Looking for Macau’s must-eats?
We’re always searching for new bites around the city, so why not venture further afield (if only by ferry!) and start ticking these off of your foodie bucket list? Our Macau expert, Sally Victoria Benson shares with us this month, her must-try dishes and go-to morsels…
Minchi is a local Macanese treasure and my number one on this foodie bucket list. While very famous locally, I’m often surprised by how many people visit Macau and neglect this cultural foodie gem. Every Macanese family has their own secret recipe for this iconic dish and the kitchens serving it today have been around for generations. Macanese cuisine blends Portuguese, Chinese, Indian, and Malay all into one, so you know the combination of rich flavours means it’s going to be delish! Minchi is essentially minced beef or pork, mixed with deep-fried potatoes and served on a bed of steamed rice with a fried egg! It sounds simple, but the meat is sautéed with a mix of herbs and sauces that create its famous flavouring. If you are looking to try the real taste of Macau, then Minchi is a must. A lot of restaurants near the A-Ma Temple, Rua de Campo and Senado Square serve authentic Macanese Minchi and other dishes.
The Pork Chop Bun—(Chu Pa Bao)
The pork chop bun or Chu Pa Bao, as us locals call it, is one of the most famous snacks in Macau both for locals and those visiting. There are people hunting down this famous snack for a reason – simply, it’s delicious. There are a lot of shops around Macau selling the iconic Macao street snack and most follow a similar recipe. It’s essentially a grilled pork chop marinated lightly with garlic and ginger served in a fresh white bun. My personal favourite spot to pick one up is out on Hac Sa Beach near the barbecue stalls outside the infamous Fernando’s. They cook the pork chop freshly in front of you on the barbecue, coasted with a bit of light sweet sauce (kind of like honey) and you can eat at the stall or take it to the beach to enjoy.
If the pork chop bun isn’t really your thing, we should also mention the famous pineapple bun. This sweet bun is almost like a bread roll, and has no actual pineapple inside it, but gets its name due to its sugary cookie top – which resembles a pineapple once baked! It’s a great snack for kids who are fussy eaters, or for those with a sweet tooth, and you will find it available in most cha chaan tengs around town or in the bakery section of cafés. Look around Senado Square in the centre, or Rua do Cunha in Taipa Village.
Growing up in Macau usually meant a stop by “the waffle places” after school for a quick snack, but for those just visiting for the day, these stalls can be easily missed among the crowds. There are only a few left in the city that still operate like they did all those years ago and all are family run and have been handed down through the generations. It’s a great on-the-go snack to have while touring around the Senado Square, St Paul’s Ruins or the Red Market Area. The waffles are made before your eyes and are perfectly crispy, yet warm and fluffy. They are served drizzled with huge amounts of condensed milk and peanut butter, so speak up quickly to get a plain one if that’s how you prefer it. At only $10 it’s a very tasty bargain!
Hing Yi Waffle Stall, Patio das Flores Alley, and G/F, Centro Comercial Teatro Capitol, Rua de Pedro Nolasco da Silva, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau
Macau has long been a home to milk tea but lately coffee has played such a prominent part in the innovation of the Macau food and beverage scene, and every month a new coffee shop pops up somewhere around the city. This hipster-themed coffee trend has resulted in some beautiful and artisan spots. I’m a regular at Quarter Square in Taipa Village, Terra Coffee House and Communal Table in Central Macau, Rethink Coffee Roasters over in NAPE and Single Origin on Macau side. Most are owned and run by local Chinese and Macanese people so you will be truly supporting local entrepreneurs and businesses by buying coffee here. Some are incredibly Instagram-worthy and a quick search on geotags will show you why.
Quarter Square, 89 Largo Maia de Magalhães, Taipa, +853 2857 6914 or +853 6290 5138, www.facebook.com/quartersquare
Terra Largo de Santo Agostinho, Macau, +853 2893 7943, www.facebook.com/terracoffee
Rethink Coffee Roasters GF-H Tsui Fung Building, Tai Fung Plaza, 76 R. de Berlim, Alamenda Doutor Carlos D’Assumpção, +853 6356 3838, www.facebook.com/rethinkcoffeeroasters
Single Origin GF 19 Rua de Abreu Nunes, Macau +853 6698 7475, www.facebook.com/singleorigincoffee
Almond Biscuits and Pork Jerky
These classic Macanese foods are some of the most popular souvenirs and can be found everywhere in Macau. Many of the shops leading up to the Ruins not only sell boxes but also allow you to sample many different flavours and variations of the original almond biscuit. While not a favourite of everyone, I dare you to walk past and not try one; it’s almost impossible not to. The pork jerky, on the other hand, is the perfect snack on the go. Usually served and sold cold, I prefer it when it’s hot off the press, so you can really taste the mix of flavours. I recommend the pepper, bone or garlic versions, and prefer the pork over beef and lamb, but they give free samples so try them all and then decide. Pastelaria Koi Kei Bakery is a chain with many outlets around town and carries both the almond biscuits and meat jerky.
