Taipa Village offers escape from glitz and glamour of Cotai Strip
Diverse cuisines abound from traditional Chinese to cutting-edge Portuguese, Spanish and Macanese
Macau is much more than the sum of its modern attractions and glitzy hotels: the centre of old Macau abounds with the architecture and character of a bygone era – a time when two vastly different cultures merged. The former Portuguese enclave once consisted of the Macau Peninsula and Taipa and Coloane islands – the latter two have since become one through reclamation work that created the Cotai Strip, Macau’s answer to Las Vegas.
The original Taipa Village has been well preserved, and it offers visitors a contrast to the glitz and glamour of the Cotai Strip. While the towering Galaxy Macau resort might seem a world away from the tree-lined Avenida da Praia, it neighbours Taipa Village in a juxtaposition of modernity and tradition.
Taipa Village has established itself as an important gastronomic centre along with its cultural and scenic pleasures. The village is home to more than 20 eateries of diverse cuisines – from traditional Chinese fare to cutting-edge Portuguese and Spanish offerings and, of course, Macanese food.
Among the recent arrivals is King’s Lobster restaurant whose signature dish is a mouth-watering fresh lobster served in a soft bun. They also serve grilled Boston lobster, pulled pork rolls, and their own twist on the burger.
For an authentic Macanese experience, head to Restaurante Portugues Pescador near Cunha Street. The chequered tiles and mobile tea stall say “teahouse”, while the Portuguese décor of the first floor offer a fine-dining experience. Here you can try everything from Portuguese spicy fish buns and clay pot milk tea to Portuguese pork knuckle served with fine Portuguese wines.
Macau’s restaurant scene has few luminaries brighter than Antonio Coelho. The Portuguese chef now has two must-try establishments in Taipa Village: the Michelin-recommended Antonio, and opposite, Tapas de Portugal. The latter, more recent arrival comprises a stylish ground-floor bar and a first-floor dining room with rooftop terrace offering fine views of the surrounding streets. The restaurant specialises in creative contemporary tapas – including scrambled eggs with Portuguese bread sausage, wet lobster rice and the Portuguese dessert serradura.
Macau has long been Portugal’s bridge to Asia, and no one exemplifies this more than O Santos, founder of the legendary O Santos Portuguese restaurant in Taipa Village. He has also opened a delicatessen, O Santos Loja Portuguesa, where you’ll find Portuguese delicacies from olive oil and sardines to coffee and souvenirs – and fine wines.
One more indispensable Macau icon, Lord Stow’s Bakery, should be on any food traveller’s bucket list: established in 1989 in Coloane Village, the egg tarts that are the hallmark of the bakery were devised by Englishman Andrew Stow. He subsequently received the Medal of Tourism Merit from the Macau government for his gastronomic contribution to the city. The Taipa Village edition of Lord Stow’s Bakery can be found on Cunha Street.
Another new and distinctive eatery is DiGreen (short for Diamond in Green), a cafe-store that offers healthy, low-sugar snacks made from the fresh, natural ingredients, from fruit popsicles to popcorn and black glutinous rice, and they do a fine line in coffees, frappes and other beverages.
Whether you’re craving a traditional snack or hungry for an international feast of flavours, the understated charm of Taipa Village will have something to fit the bill. Taking a gentle stroll afterwards is recommended: from the tranquillity of Carmo Garden and the serenity of Kun Iam Temple, to the artistic haven that is Taipa Village Art Space, this cultural oasis offers a retreat for those looking to get away from things. Taipa Village represents the living heart of Macau’s extraordinary heritage.