March 28, 2018

Hits and misses in Macau

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We've been attending events associated with Asia's 50 Best Restaurants over the last few days, and it's very tempting - for someone like me, especially - to stick to the fine dining establishments inside the casino hotels here.  Apparently The Great One felt the same way, so we made plans to escape and explore the rest of Macau a little...

While I did sample some of the finger food being served at the party after awards ceremonies last night, The Great One spent some time filing her article right after the announcement and Gaggan's press conference.  So she came back to the pool deck starving, and as lots of people were going out for supper, we figured we'd go and grab a bite, too.

I had long heard about mud crab congee (水蟹粥) as one of the famous supper items in Macau, but I have never had the stomach space for it when in Macau.  So I was pretty determined to get me some tonight.  After consulting KC's Macau dining guide, the 5 of just jumped into taxis and headed for Yat Gor Gourmet (一哥美食).

I was in the second taxi to arrive at the restaurant, and I found myself facing this...  They were filming the cook who was making steamed rice flour rolls (腸粉).

So it was only appropriate that we started with Yat Gor pulled rice flour rolls with pig's liver (一哥拉豬肝腸粉).  I asked for it to be served with both sesame and plum sauces in addition to soy sauce, so this packed the full wallop of flavors.  The rice flour rolls were very thin and soft.  Nicely done.

Next came a plate of stir-fried manila clams in black bean and chili sauce (豆豉).  This came piping hot and steam was still rising from the plate.  Needless to say this was gobbled up in no time.

Deep-fried Bombay duck (椒鹽九肚魚) was something that a couple of ladies at the table had never had before, so we felt the need to introduce them to this soft and juicy delicacy.

Finally we have the pièce de résistance... mud crab congee (水蟹粥).  This was a pretty big pot for the 5 of us!

I had never heard of "water crab (水蟹)" before, but apparently when mud crabs (青蟹) going through molting, their bodies absorb water while their new shells are still soft.  By the time their shells harden, their bodies still retain the water that has been absorbed, and they known as "water crabs".

These mud crabs were pretty small, so it took some effort to get to the meat inside the shells.  With plenty of chopped spring onions, pickled leafy mustard stems (榨菜), shredded ginger, and lettuce.  My stomach warmed quickly and a sense of satisfaction spread throughout my tired body.  As The Great One said: "That hit the spot."

With our bellies full - and I wasn't that hungry to begin with - The Great One and I headed back to our rooms at Wynn Palace to get some sleep, while the young ones moved to China Rouge at the Galaxy for the after-party with the chefs.

After The Great One finished her meeting today, a few of us went outside the hotel for some Macanese and Portuguese eats.  I had narrowed it down to two choices for The Great One: a popular place near our hotel in the residential area (Antonio) or a hotel with an outdoor deck overlooking the beach (Pousada de Coloane).  While The Great One had originally decided on Antonio, somehow she was persuaded into changing her mind.  So we hopped into taxis and headed to the southern tip of Coloane.

After we climbed the stairs, we arrived at the restaurant at Pousada de Coloane.  It's a charming little hotel overlooking Cheoc Van Beach.  Sitting on the deck, we could feel the ocean breeze, hear the sound of the waves in the distance, and actually hear birds chirping.  This would make for an idyllic afternoon...

The job of ordering from the menu was left up to me (surprise, surprise...) - with some input from the rest - so we took a selection of what I thought would be classic dishes to try.

Camarões picantes ao alhinho - in addition to the usual abundance of olive oil and chili, there was a surprising level of acidity.  The prawns were, not surprisingly, so-so.

Ameijoas à bulhão pato - the clams didn't seem fresh, and I gave up after my second spoonful.

Pastéis de bacalhau - very disappointed at how little bacalhau was used.  This was mostly a ball of fluffy mashed potatoes.

Bacalhau à brás - one look and I knew this was wrong.  The thin sticks of deep-fried potato were meant to be crispy, but the way they served it meant that the wet scrambled egg got the potatoes soggy.  Yes, the flavors were still there, but the texture was all wrong.

Legumes salteados com alho - The Great One remarked that this was the best dish from the meal...

Leitão assado à Portuguesa - this came way too quickly, so obviously this little piggy hadn't been roasted fresh for us.  Haokoufu complained about the crackling being chewy, and I couldn't blame her...

Frango grelhado à Africana com molho picante - FAIL.  I'm not an expert on the famous Macanese dish of African chicken, but I'm pretty sure this was the worst version I have ever had.  The chicken had actually not been cooked in the sauce, as it should have been.  Instead, the sauce was simply poured on top of the chicken, so the chicken meat had very little flavor itself.

I apologized profusely to the group for leading them astray.  Antonio surely would have been a better choice, and either Miramar or Fernando's were better beachfront restaurants.

Given the short distance to our next stop, the hotel staff recommended that we take the bus instead.  After a few stops, we got off at Coloane Village and headed for the famous Lord Stowe's Cafe - where The Great One and I sat down to have a cup of coffee while snacking on their famous Portuguese egg tarts.

We didn't linger long before catching a taxi back to our hotel.  We needed to pick up our luggage before heading to dinner at a famous private kitchen...

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