-long ferry ride from Hong Kong, Macau may be best known as the gambling capital of Asia. But it has no shortage of great Chinese food at all price points for those who wish to explore its rich culinary offerings. During a recent visit to Macau to attend the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, I got the chance to sample great Chinese fare at these five recommended spots frequented by locals and tourists alike.
More great Chinese fare:
Golden Flower at Wynn Macau
Rua Cidade de Sintra, Nape, www.wynnmacau.com
Wynn Macau’s highly acclaimed two Michelin-starred restaurant is my new pick for best fine dining Chinese restaurant in the former Portugese territory. Golden Flower has also been recognized with a prestigious Five-Star Award from Forbes Travel Guide. Even the locals love this place when they’re looking to splurge.
At the helm of this northern Chinese regional restaurant is Master Chef Liu Guo Zhu whose vast knowledge of Tan cuisine—a somewhat secret imperial Chinese cuisine that dates back to the Qing Dynasty—is said to have been handed down to him directly from the Tan household itself. Chef Liu, who has been cooking for over 40 years now, is well known among his peers as the first mainland Chinese chef to receive the Rôtisseur award from the international gastronomic society, Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. He has served many famous dignitaries, including Her Majesty the Queen of England and the late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiao Ping.
At Golden Flower, Chef Liu uses premium ingredients to execute rare Northern Chinese traditional delicacies (namely Tan, Lu, and Sichuan) that aim to please those with more discriminating palates. Among the must-try dishes at Golden Flower are an extremely rich yet elegant tasting Chicken Soup with Fresh Clams, and a Braised Giant Grouper Skin and Fish Maw in Supreme Chicken Broth.
Red 8 at Wynn Palace
Avenida Da Nave Desportiva, Cotai, www.wynnpalace.com
Tucked in one far corner of Wynn Palace’s gaming floor is this casual eatery serving Cantonese and Northern Chinese favorites. Despite its theatrical open kitchen, Red 8 can be easy to miss if, like me, you’re not into playing in casinos. But thanks to my roast goose cravings, my research led me to check out this restaurant that happens to be open 24 hours a day. Although Red 8 is better known for its Beijing Duck (which surprisingly costs more than the Roast Goose), the restaurant also offers a comprehensive menu of other Cantonese favorites like fried rice, noodles, dim sum, and BBQ. My favorite late-night snacks were the Roast Goose, Suckling Pig, and Shrimp Wonton Soup. A plate composed of your choice of two BBQ combinations with rice will only set you back 100 HKD (or around P660).
Sei Kee Café
G/F, 1 Largo dos Bombeiros, Vila de Taipa
Established in 1965, this old-school café located in Taipa old village has long been famous for its milk tea and pork chop bun. The tea and coffee are still brewed in a clay pot over charcoal, giving these drinks a distinct taste. The pork buns are made fresh and are handed to you still warm and crispy—definitely one of the best pork buns in town. Fifty Macanese pataca (about P300) is all you need for a meal consisting of one pork chop bun and one milk tea or coffee. It’s best to visit this place in the morning or early afternoon to avoid long lines, and so as not to miss out on popular items like the extra crispy yet juicy pork chop buns.
Lei Hong Kei
Rua de Caldeira, +853 2837 6670
This is one of the few remaining old school Cantonese restaurants in town, a rarity even in neighboring Hong Kong. This is a restaurant that serves older, now hard-to-find Cantonese dishes cooked the traditional long way. It still has an old-fashioned handwritten menu board on the walls, although an English menu may be available for tourists. I was the only non-Chinese diner there when I visited with a group of eight Chinese friends. Must-try dishes include an old school Sweet and Sour Pork that was not cloyingly sweet; stuffed deep-fried coin-shaped Lard Envelopes; Fried Smoked Fish; and Fried Sea Mantis with chopped chilies.
The best way to find this restaurant is to ask your hotel’s concierge to call the restaurant for the exact address, as most of the directions posted on the Internet are not the correct ones. It is located on the same street as the Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel.
Tim Heong Yuen Master Mak Dessert
Adjacent to Lei Hong Kei, +853 2833 0513
Located on the same street as Lei Hong Kei is another old school find, this time serving an extensive selection of Cantonese desserts like freshly ground Sesame Soup, Peanut Cream Soup, Walnut Cream Soup, and Ginkgo Nut & Bean Curd Soup.
According to David Yip, a well-known Chinese food expert based in Singapore, the Cantonese consider these desserts more than just something to satisfy their sweet tooth. Rather, they are considered part of the yin/yang balance in our bodies. Sesame is believed to be good for the skin as well as a good aid for the digestive system. Peanuts are an anti-aging agent while walnuts are rich with antioxidants.
While I was only able to try the hot dessert soups, I highly recommend the freshly ground Sesame and Walnut Soups, together with the hot Almond Soup which also tasted good when combined with the Sesame Soup.
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
Golden Flower photos courtesy of Wynn Macau
Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelarosa