Going to Macau, China in Asia
January 16, 2008 9:57pm CST
Macau is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, located on the southern coast. From Hong Kong, we took a one-hour ferry ride to get to there. No China visas required, but passports are needed at the border. It had been a colony of Portugal for almost five centuries and was only given back to China in 1999, explaining the strong Portuguese influence in every aspect of the Macanese life. Thinking that it’s hard to find people who speak English in Macau, we jumped at the opportunity when an English-speaking cab driver offered to take us around their province. But before anything else, we asked Ben, our driver, to take us to a restaurant where we could have lunch. We only wanted some simple Chinese food that was served fast because we had limited time. We bought return tickets and only had barely 2 hours to spend in Macau. But then he asked, “Would you like to try Poo--gees food?” I asked, “Like Fujis?” He said, “Yeah, yeah. I know a good Poo--gees restaurant. They have Filipino waiters.” As he was rambling along the way about Poo--gees food and Macau being a Poo--gees colony, it was only then we realized that he meant Portuguese food. With that, our fears subsided. We only agreed to try Poo--gees food because of Ben’s insistence. He led us to a white-washed building in a picturesque neighborhood that looked quite homey. The surroundings looked old but well-preserved and the tree-line street overlooked a man-made lake leading to the Pearl River Delta. The restaurant, named Praia Grande after the street it’s on, appeared simple enough from the outside. With Ben’s insistence, he said “Go on. Go on, it’s good there,” reassuring us that he will just wait outside. When we entered the place though, everything changed. I whispered to my aunt, “This is a classy place.” The door was opened by a charming Filipino who greeted us, “Magandang hapon, po.” This is already the fourth day of our tour and we were already broke after shopping and dining in Hong Kong, so we were taken aback by the prices. We only wanted something to get past our hunger, but our eager guide brought us to a swanky resto-bar. After conferring with the staff on what to order, they suggested that we try their pan-fried pork with clams, one of their Portuguese specials, and some rice. Entrees were buttered garlic and olives, served with different dinner rolls. The servers were well-trained and the service superb. But since we went there around 2 o’clock in the afternoon already, we had the place to ourselves and had the chance to chat with them. We learned that the two guys come from Nueva Ecija while the lady cashier is from Manila. We learned that among the Portuguese crowd drawers in their menu are Dim Sum, Seafood Soup, Baked Perch, Grilled Codfish, Baked Lamb, Baked Short Ribs, Tenderloin Steak Chef Style, and Gratinated Duck Rice. Macanese dishes also include Stuffed Crab, Hot Shrimps, Curry Crab or Prawns, Grilled Jumbo Prawns, African Chicken, Minchi, Bafassa, Diabo, and Macau Chicken. The pork and clams that we ordered was enough for the two of us but still our bill rang up to HK$160 without drinks, including service charge. Oh well, at least we had fine dining on our last day. We commented to Ben that the food and service were good but expensive, he said that basically Portuguese food costs the same all over the area. When I got home I surfed the internet about Praia Grande Restaurant and learned that it is ranked number 25 among the top restaurants in Macau. It also won in the 1997 Portuguese culinary competition. That should explain the price. But what made the meal more interesting was the fact that we were surrounded by Filipino way of service and the staff was just so hospitable. Probably they were homesick and just happy to see kababayans. Or maybe that’s just how we Filipinos are, wherever we are in the world. They even helped us locate our driver because he wasn’t around when we were ready to go. Praia Grande is a must-visit in Macau, but for a more satisfying visit, I suggest that a meal there should be taken leisurely, allowing some time for the spirit to soak in the coziness of the place, the warmth of the service, the aromatic and flavorful food, and the relaxing scenery outside peeking through the window.
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12 Feb 09
Thank you for all these information. We are going to take a vacation to Macau this coming March. This is the first time we are going to travel there and your post is really helpful. We are staying at Grand View Hotel in Taipei and we are staying there for four nights and three days. My mom's friend has been there just this month for the Chinese New Year and she said that it is really gorgeous there. She told us not to forget to visit The Venetian Hotel. I'm really excited and I will tell you about our journey once we've returned. Happy MyLotting!