Macau has come a long way since its days as a Portuguese trading port. Today it’s one of the biggest gambling and entertainment destinations in the world, welcoming over 31 million visitors in 2014. Just an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong, the little island’s identity has been evolving to become more than just a gaming city. In fact, Macau is set to become a dining capital, too, with lots of big-name restaurants joining the ranks of Lord Stow’s Bakery and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Robuchon au Dome. The opening of Galaxy Macau’s Phase II complex this summer unveiled a string of new delicious options — here are a few of our favorites.
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana has a firm foothold as the best Italian restaurant in Asia. Now there are three locations on the continent, the latest launching in Macau. Umberto Bombana, who was in town for the opening, chose the design and art carefully for the space; he even featured several paintings and Murano vases from his own collection for a blast of color. With bright lights and loud hues, the décor seems to pander more to a casino crowd. Situated in the Galaxy’s Promenade mall, the location is also a bit of a surprise for such a sophisticated, well known name. But the food at the new address is up to the same sky-high standards as the others. Naturally, there’s a seasonal truffle menu, handmade pastas, choice-cut lamb and a Japanese pastry chef handcrafting desserts that are (almost) too delicate to eat. Chef Bombana and executive chef Antimo Merone have added a handful of unique dishes, including a Neapolitan ragu with wagyu and iberico, that are inspired by Merone’s hometown of Naples.
For something a little more low-key, head outdoors to The Broadway hotel’s hawker market. Channeling old Macanese food streets, The Broadway has over 40 stalls set up and serving up local bites every day. The selections focus on traditional Chinese, Macanese and Hong Kong flavors, so you’ll find crab congee from Wong Kun Sio Kung; Sichuan at Ba Shan Spicy Noodles; Cantonese barbecue at Xin Dau Ji; and even some Chiu Chow from Hung’s Delicacies. There’s no such thing as a quiet promenade in Macau — here you can expect the company of clowns on stilts, live music and myriad performers.
The Ritz-Carlton Café
Taking its cues from Europe’s casual street-side dining culture, The Ritz-Carlton Café brings something new to Macau: a Parisian brasserie with a linger-for-hours attitude and fancy French fare to match. With black-and-white floor tiles, Carrara white marble and comfy booths, you’ll feel miles away from the casinos of Macau. For a lighter lunch, try Lyon-born chef Raphaël Kinimo’s tender sole fish, champagne lobster or a steak frites lunch set. The dessert options are not to be missed either — expect made-to-order Crepe Suzette and a creamy Valrhona hot chocolate. If you’re staying at The Ritz-Carlton, use the “secret” entrance at the back to avoid the mall crowds.
Entering Lai Heen can be a bit of mind-bender — the place features intricate hand-carved wood doors that tower above a low-lit corridor, flanked by running water and reflective glass. The graceful entrance opens into a huge room, set off by a wine cellar on one side and sweeping views of Macau on the other. It’s like a whimsical Chinese mansion with an incredible art collection (countless ceramic vase chandeliers, walls of Portuguese tiles and mosaics) displayed around every hidden corner. Though there are private rooms, you don’t really need them: Lai Heen is set up in such a way that every table has its own intimate feel, some in booths, others wrapped in latticed wood. Chef Bill Fu, previously of the Five-Star The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s Four-Star Tin Lung Heen, has a few signatures: char-grilled barbecued Ibérico, baked abalone puffs and double-boiled chicken soup with fish maw, all paired with premium pu’erh tea or a Portuguese vintage.
Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant
Located on the southeastern corner of China, Chaozhou (or Chiu Chow) province has easy access to fresh fish, oysters, shrimps and crabs, so you’ll find seafood in almost every dish. The same goes at newly opened Pak Loh, which is re-emerging on the Macau dining circuit after a two-year hiatus. For a taste of the staples at this classic Chiu Chow restaurant, you’ll want to dig into the oyster omelet, which has a great crispy texture; crab and shrimp fried balls that represent “double happiness”; oyster congee for colder weather; soy sauce fried fish, made with premium soy sauce; and a big old pile of pig intestine, cuttlefish and tofu in a secret soy sauce-based stock. Finish things off with a sugar-coated fried taro. This last dish is usually a good way to judge a Chiu Chow restaurant — if they can master the difficult and labor-intensive dessert, then it’s likely a good overall establishment.
And Coming Soon…
Fook Lam Moon
Hong Kong classic Fook Lam Moon is making its debut in Macau later this summer, bringing its sophisticated Cantonese dining to the glitzy peninsula. Fook Lam Moon, founded in 1948, has long been the dining room of choice for high-profile politicians and businessmen looking for world-class cuisine and excellent service. Though the menu hasn’t been finalized, you can likely expect all the usual specialties, including premium abalone, suckling pig, fresh lobster and baked stuffed crab shell.