Macau restaurants: 5 top spots for Macanese and Portuguese cuisine

Macau restaurants: 5 top spots for Macanese and Portuguese cuisine

Portugal might be long gone but its influence lives on with Macanese food, a mashup of Chinese and Portuguese flavors

A delicious byproduct of Macau's former status as a Portuguese colony, Macanese food is often described as a mix of Portuguese and Chinese cuisines, with influences from other Portuguese speaking nations thrown into the mix.

On an ingredient level, many dishes star bacalhau, salted cod that's soaked in water before being cooked. Dishes are presented simply, to impress purely with flavor.

Ready for a taste?

Restaurante Albergue 1601

Macau restaurantsThe closest Portuguese experience you'll find outside Portugal.Part of the appeal of this restaurant is its location in a charming colonial courtyard in a quiet area of Macau.

Dining on the wooden deck under dappled sunlight through large trees facing attractive old buildings, the sounds of Portuguese music wafting on the air, makes you feel as if you are in Portugal.

The Portuguese and Macanese cuisine served here is more refined in terms of plating and portion sizes, making it a good option for diners who want to embrace the cuisines at a gentler pace.

Recommendations include the classic deep-fried salted cod balls. Here the fish is mild in taste, with potato as the driving flavor.

The stuffed squid is superb. Exquisitely tender, the three small squids are stuffed with minced pork prepared in tomato and paprika, making it an umami-rich dish.

For mains you can't go wrong with the African chicken.

The moist, barbecued half chicken is mostly deboned and coated with a spicy coconut and paprika sauce and served with an even spicier sauce on the side.

A good range of Portuguese wines are available.

Restaurante Albergue 1601, 8 Calçada da Igreja de S. Lazaro, Macau; mid-priced; +853 2836 1601

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Macau foodsNo frills dining by Macau's godmother of Macanese cuisine.Riquexo is run by a former chef who is sometimes referred to as the "Godmother of Macanese cuisine." She's now in her 90s.

This charming but simple cafe is located in a side lane, so you don't come for the view, you come for the traditional family-style Macanese dishes, which have been attracting regular diners for decades.

The grilled sardines are sensational, deftly seasoned with a lightly crispy skin.

Also good is minchi, a savory minced pork and potato dish with a touch of soy, eaten with steamed rice. Humble, but delicious, the bacalhau a bras, consists of salt cod in scrambled egg with onion, garlic a hint of coriander and drizzle of olive oil. 

The wine is cheap and cheerful and the beers cold, best for lunch.

Riquexo, 69 Avenida Sidonio Pais, Macau; budget; +853 2856 5655

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O Santos

Macau restaurantsLittle has changed in this homey bistro since it opened in 1989. The decor might be dated, but the food is as good as ever. This Portuguese restaurant opened in 1989. 

It would appear little has changed, with the original owner still welcoming customers. The old-fashioned decor and photo-based menu have certainly seen better days.

Regulars return for dishes such as the vibrant octopus salad. Impressively tender, the octopus pieces are paired with onion, garlic, coriander and green olives, dressed with a vinaigrette.

The cod fish balls can be ordered on an individual basis, and the balance between the fish and the other ingredients is great.

Duck rice, baked with a butter crust and contains bone-in pieces of duck, is a homey and satisfying option. The grilled dishes and seafood rice cooked and served in an earthenware pot are also popular.

For dessert, we recommend the milk cream. Similar to creme brulee, this divine dish features notes of vanilla and cinnamon, finished with a charred sugar top for textural contrast.  

The wine list is limited; sangria and Portuguese beer seem to be the preferred choices.

O Santos, 20 Rua do Cunha, Taipa; mid-priced; +853 2882 5594

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A Petisqueira

Macau foodsWhen in Macau, grilled bacalhau is a must-try.An intimate Portuguese restaurant with two outdoor tables, A Petisqueira has a relaxed feel and  attentive service.

We love the fresh homemade cheese, which is prepared daily. Soft and creamy and spread on bread with a little olive oil, it's a good way to kick off a meal.

Menu classics include the caldo verdhe, a potato and kale soup served with two slices of grilled Portuguese sausage that benefits from a swirl of oil, giving the broth more depth.

The menu features many grilled and bacalhau choices, including the  grilled codfish. The fish, topped with garlic, has a crunchy exterior, is moist inside and is served with an oven baked potato, green olives and a touch of olive oil.

There are a  good selection of Portuguese wines, including half bottle options.

A Petisqueira, 15C Rua de S Joao, Taipa; mid-priced; +853 2882 5354

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Macau foodsSeafood cataplana, a traditional Portuguese dish. With only a curtain of pine trees between the terrace and the beach, this restaurant offers a holiday feel. The menu of Portuguese dishes is comprehensive, with many designed for sharing.

Be warned, the portions are generous. The classic pipis might just convert traditional offal haters. 

The smooth chicken liver and soft gizzards are served in a layered and rich tomato-based sauce. The stuffed crab is another great choice, with lots of sweet crab meat, plus cheese and garlic, served with toasted baguette.

Although the seafood cataplana isn't served in the traditional cooking vessel, it's packed with crab, prawns, mussels, clams and scallops. The broth, made from a shell-based stock with tomatoes and a touch of coriander, gives the dish added depth.

A recommendation from the manager was for the grilled pork secretos (secret cut of pork). The meat was almost fork tender -- basic but fantastic.

Miramar, Zona Norte da Praia de Hac Sac, Coloane; +853 2888 2623

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