It has been a while since I last got an urge to post a restaurant recommendation as I always have trouble finding a restaurant or a place that I would feel comfortable enough to recommend since food in Hong Kong (or around the HK Region) tend to lack consistency due to the deteriorating quality of their ingredients in desperate attempt to save costs (rent... rent... rent...). I am extremely happy to report I found a place that is worth every penny to go and savor every bite of your meal.
This restaurant is not hidden but not as well known as its prior tenant Robuchon a Galera since it is relatively new. I first heard about this restaurant from my uncle, a veteran foodie and a dedicated food lover (I think it runs in the family... haha), who would not stop raving about this new Portuguese restuarant in Macau Lisboa. Being a bit skeptical after my disappointing visit to the Robuchon, and not wanting to be disappointed with overrated expensive restaurants again, I brushed aside his enthusiastic comments thinking it's just another hype.
It was not until my uncle dragged my mom to the restaurant, and even got her to rave about her dining experience and the food there with a smiley face (!!!) that really caught my interest. What could possibly get my mom, one of the pickiest eaters I know, to get all excited and even tell me to save up and give this restaurant a try?
I finally got a chance to stop by Macau last weekend for chillaxing, so my bestie and I decided to give this place a shot. Walking into the exact same setting as its previous occupant Robuchon au Dôme (seriously, the only change I could spot was the change in name of the restaurant on the elevator entrance and the uniforms of the staff in the restaurant), my hopes dropped by a huge margin and I groaned a little inside - "Argh, come on, the same stuck up place with overseasoned food?" - this thought did not linger long once we were greeted by the friendly manager who ran over the menu with such enthusiasm that all my doubts went out of the window.
Being greedy pigs as usual (hey! we were starving!), we ordered a warm appetizer to share, two soups and one main course each for our dinner. The staff then went ahead to serve us the bread - a soft, smokey Chorizo bread with melted cheese in between layers...
And just when we thought we can finish the entire bread basket, a banana soft bread was served to us alongside butter with banana chunks in it!! The banana bread was ridiculously soft and warm, imagine this - a nice warm soft bun with a hint of banana flavor in it, with a nice big knob of butter smeared across with banana chunks on it melting in your mouth... Seriously, who can resist this! (NOOOOO my diet!!)
We were enjoying the bread so much the manager had to stop us from eating too much bread (he was worried we'll be full before the main course comes!). He quickly introduced us to our first appetizer (just so we will get our hands off the bread!) - a warm lobster salad with stewed carrots, dates and citrus sauce before we got too full to ignore the wonderful dishes that were about to come. (I'm going to skip the amuse bouche and after dinner dessert as they are pretty standard and I don't want to ruin the surprise. :) )
The dish was served in a lukewarm temperature, with a huge lobster clam and a pile of lobster meat topped with some cooked root vegetables and salad greens. The lobster was perfectly cooked, not rubbery at all and was absolutely juicy when you bite into it. As if that's not enough, the grapefruit juice added a subtle flavor to the greens, a little citrusy but not sour, it adds to the sweet flavor of the lobster juice, which naturally creates a nice contrast to the asparagus and baby carrots.With a glass of 2010 Chardonnay Cova da Ursa from Bacalhõa, the seafood flavor became even more outstanding. Perfect recommendation by Eric (the manager). :D
For soup, we chose the pumpkin soup with crab meat and home-made cheese since this is the restaurant's signature dish. The chef chose mini pumpkins from France and pureed them to perfection with the sweet crab meat, which is hidden along with the homemade cheese inside the crispy potato bowl. The homemade cheese was an essential element of which lightens up the delicate sweetness and creaminess of the pumpkin with a hint of salty sweet flavor that comes from the crabmeat. I liked this dish, but found it a bit too sweet and creamy after a few more sips since my tummy was beginning to fill up halfway through. And if you are not a person with sweet tooth (like me), I would recommend you try their fish soup or the cardo verde soup which is equally tasty.
After soup came the star of the night - The royal duck rice with braised duck breast in blood sauce. The highlight of the dish is actually not the duck breast, but the rice - cooked in duck blood sauce (and duck fat) with a nice crispy layer of cheese and thinly sliced chirozo. The duck breast was served on the side with some side veggies, which lies on top of the blood sauce that came from the braised duck breast. The duck breast is a little dry to be honest, still soft and flavorful but losing a bit of smoothness when it comes to texture. When reflected to the manager he explained that the duck had to be braised in order to get the sauce for the rice so because of this, it may not be as tender as the duck breast served elsewhere. Well, I don't really mind as long as they serve the cheezy, duck filled flavored rice because it was divine!
I must admit, after 3 spoonfuls of this I had enough! It was so rich but so addicting. I shamelessly asked for this to be packed away but I realized.... it taste different when eaten as leftovers.... flavors became more defined and the cheesiness and heaviness kind of eased off resulting in a lighter version of this dish - and it was great! Don't neglect the vegetables and the beans by the way because they are also an important element in the dish, the crunch texture of the side veggies and the intensive flavors of the beans kicks it up a notch on your tastebuds along with the rice. If you are a big fan of duck, do it, be a true duck lover and give this dish a try. Just make sure you eat this with an empty stomach and a big glass of Portuguese red wine (Eric suggested the 2007 Quinta de Pancas Touriga Nacional Reserva Red Douro and it was perfect!!).
I'm also going to show you what my friend had for main course, she chose to have the roasted black pork with calms, a derivative of the popular Portuguese dish - Carne de Porco à Alentejana - serving their pork loins (instead of pork cubes) medium rare instead of well done, and serving the potatoes mashed and infused with mustard instead of potato cubes, cooked separately instead of together... and it was out of this world. I was absolutely stuffed from the duck rice but I couldn't stop eating from her plate!!
The clams' salty-sweetness complemented the subtle taste of the tender pork, gently cooked, resting on a pile of mustard flavored mashed potatoes in a sea of sauce. I think we were eating our way to heaven. The pork was perfectly cooked - tender, moist, flavorful.. along with the soft juicy clams... it was just hard to explain that special chemistry created between these two simple ingredients. Nothing fancy, just clams and pork marinated in white wine and their own juices which created the perfect dish...I can find no flaws! Would highly recommend having this with a glass of nice red wine! Absolutely divine. (By the way, I highly suggest you to check with Eric for wine recommendations, I find his taste exquisite when it comes to food and wine pairing!)
It has been a long time I was able to enjoy a meal so fulfilling and satisfying. Pleasantly surprised, drunk with its gorgeous wine and food, and soothed by it's down-to-earth vibe and yet exquisite services. What I love most about this place is that everything is made from the heart for only one goal - to have their customers truly enjoy their meal and leave with satisfied tummies and huge smiles on their faces.
This hidden gem have raised the bar higher for the Portuguese cuisine in Macau and for my dining experience... I guess moms (and Uncles & Aunts) are always right! ;) I am officially in love with Guincho a Galera. They better keep their consistency because I definitely will be back!!!! :D
Want to give this place a try?
Guincho a Galera
3/F Lisboa Tower
Tel: +853 8803 7676