Over the past decade, Macau has planted itself quite firmly on the world map when it comes to tourism. There are plenty of places to go in Macau. Riding the wave of new casinos and 2006 UNESCO World Heritage designation, the former Portuguese colony has become a surprisingly impressive foodie hot spot as well. There is an impressive array of Macanese and Portuguese food in Macau.
Living in Hong Kong, one of the world’s great dining cities, I have found it quite easy to be impressed with the food, drink and dining scene in Macau.
This city has what it takes to demand your “food interest” attention! So take note, foodies! Macau should be on your bucket list.
So what to try in Macau? Here is what to look for if you want to sample some of the delicious drinks and food in Macau!
Spoiler alert – This list of foods mostly covers Macanese and Portuguese cuisines, as these are the unique foods to be found here. There are lots of Macau restaurants serving excellent Cantonese, Asian and Western cuisines even if little attention is given to them in this particular report.
A unique dish to Macau that you can’t even find in Hong Kong. Created during the colonial era, for sailors and settlers longing for the spicier side of life, which was hard to come by in this region of the world.
African Chicken is a complex combination of ingredients and its prepared differently in almost every restaurant, which offers this dish!
As such, no two versions taste alike!
The good news is that there is plenty to sample if you have the time!
My favourite version is served at Henri’s Galley.
The African chicken here is a very generous portion and absolutely delectable!
A bit about Macanese cuisine
This is true fusion, distinctly different from local Cantonese and colonial Portuguese cuisine.
Macanese cuisine is unique, derived from Portuguese sailors and settlers who brought favourite foods from home as well as accessible ingredients from major trading ports like The Cape (South Africa), Goa (India) and Melaka (Malaysia).
All brought here and along with local Cantonese influences and the abundance of seafood in the area, resulted in a unique blend of flavours and dishes that you can’t find anywhere else in this part of the world.
Minchi – Macau’s favourite casual food
The name “Minchi’ is supposedly a corruption of the English word – mince and was probably used by colonials from Hong Kong describing this local dish upon encountering it here in Macau.
This is a simple, casual and another classic Macanese food you can try!
Minchi recipes vary, but it mostly consists of seasoned minced pork, onion and potatoes and is usually served with rice and egg.
My favourite place to eat Minchi in Macau is at A Vencedora – one of Macau’s historic and long-standing Macanese eateries.
Portuguese Pork Bun (Chopa Bao)
Referred to locally as Chopa Bao, pork buns are not something you’d expect to find on the streets in Asia, yet it is a very popular type of food in Macau and sold pretty much everywhere.
Seasoned in a variety of spices before being grilling, these sizzling hot pork chops are served in a Portuguese-style bun and can be delicious.
Tai Lei Loi Kei is the famous local maker of pork chop buns but there are many others that are just as good.
Portuguese or Macanese?
Arroz de Pato (Duck Rice)
Is this Portuguese? Is the version in Macau unique and different? Perhaps a bit of both? Oh, who cares! It is delicious and is well worth trying during trips to Macau.
There are a handful of ways to prepare duck rice, I prefer the dishes which have two layers of rice, sandwiching a hearty portion of duck and baked until the top layer is crispy.
Served with a bit of chorizo for added flavour, this is a simple and tasty dish to try.
I really enjoy Arroz de Pato at several places around Macau.
While much loved in Macau, perhaps even more so than back in Portugal, it must be noted that Arroz de Pato is considered a Portuguese dish.
A popular dessert in Macau that you won’t find anywhere else in this area of the world is Serradura (sawdust).
This is usually served as pudding or whipped cream with layers of crushed breadcrumbs or biscuits.
I enjoy it served up at Castiço in Taipa Village, however, this is a dessert that many restaurants do well in Macau.
Generally speaking, Serradura is considered a Portuguese dessert. However, locals make a strong case that it was not introduced to Macau but originated from here instead.
It is believed that Portuguese settlers, using the limited ingredients available to them during the colonial period, created this Portuguese “style” dessert in their Macanese kitchen.
As such, Serradura while considered Portuguese is regularly claimed to be a Macanese dessert as well.
With that in mind, let us move on to some classic and traditional Portuguese that you can try during your visits to Macau!.