Price: MOP $69 – 149/pound (depending on what flavour and what type of meat)
Pastelaria Koi Kei Bakery Rua de S. Paulo, No.23AA-23AB,R/C, Macau, +853 2835 8230, www.koikei.com
Golden Egg Biscuits
Another local favourite, but not nearly as popular with the tourists, are the golden egg biscuits. While I’m not clear on the origin of the name, they do look like golden flat biscuits. Made from egg yolk, flour, sugar and butter, these are not as fancy as the very popular Almond cookies but still worth a try. I personally prefer them as they aren’t as sweet and if you are lucky to find the guy making them fresh in Senado square near the fountain under the huge white Santa da Misericordia building, you must line up for a bag full. It doesn’t look like anything special, but the golden egg biscuits are a beloved local delicacy with a touch of history attached to them and I love them.
Macau is home to an array of Fusion cafés that have blended local flavours and cooking techniques to create menus to suit over 30 million tourists that pass through this tiny city each year. This unique blend of creativity and meeting the tourist demands of what “local food is” has produced some interesting cafés. You will find them in every area of the city these days and luckily most come with English menus. These are a few of my favourites but it really depends on what you feel like and what area you are exploring: Hidden Café, La one Kitchenette, Miss M Food, Joy of Living Café.
Hidden Café, GF-A Weng On Building, 31 Rua de Francisco Xavier Pereira, Macau, +853 2835 2561, www.facebook.com/Hiddencafemacau
La One Kitchenette 8 Rua Central, Macau +853 2856 5656, www.facebook.com/LaOneKit
Miss M Food, GF 6E Rua de S. Lourenço, Macau +853 6560 0232, www.facebook.com/MissMFood
Joy of Living Café, Chon Va Building, 72-74 Estr. do Repouso, Macau, +853 6361 2723, www.facebook.com/joycafe
Tarts (and not just the Portuguese egg one)
While not a hidden gem, no foodie bucket list is complete without mentioning the famous Macau Egg Tart. Almost everyone travelling to Macau knows to stop by somewhere and try one. There are many places selling these “Egg Tarts”, but not all tarts are created equal. The origins of the Macau Egg Tart, which is a cross between the famous Pastel De Nata in Portugal and an English custard tart, are traced back to Lord’s Stow’s Bakery in Coloane. Another great place to try a range of local tarts is San Hou Lei, located on Rua do Cunha (Goon Ya Gai) in Old Taipa Village you can find traditional Egg Tarts, fresh milk tarts, bird’s nest tarts, and coconut tarts straight from the oven. If you can’t make it out to Coloane, Margarets Café e Nata in central Macau is a great spot to pick up some egg tarts or its chocolate version, you won’t miss her shop, the lines are always out the door but they move fast.
Lord Stow’s Bakery 1 Rua do Tassara, Coloane, Macau +853 2888 2534, www.lordstow.com
Margaret’s Cafe e Nata Kam Loi Building, 17B Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira, Avenida ee Almeida Ribeiro, Macau, www.facebook.com/Margarets-Café-e-Nata
San Hou Lei 13–14 Rua do Regedor, Macau, +853 2882 7373
Fans of Portuguese cuisine are in luck. This tiny city luckily still has so many great places still up and running. While all claim to offer authentic dishes, it really depends on your standards and what you like. As someone who has eaten Portuguese food both in Portugal and for over 20 years in Macau, there are a few places you can’t miss.
On Macau Island side, Casa do Porco Preto is a restaurant run by Portuguese people from the Alentejo region. As the name of the restaurant implies, the real star of the menu is the Porco Preto (black pork), but guests will find the menu full of options and very reasonably priced. Another favourite on the Macau side, just before you hit the path up to the Ruins is Mariazinha – operated by people from Porto in Portugal’s northern region, serve the famous Francesinha – an Oporto delicacy made of bread, meats and cheese topped with a special sauce but it also has all the traditional dishes one would expect. On Taipa side you have Antonio, a Taipa institution located in the heart of Taipa Village, its seafood rice is the best in Macau. If you are after Portuguese cuisine mixed with some Macanese dishes then head on over to Café Litoral located in the Village as well. And of course, there is the famous Fernando out in Coloane. After all these years the food is still fantastic (even if the service isn’t up to scratch!).
Casa do Porco Preto, Rua do Almirante Sergio, 310, Fong Son San Chun, Bloco V R/C, Macau, +853 2896 6313, www.facebook.com/porcodopreto
Mariazinha, Tak Fat Building, 8 Rua do Monte, no. 8, Tak Fat Building, Macau, +853 2835 7558, www.facebook.com/Mariazinha
Fernando’s, 9 Hac Sa Beach, Coloane, +853 2888 2264, www.fernando-restaurant.com
Antonio, 7 R. dos Clerigos, Taipa, +853 2899 9998, antoniomacau.com, www.facebook.com/AntonioRestaurantMacau
The Dragon Beard Candy
A very popular after-school snack for kids in Macau, this local candy has been around for decades. Also known as “Chinese Cotton Candy”, it’s a handmade traditional art originating in China. It’s rich and sweet in flavour despite its soft and delicate appearance. The inside of the candy is made from a mix of crushed peanuts, shredded coconut and white sesame seeds. You can find it all over in Macau, especially in the more local Macau neighbourhoods’. There is a traditional local patisserie shop selling it that is located inside the Rotunda de Carlos da Maia in the Three Lamps District around the Red Market area (an area worth exploring all on its own). The owner of the local patisserie has been making the Dragon Beard Candy for over 40 years. It’s great to try while you explore the area, or to bring back as gifts for friends.