In my previous trips to Macau, I had only explored the Central and Southern parts of Macau island. On Valentine's Day, Jacob and I took another day trip to the former Portuguese colony and headed to a part that wasn't engulfed in casino and resort construction. After crossing the border, we hopped on a free shuttle to Hotel Lisboa, and from there caught a bus to Coloane, Macau's southernmost island.
Coloane is a tiny, laid-back island that is a great antidote to Central Macau's bustling streets. I, for one, was glad to get away from the diesel fumes and noise of motorcycle engines. (Motorcycles were out in full force yesterday, probably Spring Festival vacationers expending last bits of pent-up energy before starting work again.) Coloane Village is a nice place to walk around for an hour and admire the low-lying buildings that fuse Portuguese and Chinese styles. I was reminded of little villages in Lantau and Hong Kong's New Territories, where people leave their doors open and you can peak in and see what locals are eating for lunch, or watching on TV. (Not that I peak, of course.)
Taking a break from walking, we ducked into Lord Stow's Bakery in the main square. In addition to Macanese egg tarts, the bakery also carried chocolate tarts, breads, chocolate puddings, and milk teas. Macanese egg tarts are like Cantonese egg tarts except with more sugar and with a caramelized top. I don't know about the bakery's claim to having invented the Macanese egg tart, but the tarts provided just enough sugar to satiate my sweet tooth.
The highlight of Coloane was Fernando's, a Portuguese restaurant located on Hac Sa (Cantonese for "black sand") Beach. I have read a lot about this restaurant before, as it is recommended by all the guide books as one of the best places to eat in Macau. I usually take such recommendations with a grain of salt, but couldn't pass up dining here since we made it all the way out to Coloane.
"Make sure they know you're waiting," said a middle-aged British man who was sitting at the bar. "They have the worst service..." he paused, then sighed, "...but THE BEST food."
Sure enough, service was gruff, but there were little complaints as we chowed down on the hearty Portuguese/Macanese fare. Macanese fried rice had a delicious blend of shrimp, bacalao, Portuguese sausage, and olives. It was great for eating alone or for sopping up the feijoada, a stew of refried beans and fatty pork. I especially liked the roast suckling pig, with sweet crackly skin and tender meat, served with a salad with thick homemade fries.
The dining room is a bit spartan; it looks like equal parts beach house, lodge, and Italian red-sauce joint. But the food is what keeps people coming, as it was still busy at 3:30 in the afternoon when we left. The meal was a bit pricey; entrees ranged from 50 to 130 Macau dollars, at 8.03 patacas to the USD. But the house red wine (25 Macau dollars for a half carafe) was a relative bargain, and great for sipping to celebrate a low-key Valentine's Day in a low-key part of town.
To get to Coloane Take bus 15, 21A, 25, or 26A from Central Macau.
Lord Stow's Bakery 1 Rua da Tassara Coloane Town Square, Coloane Island, Macau
Fernando's Praia de Hac Sa, 9 Coloane Island, Macau 853/28882264