Macau has always captured my imagination for its rich traditions and unique qualities. Once a Portuguese colony, it is today a special administrative region of China, just like Hong Kong. Thanks to its colonial past, it offers some fabulous Portuguese cuisine, which has earned several well-deserved Michelin stars.
Macau is, however, more famous for its bustling casino scene, which has been said to be Asia’s Las Vegas; a thriving industry that has given Western casinos a run for their money. With lavish structures and regal interiors, Macau has evolved to become one of the most popular and luxurious gaming destinations in the world.
Macau’s success is partly owed to the casino developers’ understanding of the industry. As the casino industry in the US and the UK began to try and appeal to wider demographics, Macau upped the ante and began cultivating an atmosphere that oozed luxury. Sky-high towers shaped like giant lotuses and restaurants terraces at the top of skyscrapers have made it the place to visit for high-end entertainment.
On the other hand, some argue that the spectacular investments in Macau´s casino industry also has a lot to do with the Chinese wanting to take their money out of the mainland, due to fear of instability. Whatever the case, Macau´s casino scene is still thriving, and it has inspired the creation of other gambling havens in the region.
The game of choice in Macau today is Baccarat, but casinos still offer slot machines and American roulette, which remain some of the world´s most popular attractions for both offline and online gaming (roulette is actually so popular worldwide that the biggest online betting exchange site in the world, Betfair, offers roulette games with live dealers). As with all of Macau´s attractions, visitors come to the area looking for a taste of the exotic, but recognizable elements like the unmistakable wheel and table of the roulette gives international visitors a welcome sense of familiarity.
This is true for all the elements of Macau’s casino industry, and not just the gaming rooms themselves. A fusion of different cultures, the Macau experience is unique in many ways. Prestigious international media have called Macau one of the best places on Earth for fusion cuisine. According to CNN, “Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau and combines the best of Chinese and Portuguese ingredients, and cooking along with influences from Brazil, Goa and other former Portuguese colonies.”
Just like in Vegas, in Macau, high-end gambling goes hand in hand with high-end restaurants. My previous post about the most delicious dishes I tried in Vegas bears testimony to this connection. I love great food, I love originality in a cuisine, and I am head over heels with Portugal´s food, so, it´s no surprise that I find Macau´s restaurant scene so exciting.
If you share some of my interests, you should definitely make a point of trying some delicious Portuguese food during your casino-hopping trip to Macau.
They say Macau is a success because the Chinese can´t get enough of gambling, but if you end up tasting some of the Portuguese delights on offer at these three locations, you may discover another enchanting side of Macau.
António’s, Rua dos Clerigos No. 7, Old Taipa Village, Taipa, Macau, +853 2899 9998
Antonio’s was awarded a Michelin star in 2012 because of its unique take on its Portuguese legacy. With a rustic charm and signature dishes such as goat’s cheese gratin, diners who visit Antonio’s are sure to be wowed by the high-quality food.
2. Lord Stow’s Bakery
Lord Stow’s Bakery, 1 Rua Da Tassara, Coloane Town Square, Macau, 853-28882534
Although it may seem somewhat strange that a bakery founded by an Englishman would be known for classic Portuguese food, Lord Stow’s bakery is the best place to get Portuguese Pastéis de Nata in Macau. These little egg tarts, which originated in Lisbon, have become a signature of Macau cuisine.
3. Restaurante Fernando
Restaurante Fernando, 9 Praia de Hac Sa, Macau, 853-28882264
Classic Portuguese dishes come to life at quaint Restaurante Fernando, easily one of the best laid-back Portuguese eateries in the region. It’s found a ways away from the central casino strip, but it’s well worth the trek, as not only do you get a splendid view of the Hac Sa beach, but you get treated to huge portions of suckling pig, roasted chicken and chips, and succulent seafood as well.