Classic Portuguese food in Macau
Chorizo and Portuguese Sausages
Typical starter at Portuguese restaurants the world over including those located here in Macau! Quality varies.
I particularly enjoy the sausage dished out at A Petisqueira in Taipa Village.
You will find Chorizo Asado and other Portuguese sausage orders throughout Macau’s Portuguese restaurants, some of which will roast the sausage at your tableside before serving.
This can be a fun part of a meal at one of Macau’s Portuguese restaurants.
Pastéis de bacalhau
Another classic Portuguese snack food in Macau and a tasty starter!
Perhaps no Portuguese food is easier to find than Pastéis de bacalhau (fried codfish cakes), which is dished up at all Portuguese and many Macanese eateries around the city.
These usually come in sets of 3 to 6 and are a good starter to share during meals.
My favourite at this time is served at Castiço in Taipa Village.
These are creative and delicious Macau food creations.
Ok! Are we in Macau still? This is where things really start to feel like you are dining back in Portugal.
Baked, roasted and grilled fish served with boiled potatoes and a bit of salad is served up in most places while an order of clams prepared in olive oil and garlic is also easy to find.
Bacalhau à bras
Another dish you will be surprised to find here in Asia.
Caldo Verde (green kale soup) is easy to find, Feijoada (bean stew with pork) is served up at a few places and Bacalhau à bras is dished up in several restaurants like FADO and Cervejaria Portugalia – a famous restaurant group in Portugal that arrived in Macau in 2015.
Portuguese style egg tarts (pasteis de nata)
Perhaps no other snack food in Macau has achieved the same degree of fame as the Portuguese-style egg tarts which visitors crave to try during visits to Macau.
Portuguese egg tarts or pasties de nata are similar to Chinese egg tarts and have a rich creamy egg filling encased by soft flaky pastry.
The Macanese version has sugar sprinkled on top that they caramelise to a dark brown even black crust.
Lord Stow’s Bakery didn’t invent these tarts but most egg tart lovers tend to head to the bakery’s main outlet in Coloane Village for take away supplies or to dine around the corner in a semi-formal café.
Cantonese Cuisine in Macau
While not unique to Macau (which is why this report mainly focuses on Macanese and Portuguese cuisine) Cantonese food is worth a mention as well.
This is the most common food type you will find in Macau. Similar to Hong Kong, the standard for dim sum in Macau is very high.
You can also try the local Cantonese-style street food, Char Chan Sat (cheap-eat style cafes), bakeries, dessert shops, teahouses, seafood as well as fine dining at one of Macau’s Michelin recognised Cantonese restaurants.
Steamed Milk Pudding
A famous local desert served up hot or cold to awaiting locals eager to enjoy this cheap and delicious, afternoon-snack food.
Try Yee Shun Dairy Company for this special treat! I like the plain milk flavour served cold best!
However, you can try chocolate, almond, ginger and other flavours as well.
While this may not be Hong Kong, dim sum is a very popular local food and what can be found in Macau is very good!
I particularly enjoy having yum cha (dim sum and tea) at Grand Lisboa, where they prepare delicate dim sum that is beautiful, enjoyable to see and delicious.
And if that wasn’t cute enough!
Here is another from the kitchen at The Eight!
Coffee Culture in Macau
Putting food aside for a moment, it is worth noting that Macau has a thriving coffee culture that is as good as you will find anywhere in this area of the world.
Interestingly, the Brits and their love affair with afternoon tea can be easily felt in nearby Hong Kong.
In Macau, on the other hand, the Portuguese left a preference and habit for sipping a cup of the black stuff (coffee) instead.
Want to know about Macau’s Coffee Culture? These days, there’s a thriving coffee scene – which will please aficionados seeking a good cuppa during visits to Macau.
Try Single Origin – Pour over and Espresso Bar, Bloom Coffee House, Communal Table, Terra Coffee House on the Macau Peninsula. While in Taipa Village, give Cuppa Coffee or the historic Fung Da Coffee a try.
Good Restaurants to try in Macau
There are too many good options and I’m not going to list them all. This section includes a handful of places that I’m always happy to eat at when I’m in Macau!
