Macao has recently been awarded the status of a Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO. If you’re still wondering why, here are 11 eateries that prove that the city is worth your attention. By Deepali Sharma
The mishmash of culinary traditions in Macao runs deep. To begin with, Macanese cuisine is often referred to as the world’s first fusion cuisine, because of the historical impact that four centuries of Portuguese rule followed by a substantial Chinese culinary interpolation has had on the city. Add to that, the fact that some of the world’s most famous chefs have launched international cuisine restaurants in the past two decades. Today, you’ll find everything from authentic Macanese and Portuguese to French, Italian, Indian, and other Asian cuisine restaurants here, that have collectively earned more Michelin stars than in other renowned food destinations of the world.
Therefore, it is only fit that when you’re in Macao, you dive headlong into the discovery of food. These are the top 11 restaurants to check out.
On Rua dos Clerigos in Old Taipa village, this popular Portuguese haunt is helmed by an award-winning chef, Chef Antonio, who puts together a menu of Portuguese dishes with a modern twist. The restaurant is distinctive in its ambience, tile, artwork, and furniture, giving guests a feel of having walked into a Portuguese home. Chef Antonio relishes culinary discoveries which he makes after experimentation and thorough feedback. If anything, it makes his menu unique and draws globetrotters to his doors.
Another Michelin starred restaurant at The Venetian Macao is widely popular for its contemporary presentation of Indian cuisine. Here, Chef Justin Paul wows globetrotters including the likes of David Beckham with his extraordinary menu consisting fine Indian delicacies. This is a restaurant you’ll want to make an advance reservation at, since it is booked out for weeks at a time.
Towering over the glittering Cotai strip, The Ritz-Carlton Macau is a landmark hotel with fine culinary offerings for guests. One of the most popular finds is the Ritz-Carlton Café, a French brasserie where classic dishes such as beef tartare and seafood riso are paired with artisanal beers and crisp wines. If you want to make the most of the café and are on limited time, reserve a table for a Cherry Afternoon Tea Buffet where the lazy Suzy includes an exquisite handcrafted dessert menu of Cherry and Apple Crumble, Cherry Foie Gras, and Pistachio Brioche, among others.
Savour authentic Italian cuisine at Portofino, located at The Venetian Macao, the glitzy hotel on the Cotai Strip. Think fresh seafood pastas, delicious thin crust pizzas, and traditional Italian trattoria. The al fresco restaurant overlooks the swimming pool and offers all-you-can-eat packages along with special lunch menus on Sundays.
French chef Guillaume Galliot brings his unique Haute Cuisine to this Michelin two-starred French restaurant. His fresh take on fine dining has often brought him to the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and a reservation here is a much-coveted affair. Pair your dinner with wine—the wine list here offers Chateau Mouton Rothschild vintages from 1945 to 2011.
Albergue 601 offers exquisite Portuguese cuisine in the setting of the historical neighbourhood of St. Lazarus Quarter. The old Portuguese building with two large camphor trees provides an artistic welcome to guests; inside, the menu created by Chef Pedro Almeida has you transport from Macao to the streets of Lisbon.
If Cantonese food is what you’re craving, pay a visit to Tim’s Kitchen where Chef Lai’s signature Crystal King Prawn dish—steamed whole crab claws with winter melon—is popular. This restaurant was founded in Hong Kong in 2000 and seven years later, brought to the Grand Lisboa Macau. In Macao, it was awarded a Michelin star in 2009, following which, it has remained a permanent inhabitant of the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macao.
Inside the dome of the Grand Lisboa Macau, is housed a fine, three Michelin star restaurant that was launched by late chef, Joel Robuchon. The French diner boasts one of the most extensive and exclusive wine collections in Asia with 16,800 labels. Designed by English furniture maker Viscount Linley, the restaurant boasts a breathtaking crystal chandelier made up of 1,31,500 pieces of Swarovski, Baccarat floor lamps, glasses from Riedel, and high relief platinum serving plates from Bernardaud.
Another signature restaurant at Grand Lisboa Macau is the lavish Chinese restaurant called The 8 Restaurant, the first and only Chinese restaurant in Macao to be awarded three Michelin stars, five consecutive years in a row. Its sophisticated interior is fashioned after the traditional Chinese elements of gold fish and number ‘eight’, that represent energy and wealth respectively. With a food menu offering 40 varieties of dim sums, there is ample scope to experiment with new dishes here.
From the lap of luxury to an earthy, rustic local haunt, Restaurante Fernando serves local Portuguese dishes such as chorizo, fried squid, and stewed beef in an unpretentious ambiance. This is where you can get a taste of local flavours, sans the fancy embellishments of modern Macao.
If there’s one thing you can’t leave Macao without, it’s trying the famous dessert staple, egg tart! As such, you need to find the best egg tarts in the city, which will bring you to Lord Stow’s Bakery. Launched in 1989 by Englishman Andrew Stow, the bakery is as much a landmark in Macao as any heritage spot, offering an authentic yet different formula for the classic Portuguese egg tart. His style of egg tarts called ‘Pasteis de Nata’ is now famous throughout Asia, but to know where it all began, you’ll have to make a pit stop here.