Macao is the World of Difference
If great food tops your list of travel essentials, the east-meets-west fusion of Macao dining makes this tiny yet thrilling destination the perfect choice.
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Dominating the city skyline of Macao is the Grand Lisboa Hotel. Designed in the shape of the lotus flower – the official symbol of this Special Administrative Region of China – this imposing edifice sparkles gold in the sunlight, while at night it twinkles in a changing rainbow of colours. Mesmerising on the outside, it’s delicious on the inside thanks to a choice of eight different restaurants, two of which – Robuchon au Dôme and The 8 Restaurant – hold three Michelin stars.
Offering a gorgeous menu of the finest French cuisine, Robuchon au Dôme, whose namesake Joël Robuchon is the world’s most Michelin-starred chef, also features a wine list 17,000 labels long. Diners can choose from a seven course ‘Menu Aux Crustacés’ or an eight-course seasonal menu. But whatever your choice, you’re guaranteed intricate, beautifully presented dishes delivering an array of intense flavours. And the finale? A dessert trolley laden with decadent wonders.
While at The 8 Restaurant – named after the Chinese symbol of good fortune – the cuisine is a mix of Cantonese and Huaiyang. Of course, innovative touches are added by the kitchen team whose talents have seen them awarded three Michelin stars for seven consecutive years. Lunch diners can select from over 40 kinds of dim sim, while other specialties include steamed crab claw with ginger and Chinese wine, and stir-fried lobster with egg, minced pork and black bean.
To have two such contrasting restaurants in the one place is part of the incredible appeal of dining in Macao, where the concentration of restaurants offering so many different cuisines is like nowhere else on earth. In fact, the saying goes, “Macao is the world of difference and the difference is Macao!” In other words, Macao is a dream destination for food lovers with a restaurant to please all tastes and budgets.
A Fusion Feast
The fine dining continues at Jade Dragon, another three starred restaurant, this time in The City of Dreams, a resort and casino in the entertainment district of Cotai. Lavishly decorated with Chinese art against a backdrop of ebony, crystal, gold and silver, Jade Dragon offers a menu the Michelin Guide describes as “amazing – first-rate ingredients are deftly prepared in dishes like lychee wood-barbecued meat.” And, they add, “Try too their double-boiled tonic soups based on herbal medicine.”
Like The 8 Restaurant, Jade Dragon is steeped firmly in the Chinese tradition, a reflection of Macao’s ties to China. But the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century has also had a flavoursome influence on the local dining scene.
You’ll find Portuguese restaurants throughout Macao, with many recommended by the Michelin Guide, but one of the most popular is Antonio in Taipa village. In fact, with its Portuguese tiles, images of Lisbon and a live guitar serenade, it’s been described as the next best thing to actually being in Portugal. And then there’s the food! Dishes like braised sardines and sautéed vegetables with vinegar and salad, and Portuguese duck rice with pork sausage meat see diners coming back again and again.
Portugese Suckling Pig
Given the Chinese and Portuguese have lived together in Macao for centuries, not to mention immigrants from Africa and India, there’s also evolved a cuisine that’s unique to this incredible destination. Macanese cuisine fuses flavours from these countries and beyond to create what is regarded as the world’s first fusion food. In fact, in 2017, UNESCO named it as a Creative City of Gastronomy thanks to its significant cultural heritage.
While you might be lucky enough to be invited into a Macanese home for dinner, if not, these flavours are on show in dishes like African chicken, minchi and tacho served at restaurants throughout Macao.
As you wander the streets soaking up the many sights, there’s also a smorgasbord of snacks on offer. Most famous is Lord Stow’s Bakery with its world renowned egg tarts, then there’s Ving Kei with its signature hot or cold tofu pudding, Fong Kei for its almond cakes and egg rolls, Sei Kee Café for the celebrated pork chop bun and much more!
While the food on its own is enough to draw you to Macao, there’s plenty more to experience in this small yet spectacular city. For history lovers, there are 30 UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites to explore – fascinating by day, but also beautifully illuminated by night during the Macao Light Festival, held in October. For movie buffs, December is also the time to visit for the annual film festival and awards. Or if it’s car racing that gets your adrenalin pumping, the Macao Grand Prix, staged in November, offers four days of colourful, non-stop excitement.
With a world of difference when it comes to dining, Macao is guaranteed to make for a memorable holiday.
To find out more, go to visitmacao.com.au