Friday, May 26, 2017

[Travel/ Food Guide] Itinerary to Macau (澳门)

With less than 100 km away from the Asia's Business Hub- Hong Kong, Macau (otherwise known as Special Administrative Regions SARs of the People's Republic of China 澳門特別行政區) is a popular destination for tourists visiting Hong Kong. Macau consists of the peninsular and two islands- Taipa (where the international airport is located) and Coloane but all are easily accessible by cars due to the linked bridges across the peninsula. Flying in from Malaysia is easy, Air Asia offers direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Macau International Airport; otherwise, you may opt to fly in from Penang to Hong Kong International Airport (via Cathay Pacific/ Dragon Air) and take the Turbo Jet from the airport to Macau. Macau was previously colonized by Portugal and hence, the place is full of the Portuguese traces- from architecture, culture to its food. Cantonese is the major population in Macau and generally, people understand Mandarin so there is no language barrier.

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These are some commonly asked questions for tourists visiting Macao:

1) Is Uber legal in Macao?

Ans: Uber is illegal in Macao but due to complications in transportation system, Uber is still one of the preferred mode of transportation. Macao has quite a fair amount of small alleys so catching a cab might not be an easy task, especially when you are out of the tourist areas. Not that taking Uber is a cheaper option but we have had a fairly bad experience with the taxi- the taxi driver refused to send us to our destination due to massive traffic jam and perhaps, not lucrative enough for him; also, most of our taxi drivers were rude and snobbish (though there were a few friendly ones) . Typically, passengers/ customers of Uber are safe but the drivers are not. We were also informed that Uber drivers caught by the authority will be penalized as much as MOP 30,000.

2) The best Casino to gamble visit in Macao?

Ans: It all depends on what you are looking for. Typically, the famous ones (like the Venetian, Parisian, Studio 8 City etc) yield lesser return and the bets are higher. If you are looking for cheaper bets or slot machines to pass time, go for the non mainstream ones. We stayed in Rio Hotel (利澳酒店) and Casa Real Hotel (皇家金堡酒店); both were good and famous to the locals. For cheaper slot machines, Casa Real Hotel right next to the Macao Outer Ferry Terminal is a good option.

3) Is Hong Kong Dollars usable in Macao?

Ans: The official currency in Macao is Macanese Pataca (MOP). Though Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) are widely traded, it is recommended that you change your HKD to MOP; there is still a slight difference between those two. Customers paying in HKD will receive change in MOP and thus, slight lose due to currency values. Also, do note that all casinos in Macao only receive HKD, MOP is only for shopping and dining.


1) Cheung Kei Shrimp Roe Noodles (祥记面家-虾子面)
Service Charge: No
Address: 68 GF, Rua Da Felicidade Macao 新马路福隆新街68号
Business Hours: 11:30 am to 12 am. Opens Daily.


Shrimp Roe Noodles/ 招牌虾子捞面 (MOP 34)


Braised Beef Brisket with Noodles/ 牛腩捞面 (MOP 34)


Blanched Fish Skin served with Ginger and Spring Onions/ 姜葱灼鱼皮 (MOP 20)


Steamed Mud Crap Fish Balls/ 白灼鲮鱼球 (MOP 42)

If the famed Shrimp Roe Noodles 虾子捞面 is one of the must eats on your lists, then make sure Cheong Kei is there. Cheong Kei has been operating for more than half a decade and is known for churning some of the best noodles (produced using the bamboo-pressing technique). Their Shrimp Roe Noodles is one of the highly praised dishes and has received international spotlights from media. The portion is fairly small so if you have a big appetite, do plan your orders accordingly. The Shrimp Roe was amazing, though it was veering towards the salty side with the noodles, the burst of seafood saltiness washed our palate in an exciting manner; the accompanied soup was equipped with bold flavors too, the Dried Flat Fish flavor can be easily discerned. The extremely springy noodles were evenly coated with Pork Lard either. If Shrimp Roe is not your favorite, do give their braised Beef Brisket a try. Other notable side dishes include steamed Mud Crap Fish Balls and blanched Fish Skin with julienned Ginger and Spring Onions. Expect to spend at least MOP 50 per head. 


2) Dai Loong Fung Dim Sum 大龍鳳茶樓
Service Charge: No
Address: 127, Rua De Cinco De Outubro 新馬路十月初五街127號
Business Hours: 6 am to 8 pm. Opens Daily.


