Easily the most graceful venue on the list, Albergue 1601 is set in a courtyard with shuttered buildings and two huge trees in Macau's St Lazarus Quarter, with the high ceilings, wooden floors and white tablecloths lending an air of class.
The clams in white wine, garlic and cilantro (148 patacas) were delicious, and the saline liquor given up by the clams and the wine made for a deliciously salty dressing. The arroz de pato (baked duck rice, 138 patacas) came decorated with a few slices of chouriço and was a deep orange colour. There were visible pieces of duck, but the dish lacked seasoning. That, however, was remedied with a few spoonfuls of the clam liquor.
Calcada da Igreja de S. Lazaro 8 (Near St Lazarus Church), tel: +853 2836 1601
On the Sunday afternoon we visited Carlos it was bustling with diners, their glasses full of wine or sangria and the tables loaded with different dishes. It's a vibrant place and the staff were welcoming.
The minchi (88 patacas) was recommended, and we tried the bacalhau à Brás (118 patacas), too. The latter was a delicious jumble of flakes of salt cold and fried matchsticks of potato with onions and scrambled egg. Crispy, salty and oniony with some parsley for a dash of colour, this is comfort food of the highest order.
The minchi does a similar job, but in a much meatier form. A big mound of fried minced meat is mixed with cubes of crunchy browned potato and topped with a fried egg. Break the yolk and mix it in for a plate of Macanese happiness.
G/F, AR-AS Vista Magnífica Court, NAPE, Macau, tel: +853 2875 1838
Hidden down a side street, Riquexo (pronounced rickshaw) is the most humble restaurant on our list. The white-tiled walls are dotted with old photographs of Macau, the decor is simple and the menu oozes comfort. The bacalhau à lagareiro (112 patacas) is a chunk of roasted salt cod with thick potato wedges, fried onions and a few olives. And plenty of olive oil. It was meaty, hearty and full of flavour. The caril de peixe (85 patacas) is a fish curry dish, but at Riquexo it is a whole fish smothered in sauce. Spicy and intensely savoury, the sauce and the moist white flesh are a great combination. Served with rice, the dish is simplicity itself. The staff and owner are delightful, the food is fantastic and the price is right.
No 69 Avenida Sidonio Pais, tel: +853 2856 5655
IFT EDUCATIONAL RESTAURANT
The restaurant is a training facility for hotel and culinary students of the Institute for Tourism Studies. The pleasant interior and the out-of-the-way location give the restaurant a feeling of tranquility.
I had the tamarind pork (110 patacas) with rigatoni for my main course, and my partner had the grilled sea bass with olive oil mashed potatoes and tomato and basil dressing (130 patacas). The serving of tamarind pork was a bit too generous, if such a thing exists. The tamarind's sourness was subtle, but detectable in the rich sauce, and the pork was tender without being dry. The sea bass was slightly bland on its own, but with the potato and dressing, it was transformed.
Colina de Mong-Há, Macao, tel: +853 8598 3077
OU MUN CAFE
If Albergue 1601 is the most beautiful venue on our list, Ou Mun Cafe is the most Portuguese, and our favourite. Located in an alley off Senado Square, Ou Mun Cafe is the only place in Macau that seems to always have Portuguese chatter in the air.
The feijoada de bacalhau (138 patacas) was a northern Portuguese twist on the better known version of pork or beef and kidney beans. The stewed white beans and salt cod combined beautifully. The camarao frito (fried prawns, 148 patacas) were, like the best dishes here, served simply. Fresh shrimps were fried with olive oil and garlic and bread was served to mop up the juices.
Travessa do S. Domingos 12,tel: +853 2837 2207
The gingham tablecloths and the black-and-white tiled floor give a decidedly Mediterranean feel to A Petisqueira. There is a stag's head mounted on the wall opposite the entrance. Once again, the diners were knocking back sangria or glasses of wine, and there was a convivial air.
The paella (145 patacas) had clams, plenty of prawns and a decorative crab shell in the centre (I didn't see any chunks of crab, but there could have been some brown crab meat mixed in), and it was filling and tasty. The sardines (128 patacas), which were simply grilled, were absolutely delicious. This laid-back restaurant is one to visit again and again.
Rua S. Joao No 15 C/D, Ilha Da Taipa, tel: +853 2882 5354
Bookings are certainly advised here if the queue of diners waiting for A Lorcha to open is anything to go by. Within minutes of the doors opening the place was buzzing as the throng found their tables, which had been reserved with name cards.
Legend has it that galinha à Africana (African chicken, 150 patacas) arrived with soldiers from Mozambique who were folded into Portugal's empire courtesy of Vasco da Gama. The dish is a Macanese classic, and A Lorcha's version is pretty good. Served with chips (which were almost certainly frozen), the sauce is spicy, creamy and full of flavour. It's a perfectly good dish that would have been better with some more rustic looking chips, or even roasted potatoes. We were trying not to eat dishes we had already tried at other restaurants, so we went full fusion with salt cod fried rice (108 patacas). A simple dish it may be, but the fish was an interesting diversion, and the toasted flavour of the fried rice was perfect.
Rua do Almirante Sergio Nº289 AA R/C Macau, tel:+853 2831 3193
We went for lunch and arrived at opening time to find the staff still having breakfast. However, by the time we left the place was bustling.
The Portuguese stewed grouper (108 patacas) was a bubbling cauldron of fish, green bell peppers, potato, onion and tomato. There was garlic, a few token shrimps and bits of sausage, and the obligatory black olives. It was intensely savoury and utterly delicious. With a few more potatoes, there would have been more than enough for two to share. The galinha assada picante (barbecued spicy chicken, 108 patacas) was crusted, sort of, with a paste that was just the right side of spicy. Unfortunately, because of the paste the skin wasn't at all crispy. It was, however, moist and flavourful. It was served with crisps, which inevitably became soggy.
Alameda Dr. Carlos D Assumpção, No. 606L Ed. Chong Yu, R/C, Macau, tel: +853 2870 3898. (There is also a branch inside the Venetian)