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Posts from the ‘Macanese’ Category

How Not to Eat a Pork Chop Bun in Macau

Food-wise, Macau is known for egg tarts, jerky,
suckling pig and pork chop buns–at least those are my  associations. On my
previous two visits to the former Portuguese colony Tai Lei Loi Kei's well-known pork chop
bun eluded me because it's one of those classic chowhoundish follies: off the
main tourist drag, super-specific hours, long lines and daily sell-outs. I
never made it over to Taipa Village.

Except that now the tourist-packed enclave abutts the ever-expanding
casino district, Cotai  (a portmanteau of the two neighboring areas: Coloane and Taipa) that barely
existed when I was in Macau in 2008. It
also turned out that hallowed Tai Lei Loi Kei was right across the street (granted,
a major multi-lane thoroughfare) from the sprawling Galaxy complex where I
staying (and wasn't allowed to see the world's largest rooftop wave pool because of post-typhoon storms, not even a peek) an exemplary illustration of the collision of old and new/local
culture and Americanization that I enjoy so much. And yet I still did not get my
Tai Lei Loi Kei bun…

The internet is rife with misleading information (and not
just from trolly hurricane douches). Tai Lei Loi Kei hadn't closed and it
hadn't moved into The Venetian. Accuracy, people.

Venetian tai lei loi kei

Uh, not yet, at least.

Lord stow's venetian macau

There was a Lord Stow's Bakery, however–another example
of a once small local business (selling egg tarts, in this case) getting modern
and mall-y. They also have branches in Japan, Korea and the Philippines.

Venetian macau food court

The casino food court was highly impressive, though,
with the same false summer blue sky and gondola-filled canals as in Las Vegas–just a hell of a lot
bigger overall. Seriously. The biggest in the world with 546,000 square feet vs. Vegas'
measly 120,000.

Exterior mcsorley's ale house macau

Plus, there was a frat-free McSorley's that kind of
blew my American-brands-abroad-loving  mind.

Taipa walkway

So, the morning before heading back to Hong Kong we
took the hotel's free shuttle bus to Taipa Village, which was, yes, just across
the street. They don't make it easy for pedestrians in a lot of modernizing cities,
which is why there was also a shuttle bus to The Venetian, across another
street on the other side. Maybe the oppressive humidity and sudden bursts of
rain also contribute to the aversion to walking? (Keep in mind that 99% of the tourists are Chinese, not the stereotypically lazy, blobby Americans everyone hates.)

San hou lei pork chop sandwich

 Thinking I was shit out of luck on Tai Lei Loi Kei, original
spot shuttered and not yet open in The Venetian, I sought out San Hou Lei (one of
many other pork chop bun purveyors–they're not that scarce) and ended up with
a pork chop sandwich on crustless white bread instead. Language barriers, they are

San hou lei exterior

There were some cute howling cats pacing in the front of the cafe, though (sadly, you can't see them with the window glare).

I want this cat shirt

On the subject of cats, a souvenir-shopper down the street had a shirt that I wanted.

Cat in a monkey shirt

Not to be confused with a cat in a shirt I
encountered in Bangkok a few days later. But this is about Macau.

Pork chop bun stand

There was a curry pork chop bun stall along the main
shopping arcade with a name I couldn't read because it was only in Chinese.

Curry pork chop bun

The sandwiches couldn't be more simple: a thin grilled
pork chop, this version sprinkled with curry powder, on a Portuguese roll. I add chile oil to mine. Unlike the McRib, there are actually bones in the cutlet.

Kafelaku coffee

Next door was a cafe selling civet poop coffee. I
couldn't taste anything radical in this expensive $6 cup, but when presented
with the opportunity to try kopi luwak you must partake.

Kopi luwak beans

A container of beans cost the equivalent of $168. Pre-digested coffee does not come cheap.

After dawdling and trying two unintended pork
chops between bread, we realized we needed to get back to the hotel to catch a
shuttle to the ferry to make it to Hong Kong by 8pm (yes, pork chop buns are what caused me to miss my original reservation at The Chairman) and in the rush back
guess what we found, merely a block from the crosswalk (the only such
concession to walkers on the entire busy road) leading straight to The Galaxy? I would've gone on day 1 if knew it was so close (Google Maps couldn't find it).

Tai lei loi kei

Tai Lei Loi Kei, totally open, and well before 3pm,
the much publicized time when buns supposedly become available.  Internet, you lie. Partially out of fullness
and a little out of spite and heat exhaustion, I didn't even bother buying one. At this point I was
over Tai Lei Loi Kei.  I will never speak of Macanese pork chop buns again after this post.

Tai lei loi kei moving to venetian

a sign advertising a branch in The Venetian.

A Lorcha

It was crazy to think we’d manage A Lorcha after a big late afternoon meal at Fernando’s, but since I never get up early enough for breakfast on vacation (or weekends ever) I at least have to get in two meals per day for maximum eating experience.

