Monday, May 2, 2011

Macau - Restaurante Espaco Lisboa 里斯本地帶餐廳

This was easily our best meal in Macau on this trip.  It was a trudge, and if you know the taxi situation in Macau, you know the exponential factor that adds.  But thankfully, we were in the Cotai area, and the taxi line at the Venetian moved very quickly.  It is about 15 minutes to Coloane from Cotai, where Espaco is located, and the drive would have been scenic if it hadn't been sundown already.  I think we passed a penitentiary facility.  It's fascinating that such facilities are in some of the best spots in the world.  Guess it makes it difficult for escapes, although the rest of us are always trying to escape to such spots all the time for vacation!  The irony of life.

The restaurant is set in a short row of what looked to be 2-storey residences inside a quaint little lane.  It's not far from the water although I don't think you can see it from the restaurant.  We didn't opt for the balcony seating and chose the ground floor area, which is a cosy and homey little area with a cute bar area that also houses the dessert fridge and the cashier.  The picture is deceptively deserted since shortly after, even the ground floor area filled up and the noise levels went up many decibels when the large table got filled up with a loud and noisy group.

We sat down and started demolishing the little pot of olives at the table.  Well preserved to be tasty but still crunchy, this had little salt but retained the full flavor of the olives.  So good it needed no alcoholic accompaniment.  My ginger ale was good enough.

Clams in a white wine sauce
This one took us unawares.  We like our clams and in a white wine sauce, we like them even more.  But this white wine sauce was so good we used whatever bread we had to soak up every drop after we were said and done with the fresh bouncy clams.  The use of butter in the sauce made it that much more robust, but not reaching the point of greasy creaminess so that less would have been more.  The juice from the lemon wedge cut through the richness to make it easily addictive.  So, we were craving for more and would have tipped the pot into our mouths if the restaurant were indeed deserted.  Too bad Ms Manners was looking.

Duck Rice
According to the friendly owner, this is their piece de resistance.  A casserole of shredded duck covered with rice and baked in the oven topped with bacon and Chorizo sausage.  So simple yet so good.

Duck rice - deconstructed
We mixed it up to reveal the shredded duck buried in the rice.  Morsels of duck, rice, and bits of bacon/Chorizo made for mouthfuls of tasty decadence.  Forget that this was not healthy dish, with the different fats from the different meats, but that was precisely why there is so much flavor in its simplicity.  And the bits of rice which came into direct contact from the oven's heat had become crisp and added the lovely snap, crackle, and pop we all look forward to in any baked rice dish.

Grilled Sardines
To up our Omega 3 count after the duck rice, we thought grilled sardines would do the trick.  The owner warned us that since sardines are not readily available in Macau, they ship theirs in from Portugal frozen.  But they were still good.  Tasty with a touch more bittersweet as you approach the belly, the type of flavors you would enjoy if you enjoy Mackeral.  However, this is not for those who don't enjoy their fish since there are a lot of bones to maneuver through.  The trick is to debone before you start to eat.  If you can take out the centre bone slowly and leave the attaching "rib cage" area intact, you save yourself a lot of headache later.  Simple dish served with grilled green peppers and a boiled potato and a wedge of lemon for a twist of tang.  Provincially good.

Sawdust Pudding
This one got us "good".  I've had many disappointments with this one, but since the food had been so wonderful, I thought how bad can dessert be.  But it's just me.  I just don't get this one.  I don't get the attraction of layering sawdust over cream.  I dislike each and even if happily married, I still dislike them as a unit.  So there.  My only regret is not having gone for the egg pudding.  And I would regret it till my next visit.

I would visit again.  It was worth the trudge.  Coloane does seem like a lovely area and perhaps a lunch visit next time, with a walkabout would do the trick.  Apparently Lord Stow's Bakery (the original) is right on that same row.

G/F & 1/F, 8 R. das Gaivotas
Coloane Downtown

Tel: +853-
2888 2226

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