The old dames of Macau, the Lisboa and Grand Lisboa towers, are putting up a fierce culinary fight against the shiny new resorts over on Cotai strip. The two hotels have both revamped their flagship restaurants, starting with Robuchon au Dôme – monsieur Joël Robuchon’s uber-elegant dining room – followed by the just-opened Guincho a Galera, designed as an attempt to introduce Portuguese fine dining to an enclave whose definition of the cuisine is firmly rooted in Macanese tradition.
Located on the third floor of the Lisboa Hotel, the décor consists of rich, earthy textiles and luxurious Bernardaud China matched by Christofle silver and an extensive list of fine wines. You won’t find Macanese favourites such as African chicken here, although the classic fried bacalhau (served as a complimentary amuse bouche) is done perfectly; a crispy breading encasing a fluffy centre of minced cod with no starchy fillers. For those who crave a bit of comfort food, the caldo verde (Portuguese vegetable soup, MOP100) also hits the spot with chunks of veggies and a rich, flavourful
stock. But this is where the similarities with Macanese cuisine end.
We start off with the lobster salad with stewed carrots, dates and citrus sauce (MOP440). If you don’t mind the lukewarm temperature, the sizeable lobster, served shell off, tastes especially sweet when mixed with the tang of the creamy citrus sauce. Our second course of Nazaré-style fish soup (MOP120) is a sublime take on the French soupe de poisson. The bisque-style broth is so flavourful and silky it tastes more like a reduction and arrives at the table generously topped with large pieces of scallops, prawns and fish filet. This is almost a meal in itself.
Filling up on the excellent basket of bread (of which the highlight is a dense pao doce matched with banana butter) leaves us feeling almost too full for the main course of roast black pork with clams (MOP495). It’s a rather unconventional pairing but both the meat and seafood fare well. The slices of Portuguese pork carry the strong flavour of the finest Japanese Kurobuta, but none of the fattiness. Done to a perfect medium well, the white meat with a mildly pinkish centre looks as good as it tastes with the tender flesh falling apart after a single slice with a steak knife. The clams are imported from the US and are prepped with the juicy plump meat cooked in a garlicky sauce. Our only complaint would be that this dish may be a touch too heavy to partake as part of a three course meal.
It’s near impossible to down dessert after the feast but we soldier on and share a beer brioche with stewed pear and beer ice cream (MOP180). This is a rough take on the classic French toast and the tender pear and surprisingly light ice cream (with a malty beer flavour) is delicious enough on its own.
Only time will tell whether Guincho a Galera will steal the limelight from its neighbour Robuchon au Dôme and whether customers will pay top dollar for Portuguese fine dining when there are so many Macanese options nearby. But Guincho does get full marks for not cutting corners and setting a high benchmark in a city where the baccarat tables and slot machines will always be the stars. Leslie Chan
3/F, Hotel Lisboa, 2-4 Avenida de Lisboa, Macau, (853) 8803 7676. Daily noon-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm.
Caldo verde MOP100
Nazaré-style fish soup MOP120
Lobster salad MOP440
Roast black pork with clams MOP495
Beer brioche with stewed pear and beer ice-cream MOP180
10 percent service charge MOP133.50
Total (for two) MOP1,468.50
|Venue name:||Guincho a Galera|
3/F, Hotel Lisboa, 2-4 Avenida de Lisboa, Macau