Macau has a vibrant food culture and restaurant scene. But what are Macau’s top dishes? Where to eat exactly? What restaurants can fit your budget? In this article, we’ll share with you some of our food recommendations and restaurant reviews!
If you’re a long-time The Poor Traveler follower, you’ve probably noticed that although we have been travel blogging for the past 14 years, we have never tackled the food scene in Macau. Even our previous Macau Travel Guides lacked a “Where to Eat” section, something that is a staple in all the other guides.
There’s a very simple explanation for it. When we’re in Macau, our itinerary is so packed that we don’t pay much attention to where we would be eating. Often, we’d just pick a food place that is closest to where we were. Thus, on our most recent trip, we were so excited to finally have a taste of Macau’s gastronomy and gain a much deeper appreciation of it. We weren’t alone this time around. We were led by our new friend Ken, a Macau local who works for the Macau Government Tourism Office. Needless to say, along with delicious food, he fed us with lots of insightful insider tips.
WHAT’S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Taipa Food Street
Budget level: Affordable
Best for: Street food raiders
The first entry on this list isn’t a specific restaurant but a cluster of food kiosks along Macau’s go-to foodie alley, Taipa Food Street (Rua do Cunha)!
Located at the heart of Taipa Village, it is easily accessible from Cotai Strip. From The Venetian Macau Resort, it should take around 20 minutes on foot. But don’t worry, much of the walking trail is covered and equipped with travelators, too. But what’s so special about this place?
Taipa Food Street is flanked with food stalls, cafes, and restaurants –- some with Michelin distinctions — serving a wide range of Macau favorites, including those that are rooted in Chinese, those heavily influenced by the Portuguese, and those that mix these two traditions. In other words, it can give you a small taste of Macau’s two worlds.
Much of the street food here is prepared on the spot, ensuring freshness and quality. Many of them are relatively inexpensive. I’m saying “relatively” because for us, Filipinos or Southeast Asians, they are still pretty steep, but within the Macau and Hong Kong context, these can be considered affordable.
If you’re coming from the side of The Venetian, the first that will greet you is a home-grown favorite called Café Vong Kei and its giant bottle of milk tea, dripping on the side of a colorful, whimsical corner building. As you might have guessed, it’s popular for its, well, milk tea (MOP 24, PHP 168, USD 3).
But if milk tea isn’t your cuppa tea, don’t worry, its iced coffee (MOP 24, PHP 168, USD 3) is also a bestseller.
They also serve snacks including the ubiquitous pork chop bun (MOP 48, PHP 336, USD 6), a freshly grilled pork chop so big it looks like it’s about to jump out of the bread. It’s juicy and peppery, complemented by the crispy pastry.
But if a big chunk of meat is too heavy, you can order just the bread called pineapple bun (MOP 18, PHP 126, USD 2.25). Despite the name, it has no pineapples in it — just sweet, creamy custard inside. It takes its name from its pineapple-like crusty appearance.
Don’t be discouraged by the long line to the takeout counter because it moves quickly. The staff whips out bun after bun and bottle after bottle almost non-stop.
CAFÉ VONG KEI
Address: 60, 60號 R. Correia da Silva, Macao
Open: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Another brunch/snack place that you might want to check out is Sei Kee Café. It has at least 2 outlets in Taipa Village, with its main branch earning a Michelin citation from 2019-2021. Just like our previous stop, it’s best known for its coffee, tea, and pork chop bun.
As you walk deeper into the area, you’ll be bombarded by two very distinct food scents that fill the air. The first one is from the many stalls that serve bowls of stew made with beef offal (MOP 55-100, PHP 385-700, USD 7-12.5).
Yes, cow’s innards in hot, thick, savory sauce. It’s so incredibly popular, you’ll find people just standing in the corner finishing their serving of it.
The other scent is more inviting for us – the sweet aroma of egg tarts (MOP 11, PHP 77, USD 1.37 per piece). You’ll find it on display at various shops. Undoubtedly, however, the most trusted of them is Lord Stow’s Bakery, which was established in Coloane in 1989. Since then, it has opened countless stores all over the world, including this one at the Taipa Village.
