Eat Drink Asia podcast: finding the best food in Macau, from minchi to egg tarts and African chicken
In episode five, chef David Wong shows us where to go in Macau for some must-try dishes
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Welcome to episode 5 of the Eat Drink Asia podcast – from Macau, the former Portuguese enclave across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong that was returned to China in 1999. It’s a convenient destination for visitors from Hong Kong because it’s only an hour away by hovercraft.
Some people may know Macau as the place in Asia that makes more money from its casino tables than Las Vegas does from its casinos, but it also has a fascinating mix of Portuguese and Chinese culture, which shows in its architecture, its language and of course its food.
We recruited chef David Wong to be our guide to Macau’s food. He grew up in Hong Kong, studied in the UK and came back to Macau many years ago. He teaches at the Instituto de Formacao Turistica, the hospitality school there. Wong took us to eat some must-try dishes in Macau.
Our first stop is a very local shop that Wong visits periodically. It has no English signage but it serves curry beef brisket. People were having their breakfast congee and noodles, but we dug right into the spicy beef brisket, which delivered a powerful punch of spices and would be perfect with rice or noodles.
We tried the shop’s other signature dish, crab congee; the rice porridge was thick and creamy, having been carefully tended for hours, while the crabmeat was fresh and sweet.
The next stop is a crowd favourite – for egg tarts. These aren’t the egg custard tarts usually eaten as dim sum – these are Portuguese egg tarts that have flaky crusts and custard slightly burned in the middle.
Lord Stow’s on Coloane is the place to get them – the shop sells more than 20,000 a day. It’s not hard to see why – the butter makes the pastry shells so light, and boy do they taste good. If you can’t make it to Coloane, a convenient place to get them is at the Venetian Macao.
Many people in Hong Kong head to Macau for snacks, and one that they like to eat is the pork chop bun. Many small restaurants sell them made to order.
They provide a good hearty bite – some might say they are a good thing to eat when you have a hangover. The bun is greasy and keeps the hunger pangs away. The place we went to is in the old Taipa village near a piazza.
Just down the street from the pork chop bun place is La Famiglia, a Macanese restaurant. Florita Alves is the chef-owner of the place and prepared minchi for us to try. It’s a very local dish of minced pork with seasoning, topped with a fried egg, and comes with rice.
As we dig in, she explains minchi can also be made using a combination of beef and pork, but her customers prefer just pork. This dish is so good that we can’t help but have another spoonful.
Finally we head to the water by Nam Van Lake, and Henri’s Galley. It’s run by second-generation owner Raymond Vong. The signature dish here is African chicken – grilled chicken served with a gravy made using ingredients including paprika, rosemary, garlic, chilli peppers, grated coconut, and peanut butter.
The recipe is printed on the paper place mat the dish is served on. Vong says many chefs who have visited the restaurant have tried its version of the dish, but haven’t been successful. Maybe it’s a Macanese thing.
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