Another great contribution from our foodie friend Alex! Check out his thoughts from Macau!
I didn’t quite know what to expect, booking in for a three Michelin starred Chinese meal in Macau. I tried at first to make an internet reservation, but it told me that I needed to book a week in advance. So, the next morning, I decided to visit the restaurant, and see what they had for me. I managed to get a (corner) table for 6:30pm Friday, which was all they had available. I took it, and went about my day.
It was 6:20 when I arrived, it means a lot to me to be on time, even a little early. I was promptly told by the hostess that I would only be seated at 6:30, and to go away and return then. A strange start, but it allowed me time to return to the lobby to admire some of the Chinese art and sculptures that adorn the walls of the Grand Lisboa Hotel. I returned at 6:30pm on the dot, lest I be told that my table had been given away if I were late. Luckily, I still had a reservation.
I was taken through the large double doors and through a mostly empty restaurant to my table. Once there, I was presented with a wine list (So large, there is no physical version, it’s all on iPad) and a menu (So large it should have been on an iPad). My waiter explained the first three pages, a signatures page, a set menu I wouldn’t be able to have and a different set menu I would be able to order. Following that was an extraordinary amount of a la carte dishes, surely so numerous that they couldn’t have all been available. Needless to say, I stuck with a set menu, choosing the ‘Precious’ menu for myself. This time, I did enjoy a wine pairing for five of the courses.
I started with two little amuse bouche dishes, a tiny braised beef and broccoli number (Delicious) and a piece of abalone with a gel of some kind, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It was good, I would have eaten it again. Now would be a good time to mention that paying for the house made XO sauce is a necessity, that stuff is amazing!
My first course was a duo of barbecued pork and roasted sucking pig. I’m sorry for the photo only showing the suckling pig, I got a bit excited by the aroma of the barbecued pork! Sorry! The pork (With a generous spoon of the aforementioned XO) was amazing, and the suckling pig equally as good, The touch of having a crepe under the skin was very good, this was a perfect little first course.
Next up was a dish hat may be very controversial, braised shark’s fin in brown sauce. I certainly do not advocate for the killing of shark’s for their fins, and I am certainly not a avid consumer. I’m not a huge fan anyway, though this iteration was very good. The shark’s fin was cooked beautifully, and the brown sauce was wonderful. Would I eat it again? Yes, but probably only here.
Next up, whole braised Yoshihama abalone. No wonder this place is so expensive, first shark’s fin, now whole abalone! I’ve mentioned before that abalone isn’t my favourite protein, I would certainly eat this again! Presented very simply, a whole piece in a very rich sweet braising sauce with some (For some reason, tied) asparagus, this was probably the best dish of the night.
Another seafood course, this time a steamed garoupa fillet with Sicilian tomato paste. This is where my meal started it’s downturn. The fish was nice, but the same sauce as the abalone and a very potent tomato paste threw the balance of the dish off. It wasn’t inedible, but it certainly overpowered the fish.
My beef course was next, and wow, this was not at all what I was expecting. Pan-fried A4 Kagoshima beef with assorted mushrooms. I’m not sure what you have in mind when you read that, but what appeared in front of me was about as far away as I could have been. I thought maybe a nice (Small) piece of beef, with some wok-tossed mushrooms and maybe a little bit of greens mixed through. What I got was possibly the worst presented dish I’ve seen in a three star restaurant, but it was also the most disappointing flavour wise too. Some small diced beef (Cooked well though), crispy garlic, two sugar snap peas, and a couple of mushrooms. This would have been awful, save for that wonderful XO sauce coming to the rescue again. I’m still upset I had to pay for a sauce to make my main course rise above disappointment level.
Next up, a very strange course to end my savory dishes with, stewed rice with diced chicken and dried conpoy. This was very enjoyable, I could certainly have eaten another bowl of this. The rice was beautifully cooked, with a rich chicken broth binding everything together. The non-wiped bowl was a bit of an issue for me though,
Now for dessert. I don’t usually order desserts when I go for Chinese, it’s not usually a thing, I’m so full from the endless savory dishes I don’t have room. This was possibly the most pleasant surprise of this trip! Coffee jelly, made to look like an espresso martini. The jelly was perfect, and light milk foam and some coffee beans made this dish a total winner, the perfect interpretation of something like this.
I was also served a small cup of milk tea (That tasted to me a lot like Ovaltine) and a small egg tart, both of which were very good.
Overall, I still don’t know how to feel about this. Was it good? Yes, but that statement comes with an asterisk. It was an experience, that much is true. Is it the best Chinese I’ve ever had? Yes, but not by as large a margin as you should expect for something this renowned, and expensive. My total bill worked out at A$536, which to me, isn’t worth the experience I had. It’s very hard for me to say one should visit here, I feel as though there is a specific clientele, and I am certainly not their target market. Maybe The Eight shines in a larger table format, serving a large banquet style menu to a table of six or eight? I don’t know, and I don’t think I’ll ever return to find out.
Atmosphere: ★★★★☆ (The dining room is stunning, and it quickly filled after I sat down)
Address: 2/F, Grand Lisboa Hotel, Avenida de Lisboa, Macau
Tip! Don’t dine solo. It seemed to make much of the menu inaccessible. Also, the ability to use chopsticks is essential.