In the Venn diagram of cultures, Macau sits right in the overlap. Settled by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first – and last – European colony in East Asia. Portugal held the colony until 1999 when they handed it over to China; in a shocking twist, Macau was not completely assimilated and retains much of its original colonial charm, but far fewer scars than other colonies around the globe.
Similarly, the food has found a delicate balance that respects the various cultures and also fuses them. Is it any surprise that these issues all came up over meals with Anthony Bourdain in Macau?
Bourdain visits Macau in season 7, episode 10 of No Reservations (2011); this is the only time he visits Macau during any of his shows. On a leisurely tour of fast-paced Macau, Anthony Bourdain spends this episode eating and experiencing a lot of what the city has to offer from gambling to bungee jumping. In addition to several meals in restaurants that range from high-end to street vendors, Tony talks with locals across many walks of life.
In traditional fashion for this show, he also sits down for a meal of minchi (mixed ground beef/pork with roast chicken and soy sauce, with spinach sauteed with fermented shrimp sauce) in the home of a fellow chef and tries a street food, Chee Cheong Fun (猪肠粉) – steamed rice pasta with peanut sauce –, at an unnamed stall.
Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Macau
1. The 8 Restaurant
- Av. de Lisboa, Macao
At the first stop he visits with several Macanese locals, Tony dives into the restaurant’s signature high-end dim sum. The table tries har gao (蝦餃) – shrimp dumplings crafted to look like lucky goldfish –, roasted chicken with pomelo, honey lime sauce, and crispy chicken skin, roasted pork belly, fish ball soup, and monster crab claw steamed with ginger, white wine, and egg white. The multi-course meal shows off the best of dim sum and looks absolutely delicious.
- Avenida de Sidónio Pais, N° 49-B, R/C, Macao
Next, Bourdain sits down with chef and cookbook author Cecilia Jorge (whose book focuses on multi-generational Macanese recipes) and others for a dish that shows Macau’s unique fusion cuisine: Caril de Camarão e Quiabo (prawns and okra in curry sauce).
- G/F, No. 9 Hac Sa Beach (黑沙海灘9號號地下), Macao
At popular Portuguese food hot spot Fernandos, Tony is joined by yet another round of locals – this time to discuss the implications of colonialism and the future of Macau. Over grilled chorizo, fresh clams steamed with garlic, cilantro, and white wine with Malagueta pepper, grilled fresh sardines, and suckling pig marinated in wine and spices, the group discusses their different visions for a city they love.
4. Letaria I Son (Now Yee Shun Milk Company)
- 381 Av. de Almeida Ribeiro, Macao
Next, Bourdain sets out to treat one of his hosts; they end up at Letaria I Son – now called Yee Shun Milk Company. (Or maybe it was always called that? It’s hard to tell!) The two tuck into bowls of steamed milk pudding, a Chinese treat, at this cha chaan teng ( 茶餐廳) or Hong Kong-style café.
5. Tai Lei Loi Kei
- No. 42, R. dos Clerigos, Macao
For his final meal, Tony does what we all know he does best: seeks out incredible street food. Over a pork chop bun at Tai Lei Loi Kei – home of the “original” pork chop bun – he muses on the future of street food and what inspires culinary travel when the vendors are all regulated off the sidewalk.
Other Things to Do in Macau
In addition to eating, Bourdain partakes in two tourist activities that anyone visiting Macau can also enjoy. (This is in contrast to some episodes where he gets to try things that aren’t open to the public.)
- Gambling – Macau is home to over 40 casinos, and Baccarat is the game of choice. Tony tries his hand and comes away a winner; maybe you will too!
- Macau International Go-Kart Raceway (Now Coloane Karting Track) – Here, Tony races his way around the course, pulling enough Gs on the turns to make himself nauseous.
- Macau Tower Bungee Jump at Skypark atop Macau Tower – I literally couldn’t watch as Bourdain jumped off the edge, but this is a great spot who love to pair meals with a healthy dose of adrenaline.
There are, of course, lots of other things to do in Macau; these are just the two extracurriculars we saw in this episode.
Macau Food Tours You Might Enjoy
I couldn’t find many food tours in Macau; I have no doubt there are more, but they are harder to find through internet research.
- Combine the cultural and culinary in this tour that includes visits to heritage sites in Macau and lunch at Macau Tower.
- Take a culinary tour of the huge Venetian Macau through Rayna Tours. This property may be American-owned but the food options span cultures.
In the end though, your best bet for enjoying Macanese, Portuguese, and Chinese food in Macau may be to strike out on your own for a DIY food tour inspired by the spots Bourdain visited.
Have other questions about what happened to Anthony Bourdain in Macau? Comment below!