Set on just 30 square kilometers of prime bay area in China’s southwest, Macau is best known as a gambling mecca, and sometime tax haven. However, despite its tiny size and interesting labels, Macau is also a foodies delight – which may not surprise those who regularly gamble in casinos around the world, where 5 star dining and award winning chefs and restaurants compete for business.
When looking for fantastic dining experiences in Macau, you’re spoilt for choice. It was only on my last visit to Macau that I really set out to document the delights that I’d come across in my previous trips – as well as uncover some hidden gems in the quest for the city’s most delicious treats and most spectacular restaurant surrounds.
The city’s darling of the moment @ Lai Heen
Where better to start my culinary journey, than Trip Advisor’s number one restaurant in Macau – Lai Heen. Situated within the Ritz Carlton, an amazing casino and entertainment destination, Lai Heen is a bright star in this already bright city. 51 floors up, the restaurant offers ala carte, Michelin, gourmet degustation, delightful lunch, and dim sum menus. While most items on the menu are distinctly Chinese in nature, there are also French and Western touches for the a more traditional fine dining approach. With beautifully served dishes where you can simply see the craftsmanship, funky and lavish Chinese-inspired surrounds, and a killer view, it’s hard to beat Lai Heen at the moment. I highly recommend going for dim sum at Lai Heen – definitely some of the more amazing dumplings that I have had in my time!
Lai Heen is open 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-10.30pm Monday to Friday, and 11.30pm-3pm and 6pm-10.30pm Saturday and Sunday.
Afternoon Tea @ The Mandarin Oriental
No trip to Macau would be complete without a stop at the Mandarin Oriental for their world famous afternoon tea. With both savory treats (such as the Smoked Turkey Sandwich with Pomerry Mustard and Crab Meat Tart with Apple Salad and Trout Caviar) and sweet treats (such as Elderflower and White Chocolate Mousse and Pandan Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis) on the menu, alongside a wide variety of Western, Chinese, and herbal teas, set in their sumptuous dining room, it’s a high tea lover’s dream. If you’re like me then you’ll opt for a glass of champagne to set the mood perfectly. The Mandarin Oriental is one of the city’s only fine hotels without a casino.
The Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental serves up delicious afternoon tea daily between 2pm and 6pm.
Hit the casino after fine dining @ Robuchon au Dôme
3 Michelin stars? Check. Mind blowing surrounds? Check. A world class casino to visit after dinner? You bet. The Robuchon au Dôme sits atop the Grand Lisboa Macau, a world class casino and hotel, in their stunning glass dome. If you are interested in taking in some of the finest food in the city, with service and surrounds to match, then Robuchon au Dôme makes a great choice. As you would have guessed by the name, this restaurant features French fine dining favorites, such as ala carte roasted lobster (my personal pick), duck breast, caviar, foie gras, and French cheeses, or choose from set or degustation menus for the ultimate in dining experience. Once dinner is finished, it’s on to the casino, to spend the night playing the tables and indulging in Asia’s favorite table games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and even pai gow.
Robuchon au Dôme is open from 12pm-2.30pm and 6.30pm-10.30pm daily.
When your room is your restaurant, in suite dining @ Four Seasons
There are some times when you just don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your room. And if you happen to be staying at the Four Seasons, then you can experience a level of dining that’s streets ahead of a delivery pizza – and your suite surroundings probably aren’t half bad either. The Four Seasons extensive room service menu is a mix of Western fare and Asian delights. Do you want to go for the indulgent Wagyu Cheese Burger, Fresh Tomato, Rocket and Grilled Chouriço and fries? A selection of sashimi or sushi? Prime Beef Tenderloin? Or maybe some Dan Dan Noodles with Spicy Minced Pork, Preserved Vegetables and Broth or Spicy Young Papaya Salad, Pomelo, Toasted Peanuts and Thai Dressing for a bit of an Asian flavor? Forget going out and play Asian themed slots in bed instead of downstairs since Asian-style casino games are the flavor of the moment (and the city) – you’ve earned a day off!
In room dining is offered 24 hours a day at the Four Seasons, with various menus available at different times of the day.
Cheap ‘n cheerful Portuguese @ In Portuguese Food
It’s hard to ignore the Portuguese influence in Macau, which makes it not only an interesting mash up combined with its Chinese heritage, but also a rare delight in the country for its food offerings. While Macau is more often known for its fine dining and casino restaurants, there is also a treasure trove of little cheap and cheerful restaurants dotted around the city, each serving up regional food with a tiny price tag. If you’re looking for some traditional Portuguese food in this style of place, then get down to In Portuguese Food – preferably seated in their rooftop dining section for a quaint, city view experience. Generous sangria glasses, fresh bread, cod dishes, and tasty steaks are the order of the day, then top it all off with a glass of Portuguese wine and a cheese platter – if you’ve still got room that is.
In Portuguese Food is open 11.30am-3pm for lunch, 6pm-11pm for dinner Tuesday-Friday, and 11.30am to midnight Saturday and Sunday.
Going all out on the buffet @ Urban Kitchen
When you’re after the best in a belly busting foodie expedition then it’s time to head to Urban Kitchen. Urban Kitchen is a fun dining experience within the JW Marriot Macau casino and hotel complex. There are six different food zones to choose from the buffet here, with chefs cooking fresh to order seafood, Macau favorites, Beijing and Sichuan treats, food from Portugal and Tuscany, Japanese and Korean fare, as well as desserts. Watch the chefs prepare food fresh before you, and take a stop to sample as many things as you like. This can also be a great place to take the kids to impress them with the dessert buffet station. Tip: skip breakfast and have lunch here to take advantage of the reduced lunch buffet rate.
Buffet hours at Urban Kitchen are 7am-10.30am for breakfast, 12pm-2.30pm for lunch, and 6pm-10.30pm for dinner.
Future master chefs in action @ IFT Educational Restaurant
If you’re looking for an interesting fine dining experience at a fraction of the price of a Michelin starred restaurant (of which there are plenty in this city), then you should stop by the IFT Educational Restaurant. IFT is a great place to dine, a training restaurant for students studying hotel and the culinary arts at Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies. With very reasonable prices, and a menu that encompasses both Western and Macau-style offerings (such as seared scallops, risotto, minchi, or seafood rice), it’s great to be able to not only have a delicious meal but to support the students in their endeavors at the same time. Just make sure that you don’t plan on heading here over the weekends – they’re closed as the students have time off.
The IFT Educational Restaurant is open from 12.30pm-3pm for lunch, and 7pm-10.30pm Monday to Friday.
Getting my steak fix @ Copa Steakhouse
There is just something about a mouthwatering, juicy, perfectly cooked steak that is impossible to escape for long – and luckily I didn’t have to in Macau, after coming across Copa Steakhouse. Copa is the top rated steak restaurant in the city, as my taste buds while feasting here can attest to. Nestled within the Sands Macao casino and accommodation complex, Copa make a great stop for dinner if you’re playing the tables, or intend to later in the evening. Order your favorite cut of steak, exactly how you like it cooked, then sit back and enjoy the surroundings of this plush restaurant. Definitely not one to bring your vegetarian friends to, the menu features meat, meat, meat, and more meat – just what you need sometimes!
Copa Steakhouse is open for dinner 5.30pm to 11pm daily, with cocktails from 4.30pm until midnight.