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La Familia minchi
Photograph: Colin Lam La Familia minchi

8 Must-try local dishes in Macao

Get to know Macao, one bite at a time

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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Macao's culinary landscape is diverse, steeped in heritage, and the perfect epitome of East-meets-West. As a UNESCO designated Creative City of Gastronomy, it is easily one of Asia's leading culinary destinations. So, if you're looking to get a true taste of Macao, the best way to do it is by eating around the city. From street eats to Michelin-starred eateries, artisanal cafes, to avant-garde dining, there's plenty to explore. But to start, go for classic dishes and snacks for which the city is famous for. Here's a guide to traditional Macao dishes that you must absolutely try when you're in town. 

Crab congee and crispy dace balls
Photograph: Colin Lam

Crab congee and crispy dace balls

As a city surrounded by water, Macao has abundant access to seafood. One of its most iconic seafood dishes is crab congee. The porridge is slow-cooked with rice and crabs, allowing the sweetness of the crustacean to create a creamy aromatic broth. For a crunchy contrast, you can order fried dace balls to complete the experience. A lot of restaurants in Macao serve crab congee fresh and piping hot, but one local favourite is One Brother Food (一哥美食), which is located near Portas do Cerco, the historic Border Gate in the north of Macao.  

One Brother Food (一哥美食), Shop C-D, 8 Rua Sete do Bairro da Areia Preta, Iao Hon, Macao, +853 2841 3330

Steamed rice rolls with eggs and shallots
Photograph: Colin Lam

Steamed rice rolls with eggs and shallots

Compared to steamed rice rolls that we are used to having in Hong Kong, Macao's version is made by pouring a rice-flour mixture over a wet cloth and steaming it with beaten eggs and shallots, before being hand-rolled and cut into bite-sized pieces. It looks like an omelette; yellow on the outside, smooth, and easily melts in your mouth. Dip it in sesame sauce, soy sauce, and sweet sauce for extra flavour. Add this treat to your eating itinerary when you visit Macao and head to Lun Kee Cheung Fun Rice Roll, a small eatery located near the Ruins of St Paul's, where it is served as one of the specialties. 

Lun Kee Cheung Fun Rice Roll, G/F, 26 Beco do Tarrafeiro, Patane, Macao, +853 2895 6563, Facebook

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Pork chop bun
Photograph: Colin Lam

Pork chop bun

One of the most popular snacks in Macao is the pork chop bun, a local delicacy also known as the Macanese hamburger. Various eateries prepare it in many different ways, but the traditional one uses seasoned fried pork chop that's crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside sandwiched between a plain bun or baguette. You can find one of the best pork chop buns in Tai Lei Loi Kei, a local cafe operating for more than 50 years in Taipa Village. They're popular with locals and tourists and was even recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain, so expect a long queue when you drop by. It's worth the wait when you finally get your hands on these buns. 

Tai Lei Loi Kei 35 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa Village, Macao, +853 2882 7150, www.taileiloi.com.mo

  • Restaurants
  • Coloane

Portuguese egg tart

When travelling to Macao, it's almost a prerequisite to taste and take home a box of their famous Portuguese egg tarts. This local sweet treat was inspired by Portugal's pastel de nata, which British pharmacist-turned-baker Andrew Stow introduced to Macao and gave it its unique Macanese flavour. Portuguese egg tarts have a soft, delicate custard filling – made with cinnamon, lemon zest, and sugar that makes its top layer look like burnt crème brûlée when baked – encased in crunchy, flakey pastry. Today, you'll find these yellow treats baked daily at Lord Stow's Bakery, the original shop Stow opened on Coloane Island in 1989.

Lord Stow's Bakery, 1 Rua do Tassara, Coloane Town Square, Macao, +853 2888 2534

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Handmade ice cream
Photograph: Colin Lam

Handmade ice cream

You'll find ice cream stores everywhere in Macao, but for an authentic taste of the city, you can't miss the classic handmade ice cream served by a few long-standing stores still operating in Macao. Be sure to drop by at Lai Kei Ice Cream, one of the oldest ice cream stores in the city where you can order signature red bean popsicles, ice cream – in scoops or sandwiches – in various flavours like peanut, coconut, sesame, among others. Or, head to the decades-old shop, Mok Yi Kei, known for their signature durian ice cream and agar jelly, as well as Cocos Hung Heng in Rua da Tercena which has been operating since 1869 and is famous for their coconut products that include their homemade coconut ice cream. 

Lai Kei Ice Cream, 12 Av. do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, Macao, +853 2837 5781, Facebook; Mok Yi Kei 9 Rua do Cunha, Taipa, Macao, +853 6669 5194; Cocos Hung Heng, 14 Rua da Tercena, Macao, +853 2892 0944, i.yp.mo/honghengcocos/

Minchi
Photograph: Colin Lam

Minchi

One of Macao's iconic dishes that blends Chinese and Portuguese culinary influences is the humble minchi. This comforting and flavoursome dish mixes minced beef or pork, diced fried potatoes, onions, and soy sauce and is usually served with fried egg and rice. Almost every local Macanese restaurant serves minchi on the menu but to try one of the traditional recipes, and the best in town, you have to go to La Famiglia in the Taipa Village, A Vencedora in Rua do Campo – which has been operating since 1918 – and canteen-style restaurant Riquexó in Sidónio Pais. 

A Vencedora 264 Rua do Campo, Macao, +853 2835 5460; Riquexó, 69 Avenida Sidónio Pais, Macao +853 2856 5655, Facebook; La Famiglia, 76 Rua dos Clérigos, Taipa Village, Macao, +853 2857 6131, Facebook

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Salted cod cakes 
Photograph: Colin Lam

Salted cod cakes 

From humble family-run eateries to high-end Portuguese restaurants, you're bound to find salted cod cakes, also known as pastéis de bacalhau, in various forms and servings in Macao. This local treat is made from a combination of salted cod, mashed potato, onion, egg, herbs, and fried until golden brown. Try these delicious croquettes in Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant António located in the historic heart of Taipa Village.  

António, 7 Rua dos Clerigos, Old Taipa Village, Taipa, Macao, +853 2888 8668, antoniomacau.com

 

African chicken
Photograph: Colin Lam

African chicken

African chicken – an African-influenced Portuguese cuisine – is one of Macao's national dishes. A Macanese take on the chicken curry, the dish is made of barbecued chicken topped with a thick sauce cooked with coconut milk, peanuts, and spices. Today, restaurants in Macao serve it in varying ways – some with less sauce, some with a more spicy stew – but for a traditional style, you can head to Riquexó, a cosy home-style Macanese restaurant that serves African chicken with barbecued poultry poured with a thick flavourful sauce. They usually serve it with french fries, but you can also have it with rice which works as the perfect sponge to soak up the delicious sauce. 

Riquexo, Songbo Village, 69 Av. de Sidonio Pais, Macao +853 2856 5655

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