San Sebastian, a beach resort town in Spain’s Basque Country, is famous for its pintxo (the local equivalent of tapas), and its high number of quality restaurants. It is famous for having more Michelin star restaurants per head of the population than any other city in the world. That amounts to 20 stars for a population of 200,000. Compared to San Sebastian, Macau is doing rather well, then, with its 27 stars, and a population of about 600,000.
Especially when you consider that two decades ago there was no restaurant scene to speak of at all. But how important are Michelin stars in Macau, and are they well deserved? Here’s all you need to know about Michelin star restaurants in Macau.
- Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2020
- Macau Michelin List 2020
- More Macau Restaurants
- Macanese Restaurants in Macau
- Cantonese Restaurants in Macau
- French Restaurants in Macau
- Dessert Restaurants in Macau
- Japanese restaurants in Macau
Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2020
By Annabel Jackson
The results for the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2020, its 12th edition, were announced at the end of last year, with no surprises.
This was not the case after the release of the first edition when there were many surprises about which restaurants in Macau had made it, and which had been excluded.
Complaints were made that Michelin inspectors did not know how to assess Cantonese food, for example; and anyway, that the criteria for Cantonese food versus French food, for example, would be very different.
This outcry, unfortunately, has created in Macau an aura of suspicion around the Michelin Guide, with several local industry members and commentators contacted convinced that it is easier to get stars in Asia than in Europe.
Jean Alberti, a former restaurant owner in the US, and now a restaurant consultant in Hong Kong and Macau believe that a small number of stars may have been carelessly distributed at the outset, simply because there had to be a certain amount of stars in order to publish a credible guide in the first place.
The number of stars has tripled in 10 years.
Alberti thinks the Michelin Guide is now highly credible, with almost all the stars in Macau “worth it”.
He takes the view that standards can reach such heights because of the monies available for investment.
Value for money at Macau’s Michelin restaurants
Indeed, of the 20 Michelin-starred restaurants in Macau, only one, the Cantonese restaurant King (1 star), in the AIA Tower, is independent, although Tim’s Kitchen (1 star, Cantonese) was originally a highly regarded independent restaurant in Hong Kong before it was invited to open in the Lisboa hotel.
“Casinos effectively sponsor those restaurants,” Alberti says. “You look at the quality, the service, the wine list… and compare to France. These restaurants are a bargain”.
Where in Paris you could spend 400 euros (US$500) a head, he says, in Macau you can pay as little as HK$1000 (US$130) per head.
In France, you might visit a Michelin-starred restaurant annually, for a special occasion.
“In Macau you can go twice a month. People don’t take enough advantage of this great value”.
Are Michelin stars important?
Lunch at The Tasting Room (French, 2 stars) in City of Dreams is a particular case in point.
Not everyone in Macau is interested in stars.
Gourmet Alan Ho, a relative of Stanley Ho, led the way with Robuchon a Galera, now Robuchon au Dome, with 3 stars; and Lisboa now has four starred restaurants.
Wynn and City of Dreams each have two. But the prestigious casino hotels are not exactly lining up for stars.
Does this indicate that stars are not important? After all, stars should be good for business, and diners are more prepared to pay higher prices in starred restaurants.
Certainly, the captive audience for stars is quite specific and does not include the core tourism group – mainland Chinese.
Although this group has plenty of money to spend, this goes on gambling and shopping.
Spending three hours over an expensive lunch when you can consume a bowl of noodles in seven minutes, is not an option.
The key clients of these restaurants are local bon vivants and Hong Kong visitors.
A piece in the South China Morning Post last November strongly indicated that Michelin stars are not seen to be important for Macau.
Macau vs Hong Kong
Macao Government Tourist Office has nothing to do with the funding of the publication (nor does the Hong Kong Tourism Board, but that’s a different issue).
The guide is in fact supported by a number of sponsors including Nespresso and Evian.
Hong Kong restaurants and Macau restaurants appear in a single volume for publishing economies of scale, but do they fit together in the same Guide?
Standards in Macau have traditionally been seen as being lower because of the necessity to source and import produce via Hong Kong, with subsequent implications around transportation and storage.
Those issues still exist, food and wine importer Haigan Wong confirms, and at least outside of the hotels, Hong Kong dining is generally better. But Macau should no longer be seen as the country cousin.
At Cantonese restaurants such as The Eight (3 stars) and Jade Dragon (3 stars), the quality is at least as good as in Hong Kong.
Macau Michelin List 2020
Three Michelin Stars
Two Michelin Stars
One Michelin Star
More Macau Restaurants
By Chris Dwyer
Dining in Macau poses one key challenge for both visitors and locals: where to eat next?
