Don’t tell Macau about fusion. Chefs in the onetime Portuguese colony have been mixing and matching and reading the recipe books over each other’s shoulders for the best part of the last four centuries.
So it goes without saying that most of the world’s cuisines are on offer here. There’s some really top-notch grub – for top dollar, naturally. But just around the corner, as often as not there’s somewhere serving something tasty for a fraction of the price.
Caviar vs barbecued pork
The prime example is Robuchon au Dôme, as hifalutin as gastronomy gets in this part of the world, with Chef Joël’s dedicated brigade producing a ten-course set menu – caviar, foie gras, langoustine et al – for 2,956 patacas (A$480). And that’s before you get anywhere near the wine list.
Walk a block north and you’ll find yourself at Spirit Food (4/F, Edificio Banco Luso Internacional, 1-3 Rua Dr Pedro José Lobo; +853 2870 6188), a traditional Cantonese restaurant with barbecued pork and rice, steamed scallops with ginger and garlic and all the other long-time favourites dished up amid mega-decibel noise and bustle. You’ll have to try really hard to pay more than 150 patacas.
Five-star Macanese or T-bone steak?
It’s a similar story at Vida Rica, as five-star a Macanese restaurant as you can find anywhere in the city, all silver service and starched napkins, plus chef’s table and private room for anyone really looking to splurge.
Your credit card will be taking a (highly deserved) 600-pataca wallop per gullet. Pop round the corner, and you’ll find Antico Trattoria (40 Avenida Sir Anders Ljungstedt; +853 2875 5102) about half as cheap again and the best place in the city for T-bone steaks and calzone.
France’s finest vs market tea house
It’s a similar story at Privé, in the Sofitel where Head Chef Vincent Rouille takes enormous pride in preparing some of France’s finest dishes tableside – for the sort of price you might well expect.
Trot up the road, and next to Red Market you’ll find Long Wa (3 Rua Norte do Mercado Almirante Lacerda; no phone) an ultra-traditional and ditto cheap teahouse – you can pop in just for a 20-pataca cuppa, no worries.
Top notch Cantonese or al-fresco pizza?
At the southern tip of Macau, there’s a sharp division of opinion: do you dine at Kwun Hoi Heen, the Cantonese restaurant at the Grand Coloane Resort, for the food or the views out over the South China Sea? Either way, this is not budget tucker.
However, just along the coast, Gondola has got pretty much the same views, lots of outdoor seating, a rather neat pizza oven and prices half or one-third as cheap. As an additional sign of approval, this is the default al-fresco eatery for Macau’s many expats.
Finally, it’s harder to get more utterly bodacious than the Sands Macao [sic] one of the city’s largest resorts. Edo is everything a fine-dining Japanese should be, including the bill. But for half the price and twice the high jinks, skip over the road to the Old Taipa Tavern – it’s not called OTT for nothing.
Ed Peters lives in Hong Kong and visits Macau as often as he can
Read this to find out about Macao’s best French restaurants.
Check out Macao’s Portuguese egg tart recipe here.
When in Macao, head to Lord Stow’s bakery for delicious Portuguese egg tarts.
Looking for the best portuguese restaurant in Macau? Check out our big dining guide.
Looking for something new to taste? Have you tried Macanese food?