Now that we’re already talking about desserts, let’s end this tour with Mochi Macau. Although it’s being marketed as Mochi Macau (MOP 18, PHP 126, USD 2.25), we were told that its name is Cheung Chau Ping Kei, which started in Hong Kong but opened a branch here in Taipa in 2015. The fruit filled varieties like strawberry, durian, and this mango mochi seem to be the crowd-pleasers, but we prefered the red bean version.
Lei Ka Choi
Budget level: Low cost
Best for: Families and budget travelers on a big group
If you’re traveling with family or a big group, one shop that our new friend Ken from Macao Tourism recommended with all his heart was an unassuming local restaurant called Lei Ka Choi. And when he said local, he meant almost everyone dining here was a Macau resident. And it’s true, we were the only foreigners when we visited.
Lei Ka Choi is considered a dai pai dong, which surprised me because I thought dai pai dongs are outdoor setups, similar to what I saw in Hong Kong. Apparently, dai pai dongs in Macau used to be set outside too, but the government wanted them to convert to indoor type for sanitation reasons. But over the years, the dai pai dong label stuck.
Lei Ka Choi’s claim to fame is its hot pots, which are basically a type of dish composed of raw proteins – usually thin slices of beef but it can also be seafood – that you’re supposed to dip in boiling hot broth.
A fatty beef hotpot set meal (MOP 238, PHP 1666, USD 29.50) seems to be the most popular. You can order more ingredients but with extra charge. Don’t be intimidated by the prices. Hot pots are a group thing, so every order is good for multiple persons.
The most expensive item on their menu is the dragon king seafood hotpot (MOP 788, PHP 5500, USD 97.90), composed of oysters, abalones, prawns, squid, fish, scallops, mussels, and other seafood with mushrooms. Mind you, we were a big group at the time, but we weren’t able to finish them all, not because they were not good – they were excellent, so fresh and delicious – but there was just too much food on the table.
It’s not all hot pot though. In fact, of all the things served to us that night, the two dishes that made the best impression were not the dipping kind.
The first was the baked sea-salt snail whole chicken (MOP 258, PHP 1799, USD 32.05). Yes, a massive whole chicken – head, tail, and all – stuffed with snails and seafood! This was oh so immaculate. I’ve never had chicken this juicy. It was almost buttery and so packed with umami.
My other favorite was an appetizer called secret braised black tofu with mullet roe (MOP 108, PHP 756, USD 13.41 per 8 pcs). It looked crispy and spicy but it wasn’t. It was soft and so moist and tasty.
No wonder these two are also their best-selling dishes, sometimes even overshadowing the hot pots!
But oh, we also enjoyed the beef soup and razor clam appetizer. But I failed to get the names of these dishes.
All these are best rinsed with gulps of Macau beer!
LEI KA CHOI
Operating hours: 6:00 PM – 4:00 AM
Budget level: Mid-range
Best for: Romantic dates, families, foodies
Cuisine: Macanese (Portuguese-Cantonese)
Before we dig into the next set of dishes, let’s first talk about Macanese cuisine. The word “Macanese” can mean two things. For us outsiders, it can refer to anything that is related to Macau, like the Macanese pataca or Macanese streets. But among Macau locals, it is more nuanced and often indicates the blending of Southern Chinese and Portuguese heritage. It can refer to a specific language, people, and cuisine.
You see, Macau was under Portuguese rule from 1557 to 1999. And in those 440-odd years, it is no wonder Portuguese influences have seeped into the local culture quite deeply in parts, including the food.
One of the oldest fusion cuisines in the world, Macanese cuisine uses the spices that the Portuguese accumulated from all over the world – Africa, Southeast Asia, and India – mixed with Chinese ingredients, and prepared or cooked Portuguese-style. It is common to see coconut milk, cinnamon, tamarind, and turmeric in Macanese dishes, even though in reality, these are not very common in Cantonese kitchens.
And this unique and eclectic take on gastronomy is highlighted here at Restaurante Litoral, a Macanese institution not too far away from Ama Temple.
Our guide Ken pre-ordered the dishes for us, starting with three appetizers:
- Pasteis de bacalhau (MOP 88, PHP 616, USD 11 per 6 pieces), which are cod fish cakes, sort of like fish croquettes. It was light, but we could still sense the delicate taste of the cod.
