The best way to get to know a city is through its food and that’s no exception when traveling to Macau. Macau is a hub for many different cuisines because it was governed by Portugal. You can find not only Cantonese food here but also Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, and Macanese.
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When I travel to a new city, I look for an emotional connection. Whether it’s through the culture, people, or food. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. In Macau, the emotional connection happened when I was eating curry noodles for breakfast at this 40-year-old noodle stand. The grandma of the stand came out to greet us and held my hand and thanked us for coming. Here are the best Macau foods I ate over the span of 3 and half days.
1. PORTUGUESE EGG TARTS
The number one thing you have to eat in Macau is the Portuguese egg tarts. There are two spots to go: Lord Stow’s Bakery and Margaret’s. Lord Stow and Margaret were once married but now divorced and running their own Portuguese egg tart bakeries. Andrew Stow came to Macau in 1979 to work as an Industrial Pharmacist and then opened Lord Stow’s Bakery on Coloane Island. Instead of the traditional filling in his egg tarts, he uses fresh cream versus Portuguese’s flour and water. Lord Stow’s Bakery is now in Osaka, Japan, Manila, Phillippines, and several locations in Macau.
Portuguese egg tarts are different from Chinese egg tarts with the caramelized sugar. Go to Lord Stow’s original bakery on Coloane Island and then go to Margaret’s. I had both but I won’t tell you my opinion so you can decide.
2. PORK CHOP BUN
The second item you have to eat in Macau is the pork chop bun – marinated and tender pork chop inside a warm, and toasted soft bun. Go to 世記咖啡 Sei Kee Cafe and be sure to also get their iconic clay pot brewed coffee (iced or hot), and the iced lemon tea.
Sei Kee Cafe, G/F, Edf Cheong Son, 7-15 Patio Da Palha, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
3. DIM SUM
You have to get dim sum in Hong Kong (it’s even better than the dim sum in Taiwan) and the spot to go is Michelin guide recommended Tou Tou Koi. Order the soup dumplings, jellyfish, egg cream bun, and layered tofu. The trick to dim sum is to come with a big group of people so you can try everything.
Tou Tou Koi, 6-8 Travessa do Mastro
4. ALMOND COOKIES
Macau’s signature almond cookies can be found almost on every food street. Try them hot off the pan and get a box of them to-go for your flight back.
5. STEAMED MILK PUDDING
Steamed milk pudding is a traditional Chinese dessert that’s similar to douhua and pannacotta. Only made from three ingredients, milk, sugar, and egg white, steamed egg pudding is very smooth and delicate. You can order it hot or cold. Apparently, the high milk proteins are very good for the skin so eat up ladies!
Leitaria I Son (義順牛奶公司), 1-7 R. Leste do Mercado Sao Domingos, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
6. STREET FOOD SKEWERS
Eating food skewers on the side of the street is one of my most memorial experiences in Macau. The lady will hand you a bowl to put all the skewers you want her to cook for you. I added pork blood cubes, tofu, and fish balls to mine. Pro tip: ask for extra spicy curry sauce.
7. CHRYSANTHEMUM TEA
You’re going to be thirsty after eating those spicy food skewers so get a bottle of chrysanthemum tea. Chrysanthemum tea also does good to the body for digestion and clearing heat.
8. AFRICAN CHICKEN
Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau that’s a hybrid of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines influenced by European, Indian, African and south-east Asia. Litoral Restaurant is the one the few restaurants that specializes in Macanese food and is considered the best. When the Portuguese ruled Macau they introduced African chicken (galinha à africana) – chicken covered in a peanut, tomato, and chili sauce. I recommend ordering the Portuguese fried rice to eat it with the African chicken sauce.
Litoral Restaurant, Rua do Almirante Sergio, 261A
9. MEAT JERKY
Meat jerky is very popular in Macau so you’ll see plenty of these displays while walking around. Feel free to try the cut-up samples – hot and spicy beef jerky, hot and spicy pork jerky, or honey roasted pig. Don’t bother packing meat jerky into your suitcase because you can’t bring meat products back to the US and it’ll get confiscated at customs.
10. DURIAN ICE CREAM
If durian ice cream is in the area, you’ll smell it. Durian isn’t indigenous to Macau but the people here love it. Gelatina Mok Yi Kei, an 80-year-old ice cream shop, is known for its durian ice cream. You’ll have the option to pick between regular durian or Musang King, the premium durian that’s even more stinky. Of all Macao foods, you need to try this at least once.
Gelatina Mok Yi Kei, 9A, Rua do Cunha, Taipa
11. CRUNCHY PEANUT CANDY
Crunchy peanut candy is a traditional Asian candy that my parents grew up eating. It's similar to peanut brittle but with more peanuts and coated with sesame seeds.