Shrimp Dumplings/ 龙凤鲜虾饺 (MOP 26)


Steamed Rice Rolls with Chicken/ 滑鸡蒸肠粉 (MOP 26)


Steamed Mud Carp Fish Balls/ 顺德鲮鱼球 (MOP 16)


Fried Radish Cake/ 香煎萝卜糕 (MOP 19)


Steamed Teo Chew Dumplings/ 娥姐蒸粉菓 (MOP 20)


Steamed Chicken Bun/ 龙凤鸡球大包(MOP 20)

For a classic, old-school Dim Sum experience at Macao, visit Dai Loong Fung Dim Sum restaurant 大龍鳳茶樓, a stone's throw distance away from the famous Ruins of St. Paul 大三巴牌坊.  Having operated for more than 7 decades, the place has served countless of old Macanese; the place has gone under the spotlight after interviews and visits by local and Hong Kong celebrities. One of the unique features of Dai Loong Fung is that it houses a small scale Chinese opera stage; at certain hour of the day, Cantonese Opera will be performed and it has been one of the de-facto places and entertainments for the old Macanese. Times seemed to move slow here, the relaxed pace suits those who like to sit and sip on the Chinese tea while enjoying conversations with the locals (if you speak Cantonese).

Nothing to shout over for the food but it is the ambiance and atmosphere that we are talking about. It is a great place for tourists to experience the local culture and to savor the most authentic local Cantonese Dim Sum. If we must recommend, it would be their Shrimp Dumplings- gigantic sized Dumplings generously filled with reasonably seasoned Pork-Shrimp filling that even those with stubborn palate would agree. Others were just decent; good if you can slot the place in in your itinerary... as one of the breakfast spots during your visit.


3) Cafe SAB 8 拾8咖啡
Service Charge: No
Address: Patio De Chon Sau, No. 10 R/C A  澳門俊秀里10號地下A
Business Hours: 12 pm to 7 pm. Closed on Thursdays.
Direction: 5 Minute-walk away from Rua De Cinco De Outubro but would require navigation (navigate using Google Map works)


Portuguese Chicken Rice Set 葡国鸡饭 (MOP 68)


Bacalhau Quiche 马介休塔 (MOP 22)


Deep Fried Shrimp Toast 虾多士 (MOP 12- Add On for Set)


Orange Roll (MOP 30.8)


Serradura/ Sawdust Pudding 木糠布丁(Complimentary from Set order) 

Cafe SAB 8 is suitable for the adventurous, the proprietor has cleverly marry classic Portuguese flavors with modern cuisine. The location is a little tricky to find though, it is hidden behind a small-narrow alley near the Senado Square and would require navigation to get there. If you would like to try Portuguese food but at a small portion (and perhaps, cheaper rate), this is the place to go. Highlights include Bacalhau Quiche- salted Fish stuffed with Potatoes and Cheese, served in petite portion. We have not tasted Bacalhau before but we found the taste familiar.... like canned Tuna served with Cheese. The Portuguese Chicken was familiar to us too, more like Curry Chicken sans the Curry spices and the spiciness, nothing particularly interesting.

While the mains did not wow us, the desserts did impress us in a way. The Orange Roll is similar to Swiss Roll, except that it is soaked with Orange essence. The texture is moist and brimming with Orangy flavor; might be a little sweet for some (sharing is recommended). Equally good was Serradura (also known as Sawdust Pudding), a sweetened cream served with bread crumbs. The light and sweetened Cream carries strong Vanilla-Milky flavor, so for those who enjoy Milky-taste would love the dessert. For MOP 133, we had many Portuguese delights in one go; quite a decent place to stretch your legs or to recharge from your journey. 


4) The Parisian Macao 澳门巴黎人
Address: Lote 3, Cotai Macao
Tips: Look for The Parisian Macao shuttle bus and hop on one (usually found at the ferry terminal, border gate or Macao International Airport) for a complimentary ride to the place. 


One of the latest casino-hotels in Macao is The Parisian; unveiled in late 2016, the Parisian features an Eiffel Tower right in front of the hotel. Inside, the interior decoration exudes a sense of royalty with sophisticated European-inspired sculptures in shades of Gold. The place is enormous and houses many international luxurious brands, as long as you can name it, you will find it here. The decor is astonishing and picturesque; would be the perfect place to kill time if you have deep pockets.


5) Toi San Tau Fu Fah 台山豆花
Service Charge: No
Address: Fai Chi Kei Macau 澳门筷子基白朗古将军街18,24号
Business Hours: 9 pm to 1 am. Closed on Sundays.


Tau Fu Fah/ 豆腐花 (MOP 15)

It seems like the Macanese love their Tau Fu Fah a lot, every Tau Fu Fah shop seems to have regular patrons queuing patiently to wait for their turns. This applies to Toi San Tau Fu Fah either, approximately 40 minutes away from Senado Square area. Fai Chi Kei is one of the residential areas in Macao and is full of hidden gems. But one thing amused us along our food hunting journey at Fai Chi Kei, most eateries in the neighborhood do not offer dine-in facility. Take-away is the only option available. Toi San Tau Fu Fah is famous in the neighborhood, for serving silky smooth Tau Fu Fah in great portion. The Ginger-infused Sugar Syrup complemented the Tau Fu Fah well; for MOP 15, the portion well-justified the price tag.


