Whilst I have of course had some excellent meals at several hotel restaurants in Macau, on a recent visit, I wanted to experience more of the real Macau, or at least how it once would have been. António, a cute little restaurant that serves authentic Portuguese cuisine, was exactly what I had in mind.
Situated right in the heart of Old Taipa Village, António couldn’t be more different from the glitzy Cotai Strip. Finding it was a bit of a challenge, as we meandered our way down the lovely, narrow paved streets of this old Portuguese village, lined with colourful colonial houses complete with tiny little balconies. What I found amazing, however, is that it was still only a stone’s throw away from the hubbub of the casinos – literally two completely different worlds cohabiting side by side, the one completely unaffected by the other.
The restaurant itself is cosy and charming, adorned with yellow, blue and white tiles and Portuguese-style paintings. I have admittedly never been to Portugal, but if I had an image of a typically Portuguese restaurant in my mind, it would be just like António, with its candlelit tables packed closely together, adding to the air of intimacy that the restaurant exudes.
As we nibbled on some delicious olives before our meal, a Portuguese singer entertained us with his sweet music, which I thought added to the charm of this little place.
Having seen the flames from other tables when we arrived, we couldn’t resist ordering the roasted homemade Portuguese sausage, flame-grilled in a beautiful clay dish right by our table. Not only was this a spectacle to watch, but the fire also added a lovely char to the otherwise rather simple sausage.
I love goat’s cheese in any shape or form, so I was naturally drawn to the gratinated goat’s cheese on toast. Bathed in olive oil and acacia honey, this deliciously creamy cheese had a wonderful sweet-salty contrast that ticked every box.
Out of the menu’s huge selection of seafood dishes, we chose the charcoal grilled octopus with special mashed potatoes. The huge grilled tentacles were perfectly cooked, without being in the slightest bit chewy. On their own, I found them far too salty, but this was balanced by the lovely fluffy mashed potatoes with garlic, coriander and tomatoes.
Having heard that the Portuguese duck rice was a standout dish at António, I insisted we ought to try it. I loved the contrast in textures between the crunchy rice at the top and the softer grains beneath, with tender flakes of duck running through it. The slices of ham and sausage on top added a nice, salty flavour, and our only complaint is that perhaps there could have been more of these to bring out the otherwise quite subtle flavours.
Wanting to finish with another spectacle, we chose the banana “au flambée” with rum, again cooked tableside. Although I was initially disappointed that the banana wasn’t served with any form of ice cream, I soon realised that it had a beautiful flavour on its own and didn’t really need it; it went down just as nicely with the glass of port that we were given by the manager!
Service at António is friendly and efficient, and if you’re lucky you may even get to meet chef António Coelho himself. Our meal, including a bottle of Portuguese Syrah, came to just under MOP2000 (roughly about the same in HKD). It’s certainly not a cheap restaurant, but it was a truly lovely meal in a quaint setting that shows you a different side of Macau that is definitely worth seeing.
Rua dos Clerigos No. 7
Old Taipa Village
Tel: +853 2899 9998