The array of cuisines and chefs make this a difficult choice as, from humble local favourites to Michelin-starred gastronomic temples of fine dining.
There´s something for everyone, at every price point.
Choosing the best restaurants in Macau is no mean feat, so, here’s a Macau restaurant guide to help you decide what to eat in Macau and where to eat in Macau.
Some of the popular options include local Macanese cuisine, which is heavily-influenced by Macau´s Portuguese heritage, Cantonese food, given the territory´s location close to Guangdong Province, as well as Japanese and French restaurants renowned for flawless execution and impeccable ingredients.
Dining in Macau’s flashy resorts could see you eating dishes created by some of the world’s most famous chefs, or you could just as easily find yourself snacking on a legendary Portuguese egg tart for about $1 in the sleepy winding streets of old Coloane village.
Artistically designed signature dim sum platter at Jade Dragon Macau in the City of Dreams, which is considered one of the best restaurants in Macau.As a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, dining in Macau is a special experience.
Macanese Restaurants in Macau
Macanese cuisine reflects the territory´s fascinating history, melding Portuguese and Chinese ingredients and dishes to excellent effect. Here are three of the best restaurants in Macau for Macanese food.
1- Fernando´s Restaurant
The word ´legendary´ is over-used, but ask anyone about Macanese or Portuguese restaurants in Macao and Fernando´s will come top of the list, nine times out of ten.
Why? It´s the combination of red and white checked tablecloths, waiting for a table in the garden with cold beers and hot chorizo and brilliant food once you do eventually snag seats.
At Fernando’s Macau, clams with garlic sauce are served with enormous warm brown domes of bread; barbecue chicken sits on delicious fries while prawns from the grill are sensational in piles of garlic.
How much? Expect to pay around MOP$200 (A$30) per person or more.
Where? Praia de Hac Sa No.9, Coloane, Macau. Show up and put your name on their clipboard.
2- Albergue 1601
Set in a beautiful old colonial courtyard, Albergue 1601 is a dining experience that is a world away from the crowds and a step back into Macau’s colonial past.
Bacalhau or salt-cod is Portugal´s most beloved dish and it features in numerous menu options including balls made with fluffy potato and flecked with herbs.
African Chicken is sensational thanks to its sweet and spicy sauce of coconut and paprika, the smoky meat perfectly kissed by the charcoal under the grill.
Portuguese wines are vastly-underrated around the world and here shine through, proving that the country is not just good for Port.
How much? From MOP$150 (A$23) upwards.
Where? 8 Calçada da Igreja de S. Lazaro, Macao.
As the name suggests, Miramar overlooks the water on the southern tip of Macao. It’s not far from Fernando’s in Coloane.
Fancy a progressive Portuguese meal?
The dining room opens out onto the beach, making for romantic and relaxed dining and drinking.
The mainly Filipino service team are a delight and you can´t go wrong with the chef´s suggestions like gratinated scallops with cheese or monkfish kebabs.
The real standouts, however, are the stews, notably the tripe, while the fish stew brings a maritime bounty for hungry diners.
How much? From MOP$100 (A$16).
Where? Zona Norte Praia de Hác Sá, Coloane, Macau.
Cantonese Restaurants in Macau
Macau’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the cuisine of the mainland Chinese province of Guangdong, with which it shares a border with.
This region is home to Cantonese cuisine, the cuisine most well-known to diners of Chinese food around the world.
Stunning seafood, beautiful dim sum and superb roast meats are all on the menu in the best Cantonese restaurants in Macau.
4- Pak Loh
Pak Loh is one of the best restaurants in Macau for Chiu Chow cuisine, which originally came from eastern Guangdong and has greatly influenced Cantonese menus around the world.
When you have access to such stellar ingredients, you let them do the talking and Pak Loh has more than 40 years’ experience, resulting in sublime signature dishes like sliced goose and tofu in a rich marinade, or delicate and surprisingly-subtle crispy oysters flavoured with spicy salts.
Seafood is a standout, particularly the sautéed pomfret with preserved olives, without over-salting the perfectly cooked fish.
How much? A dim sum lunch costs from MOP$200 (A$32).
Where? Pak Loh, G048, Galaxy Macau, Estrada da Baía da Nossa Senhora da Esperança.
5- Jade Dragon (3 Michelin Stars)
City of Dreams is already a go-to destination thanks to the House of Dancing Water, the extraordinary performance mixing aquatic high-wire gymnastics with motorbikes.
Another great reason to go there is to have a meal at Jade Dragon where Chef Tam Kwok Fung is a master at mixing the contemporary with traditional.
