The very first time I left Australia’s shores was for a five-day trip to Hong Kong. It was exciting to say the least. I was about 22 years old and had only just moved to Sydney, met my partner and caught the travel bug. Who would have thought I’d be taking trips overseas every year since? It’s true what they say – when you get the bug for travelling, you’re hooked.
I barely remember that first time to Honkers other than doing touristy things like The Peak tram, Lantau buddha, Tai O fishing village, Stanley Markets and Macau. Out of all the touristy things on that first trip I had a nagging feeling this time around to get back to Macau and see what was going on there today. A lot can change in 18 years and when our boat approached Macau I could already see loads of new towers and reclaimed land where there was once just water.
A whole new arrival terminal that was still under construction and a confusing bus station that lacked helpful signage didn’t make getting into town all that easy. As the original Portuguese settlement is swallowed up by some hideous Vegas-style hotel monoliths, there’s still much to see and explore in the narrow back streets.
Colonial pastel-coloured façades, cobbled streets and squares, temples, murals and a crap-load of shuffling tourists.
Of course we had to revisit the city’s most popular icon, São Paulo Cathedral, fighting for space on the winding street leading up to its steps. Forget having breakfast before getting to Macau as you’re sure to fill up on all the free samples of jerky and chalky almond cookies on the way up to the historic cathedral façade.
The ubiquitous pastéis de nata can be seen just about everywhere you look with its sweet custardy smell hanging in the air. I find them much eggier than their Sydney counterparts.
The original area of Taipa is supposedly the place to find many of the traditional Portuguese restaurants but rather than head back over the bridge past the nasty casino buildings, we settled on this place just off the busy tourist trail. Restaurante Platão is tucked away in a little courtyard and dishes up the typical Portuguese fare you can get in Macau plus a bunch of Chinese options to keep the locals happy.
A couple of chilled Sagres make way for some charred Portuguese sausage (66), heavy in garlic and the most delectable bacalhau soufflé (72) I’ve tried. Forgetting the copious amount of butter used, it’s strong in bacalhau flavour, creamy and soft with a crunchy crust.
In true Portuguese style, my grilled pork neck (198) comes loaded with garlic with simple sides of sliced tomato, fries and lemon wedge. The meat is supremely tender and just delicious. I couldn’t help eyeing off, and tasting, the gorgeous spicy chicken (196). This is one of Macau’s signature dishes, apparently, also going by the name of African chicken A jointed ½ chicken spiced-up with piri-piri and cooked with eggplant, smoked sausage and gherkin until tenderly soft. The one at Platão’s is truly amazing. With a little room to spare I ordered the torta de laranja (52), a soft and refreshing cake I made at home quite a while ago. A great end to an excellent meal and nice little day trip from Honkers.
Laneway snap shots