6) Soo's Kitchen 亞蘇廚房
Service Charge: No
Address: GF, Edificio Wang Son, 76 Av. da Concordia, Fai Chi Kei 筷子基和樂大馬路76號宏信大廈(第四座)地舖
Business Hours: 24 hours. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +853 2822 1981


Shrimp Dumplings with Noodles/ 鲜虾云吞面(MOP 29)


Sze Chuan Spicy and Sour Noodles with hand-made Beef Balls/ 四川手打牛丸酸辣粉 (MOP 31)


Sze Chuan-styled Century Eggs/ 凉拌皮蛋 (MOP 19)

Soo's Kitchen is a chain-restaurant and has branches across Macao. The branch at Fai Chi Kei is their 7th branch in Macao, the place is known to serve Chinese-styled dishes in big portion with wallet-friendly price tags. The Shrimp Noodles though not out of the world good, it was decent with huge serving portion. The noodles were springy and the broth was reasonably flavored. The Sze Chuan Spicy and Sour Noodles were alright too, though well-spiced, the sourness can be bolder. Not a shabby place to refuel or fill up the tummy if you are running out of choice.


7) Miyazaki Restaurant 宫崎茶餐厅
Service Charge: No
Address: GF, Phoenix Garden, 79-C Gomes Street, Macau
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 9 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +853 2899 1100


Beef Porridge/ 牛肉粥 (MOP 30)


Fish Porridge/ 鱼片粥 (MOP 28)


Polo Bun with Butter/ 冰火菠萝油 (MOP 18)

Right next to our stay Rio Hotel is classic Hong Kie/ Macanese Coffee House named Mizayaki, it has the standard menu that any Cha Chan Teng in Hong Kong or Macau would offer. The typical breakfast fare for a Hong Kie or Macanese would be Stir Fried Noodles with Soy sauce or Cantonese Porridge; we opted for the latter one. The Porridge was expertly cooked to the right consistency and they were quite generous with the ingredients (ie: Beef and Fish). Extra dash of Soy sauce was not necessary as the Porridge was well-seasoned. We topped it off with an order of Polo Bun with Butter, a typical sweetened Hong Kie Bun sandwiching a thick slab of Butter. Good value of money for that amount of food.


8) Lei Hong Kei Tau Fu Fah 李康记豆腐花
Service Charge: No
Address: GF, 19 D, Rua De Madeira 新馬路新埗頭街19號D地下
Business Hours: 8 am to 7 pm. Closed on Wednesdays.


Tau Fu Fah/ 豆腐花 (MOP 7- small/ MOP 14/ large) and Soy Milk/ 豆奶 (MOP 6/ glass)

While we have heard so many about Macanese's love for Tau Fu Fah, our local friend recommended Lei Hong Kei to us. It appears that Lei Hong Kei has been featured by many mainstream media and has been crowned as one of the best in Macao by many food critics/ bloggers. Locating the place was a challenge for us but we have managed to find it nevertheless. Lei Hong Kei only serves chilled Tau Fu Fah; to my surprise, the silky smooth Tau Fu Fah was light and easy on the palate, in fact, it slides down the throat without much friction, so smooth that it can be dangerously addictive. We like Lei Hong Kei's more than Toi San's.


9) Wong Chi Kei 黃枝記
Service Charge: No
Address: 17 Largo do Senado Macau 澳門議事亭前地店
Business Hours: 8:30 am to 1:30 am. Opens Daily.


Shrimp Dumpling Noodles (MOP 40)


Braised Beef Brisket with Noodles (MOP 44)


Macao Chicken Chop Bread (MOP 33)

We have walked passed Wong Chi Kei for a few times (at Senado Square), thinking that it might be one of the over-rated tourist traps but we were proven wrong. The food quality was beyond expectation and the prices turned out to be very affordable. Wong Chi Kei is an old brand in Macao, famous for serving some of the best silk-like but al-dente Wan Ton Noodles. Just like most Coffee Shops (Cha Chan Teng) in Macao, the menu features standard Cantonese Rice and Noodle dishes with a few native Macanese delicacies. The noodles were finer than Cheung Kei's but also springier. The broth was expertly seasoned with a mellow seafood sweetness lingering on the palate. The serving portion was larger either. Which one we prefer? My personal preference goes to Wong Chi Kei. We tried their Macao Chicken Chop Bread either, though the Deep Fried Chicken Thigh was tender and succulent (lightly seasoned) while the lightly buttered bread was toasted to a tawny crisp, we thought the overall texture was a tad too dry to our liking.


