Macau's Michelin recommended street food

The latest edition of the region's Michelin Guide shows the value of Macau's casual eats

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 April, 2016, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 1:13pm

After years of featuring elitist restaurants few can afford and slightly more reasonably priced Bib Gourmand establishments. The eighth edition of the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau includes a new street-food section, a first for Michelin, with 23 Hong Kong and 12 Macau locations. 

“Street food occupies an important place in Hong Kong and Macau’s food scenes, and our inspectors have paid close attention to the quality of dishes on offer and the use of local seasonal produce over the past few years,” says international director Michael Ellis. “We believe street-food establishments have a rightful place in the Michelin Guide.”

The 2016 guide includes established eateries and shops such as Lord Stow’s Bakery, which invented Portuguese egg tarts; Fong Kei Pastelaria, which has sold local pastries for more than 120 years; and Mok Yee Kei, where durian ice cream originated.

“We are very honoured to be part of it, we worked hard for it,” says Eileen Stow, the owner of Lord Stow’s Bakery and sister of founder Andrew Stow, who passed away in 2006.

Andrew Stow was English, and arrived in Macau in 1979 to work as an industrial pharmacist before opening his own business importing European ingredients for locals to make bread.

He soon opened his own bakery on Coloane Island, specialising in European cakes and bread. Its signature item is the egg tart, a pastry tart filled with a creamy egg custard that is partly Portuguese in style and has a strong English influence.

Eileen Stow says the success of her business, now in its 26th year, has to do with the “honesty of the business and making an honest product that they keep rigid quality control on”. 
“Somebody came here shortly after my brother passed away. They’d been here 10 years before and they said they were so pleased that the egg tarts tasted exactly the same as they remembered,” she says. “That was one of the greatest compliments our team could get.”

At Fong Kei Pastelaria, the recipes for their much talked-about gai zai beng (lard cookies) and lou pou beng, a traditional Cantonese pastry made with a filling of winter melon, almond paste and sesame seeds, have not been modified since the family business started.

“The art of making these pastries has been passed down from generation to generation,” says Winnie Go, a member of the extended family, which helps manage the shop. “People come because there’s not so many traditional snacks around anymore that are made by hand. People are nostalgic for the tastes of these traditional snacks."

People are nostalgic for the tastes of these traditional snacks

Fong Kei started as a teahouse, serving tea and pastries to Taipa villagers.

The Chinese characters for Fong Kei teahouse remain carved into the folding gates of the store. When the Macau-Taipa Bridge opened in 1974, it brought more Macanese people to the quiet island, and the owners turned it into a shop selling cakes. The pastries are still made on the second floor, and baked in huge ovens on the first floor in open view. 

Mok Yee Kei is also a business that’s been passed down in the family. Now famous for their durian ice cream, owner Leung Kwai Chi recalls her mother-in-law pushing a cart full of simple snacks such as agar-agar jelly and yoghurt around the street corners. 

“My mother-in-law did this for 64 years and her mother before that sold snacks from a cart as well,”  Leung says. “She wasn’t very business minded and I was worried for her. I told her that we couldn’t continue the business like this. We needed something new and I suggested making durian ice cream.”

Now a popular dessert sold in many shops in Macau and Hong Kong, durian ice cream was a novelty when Mok Yee Kei started producing it. “We were the first to make it,” says Leung. “A reporter from Shenzhen came down to taste it and was shocked that not more people knew about this dessert.”

Using premium Musang King and D24 durians from Malaysia, Leung says their ice cream is different because they incorporate real durian meat into the ice cream mixture. Leung holds up a certificate for the durians and says, “We are very honest people, my husband and I. We just want to create good food for people.”

Street Treats

These establishments serve up the best Macanese street food:

Yee Shun Milk Company
Although this local cafe has opened numerous branches across Macau and Hong Kong, the original store is still the best place to go for a bowl of Chinese steamed milk pudding, served cold or piping hot.
Tel: (853) 2837 3104

Neng Meng Wang
Selling all sorts of pickled and dried confectionery, from candied lemon peel, ginger to pickled plum, the shop was set up after Macanese founder Tong King-pui retired from selling candy in Hong Kong to return home.
Tel: (853) 2688 1786

LemonCello Gelato
With more than 60 flavours of gelato, including unconventional flavours ginger, beancurd, durian and chili, LemonCello is a favourite among those looking for a respite from the hotter months.
Tel: (853) 28331570

Lei Ka Choi
If you’re looking for hearty comfort food, Lei Ka Choi won’t disappoint. The café serves Cantonese street side favourites such as duck’s blood soup, lo mein and wonton noodles. 
Tel: (853) 8883 3338