Where to Eat in Macau: Restaurante Litoral

March 8, 2012 § 6 Comments

Walking along Rua do Almirante Sergio after our scrumptious lunch at A Lorcha last August, I chanced upon Restaurante Litoral – the other Macanese restaurant I wanted to try.  I took note of it for when we return.  I never thought that I would be trying this other famous Macanese restaurant so soon.

The family decided to spend the holidays in Hong Kong and Macau.  For a family of foodies, what better way to spend the holidays than in gastronome paradise? Restaurante Litoral, when I suggested it, was a unanimous yes.

To others, Macau is more of a gambling mecca, to me it is a food haven.  You will find Western and Chinese cuisines in hotels and clubs as well as in small sidewalk stalls, but the main point of a Macau visit (at least to me) is to delight in Macanese cuisine.  The 500 years of multicultural influence lead to a fusion of Portuguese, Chinese, African, and Indian flavors that is now uniquely Macanese.  Many dishes evolved from the spice blends the Portuguese women used attempting to replicate European dishes.

Housed in a 2-storey building in a quiet street, Restaurante Litoral is packed to the bream during our visit and I have a sneaking suspicion it is every night.  We were shown to our table on the 2nd floor where (again), a Filipina served us.

We started with a squid salad tossed in lemon and olive oil dressing.  Then came the clams, just as scrumptious as the one in A Lorcha. The soup infused with the delicious flavors of clams simmered in white wine, olive oil and lemon is fantastic especially when dipped in bread.

Then the dishes came one after the other.

Baked Duck Rice – a cut above the rest.  Rice simmered in duck stock and fat with succulent duck confit thrown in and then topped with bacon and chorizo.  A dish with everything I love.

With the Baked Duck Rice, who would think we’d order another rice dish?  But by the sound of it, Suckling Pig on Fried Rice, we just had to try it.  It had us at suckling pig.  Glad we did.  It was lighter than the Duck Rice but the flavor and the crispy skin of the suckling pig was to die for.

Bacalhau a Lagareiro or grilled cod-fish with potatoes and garlic.  A common dish in Portugal, Spain and in some Portuguese colonies like Angola, Macau and Brazil.  Its essential ingredient is salted codfish so be ready for the saltiness.  I, for one, love Bacalhau, some are however put off by the saltiness.  Salted cod has been around since 500 years ago when there was no refrigeration.  Just like our daings and our danggits, drying and salting are ancient methods of preserving the nutrients and can actually make the fish tastier.

Braised Oxtail in Red Wine Sauce – extremely soft oxtail in very tasty sauce. Two thumbs up!!

For dessert, we wanted to try the egg yolk soufflé but they ran out of stock so we settled with their chocolate mousse, mango pudding and of course their version of Serradurra, biscuit mousse.

It was as yummy as the one we tried at A Lorcha.  I will attempt to make this one of these days or I will be burning miles to get my fix of this very addictive dessert.

My verdict:  Maybe it’s the number of dishes we tried but in my humble opinion, Litoral wins over A Lorcha by a hair.  Both restaurants are worth visiting again.  Perhaps I’ll need to go back to A Lorcha to try more dishes next time.

Restaurante Litoral
Rua do Almirante Sergio
216-A r/c, Macau
Tel: +853 2896-7878
Cafe Litoral
Rua do Regedor, Bloco 4 Wai Chin Kok
Taipa, Macau
Tel: +853 2882-5255


Where to Eat in Macau: A Lorcha

February 12, 2012 § 11 Comments

“Where’s the best Macanese / Portuguese restaurants in Macau?” I asked many including a search on the Internet.  It came down to A Lorcha and Ristorante Litoral.

A Lorcha won by a hairline.  So before heading out, we reserved a table for 2 while keeping in mind to try Litoral next time we’re back.

One of the oldest and most famous Taoist temple in Macau.

We arrived before the restaurant opened so we walked to the Ama Temple and looked around.

Shortly after the restaurant opened, we were shown our corner table.  When we saw how quickly the restaurant filled up, I was glad we made that reservation.

Known to offer the best Portuguese cuisine in Macau, it is popular with the locals and tourists alike.  They serve home-style Portuguese cooking that is presented simply without much thought on food styling, but with food so tasty it needs none of the fancy tricks.

The server who happens to be Filipina immediately came to the rescue when the wide choice left us uncertain about what best to order.

We had the Grilled Charcoal Pork Chourico for starters and after tasting this, we asked if we could buy some from them, instead they pointed us to a nearby supermarket to look for the brand “Nobre”.