- Vinagrete de lulas (MOP 108, PHP 756, USD 13.50), which is squid in vinegar. I loved, loved, loved this. The mollusk was so fresh, there wasn’t any tinge of any funky smell, and the raw onions totally worked well with it.
- Chamussa (MOP 88, PHP 616, USD 11 per 6 pieces), which are samosas filled with beef curry.
For the mains, we had galinha Africana (MOP 218, PHP 1526, USD 27), which is half-chicken marinated in and doused with a concoction of spices, served with potatoes, olives, and pickles. It reminded me of piri-piri chicken, which is also African Portuguese, but this one’s wetter, greasier, and stronger and more varied in flavor.
Of course, it’s not a complete meal without proper carbs. For that, we had Portuguese fried rice or arroz chau chau a Portuguesa (MOP 138, PHP 966, USD 17.15).
For dessert, we had serradura or Macau pudding (MOP 38, PHP 266, USD 4.72), which is typically made with chilled layers of creamy mousse, condensed milk, and crushed Marie biscuits. The biscuit crumbs on top earned it its other nickname sawdust pudding. Litoral’s version is not that sweet, which is how I usually like my desserts.
Address: Rua do Alm. Sergio, 261號a
Lunch: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Dinner: 6:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Budget level: Splurge
Best for: Families, friends, co-workers
Cuisine: International buffet (Asian, Portuguese, and Macanese dishes among others)
Many of the luxury hotels in the Cotai Strip have a fantastic collection of in-house restaurants. At the Studio City complex, the options are plenty. But one of the most popular is Hawker Hawker at W Hotel!
It’s a fantastic buffet restaurant that gave us one of our best meals, not just because of the food but the overall dining experience.
The atmosphere inside Hawker Hawker is very festive. It’s more like a family-friendly bar than a proper buffet. Everywhere you see wine glasses and bottles clanking and customers laughing and having a good time. It’s perfect for those who are celebrating an occasion.
The cuisine here is international. There’s a lot of local Cantonese favorites, but you’ll also spot tom yum in one corner, and sashimi in the next, and Portuguese dishes in another. And yes, as a true-blue carnivore, I gravitated towards the red meat section where I snatched slices of roast beef sirloin and Portuguese suckling pig. Yes, hypertension, here we go!
The chefs and staff make sure everything is fresh by putting just the right amount on display and constantly refilling them, especially the raw seafood section, which has its own walk-in room, as though you’re at the market.
They also have a table of delectable desserts with Macanese egg tarts as the centerpiece, of course!
We really had fun here at Hawker Hawker! And if you want to experience this too, here’s a tip. You can get 18% OFF if you book with Klook!
The cost will be reduced to only MOP 439 (PHP 3062, USD 54.50) for weekend lunch buffet or MOP 574 (PHP 4000, USD 71.29) for dinner buffet, inclusive of service fee. That’s a massive discount!
But that’s not all! If you use our promo code THEPOORTRAVELER upon check out, you can get even more savings – additional 5% OFF!
Address: Floor 2U, W Hotel, Studio City, Macau
Lunch Hours: 12:00 pm–3:00 pm
Dinner Hours: 6:00 pm–10:30 pm
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Special thanks to Ate Janelle, a Filipina who works here at Hawker Hawker, for taking great care of us! She’s one of the many OFWs who are part of the workforce here in Macau, and we met a lot of them!
Budget level: Splurge, fine-dining
Best for: Romantic dates, families, luxury travelers
Cuisine: Cantonese (Taishi)
And now, we’ve come to the most expensive item on this list!
Ken wanted us to try a variety of Macau restaurants. From street food to local hotpot spots to all-you-can-eat buffets to Macanese heritage restaurants. But before we left, he also wanted us to see the higher end of Macau’s dining scene, and for that, he took us to the Grand Lisboa Palace Resort, also in Cotai.
It is here that we found ourselves in the middle of one of the most lavish restaurants I’ve set foot in – the Palace Garden. It is helmed by Head Chef Ken Chiong, who marries a more sophisticated Cantonese cooking with western ingredients.
