Macau is at a crossroad – the city’s main income come from casinos. In fact Macau has overtaken Las Vegas as the Gambling Capital of the world. However, dining wise, I would voice a deep disappoint that the casinos have not brought about a renaissance of the culinary type. In fact, the best eateries are those not in the casinos. Here are some of the best of Macau have to offer.
Some of these places existed even before the casinos start coming in. Why I recommend you to taste these in Macau even though you may be able to get it HK or elsewhere in China – 1) freshness due to proximity to the sources of ingredients and 2) techniques. Some of the cooking techniques are lost in the rapid expansion of restaurant chains in China. Also in the push for higher profits, some of these ingredients have been doctored – e.g. pig blood, pigeons, shark’s fin and dogfish.
水蟹粥 (read: Shui Hai Jhok) is a traditional favourite of the Macaunese and tourists alike. 水蟹 is a freshwater crab that is bred in the estuary and is exposed to saltwater (Brackish water is the correct terminology). So it retains the sweetness of the freshwater variety, while inherits the advantages of the saltwater variety. The best months to savour this dish are the autumn (more roe) and winter months (more meat).
This crab is cleaned and chopped into pieces and then cooked in plain congee (or Jhok in cantonese). The congees absorbs all the goodness of the crab that resulted in a sweet, savoury goo that is flavourful to the very last drop.
Fine examples can be found in 肥仔文 in 氹仔, and 皇冠小館 at 水坑尾街
As a fishing port, shark’s fin was something Macau was famous for. Although HK was the largest trading centre for shark’s fin worldwide, Macau could be the place with the most (dedicated) shark’s fin restaurants per capita anywhere in the world. And you can get a bowl of this tasty treat anything from MOP $50 (USD 8) upwards – the sky’s the limit.