Shhh…  this turned out to be better than what they served us.

The Clams with Garlic, Coriander & Olive Oil is a popularly ordered dish and we had to try it.  It was heavenly.  The soup sweet and  so flavorful from the clams and the other aromatics we devoured it straight from the bowl.

It tastes better than it looks.  It’s a promise.

We likewise had to give their African Chicken a try.  Although we knew that we have probably over ordered by this time, our Filipina server managed to convince us to order the Portuguese Fried Rice.

Needless to say, we left her a huge tip.  It had great flavors!!!  It could very well be the best among the dishes we’ve tried.  We ended up ordering too much but we just had to have their famous Serradurra – it’s a milk crème pudding topped with crumbled biscuits.

It was sooo good!!!  I crave for it sometimes.  Sweetness just right and the consistency of the pudding so smooth it melts in the mouth.  The biscuit crumble completes it – definitely the icing on the cake.

What a pity there were only 2 of us, I’d love to try more of their dishes… Other worth trying are the grilled bacalhau (codfish), sautéed pork with clams, and grilled prawns.

Restaurante A Lorcha
289A Yua do Almirante Sergo,
Macau Peninsula
Opens daily except Tuesday from 12:30-3:00pm; 6:30-11:00pm

Mozza in Singapore

January 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Osteria Mozza and the more casual Pizzeria Mozza next door is Mario Batali and partners Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton’s first venture into Asia, bringing their über successful and unanimously adored restaurants closer to us.  Along with some of the best celebrity restaurants lined up at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the restaurant is packed most days.  We made sure to reserve a table even before we left Manila.

A fan of Batali since Molto Mario, to dine in both Pizzeria and Osteria was heaven-sent.  It was my dad’s 70th birthday and what better way to celebrate than to delight in his signature rich sauces and wonderful choices of Mozzarella and Burrata flown in from Southern Italy.

After biting into the chewy, crisp, puffy pizza, I had a feeling it will be a while before I devour another crust like this.  Pizza is all about the crust after all and their chewy and charred crust is everything great bread should be.  Loaded with toppings such as specks, squash blossoms, fennel sausage and chanterelle… what more can a pizza-lover asks for?

Clockwise:  Funghi Misti; Nephew tasting his Margherita; Bacon, Salami, Fennel Sausage, pancetta; Pizzetta of Squash blossom, burrata and tomato

Among the many great tasting pizzas we ordered, Funghi Misti with fontina, taleggio and thyme came out to be the favorite.  The simple Margherita remains a close second.  Nothing beats a simple pizza with a perfect crust.

The more upscale Osteria Mozza on the other end of the duplex is still casual and loud, fostering a relaxed atmosphere amidst the elegant interior.

Clockwise:  Crispy Pig’s Trotter croquettes; Red Endive, Fennel & Parmigiano Reggiano with anchovy dates dressing; Orecchiette with sausage and swiss chard; Buffala Mozzarella starter

A bigger menu with more of the good stuff from the famous Crispy Pig’s trotter croquettes to an impeccably seasoned Porcini Rubbed Wagyu Rib-Eye Bistecca.

Impeccably seasoned and grilled till the porcini crust is crispy.  The meat cooked perfectly and the portions big enough to share.  Wow!

Desserts should not be missed as well.  All were delightfully great but one particular favorite that piqued my fancy was the Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes with Olive oil gelato and Rosemary brittle.

The flavors so interestingly subtle and melds so well together.  An absolute delight.

If I find myself in Singapore again, I will definitely find my way back for more of Batali and Silverton’s goodness.

Din Tai Fung

December 5, 2011 § 3 Comments

Credits: Brown Textured paper by J Sprague; Stitches by Carina Gardner, Feathers by J Sprague, Button by LivE Winter Breeze Jewel Brad.

The waiter arrives with the steamer, sets it down before you and removes the lid letting a cloud of steam escape, revealing 10 dumplings.

You gingerly pick up one with your chopsticks and at first instinct, you want to bite right in, but you’ve been burned before so you set it on a soup spoon, bite a small piece making a hole through the skin.

You slather some ginger-soy-vinegar sauce on it before you take a bite and drink the broth from the spoon.  You are in heaven… biting into dumpling with skin so fine yet firm, the meat steamed to perfection letting out soup that is so tasty it’s euphoric.

