When you think of food in Macau, the chances are you will conjure up images of local Macanese delights, such as egg tarts and pork chop buns, or conventional luxury hotel offerings for the wealthy gambler – abalone, anyone?
So it might surprise some people to discover that its culinary fare is taking an unusual turn this year – think hot durian dishes and “meatless” meat.
Since being selected to join the list of the world’s prestigious Unesco “Creative Cities of Gastronomy” late last year, Macau’s dining scene has been thriving.
There have been numerous major wine and dining experiences taking place in the city, including the openings of new restaurants by celebrity chefs and a series of dining events hosted by international guest chefs.
Now, the Cotai district’s Galaxy Macau resort complex – known for its range of entertainment and dining options that seem to target the aforementioned “wealthy gambler” – is offering some new and exciting things.
Durian lovers may be well-acquainted with cold dishes featuring “the king of fruits”, but durian-inspired pizza and seafood could be a new experience.
These dishes, and more, will be served during the Malaysian Food Festival held at Oasis, on the hotel’s Grand Resort Deck, from August 16 to 31.
During the festival’s press lunch we had the chance to taste some of these durian dishes, such as baked lobster with durian and cheese, double boiled coconut chicken soup with durian and abalone, durian pizza with Mozzarella cheese and gold flakes, and grilled stuffed chicken wings with durian honey sauce.
The soup and pizza were our favourites – both tasty with a subtle but fragrant durian flavour that combines well with other ingredients in the dishes.
“We use [the two durian varieties] D24 and Musang King in the durian-flavoured dishes,” says Galaxy Macau executive chef Bobby Wong, who hails from Malaysia.
“As D24’s flavour is comparatively light we use it to make the pizza and baked lobster so the durian flavour won’t overpower the cheese and lobster.
“For durian puff, we use Musang King to prepare it; the durian rind is one of the major ingredients in the soup, which has the benefits of reducing body heat and increasing blood circulation.”
While the durian puff is a must-try, you can also find other durian-flavoured desserts, such as durian cream brûlée, durian ice-cream, and a durian twist of Macau’s famous Portuguese egg tarts and dessert serradura.
The festival will also allow diners to sample 10 different types of top Malaysian durians, from D24 Sultan, to D163 How Lor, to D197 Musang King, as well as traditional Malaysian delicacies, such as oyster omelettes and kajang satay, prepared by 15 guest chefs from different regions of Malaysia.
Three restaurants at the hotel have also introduced the revolutionary meatless “meat”, developed by Californian food company Impossible Foods, to their menus.
Made from water, wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, plus a special ingredient called heme – found in most of the food we eat today – which provides the “meat” taste.
The plant-based “meat”, which delivers the look, smell and taste of beef, and is now being served at nearly 3,000 restaurants worldwide.
At Galaxy’s Cha Bei, the plant-based meat is featured in crunchy Texas tacos, Macanese burger and Thai lettuce wraps; at The Apron Oyster Bar & Grill, the ingredient is used in chipotle croquettes and vegetable millefeuille; at Northern Chinese restaurant The Noodle Kitchen, the “meat” is used to made seared buns, chive dumplings, tossed noodles with spiced aubergines.
Four Seasons Macao’s Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Zi Yat Heen is offering a set menu featuring the city’s flower, the lotus.
The eight-course menu, The Beauty of Lotus, is prepared with different parts of a lotus, including the seeds, leaves and petals.
Highlights include double boiled fish maw with almond cream, fresh lily bulbs and lotus seeds, and chilled coconut pudding with lotus petals.
Over at the Grand Lisboa Hotel’s Round-the Clock Coffee Shop, the executive pastry chef Norihito Muranaka has created four new flavours of Macau’s popular Portuguese egg tarts.
Instead of using the original custard centre, the chef has prepared the crispy and flaky tarts with Kyoto Uji Matcha tea, salted caramel, the citrus fruit yuzu and vanilla-flavoured custard.