Margaret’s Café e Nata
Of the three treats one might seek out in Macau, egg tarts were the only one I got to. Jerky is all over Hong Kong so I wasn’t worried, but I may regret not making time for a pork chop bun.
In a perfect world I would compare tarts from Lord Stow’s and Margaret’s. Coloane is a trek but Margaret’s was just down a little alley one block from the Hotel Lisboa where we stayed our last night. It feels hidden but there’s nothing secret about it. On a Sunday afternoon all of the outdoor seats were taken and there was a huddle (Chinese aren’t big on lining up, or rather queing as they like to say in both Singapore and Hong Kong with a nice Q reminder painted on the ground in front of taxi stands. As an aside, as much as Singaporeans are rigid rule followers, they totally don’t let riders off the subway before rushing on, an aberration to even the rudest New Yorker) of customers crammed into the small storefront waiting to be helped.
Egg tarts are a regular at Chinese bakeries. But the Hong Kong style uses a stiffer shortbread crust and the custard is smooth with an unblemished canary yellow top.
The Portuguese style favored in Macau (as well as Chinese KFCs) is slightly different, richer and more flavorful. These are wobbly custards encased in flaky, buttery puff pastry layers. The surfaces are burnt in spots and caramelized.
What I found surprising is that these goodies do not have a long tradition in Asia. From I understand they were brought to Macau in the '80s by an Englishman, Andrew Stow of Lord Stow's Bakery, and were meant to replicate pastéis de nata from Portugal, of course. This convoluted history makes perfect sense for such a culturally mixed island, somehow.
My only crime was not eating these while they were still warm, but I had just finished a multi course lunch at Galera a Robuchon across the street. Yes, you get them straight out of the oven and it’s worth braving the crowds for.
Margaret’s Café e Nata * Gum Loi Building, Rua Almirante Costa Cabral, Macau