Din Tai Fung’s Xiao long bao never fails to evoke that sense of euphoria – at least for me.  Funny how I planned the hotel in Taipei to be near a Din Tai Fung and it turned out to be the original shop to boot.  On our first night in Taipei, we sallied forth for the best dumpling we’ve ever tasted so far.  Alas the lines were so long, we gave up.  We returned at 5pm on our last night and we were ushered in right away.

We walked passed a glass-in kitchen showcasing chefs at work in an assembly line – making dumplings.  Each dumpling is said to have 18 exquisite folds.

The restaurant at 5pm on a weeknight is almost full, halfway through our meal, a huge group occupied the remaining empty tables and by the time we stepped out of the restaurant, a line has already formed.  Amazing how a shop established more than 20 years ago has managed to maintain if not improve its stature over the years.  Customers, mostly locals, still fall in line for a meal at Din Tai Fung.

Although their Xiao long bao is still the star here, they’ve mastered a few dishes that have likewise become favorites like the fried pork chops.

Another instant hit is a new dish called pork and shrimp pot stickers.  This one is pan-fried to crispy perfection.

Sagada Good Eats

October 7, 2011 § 4 Comments

I love Sagada for many reasons but one that is high on the list is the food. Early on, this quaint, bucolic town already serves simple yet appetizing meals. Imagine a dish called Tuna Fried Rice, which is simply tuna (from the can) mixed with mountain rice and veggies. How simple is that?

St. Mary’s Episcopal

It could very well be the mountain town ambience but I remember downing that fried rice with so much gusto – amazed at how good it was. Many moons later, Sagada has transformed into a gustatory delight of sorts with several charming restaurants serving up delightful dishes, contradicting the bland cuisine known of the Cordilleras. Foreign and local tourists, artists, balikbayans (returning residents) have most definitely influenced this transformation. Highlighting some of my favorites:

Log Cabin

On one of my early travels in Sagada, I came across this charming log cabin by accident (but would have eventually found out about it as the town is pretty small). We were on our way back from Lake Danum when it started to rain and thought it best to wait it out in that charming cabin we passed on our way to the lake. With a good cup of coffee, we knew we found a gem that afternoon. They served simple yet great tasting dishes – definitely a notch higher (I dare say) than all the other restaurants there then.

Pretty soon, it became a place to hang and meet fellow travelers from different walks of life and culture. It was such a small community of travelers then and sharing travel tales over a plate of pasta was such a delightful experience. Even back then, reservations were preferred and encouraged ordering in advance as the owners, Dave and Janice Gulian would only market and prepare the food according to the orders made that day.

It is as famous, if not more sought after today especially on Saturday when French chef, Philip Aklay prepares the Saturday dinner buffet – reservations are now required.

Before his stint at the Log Cabin, he used to bake and sell breads out of his home and when I’m there, I would buy from him.

Regular days or Saturday buffets, the food is almost always impressive. A must try on their regular menu: Pork Tenderloin

Yoghurt House

Yoghurt is my best friend so gravitating to a place called Yoghurt House is not so far-fetched. They don’t only serve yoghurt but really good food too –

Homemade yoghurt with granola and fresh strawberries

but let it be known that their homemade yoghurt can give commercial yoghurt brands a run for their money. The service can be a bit slow even for Sagada standards but what comes out of the kitchen makes you turn a blind eye. A must try:

Roasted Eggplant with Basil Pasta – something unexpected in a simple café up in the mountains, that’s for sure!

A friend of mine consistently orders this Curry Chicken – I swear he goes up to Sagada just for this.

Also not to be missed is this tender, perfectly seasoned and fried Breaded Pork Chops.

Another great cozy place to while the time away.

The view from the balcony

I once spent an afternoon reading out in the balcony while my friends roughed it out at the cave. One of the best lazy day I’ve had.

Lemon Pie House

I swear… anywhere you go in Sagada exudes a sense of relaxation and Lemon Pie House is no exception. Another great place to lounge around and finish that book.

It doesn’t help that their Lemon Pie is so good and with mountain coffee, one slice is never enough. Try their egg pie too — also a winner.

Ganduyan Inn and Restaurant

The place is so plain that I ignored it for years. But as fate would have it, we decided a few years ago to try their breakfast and was pleasantly surprised.

Their crepes were light and thin while they impressed me with the bacon – cooked just the way I like ‘em, crispy but not burned.


Is not a restaurant, eatery nor a place. It is a smoked dried meat, a local delicacy that is often added to a local dish called Pinikpikan.

It also goes well with any dish with legumes – I like it in my monggo. Deep-fried and dipped in vinegar is supposedly good too. Etag is normally sold in the stores in town.

