Macau plays host to a wide variety of tastes and flavors. As with every destination, the region has its own unique customs and cuisines. Here are 8 things to know.
A tart is not always a tart
The popular dessert in Macau is the Portuguese Egg tart. Virtually found everywhere, the most popular are from Lord Stow’s Bakery on Colane Island. While called a Portuguese Egg tart, don’t call it that to a Portuguese. “They might take offense,” says a Macau Government Tourist Office representative. The egg tarts found in Macau are unique to the region, a blend of the traditional recipe along with flourishes. Lord Stow’s in particular mixes in aspects of the English custard tart, as the bakery’s website reiterates. Heard about the Cronut craze? Lord Stow’s sells 7000-10,000 tarts a day, according to its website. A line forms early in the morning prior to its 7AM opening. There are outlets including one at the Venetian.
Gluten Sensitive Diners Beware
While many restaurants can cater to Gluten Free diners, bread is very popular in Macau, as observed first hand. Large baskets of different varieties of rolls, baguettes, and breads are the precursor to many a meal. Dipping bread into the serving platter to partake in the sauce is common. For those who are sensitive to gluten, that contaminates the entire dish, according to Coeliac Australia and common sense. It might do well to serve those with sensitivities first, along with preserving some sauce for seconds. Another Macanese tradition is filling dinner bread with the entrée to make a personal sandwich, as shown by a Macau Government Tourist office representative.
Formerly a point of entry to China, the region naturally houses a great variety of restaurants. Manuel’s or (O’ Manuel as some name it on blogs) specializes in traditional Portuguese cuisine and attracts tourists and locals alike. On the night I was there, a Food and Beverage manager at the Wynn Macau was adamant about getting a table for him and his Pro Field Hockey players, returning ten minutes to closing after finding no available table on his first attempt. A chef of the Wynn’s Il Teatro restaurant was also dining, “I come here weekly. The sauces are simple but nuanced.” On the other spectrum, “A traditional Chinese dinner in Macau centers around seafood,” says the owner of Nga Tim on Coloane. His restaurant offers al fresco dining with Pee Pee Shrimp and Drunken Prawnsa specialty. Macanese dining is unique to the region, a blend of the vast influences. Well known establishments like Café Litgoral will serve such favorites as African Chicken and Stuffed Squid along with Sangria.
Water for Free
Free bottled water can be found at most casinos. Kept in bins in several locations, you can take as many as you want. “Hotel rooms customarily provide two complimentary bottles of water each day,” says a Macau Government Tourist Office representative.
Stay in and Dine
Americans hotel can be “low end food in a high class atmosphere.” But the resorts in Macau try harder to keep you dining in. Consider the Grand Lisboa Hotel which has 3-Michelin rated restaurants under one roof. Granted, it’s a huge roof. When you take into consideration the cramped residences of the locals, the resorts are massive-the Venetian Macau is 10,500,000 square feet. Most buffets are slightly up-scale and offer a wide variety of tastes with several serve-to-order chefs on hand-eggs and noodles being the primary ones. While offering more in the way of taste than their American counterparts, there is a varying degree of success. The Mandarin Oriental’s Vida Rica Restaurant endless and well-made offerings are worth its higher price. For families, the Sheraton offers Shrekfast, proving only 90 minutes to eat in between meeting all the various Dreamworks characters. Available dining and the vast retail areas are a strategy by the government, “Supported by the Macau Government Tourist Office, the city has transformed into an international hub for business and leisure travelers, as well as elevating Macau as a family destination,” says the Sheraton’s Public Relations Director Christine Tse. Note: the casino areas are cordoned off with guards checking IDs at entry points, as verified by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
According to the Macau Government Tourist Office, “Leaving the change on the bill at casual restaurants is sufficient.” At higher end restaurants, they suggest a 10% tip.
No wine for Americans
If you want to buy from the Hong Kong Airport duty free shop and are thinking of wine, forget about it. Before they sell you a bottle, they’ll check your passport. “If you’re American, they won’t sell to you,” says a Macau Government Tourist Office representative. That’s because there will be two security checks-one when you enter the terminals and one at the gate. Americans are used to purchasing bottled water at the secure terminal and bringing them on board. But you can’t do that at the Hong Kong airport because of restrictions in place after 9-11. Carry-Ons will be searched again, and all bottles not meeting the 3-3-3 guidelines will be seized, as verified by the Hong Kong Airport website.