From their dim sum, a steamed Kagani Crabmeat dumpling eats like a xiao lon bao, while an Australian M8 Wagyu beef puff comes in folds of the silkiest pastry imaginable.
Signature fried rice with roasted goose, shrimp and more was exceptional, all the grains remaining distinct, as they should, rather than sticking together.
How much? Dim sum costs from $18 (A$3) per piece.
Where? Jade Dragon, Level 2, The Shops at The Boulevard, City of Dreams, Macao.
6- Lai Heen (1 Michelin Star)
The Ritz Carlton in Macau towers above the competition from a great height.
Lai Heen sits up on the 51st floor and is a beautiful dining room, classically decorated with porcelain and other ceramics.
Chef Bill Fu helped the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton win two Michelin stars, so it’s not surprising that every dish is meticulous.
The Cantonese favourite of barbecued pork is taken to new heights with the chef’s Iberico Pork, while Crab Claw is steamed with Egg White and served in fragrant in Hua Diao Wine.
How much? Set lunch from MOP $400 (A$64) per person.
Where? Lai Heen, 51/F, Galaxy Macau, Estrada da Baía da Nossa Senhora da Esperança. galaxymacau.com
French Restaurants in Macau
French cuisine needs no introduction, arguably the world´s finest and the home of gastronomy and stunning wines.
With Michelin-starred chefs cooking up a storm in Macao, you’ll be treated to some of the best fine French cuisine in the world.
7- Robuchon Au Dome (3 Michelin Stars)
Heading north from Cotai, the reclaimed island at the tip of Macau takes you back to Macao’s historical centre.
Today huge multi-million dollar casinos dot the landscape, but a number of vestiges remain of older Macau.
Churches, houses, ruins and forts date as far back as the 17th century under Portuguese rule, but a more recent construction is the Lisboa Hotel, a true Macau icon opened by ‘The King of Gaming’ Stanley Ho back in 1970.
The Lisboa is also home to a breathtaking French restaurant with three Michelin stars, Robuchon Au Dôme.
As you’d expect from a casino hotel, no expense is spared on the interior and design.
A stunning Swarovski chandelier descends from the dome, while Christofle, Riedel and Lalique greet you at your table.
At Robuchon, you have one of the world’s greatest wine cellars to play with, an almost unbelievable 15,000 labels across a 530-page wine list.
It’s a collection that has won multiple awards, including 2016’s World’s Best Wine List. Fancy a drop of Red Burgundy? You have 140 pages to choose from.
The British chef Tom Aikens once told me how working 20-hour days was expected at Robuchon’s flagship restaurant in Paris.
If you made one mistake, no second chances were given. That partly explains why Jöel Robuchon oversees a global empire with a mind-blowing 28 Michelin stars.
How much? MOP$688 for lunch is an absolute steal for such refined cooking, impeccable ingredients and elegant service.
At the higher end, you can eat à la carte or choose the dinner tasting menu ($2,988), featuring Imperial caviar with king crab or Chateaubriand of beef with foie gras, but thereafter the sky truly is the limit.
Where? Lisboa Hotel
8- The Tasting Room (2 Michelin Stars)
With two Michelin stars, the Tasting Room was already a success even before the arrival of French chef Fabrice Vulin, himself a holder of multiple Michelin stars over the years.
Vulin has played up the venue´s impeccable and often exclusive sourcing of produce, such as the world´s rarest and most expensive beef, or peerless black truffles from Périgord in South West France.
However, the plates from celebrated chef Fabrice Vulin do more than enough to keep you focused on the table.
With perfect patisserie, an extravagant bread trolley and an incredible wine cellar, you´ll leave happy in more ways than one.
How much? Three-course set lunch from MOP $498 (A$80).
Where? Level 3 Crown Towers At the City Of Dreams, Estrada Do Istmo, Cotai, Macau.
9- The Brasserie at The Parisian
When looking for places to visit in Macau, the half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower leaves you in no doubt you´re in the right place for a French meal.
Luckily, The Parisian’s French cuisine lives up to their reputation and The Brasserie is home to authentic, delicious dishes from morning through night.
As its name suggests, it’s simpler and has more familiar food on the menu, but all the dishes are well-executed and there’s a nice buzz from 11 in the morning until 11 at night.
Beef tartare, salade niçoise, escargots and foie gras are good renditions, but the standouts on my visits were exceptional charcuterie made in-house and excellent French onion soup with just the depth of flavour you’d hope for.
The classic steak frites is a very reasonable $188 or confit of duck with potatoes with garlic and parsley at $165.