Roast Goose at Yung Kee

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Planning a trip to Hong Kong?  Make sure to make your way to Yung Kee and feast on a scrumptious meal of Roast Goose.  You won’t regret it.  Since the day I tried their specialty, I don’t think I ever skipped a meal here when in Hong Kong.

And since it started as a humble shop in 1942, Yung Kee gained popularity through the years even earning multiple awards including a 1 Michelin Star from the Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide.

Their Roast Goose is to die for – tender, juicy meat that is so flavorful, the crispy skin that comes so mouthwateringly shiny… a dish that will leave you wanting for more.

Make sure to make reservations as the 4-storey building gets full every time – lunch or dinner.  Don’t forget to order their other specialty – century eggs and pickled ginger.

Both Roast Goose and century eggs (among other roast meats and noodle dishes) are available for take-out.

Yung Kee Restaurant
32-40 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2533-1624 (for reservations)
+852 2523-2343 (for take-out)

Caviar In My Drink

August 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

Cassis caviar suspended in Chandon sparkling wine served with Amaretto dust – the caviar bursts in your mouth releasing the black currant flavored liqueur.

Alchemist Kir

Creamy egg yolks on buttered chunk of toast with a layer of arugula-raclette pesto sandwiched between – the yolk seemed runny but is actually solid inside.


Unconventional, outlandish…  my recent food adventure was something out of the ordinary.

Welcome to the surreal world of Molecular Gastronomy, a culinary movement that uses modern science to transform the preparation of food.  This includes the study of how different cooking temperature affect egg’s viscosity and how a culinary process shapes a liquid into spheres which visually and texturally resembles caviar.  This is new territory in my gastronomic realm.  Watching Marcel Vigneron and Richard Blais on Top Chef has introduced me to this new food trend.  Though my curiosity piqued, I never gave much thought to it, much less sampling it any time soon.

Enter Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen, a fairly new molecular gastro-lounge in a new neighborhood in Shanghai.

Prolific restaurateur Kelly Lee is the brainchild of this new cocktail kitchen (as she calls it) that features creative cocktails frozen with liquid nitrogen,

Yangtze River Tea

Baiyu, Corralejo Silver tequila, Captain Morgan gold rum and a citrus compote frozen with liquid nitrogen served with a side of spiced jasmine tea.  A spoonful of the frozen alcohol followed with a sip of the hot tea washes away  the taste of alcohol and leaves a subtle savor of pear.

exotic snacks like Popcorn Pig’s Brain fried in a lightly spiced batter and served with a side of Jalapeño Gribiche emulsion.

Popcorn Pig Brain

On my recent trip to Shanghai, we unwittingly stumbled upon what my friend thought was a “unique” bar that serves inventive cocktails and interesting bar food.   Molecular gastronomy or not, they served up an array of great tasting dishes:

Beetroot Carpaccio

Marinated roasted beetroot, goat cheese mousse, grapefruit frozen vinaigrette and basil.

Eggplant Caviar

Roast Eggplant purée, fresh mint, charred tomato salad, pomegranate molasses and crisp bread.

Fried Chicken

Red miso marinade, passionfruit mustard aioli

Grilled Octopus

with Bitter orange mojo and purple potatoes

Kanpachi Tartare

with avocado, yuzu, puffed wild rice, ponzu foam, kaffir lime wasabi and fog.  Not quite sure how the fog contributed to the dish though.
Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen
Sinan Mansions,
Block 32, 45 Sinan Lu (near Fuxing Zhang Lu)
Contact No:  +86(21) 6426 0660

Built My Own Burger

June 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Credits:  J Sprague 8×10 Photo Collection v. 1, Moninda Fall Meditation papers

I am a fan.  I rooted for him.  Although he lost to Rick Bayless the title of Top Chef Masters, I remain a fan.  So when the opportunity to check out Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar at Macy’s in Union Square came up, I just had to go.  It wasn’t hard to convince the rest of the pack since who can really say no to burgers?  The menu had a whole array of burgers, one that piqued my fancy was a Burger to his name – supposedly his favorite, which had, Buffalo meat, caramelized onions, baby spinach, blue cheese on a ciabatta bun.  But no, I ended up making my own burger from a whole list of ingredients that he made available on his Build Your Own Burger menu.  I eventually chose a simpler version of his favorite.  I had Angus beef with blue cheese on a ciabatta bun – a combination of favorites.  Happy.

Burger Bar San Francisco
Macy’s Union Square 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA
(415) 296-4272

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