Essential Macau | The taste of northern China

Macau is a city of international fusion – and nowhere is that creativity more apparent than in its vibrant culinary culture. Here, guests can enjoy different cuisines from west to east. Nevertheless, local guests and tourists alike still more prefer to eat Chinese food.

This cuisine is broad and profound; each city has a distinct style and different strengths. As the capital of China, Beijing cuisine is based on the Chinese imperial food that originated from the Emperor’s Kitchen, which referred to the cooking facilities inside the Forbidden City, where thousands of cooks from different parts of China showed their best culinary skills to please the imperial family and officials. 

In Macau, there is no lack of northern cuisine, but Beijing cuisine is very rare. Beijing Kitchen, at Grand Hyatt Macau, is one of the best restaurants in town for this type of cooking. To bring in the most authentic taste of Beijing, chef Jason Sun, who was born and raised in the capital city, travelled back to his hometownduring summer to look for the finest ingredients and seasonings. He also visited local chefs for inspiration in his quest to take gourmet dining to a whole new level.

“I have loved cooking since I was young and I went to cooking school to study Lu cuisine (Shandong cuisine),” said chef Sun. “Beijing cuisine was heavily influenced by Shandong cuisine – one of China’s eight major cuisines – and both are known for their richness and freshness. People from Beijing, like me, who were raised in “Hutongs”, can easily get a taste of home with our new home-style menu. I hope to invite friends from all over the world to pay a visit to Beijing Kitchen for a home-cooked meal.”

In 2009, chef Sun joined the opening team of Beijing Kitchen and build up a wonderful group in the restaurant. “The sprit of the restaurant is the taste of mum’s dishes. Beijing cuisine is simple and home-style. I want to bring the flavours of my hometown to local guests or visitors from northern China who miss their home,” he said.

When it comes to Beijing cuisine, the traditional Beijing Style Duck must be the most famous and popular dish. In Macau, there are no other restaurants that have this delicacy: “We use duck from Beijing and roast it with wood from jujube trees in the special open oven for 60 minutes. The ducks must be 38-days old,” said chef Sun. In order to roast the duck evenly, the oven is specially designed to have a rectangle and a circle inside.

The duck is served tableside, so guests can witness the staff cutting off the skin. “The duck skin should be eaten with sugar – that is the traditional way to eat it. The sugar can balance the oiliness of the skin,” the chef explained. The crispy textures and the sweetness offer surprises with every bite. “The duck meat should be paired with cucumber sticks, spring onion slices and sweet bean sauce. And we also serve it with steamed pancakes, which should be eaten with the leg meat and a little skin.”

“I always visit other restaurants to find ideas, thetaste of my hometown is always the biggest inspiration for me. I want to bring authentic flavours to Macau guests.

Crispy Mandarin fish with sweet and sour sauce is another of the restaurant’s signature dishes, which is also hard to find anywhere else. “We use fresh fruits to make the sweet and sour sauce. The Cantonese version is normally made with vinegar and sugar. That’s why the colour and the taste of the sauce is mild,” chef Sun explained.

However, no authentic Beijing cuisine is complete without sesame sauce, so the chef also makes a traditional appetizer with spinach, sesame sauce and vinegar. In Beijing cuisine, sesame paste is often used in appetizers with peppercornflavoured oil to entice diners’ palate with an extra kick of flavour and aroma. Sesame paste is also the musthave sauce for Beijing lamb hotpot.

The chef also shares his favourite way to enjoy the meal is eating fried pancake with assorted grain congee. “Families in northern China always buy many pancakes. If they can’t finish them all, they cut them in slices and fry them with vegetables, eggs and meat. It’s very delicious and a very local way to eat pancake,” the chef said. “I really hope guests enjoy the taste of my hometown.”