Macanese cuisine is a melding of Portuguese and southern Chinese culinary styles. Macanese food can be found throughout the historic UNESCO World Heritage-listed area of central Macau and the adjoining islands of the territory. While the expansion of gaming resorts over the past decade has seen more international fare offered, Macau’s traditional food is a drawcard to those who travel to eat and the best food in Macau for travellers who love to try local fare. Here’s a guide to Macanese cuisine.
Macanese cuisine is possibly one of the world’s first fusion styles that resulted from local southern Chinese food incorporating Portuguese styles and ingredients. Being the seafaring nation that Portugal was, the Portuguese style had already adopted and incorporated spices and ingredients from the nations they colonised. This meant that many South American, African and South East Asian ingredients were introduced to Macau and were incorporated into the existing Chinese food on offer.
Seasoning and ingredients such as coconut milk, turmeric, cinnamon and balichao (a distinctive salty sour shrimp paste) are the foundation of the unforgettable tastes and aromas of Macanese cuisine.
Signature dishes are Macanese chilli shrimp and galinha an Africana (African chicken) but there’s a huge menu of local fare to tempt diners.
Popular Macanese restaurants (or restaurante) are Litoral, Espao, Albergue 1601, Riquexo and Porto Interior. Dishes served in these restaurants include baked crab meat, deep-fried salted cod balls, grilled sardines, minci (potato and minced pork), bacalhau (salted cod), stewed pork with crabmeat and egg yolk soufflé.
Fernando’s is a Macau dining institution located adjacent to Hac Sa Beach on Coloane. The beach views are lovely and the restaurant is extremely popular on weekends. You can’t book so get there early. An essential part of the experience is sipping a glass (or two) of sangria at the bar. Try the roast suckling pig and feijoada (stew of refried beans with fatty pork). The gruff service is mellowed by the extensive selection of wines.
Asian travellers love to stock up on almond cookies. There are several stores where patrons queue up to sample and buy the tasty treats. There are many varieties but mung bean flour (which has a nutty texture) is the most popular. Some of these outlets also sell bakkwa or barbecued sweet pork floss. Koi Kee Bakery is the best known of the cookie outlets and they have several stores scattered throughout the territory.
Portuguese egg tart
Portuguese egg tarts (see main photo) or pasties de nata are another local delight visitors stock up on to take home. They 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 caramalise to a dark brown even black top. 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.
Pork chop buns
Pork chop buns are another tasty street food snack that is eaten in the afternoon, especially in Tai Lei Kok Kei in Taipa. It’s easy to spot the location by the long queue of people lining up for this tasty barbecued pork chop between a crispy mini baguette. Don’t go in the morning as the restaurant only opens in the afternoon and while quite basic in being a
Shrimp roe noodles
While not a street food item, the shrimp roe noodles served in the casual restaurant setting of Wong Kung Soi Kung in Macau central could well be a dish served as street food. The freshly made noodles have captured the attention of Michelin judges as offering excellent value.
Not surprisingly, Portuguese wines are the most commonly served wines in the territory with vinho verde being a unique style. These ‘green wine’ refer to them being young wines rather than mature wines and they tend to be slightly bubbly, light, fresh, crisp and easy to drink making them perfect for spicy Macanese food. One dish that is perfectly matched with vinho verde is caldo verdhe a potato and kale soup often enriched with a little ham.
Macanese fish pie
Macanese fish cake/pie (empada de peixe) is a traditional dish that’s not baked much these days but worth seeking out. The pastry is made with a dash of port and encases snapper fillets spiced with garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, olives and parmesan cheese prior to being baked. Delicious.
Discover Macau food
Looking for the best dining experiences in Macao? Have you been to Robuchon au Dome? Read about it here.
Looking for something delicious from Macao? Here’s a delicious egg tart recipe.
While in Macao, make sure you pop into Lord Stow’s bakery for your fill of egg tars.
Looking for the best food to eat in Macao? Here’s a big list of restaurants.
Try this recipe from the chef at The Parisian Macao.
If you’re looking for delicious and tasty Macanese food here is an entertaining piece and recommendations on where to eat.