Archive for the Macau Category

Macau – Colonial Era Architecture

Posted in China, Macau with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2019 by gannet39

The Portuguese were in Macau for around 450 years and only gave the territory back to China in 1999 (two years after Hong Kong was returned).

The most famous landmark is the façade of St. Pauls, a Jesuit church that burned down on three separate occasions in its history (a hint from above perhaps?).

This famous ruin is the main spot for visitors taking group photos and selfies. Personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about but I suppose it has to be ticked off the list.

Leading up to the St. Pauls steps is the pedestrian shopping street Rua de São Paulo which begins in Senado Square. Together they form the epicentre of the old town. There are a few attractive historical buildings along here, like these two wedding cake churches.

You know when you’re in the old town because all the pavements are mosaics.

Above St. Pauls, at the top of Mount Hill, is the Mount Fortress which was built by the Jesuits between 1617 and 1626.

The guns have a commanding view over the bay and the town as you can see from my short video. It was demilitarised in the 1970s and is now the location for the Macau Museum which I didn’t have time to see sadly.

It was a bit cloudy on the day I went but the views were still good. The forsest of cranes on the horizon point to Macau’s status as one the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world.

On the other side of Mount Hill, the streets around Igreja de São Lazoro (the Church of St.Lazarus) are nice to walk around. I walked along Calçada da Igreja de São Lázaro which has some attractive old buildings.

At 7 Calçada da Igreja de São Lazoro is Chui Lok Chi Mansion. Once a Catholic school it now houses the Tai Fung Tong Art House, a cultural centre.

On the other side of town, another interesting building is the Mandarin’s House.  

It was constructed around 1860 by the Zheng family. With more than sixty rooms and a series of courtyards it is Macau’s largest mansion.  Not all the rooms are open though so you only need about thirty minutes here.

It has many of the characteristics of a traditional Guangdong residence, including moon gates; circular doors between garden areas.

It subtly incorporates architectural details from other cultures as well, such as arched doorways and French windows.  One of my favourite features is that the drainpipes are designed to look like bamboo poles.

Elsewhere, at 975 Avenida da Praia Grande, is the Clube Militar de Macau, now a private club The restaurant is open to the public but I mistimed my arrival so I didn’t get to eat here. Inside it looks like a very atmospheric dining spot.

My time in Macau was limited so I didn’t get to see everything I’d like to. Here are some suggestions for walking tours which I didn’t have time to do; two from Frommers here and here and some ideas from the local tourist board here. My Google map with all these places on is here. Please see my previous posts for food and modern architecture in Macau.

Holidays in Tokyo next!


Macau – Food Tour

Posted in China, Macau with tags , , , , on January 4, 2019 by gannet39

This is a suggested itinerary for trying a few local delicacies. I’ve organised the walk partly according to geographical location and also in the order you might want to eat the foods in. I’ve put everywhere mentioned on this Google map.

Birmanes Nga Heong (Elementary B+), 27F Rua De Fernao Mendes Pinto

In the 60s and 70s, after anti-Chinese riots in Rangoon, some Burmese of Chinese descent came to settle in Macau. This shop was opened in 1978 and specialises in Burmese cuisine.

They serve a mean Burmese samosa (B+).

I’d come to try their most famous dish, Massinha de Peixe (fish with noodles), which consists of a rich fish stock with the addition of lemon, black peppercorn, coriander, turmeric, chilli and banana tree stem, eaten with vermicelli rice noodles and garnished with lime and split chickpea fritters.

I’m an afficionado of noodle soups but this little combo was completely new to me and I really liked it (B+).

For dessert you could go down the road to this place…

Lai Kei Sorvetes (Intermediate A), 12 Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida,

This ice cream parlour is one of my top picks for two reasons.

First off, I love the look of the shop front and the classic 1960s interior. Especially the snug little booths but also the other furnishings…

…and secondly I love the nostalgic feeling of eating their old-school handmade ice cream.

Their ice cream sandwich still comes in its original wrapping…

Single Origin (Intermediate A), 19 Rua de Abreu Nunes

Just a couple of blocks away from Lai Kei ice cream parlour is this great little hipster coffee shop which serves a tidy cuppa (A).

Back in the old town, one thing you’ll see a lot of along Rua de São Paulo, is the famous Macanese jerky. It’s a variety of Bakkwa, a centuries old preparation of dried meat from China. For many Chinese tourists from the mainland it’s a popular souvenir to take home.

Pork and beef varieties are popular here and come in multiple flavours including black pepper, chilli, five spice, abalone and honey-roasted.

Don’t worry if you don’t know which one to get, the street vendors will cut off strips for you to try.

I particularly liked the honey-roasted flavours but I do have a big sweet tooth.

Despite a name that invokes images of a difficult-to-chew dried meat, I found it to be quite moist and very edible.

Yee Shun Dairy Company aka Leitaria I Son (Intermediate B), 381 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro

In the Macau episode of his No Reservations series, Anthony Bourdain was brought to this steamed milk custard vendor. It’s one of the local delicacies, served for over 150 years in this shop, although he didn’t really come across as a fan (from 36.16 in the video).

There a few kinds to choose from, the most common being the white milk custard and the yellow egg custard varieties, served either hot or cold. However many people prefer the ginger or red bean versions as they have more flavour.

I had the classic cold white milk pudding which was fine but completely bland (B).

There are of course heaps of other places to eat including plenty of street vendors.

This very popular stall selling Cantonese style street food was on Travessa do Mastro, just around the corner from the Fat Siu Lau restaurant.

Here’s a link to some other examples of Macanese cuisine.

Colonial era architecture next!