1. Castico – Taipa Village
Castico is a very casual eatery with only five tables, serving up very good Portuguese food at much lower prices than what you’ll find elsewhere around Taipa and other areas of Macau.
They are always full of loyal locals so best to reserve in advance if you want to try this gem of a place in Taipa Village.
For more casual eateries in Taipa, here’s a DIY foodie guide of some of the delicious local snacks to taste and where to eat in Taipa.
2. A Petisqueira – Taipa Village
When it comes to traditional Portuguese dining, A Petisqueira is about as authentic (and possibly as good) as it gets in Macau.
Very good food dished out, which might have you thinking your back in Lisbon at some point during the meal.
Reservations are essential for A Petisqueira. You’ll never get a table as a walk-in visitor here.
3. Espaco Lisboa Coloane Village
Espaco Lisboa is a cosy little place in the sleepy Coloane Village, where I have had many good meals in recent years.
This is one of my top choices for African Chicken, their version being a bit sweeter than most around Macau, Arroz de Pato, Portuguese sausage and a bottle of sangria.
Espaco Lisboa is found on the small alley Rua dos Gaivotas, near the small village roundabout.
4. Lord Stow’s Bakery – Coloane Village
Just a stone’s throw from Espaco Lisboa is the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery, home of Macau’s most famous Portuguese-style tarts (pasteis de nata).
As mentioned above, the battle is on when it comes to which is best – Lord Stows or Margaret’s.
For me, it’s Lord Stow’s all the way and I’m always happy to stop by for a tart or two or three for breakfast, afternoon snack or post-meal dessert.
Just look for the Lord Stow’s sign or the queue of visitors buying tarts at the small roundabout in Coloane Village.
You can also find Lord Stow’s at Venetian Macao, as well as Rua do Conha in Taipa Village.
5. FADO – at Royal Macau – Macau Peninsula
A bit of an innovative twist on Portuguese favourites, this restaurant has been great in recent years!
A Hidden Gem two years ago, FADO is quite popular now so reservations might be a must in the near future.
A fun dish to try at FADO is their Bacalhau à bras, which is prepared at your tableside by the FADO sous-chef. This is a fun and memorable part of your meal… and the dish is pretty good!
6. Restaurante Litoral – Macau Peninsula
Restaurante Litoral is a long-standing local favourite for Macanese and Portuguese cuisine and a nice dining venue in Macau.
We have very much enjoyed the African Chicken, Arroz de Pato and Egg Pudding deserts here in recent years.
Litoral is located on Rua do Almirante Sergio, around 3-4 minute walk from A-Ma Temple.
7. Henri’s Galley – Macau Peninsula
Henri’s is another old favourite in Macau that has and my top-choice for the Macanese specialty – African Chicken, which is consistently excellent at this restaurant.
Henri’s is located along Avenida da Republicade on the shore of Sai Van Lake.
8. Caravela – Macau Peninsula
Caravela is an enclave for Europeans, a place I like to visit for a quick and light Portuguese-style breakfast in Macau.
Caravela is where the Portuguese people who live in Macau come for breakfast or lunch on the weekend.
You’ll see many familiar faces dining here each time you visit.
You can find Caravela (which is a five-minute walk) from the Historic Centre of Macau, near Hotel Sintra and the famous Margaret’s Cafe e Nata.
9. The Tasting Room – Cotai Strip
Some are surprised to discover that Macau now has 18 Michelin restaurants, some of which are outstanding restaurants.
We have very much enjoyed the fine dining at the Tasting Room at City of Dreams, a Michelin two-star restaurant, which specialises in French Cuisine.
10. The Eight at Grand Lisboa – Macau Peninsula
Perhaps one of the finest Cantonese restaurants in the world can be found at the Grand Lisboa Hotel in Macau.
The Eight is a Michelin three-star restaurant that serves up delightful dim sum orders (shown above in this article) but also dishes out elegantly prepared and delicious mains as well.
I’m always happy to have lunch at this classy restaurant, which is designed in a manner to capture the luck of the number #8 and decimate it along with excellent food and service to guests.
Find out more about what Macau is planning as a member of the prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities of Gastronomy group.
Brad Reynolds is one of TripAdvisor’s most prolific reviewers and can be found on TripAdvisor reviewing under the username – Brad Jill.