As a melting pot of Cantonese and Portuguese culinary traits, the Macanese food scene we see today is a reflection of its history. From the 16th century until 1999, the area was occupied by Portuguese merchants and missionaries. Over this time, the Portuguese influences and Cantonese roots fused and evolved.
Of the two influences, Cantonese remains the more affordable option. Buying three meals a day from the city’s many street-side eateries is common practice among the locals, and staples like beef curry, fish congee and cart noodles are more than easy to find. Portions are modest compared to what you are used to in Shanghai and you will see locals scooping up bowls of black sesame paste and ginger milk for breakfast or afternoon tea. The only issue with these street-side eateries is the lack of seating.
On the other hand, Portuguese restaurants offer a comparatively better dining atmosphere for families. Mains like bacalhau (salted cod) and açorda de marisco (soup with bread, herbs and prawns) are available at every Portuguese cafe. The best venues tend to be near the commercial quarters or on the waterfront, with views of either winding calçadas (Portuguese cobblestone streets) or even better, the Tower of Macao.
Where to go
The area between the iconic St Paul’s Ruins and ferry terminals on the west of the peninsula is buzzing with Cantonese eateries. Try Ngau’s Curry (牛記咖哩美食) on Rua de Cinco de Outuburo for a herb-infused bowl of curry noodles, or Luk Kee Noodles (六記粥麵) for congee with fish balls.
The highlight of your Macao food quest will likely remain the egg tarts at Lord Stow’s Bakery near Largo dos Bombeiros (消防局前地). These custard-filled delights are incredibly delicious and decadent. Afterwards, take a digestive walk to Coloane Village on the southern tip of the island. The Michelin-endorsed Espaco Lisboa on Rua Das Gaivotas awaits with homely grills and stews.
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[Images via Wikipedia]