Macau may be tiny at just 29.2 sqkm, but it is home to 268 licensed restaurants offering versatile cuisines to suit different tastes. Over the centuries, the city has developed a unique Macanese cuisine that combines elements of Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Malay cooking. And the relaxed, friendly atmosphere complements traditional Portuguese gourmet dining. Food for which Macau is renowned for include Portuguese egg tarts (pastel de nata) and coconut cake. You can find good Portuguese restaurants close to the A-Ma Temple along Rua do Almirante Sergio, in the city centre on Rua Central and Travessa de S.Domingos, and in the area near the Kun Lam statue. There are also many excellent Portuguese restaurants on Rua do Cunha and Rua Fernando Mendes on Taipa Island, and on Hac Sa Beach and Coloane Village on Coloane Island. As new hotels open, the portfolio of restaurants grows. Bear in mind that the 268 licensed restaurants mentioned do not include the hundreds of local food stalls or cha chaan teng (Chinese cafes) which reflect the local dining culture. 'The city boasts a concentration of restaurants offering many different cuisines to suit different tastes and all kinds of budgets,' said Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, deputy director of the Macau Government Tourist Office. 'Food has always played a major part in Macau society, and it is a good reflection of the community's long multicultural experience and present cosmopolitan way of life.' In recent years, various cuisines from other parts of the world have blossomed in the city. You will find many excellent restaurants serving Italian, French, American, Brazilian, Japanese, Korean and Mozambique dishes, in addition to Southeast Asian fare. The opening of the mammoth Venetian Macao casino last year took the food and beverage industry in Macau to the next level. It features 35 restaurants and bars, from casual to fine dining. The 1,000-seat, 24-hour Cafe Deco Macao is a 32,000 sqft restaurant on the ground floor and mezzanine levels, making it one of the largest restaurants in Asia. Also at the Venetian is Morton's of Chicago, the world's largest operator of upscale steakhouses with 80 outlets around the world. This summer, it serves the classic steak and seafood for two special until September15 and the more indulgent steak and lobster until September30. There is also Roka, an award-winning Robatayaki restaurant from London, specialising in Japanese cuisine. Its dynamic setting features six private rooms for various functions. The Grand Canal Shoppes mall, at the Venetian, features a 1,000-seat international Festivita Food Court, which offers an enormous choice of cuisines ranging from Japanese, Korean and Chinese BBQ, to Vietnamese, Thai and the freshest treats from the United States. Como Poolside Cafe on level 5 of the hotel offers a children's menu and alfresco dining. The Venetian is not the only hotel serving up a host of good food and beverage options. The six-star, 216-room Crown Macau on Taipa has five outlets of its own to woo gourmet lovers: Aurora, for chic French dining; Kira, a contemporary Japanese experience by chef Hiroshi Kagata; Tenmasa, a tempura artistry in this Tokyo-based restaurant's only venture outside Japan; and Ying - an organic Cantonese cuisine outlet. The three signature eateries at Wynn Macao Hotel - Ristorante il Teatro, authentic Japanese at Okada and Wing Lei - recruit top chefs from all over the world and have proved to be popular. The Grand Lisboa's Don Alfonso 1890 originated from southern Italy as the highest Michelin-rated restaurant. It brings dining in Macau to the next level as chefs stress the best ingredients cooked in the simplest way. Apart from an authentic Italian taste, its impeccable wine selection of more than 3,300 varieties sets it apart from the rest. With all these new and trendy outlets transforming the culinary map in Macau, is this offering travellers what they want? According to Sef Lam, director of Via Vai Travel, who travels to Macau every month on business, the answer is no. 'With all the new big hotels in Macau now there are many more chain-type restaurants. The food and decor may be posh, but they do not seem to have a soul,' she said. 'I prefer small local restaurants, owned and operated by Macau residents. They have a more hospitable, friendly feel, and a warmth that comes from the personal touch of the owner,' Ms Lam said. 'For example, Henri's Galley has been there for years and is one of my favourites. For years a group of us have been going there in December for dinner - like a pre-Christmas party. Henri's son Raymond is usually there to chat with old and new customers.' A Petisqueira is another old-time favourite, as is O Manel. 'Some years back, one of my friends found out that the food shipment was flown in on a certain day, so we all showed up promptly the next day for dinner at O Manel,' she said. If you are looking for an exotic experience that supports the local community, the 100-seat IFT Educational Restaurant at the Institute For Tourism Studies is a good option. Service is mainly conducted by young students, and the menu includes Macanese and Portuguese a la carte, an executive set lunch and a Friday buffet dinner. Feedback is welcome here so as to refine and polish these future professionals.