In true French style, the set lunch is the best value option with two courses for either $168 or $198, where their apple tart with Calvados ice cream is a fine way to finish.
Decadent foie gras is served with more-ish bread and sweet compotes to cut through the richness, while the classic salade niçoise shows expert sourcing of ingredients with just the right balance of flavours.
Save room for desserts such as their brilliant and boozy baba rhum.
How much? Two course set lunch from MOP $168 (A$26).
Where? The Parisian, Lot 3, Strip, SAR, P.R. China, Estr. do Istmo, Macau
10- Aux Beaux Arts
By David Bowden
Over at the MGM Grand, Aux Beaux-Arts is located just off the grand entrance to this spectacular property.
Guests can dine on fabulous French cuisine on the verandah overlooking the recreated Lisbon Square or in the wood-panelled interior.
This Art Deco-styled Parisian brasserie is home to Chef Elie Khalife who heads up an innovative kitchen team.
Get in the mood for a great night’s dining with starters such as caviar, Champagne and vodka shots.
Try many traditional French dishes as well as some more unusual ones such as a saddle of rabbit with pea purée and tarragon.
Save room at the end for tempting traditional desserts such as profiteroles.
The wine list is extensive with a natural bias to France but also wines from the New World including quite a few by the glass.
Adjourn to the MGM Grand’s Lion’s Bar for a relaxing nightcap prepared by renowned mixologists.
Dessert Restaurants in Macau
By Chris Dwyer
A contrast to the glamour of dining in a luxury resort, the humble patisserie KAFKA Sweets & Gourmandises has become a firm favourite with locals and visitors in the know.
That means you might have to queue, however, before you get to try their dishes like creamy spaghetti carbonara or their famous afternoon tea and sandwiches.
It’s the desserts at Kafka that steal the show.
The patisserie has a selection of beautiful and delicious gateaux and pastries, made by a chef who trained at the prestigious Cordon Bleu school in Paris.
How much? Eat at Kafta from MOP $25 (A$4).
Where? Rue de Braga No. 152, Macao.
Japanese restaurants in Macau
Japanese restaurants are renowned for their meticulous attention to detail, focus on doing one element beautifully and ensuring that service is the very definition of impeccable.
You really can´t go wrong.
12- Shinji by Kanaseka (1 Michelin Star)
Shinji by Kanaseka is by far the best sushi dining experience I’ve had outside Japan.
Shinji offers faultless ingredients, presentation, and execution, along with charming service from the always-smiling chef Toro Osumi.
You won’t feel nervous in this one Michelin-starred temple to sushi, even on a counter made from a 220-year-old Hinoki tree.
The tuna cuts are impeccable, and the steamed octopus is ridged to let the marinade penetrate, making it a textural revelation.
As the sea urchin passes from the chef´s hand to mine, I think I’m in heaven.
How much? Three menus cost MOP $688 (A$110), MOP $988 (A$156) or $1,688 (A$270) prove that one very special meal is well worth two underwhelming ones elsewhere.
Where? Level 1, Crown Towers, City of Dreams.
13- Mizumi (2 Michelin Stars)
Wynn Macau offers a paradise for fans of Japanese cuisine, thanks to the two Michelin-starred Mizumi.
Uniquely, it represents a collaboration with at least three Michelin-starred chefs, each expert in the Japanese culinary traditions of sushi, tempura and teppanyaki.
The fish is brought in daily from Tokyo´s Tsukiji Market. Chef Tsutomu Shimamiya founded Sushi Zen in Hokkaido in 1971 and is Japan’s most revered practitioner of edomae style sushi.
Kazuhito Motoyoshi is a legendary tempura master famous for making scrambled eggs with sea urchin and truffles while Junichi Yoshida is a teppanyaki expert.
How much? Set menus from MOP 1000 (A$160).
Where? Wynn Macau, R. Cidade de Sintra, Macao.
Not every good Japanese restaurant is Michelin-starred.
In Macau, a few local favourites draw in guests who love good, authentic cooking at very fair prices.
Arguably, Fortuna is at the top of this list. What’s more, it’s a few steps away from Macao’s historic old town.
Fortuna covers most bases when it comes to Japanese cuisine, from sushi and sashimi platters through to ramen soup noodles and even ice cream mochi, the popular sweet dumplings. Fortuna is unpretentious, popular and fun.
How much? A set lunch costs from MOP 95 (A$16).
Where? 63 R. de Cantão, Macau 6 FL, Macao
More food in Macau:
If you’re a vegetarian, there are plenty of choices for you too. Here are some neat vegetarian restaurants in Macao.