12. Seaweed pork floss rolls
Sounds weird but get it a try, espescially if you see a street vendor making it fresh. The cookie roll is flaky with a savory center filled with pork floss and seaweed.
Serradura, also known as sawdust pudding, is a Portuguese dessert in Macau that’s made of layers of crushed Maria tea biscuits and sweetened vanilla whipped cream.
14. JAPANESE FOOD
Cantonese people love Japanese food and it’s super fresh because Japan is nearby. We ate at Sam Kiu in Taipa and the Hokkaido uni and salmon roe bowl was delicious. Order the flounder fin and Hokkaido sushi too.
Sam Kiu, Taipa, Macau
15. CURRY NOODLES
The locals start their mornings with a steaming bowl of curry noodles with a spoonful of hot chili flakes. The old lady that runs this stand has been serving curry noodles since 1973. You can truly taste the labor of love in the broth. $3.50 for a small bowl and $5 for a big bowl. There’s something about sitting in a small food stand eating noodles made by a grandma for the past 40 years that makes you emotionally connect to Macau. Confession: I got a little emotional when eating these noodles.
Golden City, 金城食店
16. BUBBLE WAFFLE
I had to eat the bubble waffle in Hong Kong, even if I’ve had 7 meals on that same day. Bubble waffle is not your traditional American waffle – it’s made with tapioca flour so it has a chewy texture.
17. AFTERNOON TEA
If you find yourself needing a breather after walking around the streets of Macau or gambling in the casinos, go for afternoon tea. All the hotels serve afternoon tea with sandwiches and pastries.
If you’re not eating noodles for breakfast in Macau, you need to have congee. I grew up eating congee but don’t tell my mom, the Cantonese congee is so much better. Partly because it’s cooked with pork broth and not just water, sorry mom! Add fish, liver, pork intestine, meatballs, and Chinese fried doughnuts.
19. BREAKFAST SANDWICH
If you must have a sandwich for breakfast, the locals like white bread or sub rolls filled with curry chicken salad or egg salad. Watermelon juice is popular here.
19. HOT POT
For an epic hot pot experience, you have to go to the Lotus Palace inside the Parisian Hotel. Everyone gets their own hot pot and selection of meats, veggies, and seafood. I highly recommend ordering the Szechuan hot pot.
Lotus Palace, Level 3 of The Parisian Cotai, Macau
21. FRIED PISSING SHRIMP
This was the number one thing I had to eat in Macau. When I visited Hong Kong in 2010 for my 21st birthday, I had randomly had fried pissing shrimp and it was incredible. I was walking along the pier in Sai Kung where you can pick freshly caught seafood from the fisherman still in their boats. I pointed at this sea creature I’ve never seen before and took it to the restaurants on the pier that will cook the seafood. Ever since I wanted to eat pissing shrimp again! We had fried pissing shrimp during hot pot at the Lotus Palace but you can find pissing shrimp in any of the seafood restaurants.
22. CLEAR GLASS NOODLE SOUP
That same morning that I had curry noodles, I went to two other noodle soups. 園林小食店 is known for its clear glass noodles with thinly sliced raw beef. You can also get a pork chop on top of the noodles.
23. PORTUGUESE ROAST PORK
There’s plenty of popular Portugues dishes like Portuguese fried rice, caldo verde, salted cod fish (Bacalhau), but my favorite is the roast pork. The pork is super tender with a crispy, fatty pork skin.
Tromba Rija, Macao Tower, 17-97 Praca do Lago Sai Van
24. DAI PAI DONG
In Asia, you have to eat at a dai pai dong at least once. Dai pai dong are open-air food stalls along the streets. We ate at Nga Tim Cafe in Coloane Island that is located right in front of a church. We had “sauna” pawns (steamed in wine over hot pebbles), bacalhau (salt cod), clams sautéed with black beans chili sauce, and baked seafood rice in a pineapple.
Nga Tim Cafe, 1 Rua Caetano, Coloane Island
25. DRY PORK NOODLES
In addition to soup noodles, you have to also try the dry noodles with ground pork.
26. STEAMED CLAMS IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE
Steamed clams in savory black bean sauce are so good over a bowl of steaming rice.
27. CHEESE TART
Not to be mistaken for the Portuguese egg tart, the cheese tart is cheesier and gooey-ier. Word of caution while eating this.
28. HAINAN CHICKEN RICE
My first meal in Macau was at the Mandarin Oriental’s cafe before checking into my room. The succulent hainan chicken rice with a hot bowl of chicken soup was perfection.
Mandarin Oriental, Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, mandarinoriental.com/Luxury-Hotel/Macau
29. HONG KONG BUBBLE TEA
Hong Kong bubble tea is slightly different from Taiwanese bubble tea using evaporated or condensed milk instead of ordinary milk. We found these Insta-worthy bubble teas at this place called Good Day Good Time. I prefer the traditional Hong Kong oolong bubble tea at Koi.
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