Monday, June 20, 2011

wanderlust: the 8 restaurant, macau

I love dimsum. I love the mayhem of it: the little Chinese ladies pushing around metal carts loaded with dumpling- and bun-filled bamboo steamers; the aggressive and usually elderly women who accost the pushcarts before they even reach their tables to ensure they grab the best stuff first; and the way the pushcart ladies shove those steaming parcels under your nose, demanding you decide right now whether you want this or not. It is pure heaven for me to spend a weekend afternoon surrounded by this madness because it means I get to eat one succulent dumpling after another until I am dizzy from sheer gluttony.

The Eight Restaurant at the Grand Lisboa in Macau is quite different from the dimsum experience I'm accustomed to. For one thing, this Cantonese/Huaiyang cuisine-focused restaurant boasts of not just one but two Michelin stars. It is housed in one of the most over-the-top and opulent casinos in Macau, with sleek and modern interiors by famed Hong Kong designer Alan Chan. No little ladies with pushcarts here—but over 50 types of dimsum are, in fact, served in these luxe digs during lunch.
The restaurant takes its name from the number considered most auspicious by the Chinese because it sounds like the word which means "to generate wealth." The Chinese consider the number 8 so lucky, in fact, that they started the Beijing Olympics at exactly 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8PM on August 8, 2008. So it's no surprise that a casino such as Grand Lisboa would pick this lucky number as the name of its most heralded restaurant.

My in-the-know friend Tamara picked this place when I told her I wanted to eat really good Cantonese fare. We came to 8 Restaurant right after swan-diving off the Macau Tower so the first order of business was getting some celebratory drinks. I was stunned when they brought us the wine list.
I was so intimidated by that list that I choked and ordered a beer instead! Next order of business was to get some food inside our grumbling bellies. We quickly devoured the standard dimsum favorites we ordered, like steamed shrimp dumplings and siu mai:
We had some spring rolls, which are always delicious ...
... these spring and summer rolls were phenomenal. Our server recommended this and it totally blew us away. Basically, they've taken a crisp fried spring roll and enveloped it in a layer of soft rice flour wrapper. The wonderful textures just take this roll to a whole other level of deliciousness. I would jump off another tower just to have one right now.
After the dim sum, we got down to serious heart-palpitating business. We had roasted goose, which I was really excited about. Roasted goose is a dish I associate with vacations to Hong Kong because my family and I used to bring an entire roasted goose back to the Philippines every time we took a trip to Hong Kong. We love it that much and this one lived up to my expectations.
Because we do love us some pork, we had to have barbecued suckling pig. I love the perfectly crisp skin, which is attached to the tender meat by a very thin layer of fat. It is served with these cute little rice cakes at 8 Restaurant.
Finally, there was some pigeon, which had been poached in homemade soya sauce. Tender and delicious, albeit freaky for Westerners, I can imagine.
Michele and Tamara were generous enough to treat us for lunch so I don't quite know how much our meal cost, but according to Tamara she was surprised at how reasonable the prices were considering the restaurant's 2-Michelin star status. So if you find yourself in Macau jonesing for some solid Chinese food, definitely pay 8 Restaurant a visit. The food is excellent and the decor jaw-dropping—no pushy ladies but an experience to remember, nevertheless.

The 8 Restaurant is located at the second floor of the Grand Lisboa. Phone (853) 8803 7788 or visit the website for reservations.


Dora Romero said...
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Micaela Boland said...

Those dishes look very delicious! I like the rice cakes next to the barbecued suckling pig. I think it works well as a dessert, at least for me.
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celine said...

I would totally have the rice cakes for dessert, too!

Drew Watts said...

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