10) Lord Stow's Bakery & Cafe 安德鲁饼店及咖啡店
Service Charge: No
Address: Shop 870, Mask Street, the Grand Canal Shoppes Venetian Macao 澳门威尼斯人大运河购物中心脸谱街870铺
Business Hours: 10 am to 11 pm on every Sunday to Thursday, 10 am to 12 am on Saturdays and Sundays.
Contact Number: +853 2886 6889


Portguese Tart/ 澳门葡塔 (MOP 10 each)

Lord Stow is a big name in Macao, renowned for churning out some of the best Portuguese Tarts in Macao. Endless queues are often spotted at Lord Stow; though it has quite a few branches across Macao, the branch at The Venetian is one of the most convenient ones (if you have plans to visit The Venetian during your stay). The shattering crisp and flaky pastry skin coupled with the sweet-custard filling. The ratio of Custard to Pastry was perfect, everything was expertly measured and crafted; hands down one of the best Portuguese Tarts I have ever had (so good that I wished to buy a dozen back).


11) The Venetian Macao 澳门威尼斯人
Address: Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Macau 路氹城塡海區金光大道地段


The Grand Canal Shoppes

Since its opening 10 years ago in 2007, The Venetian has fast become one of the most popular casino hotels in Macao; one of its unique features includes the Grand Canal which mimics Venice. Visitors to the Grand Canal can opt to tour around via the Gondola. If that is not your cup of tea, the neighboring shops featuring international brands should be sufficient to entertain you. Entrance is free and the area is quite huge so do plan your schedule wisely.


12) Yee Shun Milk Company 義順牛奶公司
Service Charge: No
Address: 381 Av. de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau  議事亭前
Business Hours: 9 am to 11 pm. Closed on Sundays.


Double Skin Milk Pudding/ 双皮炖奶 (MOP 32)


Ginger Milk Pudding/ 姜汁撞奶 (MOP 35)

Yee Shun Milk Company might be famous in Hong Kong but the brand originated from Macao. It has the standard menu as compared to Hong Kong; the most-ordered items are still the Double Skin Milk Pudding and Ginger Milk Pudding. Things are not cheap here, a portion of Double Skin Milk Pudding could easily cost MOP 35 (approximately MYR 19); though the quality is consistent, we did not think it was mind-blowing. Not the must-visit place in Macao but if you happened to be here and would love to try the Cantonese sweet delicacies, this place is worth a go.


13) Chui Heong Pastelaria 最香餅家
Service Charge: No
Address: 12 B, 夜呣街风顺堂区 12 R. do Gamboa, Macau
Business Hours: 10 am to 7 pm. Opens Daily.


Almond Cookies are deemed as the de-facto souvenirs to purchase and many would opt for the main stream brands like Koi Kei (鉅記餅家) and Choi Heong Yuen (咀香園餅家) but there is this hidden gem old-schooled pastelaria widely promoted by local bloggers recently. Chui Heong is one of the old establishments that have been keeping their profile low. All Almond Cookies are freshly baked on the spot, visitors can also witness the entire making process. Price for a box of Almond Cookies (10 pieces) is MOP 30, 60% lower than those found in Koi Kei. Taste-wise, the Almond-flavor is not as strong but it does carry a hint of smokiness with milde sweet note. Pretty decent and well-justified by the price; ideal to be bought as souvenirs, especially for budget-watchers. It does take a little effort to locate the place, but it is quite near to the tourist-centered area near Senado Square.


14) Senado Square/ Ruins of St. Paul 大三巴/ St. Dominic's Church


St. Dominic's Church


The Street to Ruins of St. Paul from Senado Square


Ruins of St. Paul


Dai Seng's Portuguese Tarts (MOP 10 for 2)


There is a saying that goes by 'if you have not visited the Ruins of St. Paul, you have not visited Macao'; it shows the significance of the place. True enough, that is the de-facto place to visit when one is in Macao. There are plenty of attractions nearby the vicinity, as well as international brands selling cosmetics, apparels to satisfy the shopaholic in you. The human traffic flow is heavy on the way to the Ruins of St. Paul, so be careful on your personal belongings while touring the area. Similarly, there are also many tourist traps in the vicinity, Dai Seng is one of them. While most shops would sell Portuguese Tarts at MOP 10 each, this particular place sells at MOP 10 for two. We fell for that trap, thinking that it was a good deal. The crust was greasy and they skimp on the filling. It was one of the worst Portuguese Tarts I have ever had. Our vote still goes for Lord Stow's.

Have Fun Exploring Macao!

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