Rich with Cantonese and Portuguese influences, Macao is truly where East meets West. The city’s colourful tapestry of vibrant cultures is best reflected in food — Macao’s streets teem with mouthwatering classics, and Macanese dishes combine the best of both worlds to produce a gastronomic experience unique only to Macao. With such a rich culinary legacy, it’s little wonder that in 2017, Macao was recognised as a UNESCO “Creative City of Gastronomy”.
Macao’s list of mouthwatering dishes read like a never-ending feast, and any traveller will easily be spoilt for choice. Here are 7 iconic dishes you absolutely have to try
1. African Chicken in Restaurante Litoral and Henri’s Galley
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Often described as the distant cousin of peri-peri chicken, Macao’s African Chicken is a dish that is truly representative of Macao’s unique cultural makeup. A simple meal of crispy barbecued chicken doused with peanuts, tomato, paprika and chilli sauce, African Chicken is usually served with bread, potatoes or a helping of Portuguese tomato rice.
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While African Chicken’s status as Macao’s most representative dish is up for debate, everyone agrees that Restaurante Litoral serves the some of the most mouthwatering African Chicken in town. Widely recognised as a pioneer in Macanese cuisine, Restaurante Litoral’s African Chicken ranks high among the joint’s many well-loved dishes. Equally mouthwatering is Henri’s Galley’s take on the dish. While this establishment may not have an equally illustrious heritage, many visitors and locals alike swear by their version’s rich, flavourful sauce and tender chicken pieces.
2. Hot Pot Clam in Shiki Hot Pot Restaurant and Xin Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel
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Simple and unpretentious, Hot Pot Clam refers to a hotpot dish of clams boiled with a dash of spring onions, garlic oil and chilli. The pungent smell of garlic oil and the sweetness of freshly caught clams are a tantalising combination, and it is not uncommon to see people slurping up all of the broth.
Hot Pot Clam is widely available at most places that serve seafood in Macao, but 2 particular restaurants have really made their mark with this dish. Shiki is a popular favourite with locals and visitors alike, and both the food and service here are impeccable; Xin Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel will take you right into the heart of a vibrant seafood market, making sure you’ll enjoy the widest array of the freshest seafood Macao has to offer.
3. Serradura in Gelatina Mok Yi Kei (Rua do Cunha)
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Also known as Portuguese sawdust pudding, Serradura is a classic Portuguese sweet treat that has seen many interesting takes in recent years. Made from a simple mix of sweetened vanilla whipped cream and crushed Marie biscuits, modern takes on this beloved dessert include flavours such as crushed Oreo cookies, ground coffee, nuts and Japanese matcha.
Serradura can be easily found in many of Macao’s dessert spots, but everyone definitely agrees that Gelatina Mok Yi Kei has the best cold treats hands-down. Mok Yi Kei’s Serradura is mildy sweet and easy on the palate, and if you prefer something that packs a punch, their signature durian ice-cream is right up your alley.
4. Portuguese Egg Tart in Lord Stow’s Bakery
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Who could ever resist the oh-so-goodness of piping hot Portuguese Egg Tarts? A marriage of rich , creamy egg custard with flaky crust, the Portuguese “pastel de nata” Egg Tart is one of Macao’s most iconic eats. Having a go at these little treats is always part of the Macau experience, and many agree that a visit to Macao is never complete without bringing home a box or two.
Good Portuguese egg tarts are easy to find, but if you’re looking for next-level goodness just head right over to one of Lord Stow’s Bakery’s many branches. Famed for its unique twist on the classic version, Lord Stow’s egg tarts pack an unmatched sweetness and distinct crust that’s found nowhere else. Having them piping hot is an out-of-this-world experience, but getting them fresh from the oven at Lord Stow’s flagship store in Coloane is something else altogether.
5. Minchi in Riquexo and APOMAC
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Folks in Asia are no strangers to stir-fried dishes, but minchi is one potent dish that’ll be sure to leave quite the impression. A simple dish of minced beef or pork stir-fried with onions, potatoes, soy sauce and molasses, Minchi is quintessential Macanese comfort food. Often topped with a fried egg, this is one savoury dish that will leave you wanting more with every bite.
Minchi is as Macanese as any dish can get, and visitors are likely to find it widely available. The best Minchi in town are typically found in establishments that take great pride in their Macanese heritage. Run by the “godmother of Macanese cuisine”, Aida de Jesus, Riquexo’s Minchi is a time-tested classic that continues to set the standard for the dish. APOMAC’s version is said to be as close as Macanese home-cooking can get, and its’ nostalgic facades and retro decor add to a uniquely Macanese dining experience.
6. Almond Biscuit and Pork Jerky near Ruins of St Paul’s and Rua do Cunha.
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If you’re looking for delicious treats to share with friends and family back home, Macao’s almond biscuits and pork jerky are right up your alley.
Made from a delicate mix of flour, ground almonds, sugar and shortening, the deceptively simple almond biscuit packs a strong flavour reminiscent of shortbread biscuits.
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Macanese pork jerky is available both chewy and crispy, and are often sold as neatly cut sheets. Unlike the dry roughness of “Western”-style jerky, the Macanese version is flavourful and easy on the chew.
Both almond biscuits and pork jerky are sold almost everywhere where visitors flock, but most folks agree that Koi Kei Bakery by the Ruins of St Paul’s has the best almond cookies in town. For a taste of freshly prepared pork jerky, head over to Rua do Cunha – the friendly stallkeepers there might just offer you a sample on the house!
7. Shrimp Roe Noodles in Wong Chi Kei
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Every dish on this list has its own claim to fame, and our last dish is no exception. A meal of stewed noodles topped with a generous helping of dried shrimp eggs and lard oil, Shrimp Roe Noodles is a savoury dish that is both flavourful and addictive. The springiness of the noodles makes it extra-chewy, and the shrimp roe – lard oil combination is surprisingly mild on the palate.
Shrimp Roe Noodles may look easy to prepare, but Wong Chi Kei’s version cuts no corners. Everything here is done by the book, replicating the perfect, authentic taste with every bowl served. Noodles are handmade by bamboo stick, and the shrimp roe is prepared fresh from each day’s catch.
Making the list as one of the world’s “Creative Cities of Gastronomy” is testament to Macao’s rich culinary legacy, and these 7 dishes are just a small sample of the city’s array of mouthwatering dishes. Good food is everywhere to be found in this gastronomic paradise, so come prepared for an unforgettable feast!