I missed my Saturday night reservation because I was jetlagged and couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I wasn’t particularly hungry Sunday evening either, still feeling the effects of a multi-course lunch at Robuchon a Galera, but Macanese food had to fit into the schedule, pathetic appetite or not.

A Lorcha is on the same strip as Restaurante Litoral, a restaurant similar in look and style–white stucco, dark wood beams and brick arches–that I tried in Macau previously. Both serve hearty fare in portions way too big for two to explore adequately. That probably explains why so many pushed together tables were occupied by extended families.

A lorcha pig ear salad

I’m always game for a pig’s ear salad and had no idea what to expect. The cold slices are definitely about texture, more cartilage than flavor. I was hoping all the little white bits weren’t raw garlic but they were. It was way overpowering and I’m not sure if that was intended or not. That’s not to say I disliked this dish; it was just very strong in all aspects, oily, vinegary, and not terribly meaty.

A lorcha macanese chicken

I would’ve tried the African chicken to compare it to Litoral’s but James insisted he didn’t like it last time. I don’t think that’s true. To appease, I ordered Macanese chicken to see what the difference would be. It turns out, I prefer the African chicken, which is a stiffer oilier curry. Macanese chicken is mild, stewy and coconut milk based with roughly chopped chicken pieces and potatoes chunks similar to a Malay kari ayam I later made in a Singaporean cooking class. It’s not too far from a Thai massamun curry either, if that’s more familiar.

I never know what to do with all the sauce and it seems wrong to eat potatoes and rice. This serving was enough of a meal by itself but I can’t justify eating only one dish for dinner, especially in a country I may never get to again.

A lorcha pork and clams

And I’m glad that I overindulged because the clams and pork were worth it. I love the uniquely Portuguese combination. Why not combine shellfish and meat? Clams are fine by themselves but sometimes you want something more substantial, and I guess, fatty. I was expecting little bits of pork but ratio between the two ingredients was almost equal.

I’m still not sure what makes food Macanese. Most of what I’ve encountered seems either Portuguese or sort of Malay or even Filipino (much of the staff and customers at both A Lorcha and Litoral were Filipino) not so much Chinese. I’m not feeling wild culinary fusing.

Of course I’m dying to try Macao Trading Co. which opened just before I left the country, despite being highly suspicious of the venture. I mean, in a way it’s kind of brilliant to sell a mishmash cuisine that most New Yorkers know nothing about in a rustically flashy setting. Maybe someone could sex up Guyanese food next? Interestingly, it looks like they’ve divided their menu up into Portuguese and Chinese versions of the same ingredients with little hybridism whatsoever.

A Lorcha * Rua do Almirante Sérgio 289, Macau

Restaurante Litoral

1/2I knew little to nothing about Macanese food before setting out for the little island, and my knowledge is now merely slightly broader. We only got to eat one meal due to transportation woes, language difficulties and a general inhospitable vibe from the city. I'm sure its a fun place if you know what youre doing, which we apparently did not.

My original plan was a beachy sunset suckling pig at Fernandos but we couldnt figure out how to get to Coloane. Buses were confusing, a taxi took nearly an hour to track down and refused to take us, I wasnt about to hop on the back of a motorbike as locals were doing (very Thai, its easy to judge the wealth of a country by the motorbike to car ratio. Malaysia had plenty, Hong Kong and Singapore not at all). We were screwed. Getting a cab back to the ferry so we could get the hell out of Macau was tough enough.


But the afternoon started out well with an easy jaunt to Restaurante Litoral. I'd never given it much thought, but the Chinese-Portuguese crisscross cuisine is kind of Filipino in ways. I'm pretty sure our waitresses were speaking Tagalog, too. The décor was Spanish with whitewashed walls, dark wood beams, a tropical hacienda.

We were accidentally served a dried sausage and olive appetizer that belonged to someone else. By the time the error was discovered wed both taken bites and were happy to keep it for ourselves. We tried a pretty Portuguese dish of bacalao with potatoes and massive amounts of garlic and olive oil.


African chicken was my pick since it seemed like a good example of the natural Latin-Asian fusion (the African part, I'm not sure about). Lush orange oil pooled around the chicken and was perfect for soaking up with the fried potato rounds served alongside, and crusty Portuguese rolls. The overall taste is sweet, spicy and incredibly rich (I didnt think fat content once while on vacation) which isn't surprising considering the coconut milk, peanut butter and chicken skin had all been simmering and gathering goodness. African chicken also often contains five-spice powder, rosemary, and as you can see in the photo, sweet pickles.

[I had the urge to revise history after  randomly re-reading this post. I researched African chicken and found a great Wall St. Journal article on the dish that strangely was published today, February 29, 2008.]

We had enough food for an entire family and I felt guilty not being able to eat much of it (we were still saving our appetites for suckling pig later–if I'd only known) so we took it to go, which was kind of weird. I carted the bag around all day and night and ultimately we left it in our hotel, which I'm sure pleased the cleaning staff. Still, salt cod is less stinky than durian.

Restaurante Litoral * 261A Rua do Almirante Sérgio, Macau