Savour the history and flavours of Macau

Now recognised by UNESCO as a Creative City of Gastronomy, Macau not only features a wide variety of cuisine from all over the world but has a cornucopia of delicacies with a long history. Take a ride in our time machine to experience the authentic flavours of this city.

Photos by Inez Ng

Long Wa Teahouse

Located near Macau’s landmark Red Market, Long Wa Teahouse is the best place to come by to learn and savour the history of this city. Opened some 40 years ago, it is one of two traditional-style teahouses in Macau.

Here, guests can enjoy a very authentic ‘Yum Cha’ (literally ‘drink tea’) with a true teahouse ambience. Yum Cha is a typical Cantonese way of drinking and eating undertaken in the morning or early afternoon. Yum cha generally involves dim sum, small portions of steamed, pan-fried, and deep-fried dishes served in bamboo steamers and tea.

The rustic, yet homey interior is filled with an eclectic mix of the owner’s personal art and antique collection – including prints, photographs and an assortment of traditional birdcages.

Guests here are invited to choose dim sum from a dim sum cart, a tradition that is almost extinct today.  Try traditional handmade dim sum such as shao-mai, a pork dumpling with chewy wrapper, cha siu bao, a sweet and savoury pork-filled bun, chicken claws and stewed pork ribs. All washed down with a steaming hot cup of Pu Er tea, complete with intoxicating scent.

Address: 3 R. Norte do Mercado Alm. Lacerda

Nam Peng Café

In local people’s daily lives, a cha chaan teng (tea restaurant or café) is the most often visited place for eating. In former days in Hong Kong and Macau, only high-class restaurants provided Western food and most did not serve local people. After World War II, some people set up cha chaan teng to serve ‘affordable Western food’ for local customers. Nowadays, cha chaan teng not only serves Western food but also provides all kinds of economical food for the public.

Located in Rua de Cinco de Outubro near the Inner Harbour area, Nam Peng Café was Macau’s first air-conditioned cha chaan teng. Today, the café still retains the original interior design and style – and is still popular with people who live nearby.

This two-storey café opens in the early morning to serve classic dishes and fresh bread for takeaway or eat-in. Signature dishes including nam peng sandwich – made of cha siu, ham and eggs – are a perennial favourite, with the enticing concoction two or three times thicker than a normal sandwich.

Fresh bakeries are also popular, with lucky diners arriving when the baked goods are just hot out of the oven amazed by the flavours of handmade bread. Sa yung is a Chinese doughnut, featuring a deep fried dough, topped with sugar, made of eggs and flour mixed with cream mush. An unforgettable experience for even the most jaded palate.

Address: 85-85A Rua de Cinco de Outubro, Macau, China

Ving Kei

Hidden in the lanes off the Ruins of St. Paul’s, Ving Kei is a time-honoured food venue in Macau. The founder started to sell its signature tofu some 50 years ago with shoulder poles. Today, Ving Kei  operates four branches in both Macau and Taipa and is also included in Michelin Guide 2018’s street food category.

Ving Kei is famous for its silky smooth tofu products, attributed to a painstaking cooking method using purified water and stove fire. Its best known dish – bean curd pudding – is a very traditional dessert in Canton. The soft bean curd bathes in the aroma of beans blending with the sweet yet spicy ginger syrup topping.  Choose hot or cold.

Noodles here are also divine. Diners can choose their favourite food to accompany the noodles. Must-try dish bean curd soup noodles is the ideal combination of chewy noodles with bean curd made of quality soybeans imported from Canada and the perfect ratio of water to soybeans.

Everything here is made fresh daily, with more delectable food including fish balls which are really minced fish rolled together, pigskin, pig blood curds, squid and many other options. For those who want to taste all this delicious food in one sitting, the restaurant’s full board menu, which includes eight signature side dishes with noodles, might be just the answer.

Address: GF, 47 Rua de Tercena

Hung Heng coconut ice cream

Located in the same lane as Ving Kei, Cococ Hung Heng coconut ice cream was founded in 1869 and has been a family business for four generations. This spot is no secret to locals, many of whom queue to buy the ice cream. Visitors can still find the historical signboard and some iconic coconuts in the store. The ice cream is handmade daily using fresh coconuts only, with no additives or flavourings explaining its pure taste.

The texture is soft and a bit frozen like sorbet, while the flavours of coconut are not too sweet although very refreshing. There are usually at least two flavours, one original flavour and changing options like mango and taro. In fact, at Cocos Hung Heng customers can also find all the ‘by-products’ of coconuts – coconut water, coconut milk, coconut flakes, coconut halves – all fresh and ready to eat.

Address: 14, Rua de Tercena

Lord Stow’s Bakery 

When it comes to Macau’s famous street food Portuguese egg tarts should be at the top of the list. The first ancestor of egg tarts in Macau must be Lord Stow’s Bakery. The founder of the bakery, English pharmacist Andrew Stow, opened his store in 1989 in Coloane Village.

Mr. Stow tried a delicious pasteis de nata (a kind of egg tart) in Portugal and wanted to bring this delicious food to Macau but did not know the recipe. Thus, he used his pharmaceutical knowledge to create his version of pasteis de nata and this is the Portuguese egg tarts we can eat today.

The original branch of Lord Stow’s Bakery is still located in Coloane Village.  Every day, locals and tourists alike line up to buy the takeaway egg tarts. The pastry is crisp while the egg custard filling is joyfully sweet, smooth and full of egg flavours. Customers can buy a hot and fresh egg tart then sit on a bench by the shore enjoying the tasty dessert with a beautiful view of the water.

There are also two Lord Stow cafés near the bakery offering comfortable indoor seating and more options of drinks and food. Bought too many egg tarts and cannot finish them in a day? Don’t worry, just put them in the fridge. They are also really tasty to eat old the following day.

Address: 1 Rua do Tassara, Coloane Village Square