Macau – Places to Eat Portuguese Food

Posted in China, Macau with tags , , , on January 3, 2019 by gannet39

I only had two nights and three days here but I did my best to eat around as much as possible in that time. The next post describes a food walk where you can try several different kinds of food and drink but here I’m focussing on restaurants influenced by the Portuguese empire.

All the restaurants mentioned are on this Google map.

Fernando’s (Intermediate B+), 9 Praia de Hac Sa, no credit cards or reservations are accepted,

This rustic Portuguese restaurant (a local institution since 1986) came recommended by Anthony Bourdain and also my good friend Tommy K who knows his grub.

Hac Sa beach is a bit of a trek from town but it’s worth it for the good food and fun atmosphere. This was defintiely my best restaurant experience in Macau.

The house speciality is the Leitao Assado no Forno, or suckling pig, which is delicious (B+). It came with chips and a green salad (both B), but I added on a tomato salad as well. Unexpectedly the tomatoes were fantastic (A).

With it, a bottle of okay red from Lisbon called Porta 6 (B-)…

…which was decanted at the table.

I finished with a hefty slice of flan (B) and something strong and sweet from a tiny barrel. My memory doesn’t recall what it was, only that it was good! (B+).

Taxis seemed to be a problem for some reason (maybe prebook a cab for your return) but a friend of the restaurant drove me home for a fee and kindly stopped off for me to see some of the casino sights on the way back (see previous post).

A Vencedora (Intermediate B+), Edificio Pak Nin Son, 264 Rua do Campo

A local colleague brought me here for lunch. They’ve been serving good homemade Portuguese food since 1918. Nothing special, just plain, good honest food.

I enjoyed their croquettes (B+). Portuguese Pastéis or Bolo de Bacalhau tend to be made with mashed potato without the addition of Béchamel sauce, unlike Spanish croquetas.

A main of plain grilled sardines (B+) and a bit of salad saw me right.

Fat Siu Lau (Intermediate B), 64 Rua da Felicidade,

This old restaurant has been a local institution since 1903, currently recommended by Fodor’s. I came here on my first night hungry for a change from Chinese food.

The house speciality is ‘Pombo Asado’ aka ‘Shek Ki Superb Roasted Pigeon’, but I was hankering after seafood so I started with a plate of clams, hoping they’d be plain but found them just acceptable in a sauce (B).

I followed up with the grilled prawns in a garlic and butter sauce, or Camarãos Grelhados Servidos con Molho de Alho e Manteiga which were okay but not particularly inspiring (B).

I washed these down with a couple of cans of Portuguese Sagres beer (B).

For dessert I was intrigued to see Norwegian Almond Krumkake Rolls on the menu (those sailors do get around). Krumkaker are waffles that are bent into cones whilst still hot, similar to Sicilian cannoli, and served with whipped cream as they are here or perhaps used as ice-cream cones.

Being in possession of both part Norwegian and sweet-toothed these were hard to refuse, luckily as they were the best thing I had in the restaurant (B+).

Margaret’s Café e Nata (Intermediate B+), Edificio Kam Loi

Portuguese custard tarts are one of my favourite things in life and this is one of the best places in Macau to eat them.

According to popular wisdom, Lord Stow’s bakery is the best to have them but I didn’t have time to go over the other side of the island to his place). Fortunately this rival establishment, opened by his ex-wife, does a mean pasteis de nata as well (B+).

Food walk next!

Macau – Casinos and Modern Architecture

Posted in China, Macau with tags , , on January 2, 2019 by gannet39

Macau is the gambling mecca of China, a nation that loves to bet. Unlike the mainland, gambling is legal here, with the result that it has developed into a huge tourist industry that dominates the Macanese economy. It’s been calculated that the gambling sector in Macau in 2014 was five times larger than that of Las Vegas!

Again unlike the mainland, prostitution has also been decriminalised and drugs are said to be readily available. Unsurprisingly these rackets have attracted the interest of the Triads and other criminal gangs. This combination of ingredients have made Macau the primary place on the planet for spending money on pleasure. It’s a den of iniquity if ever there ever was one but it’s a fascinating place to observe from the outside.

All of the places mentioned in these posts are on my Google map, here.

The oldest casino is The Grand Lisboa which was built in the 60s (brief video here).

The casino’s gaudy hotel (built in the 70s) dominates the skyline and you can see it wherever you go in the centre of town.

The building is supremely ugly but the lights are quite fun to watch at night. Video here.

The huge foyer is a supreme example of bad taste.

As it’s a casino, they don’t like you taking photos inside. I was told to stop after taking this one.

The Grand Lisboa is out of date now as huge sums have been ploughed into building new casinos in a dedicated zone of reclaimed land outside the main urban area known as the Cotai Strip .

Probably the most famous casino is The Venetian which is the world’s biggest with a gaming floor that covers 546,000 square feet.

Just over the road is The Parisian which even has a replica of the Eiffel Tower standing outside it.

On the way back from eating at Fernando’s (see later post) my driver stopped so I could watch the world-famous fountain show at the Wynn Palace which was truly a bizarre experience.

The spectacular roaring fountains erupt with the force and noise of a firework display. All the while cable cars pass over and through the fountains to the sound of music. When I was there a very loud recording of the Artful Dodger singing ‘Consider Yourself At Home’ was blasting out over the speakers. Seeing and hearing is believing; watch my video here.

Back in town, there are plenty of new buildings but none of them are particularly attractive.





Most people seem to live in apartment blocks of varying sizes, I didn’t see any individual houses.

My driver told me that real estate in Macau has increased so much in value that ordinary local people can no longer afford to buy their own property which is a sad state of affairs.

On to the food next!

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