Macau's foodie fare

1 Dec 2006 by intern22

Lois Iwase extols Taipa’s great chow.

Most visitors to Macau head for the well-established Portuguese, Macanese and Chinese restaurants on the Peninsula near the city’s best-known tourist attractions when they’re hungry, while a few head out to the green hills and black sand beaches of Coloane for a more exotic culinary adventure. 

Few bother to stop off for a meal in Taipa, a mostly residential island right in the middle, where the local people congregate at mealtime. Going off the beaten track to Taipa is a way to find small, family-run restaurants that cater to a neighbourhood clientele and that offer delicious food in a friendly atmosphere at very reasonable prices. They may be a little harder to find, but are well worth the trouble, and are an excellent way to get to know the real Macau and its people.  

Café Lisboa

This warm, family-run café is a favourite for late breakfast, lunch or dinner, with its fresh-from-the-market seafood, hot bread and pastries right out of their own oven, and traditional delights like roast suckling pig, grilled chicken and bacalhau with cream. It’s almost always crowded at lunch hour and dinnertime, when its patrons expect to meet friends, neighbours and co-workers and their families, and always welcoming. From Taipa Stadium or the Grandview Hotel, walk toward Rua Branganca and the alleyway behind Mei Keng Gardens, notable for its pet shops.

OPEN 1000 to 2300 daily, Mei Keng Gardens, Rua Branganca, Taipa, tel 853 28 843 313

Mix Asian

Just a few doors away from Café Lisboa on the same little back street, Mix Asian serves up Asian food with a Nepalese flair for lunch and dinner in a softly-lit atmosphere. Proprietor Ghimire Pramond imports his hand-picked ingredients from Nepal, India and Hongkong to prepare the scrumptious fish tikka, creamy rasmalai and selection of mouth-watering curries, and imports good wines that are nevertheless inexpensive.?Follow the scent of rich Indian spices and you’ll find it.

OPEN 1100 to 2300 daily, Mei Keng Gardens, Rua Branganca, Taipa, tel 853 842 724

Old Taipa Tavern

East is East and West is West, but the twain meet in Taipa Village in more ways than one. While near enough to the Village’s most touristy street, Rua Do Cunha, Taipa Tavern is still out-of-the-way enough to not yet have been discovered by out-of-towners. If you’ve got a yen for typical pub food like steak and onion pie washed down with a pitcher of sangria, a dish of bacalhau fritters to go along with your pint of Stella Artois, or some Chinese spring rolls accompanied by a fine French wine, belly up to the bar at the Old Taipa Tavern.

Las Vegas types from the nearby Cotai Strip mix and mingle with locals of all nationalities in the elegantly refurbished two-story village house for lunch, dinner and a convivial neighbourhood atmosphere.

OPEN 1200 to 0100 daily, 21 Rua dos Negociantes, Taipa Village, tel 853 28 825 221

Traditional Dumpling House

Another place you might expect to be filled with visitors who flock to the Village for souvenirs and flea-market bargains but would be surprised to find is not, is located at the end of Rua Do Cuhna on Rua Regedor. Amid a spate of new shops, the Dumpling House is not very hard to find, even without much in the way of signage. While only a few years old, it has already become popular among families who live in the area, serving up, as the name implies, succulent, freshly steamed or fried dumplings with Portuguese bacalhau as well as Chinese-style fillings, crisply green onion pancakes, and many other dishes in servings small enough so that you can sample a selection.

OPEN 1200 to 1500 and 1800 to 2100 weekdays, and 1200 to 1600 and 1800 to 2300 weekends, Edificio “Chun Fok Village”, Taipa, tel 853 28 827 868

O Manel

Just off the roundabout and conveniently near the bus stop on the little tree-lined street leading into Taipa Village is O Manel. Don’t expect fancy decor; expect a very good meal at a reasonable price. Its small size and unpretentious decor are not exactly tourist magnets, and the fact that it never advertises keeps it a well-kept secret among those who are really serious about fine cuisine. The reasonable prices belie the excellent quality of the cooking, done by the owner, who is almost always there, presiding over the kitchen and attending to guests himself.

Along with traditional favourites like clams in lemon sauce, barbecued ribs and seafood rice, Manel serves up daily specials like lobster soup and a dish he perfected himself, squid ink rice with meat, shrimp and squid. Other excellent menu choices include roast piglet and barbecued pigeon. Manel says using fine olive oil in his dishes keeps them light, and this could be one reason why the cuisine at his restaurant beats most of the Portuguese food in town for flavour and appetising presentation.

OPEN 1200 to 1530 and 1800 to 2300 daily, Rua Fernao Mendes Pinto No 90, Taipa, tel 853 28 825 571

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