As Michael Taylor revisits Macau, the city he once called home, he discovers that some of the best deals in town aren't to be found in the former Portuguese enclave's back alleys but tucked away in its most luxurious five star resorts.
The previous afternoon I was in search of an inexpensive spot to have a simple meal – a bowl of noodles would have been nice.
One of the last places I would have considered was one of the extravagant five star resorts that have opened in Macau over the last couple of years. Surely prices would be over the moon.
Where to lunch wasn't an issue on this particular day. I had been invited to the Macau Wynn, which some people think is the most stylish resort in the former Portuguese enclave. My hosts had suggested Red 8, one of the hotel's two casual dining eateries.
Open 24 hours a day, Red 8 caters to gamblers in the hotel's casinos, serving breakfast from 6.30 am to 11.30 am, an a la carte menu and Peking duck from 11.30 am to 11 pm, and a supper menu from 11.00 pm to 6.30 am. But officer workers working in the neighborhood have also been known to sneak in for a quick bite.
Not to mention business executives and some of the region's top movers and shakers.
Knowing that gamblers don't want to spend much time away from the baccarat or blackjack tables, Chef Leung Wai-mun has created a menu and a method of preparation that guarantees that dishes arrive as quickly as possible, without compromising quality.
The secret, the chef told me, was not waiting for customers to place their orders before starting to prepare complicated dishes such as Peking duck, but rather estimating how many people would be likely to order something based on the season, the time of day, and how busy the restaurant was.
“When you've been doing this as long as I have, you can just kind of 'tell' how many people are going to order Peking duck,” Wai-mun said.
Dishes run from Cantonese dim sum to Shanghainese dumplings to Peking duck, which is prepared in a wood fired oven, with apple wood flown in from California, creating what Chef Wai-num calls “a unique aroma”.
Prices run from 18 to 288 patacas. Drinks start at 20 patacas. There is a VIP room with no minimum charge.
What's on the Menu
This is the yummy menu that the maitre d' put together for us. I couldn't have put together a better menu, myself!
- Sliced roasted duck wrapped with pancake MOP 68
- Chilled marinated chicken with Huadiao wine MOP 65
- Classic hot and sour soup MOP 38
- Sweet and sour pork MOP 72
- Steamed dumplings with minced pork MOP 45
- Classic dan dan noodles MOP 45
This was more of a feast than a light snack, and the three of us that shared it certainly didn't go away hungry. But the next time I'm in Macau in search of a quick bite that won't cost me an arm and a leg, I'll head straight to Red 8 and order a serving of steamed dumplings, hot and sour soup, or classic dan dan noodles.
And if I'm in the mood for a more substantial meal with friends – I just might head to the very same place.