Macau is often called the Las Vegas of the East, but there’s a lot more to it than casinos. Case and point: food.
Street food runs rampant in Asia, and Macau is no exception. While a lot of what you’ll taste is similar to what you’d find at a night market in Hong Kong and China, you can also find some exotic East-meets-West flavor concoctions, thanks to Macau’s Portuguese roots. The best part? We’re mostly talking about desserts. Here are our 8 must-try street eats.
Portuguese Egg Tart
The most famous street food in Macau would have to be pastel de nata, or the Portuguese egg tart. Lord Stow’s Bakery gets credit for bringing these to Asia in the 1980s, and now they’re widely thought to be making the best around. The Portuguese version of this now semi-ubiquitous Asian pastry features a caramelized top reminiscent of crème brule. Try it.
Double Skin Steamed Milk Pudding
Made using only whole milk, eggs and sugar, this sweet dessert can be enjoyed hot or cold. We ordered ours hot, and minutes later a bowl of wobbly and coagulated milk appeared. We own up to our skepticism, but this stuff hits all the spots. Texture passes muster and, contrary to the natural anxiety, it doesn’t taste like egg whites, but like hot sugary milk.
Tied for our favorite Macau street eat, these cookies are the most popular souvenir hands down. Each cookie is made by hand and baked over charcoal in a wooden mold. The texture is very fine and crumbles at the touch, with a taste that calls to mind shortbreads and almonds.
On the other side of the tie is serradura, meaning ‘sawdust’ in Portuguese. This is disgusting for about as long it takes to realize the name is a reference to biscuit crumbs, which are promptly buried under whipped cream. The airy texture of the cream gels perfectly with the ‘sawdusty’ texture of the biscuits, and the result is pure heaven.
Pork and Beef Jerky
Bakkwa is essentially jerky, and usually made from beef or pork. But if you’ve really got your eyes open, you’ll probably see ostrich and boar as well. Although this snack has a naturally savory-sweet flavor, you can find a variety of added spices or marinades. You’ll find shops specializing in bakkwa all over Macau, with employees waiting to sheer you off a slice with their enormous scissors.
Pork Chop Bun
The most simple of all Macau’s street foods would have to be the pork chop buns, or “piggy buns.” The name of this snack says it all; this is simply a pork chop on a plain bun, sans lettuce, sauce or other surprises. But trust us: they aren’t missed. The buns are toasted until crispy on the outside, but remain soft on the outside, and the freshly fried pork chop is juicy and tender. The best part? These buns are all fresh and made to order.
Egg rolls aren’t confined to Macau, but they’re hugely popular here. For a combination of freshly made snack and local color, it’s hard to beat a tiny street stall with no name run by an eccentric local who hands out free samples. His are crispy, sweet, and so feather-light that it’s easy to eat more than one. They’re best served hot off the griddle.
After standard preparation, pork lard has the taste (and appearance) of thick-cut, smoked bacon: grilled and tender with crispy fat. The lard itself is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with that incurable quadrant of your palate, forever concerned with getting its animal fat fix. In Macau, this is usually served with warm bread and a house-made chili sauce.