We don’t normally dabble our toes into fine-dining territory, but this would certainly be one to remember. The interiors were grandiose and ornate. At the main dining area, one wall is dressed in a 35-meter Suzhou silk mural with stunning embroidery of chrysanthemums. One private room is decorated with intricate butterfly patterns. It’s opulence, Macau-style!
As for the food, we were served a 6-course Executive Lunch Set Menu. After setting the 3-sauce plate with citron sauce, hot sauce, and XO sauce, we had a really promising amuse-bouche.
But the meal proper started with colorful duo: a playful green pork dumpling topped with abalone and black caviar and an appetizingly yellow crystal blue prawn dumpling. Everything just tasted so fresh and put-together, if you know what I mean. The abalone, in particular, had just the right brininess and chewiness.
For the soup, we had a giant crabmeat and conpoy dumpling in supreme broth, and supreme indeed. It was one of the best broths that ever graced my palate. It was clean, bright, and very elegant. Like, oh my goodness. The crabmeat and scallops also had the perfect texture. They were intact inside the dough, but easily breaks apart with a soft bite.
Next was another duo – the crispy bird nest and Australian scallop roll, which I wasn’t that much of a fan of; and the wagyu beef bun with black pepper sauce, which reminded me of the homey meat buns that I enjoy in Macau and Hong Kong, only more refined. It’s very well-balanced, with the right amount of sauce, bread, and seasoning.
And the beef party wasn’t over just yet because the next one was beef slow stewed with wild honey and supreme soy sauce. Everything about this was on point. The beef was not too tender that we’d lose the texture, and the sauce was not too sweet that we’d lose its flavor. It had the right balance of sweet and salty that permeated deep into the meat, accentuated by the burst of mild tanginess from the cherry tomato.
Next to be served was duo vermicelli stewed with shredded roast duck and mushrooms. The duck got lost in the mix, but it was smokey, which was my favorite flavor profile. The veggies added crunch to the graceful noodles.
And for dessert, we had sweetened gorgon fruit and fresh lily bulb double boiled with osmanthus. Not really a fan of hot desserts, but the little fruits were soft and smooth and the osmanthus gave it an irresistible aroma. Still not my fave, but I liked it.
By the way, through all of this, our tea cups were constantly refilled. Tea pairing is a thing here. I do love tea, but my palate is still pretty untrained, so I can’t say much about it except that I did enjoy every thing that poured into my cup.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this lunch. Everything was clean, resplendent, vibrant, and masterfully done. But that crabmeat-conpoy soup and the beef were my absolute favorites. Just divine, those two.
This set lunch menu usually costs MOP 638 (PHP 4466, USD 79.25) plus 10% service charge. For tea pairing, additional MOP 168 (PHP 1176, USD 20.89) per person will be added. They also have a lunch tasting menu version for double the price.
Dinner menus have eight courses, and as of today cost MOP 2388-3688 (PHP 16,716-25,816; USD 296.65-458) per person, without drinks and exclusive of the 10% service charge.
Address: Shop 306, 3F, Grand Lisboa Palace, Grand Lisboa Palace Resort, Rua do Tiro, Cotai, Macau
Lunch Hours: 12:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Dinner Hours: 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Dress Code: Smart Casual (For men: with ankle length trousers, no sandals, no open shoes, no sleeveless tops)
Where to Stay in Macau
Here are some of the top Macau hotels that are close to the restaurants mentioned in this article.
Search for more Macau Hotels!
How to Get to Macau
Philippine Airlines offers direct flights from Manila to Macau! So if you haven’t booked a ticket yet, consider flying with PAL. One thing I love about PAL is the generous baggage allowance that automatically comes with each booking. For Macau flights, check-in baggage can weigh 25 kg maximum for Economy passengers.
That’s on top of the 7-kg carry-on baggage allowance. Often, although some flights with low-cost carriers really do appear cheap, when you start adding baggage allowance, the total cost gets close (sometimes even exceeding) PAL’s prices.
Another reason we prefer PAL is its four-star service and delicious inflight meals and unlimited drinks on board, which are already included in the booking.
Visit philippineairlines.com to search for flights to Macau!
Updates Log & Acknowledgment
2024 • 02 • 07 – Original posting
Special thanks to the Macau Government Tourism Office for making our most recent trip possible.
That’s all for now. Remember, plan smart, travel safe, and make every trip WORTH IT!