Macau: A Taste of Portugal in Asia

Eusebio Tome is owner of A Petisqueira, a Portuguese restaurant in Macau. He serves a plate of grill i i

Eusebio Tome is owner of A Petisqueira, a Portuguese restaurant in Macau. He serves a plate of grilled pork ribs. Anthony Kuhn, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anthony Kuhn, NPR
Eusebio Tome is owner of A Petisqueira, a Portuguese restaurant in Macau. He serves a plate of grill

Eusebio Tome is owner of A Petisqueira, a Portuguese restaurant in Macau. He serves a plate of grilled pork ribs.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR
A huge plate of clams, spiced with garlic and cilantro, make a nice starter i i

A huge plate of clams, spiced with garlic and cilantro, make a nice starter. Anthony Kuhn, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anthony Kuhn, NPR
A huge plate of clams, spiced with garlic and cilantro, make a nice starter

A huge plate of clams, spiced with garlic and cilantro, make a nice starter.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR
Portuguese food is known for its wealth of seafood, including charcoal-grilled sea bass. i i

Portuguese food is known for its wealth of seafood, including charcoal-grilled sea bass. Anthony Kuhn, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anthony Kuhn, NPR
Portuguese food is known for its wealth of seafood, including charcoal-grilled sea bass.

Portuguese food is known for its wealth of seafood, including charcoal-grilled sea bass.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR
Red-and-white-checked table cloths and wine bottles decorate the homey restaurant. i i

Red-and-white-checked table cloths and wine bottles decorate the homey restaurant. Anthony Kuhn, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anthony Kuhn, NPR
Red-and-white-checked table cloths and wine bottles decorate the homey restaurant.

Red-and-white-checked table cloths and wine bottles decorate the homey restaurant.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR
A Petisqueira is a Portuguese restaurant in Taipa village, on one of two islands off the Macanese pe i i

A Petisqueira is in Taipa village, which is on one of two islands off the Macanese peninsula. Anthony Kuhn, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anthony Kuhn, NPR
A Petisqueira is a Portuguese restaurant in Taipa village, on one of two islands off the Macanese pe

A Petisqueira is in Taipa village, which is on one of two islands off the Macanese peninsula.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR

The former Portuguese colony of Macau has recently overtaken Las Vegas as the world's gambling capital, and it's now expected to surpass even neighboring Hong Kong as a tourist destination. While the swish new American casinos offer many dining options, visitors would be remiss not to sample the excellent Portuguese restaurants here.

One of the most highly recommended among locals is A Petisqueira, on Taipa island, one of two islands off the Macanese peninsula. It's in Taipa village, which is home to many fine Portuguese and Macanese restaurants.

With its homey decor and red-and-white-checked table cloths, A Petisqueira is reminiscent of Portuguese tasca, a sort of delicatessen. For a long time, tascas were a place where working-class people would enjoy a late-night dinner. Their growing popularity in the 1980s and '90s drove them somewhat upscale.

Restaurant owner Eusebio Tome is the son of Portuguese vintners, and he has stocked his bar and decorated his walls well with an assortment of Portuguese wine bottles. A bulletin board displays a few of the enthusiastic reviews his eatery has earned from domestic and local media reviews.

Tome and his cousin opened A Petisqueira in 1993 with just 15 delicacies on the menu, and gradually expanded to 57 dishes today. He has trained a kitchen of expert Chinese chefs, and he seats and serves guests.

For starters, try the caldo verde, or kale soup, made with potato broth and Portuguese sausage. Also try the homemade, soft, white goat cheese, which must be eaten fresh, as it doesn't keep long. We started our meal with a huge plate of clams, spiced with garlic and cilantro.

Portuguese food is known for its wealth of seafood, and A Petisqueira serves tasty charcoal-grilled sea bass, king prawns, cuttlefish, sardines and kingfish, which come from a local fish market. Another Portuguese favorite is acorda de marisco — baked seafood with mashed bread. Another delicious entree is the crab curry, one of the many dishes that reflect the culinary influences of Portugal's colonial past in Africa and Goa .

Portuguese seafaring explorers and colonialists navigated the world powered by bacalhau, or salted codfish, and Portuguese joke that they have a thousand ways of cooking cod. They also waste very little of the fish: Everything from cod face to cod tongue is on the menu at A Petisqueira.

Carnivores will be happy here, too. We split a delicious plate of grilled black pork cutlets — from dark-skinned pigs that graze on the acorns of cork trees in Portugal's Alentejo region — and admired orders of grilled pork ribs and huge veal steaks that went by. Many couples will find a single order enough for two.

In addition to their standard menu, A Petisqueira has a substantial menu of daily specials, featuring seasonal ingredients. On weekends, the restaurant serves a Portuguese national dish, Cozido A Portuguesa, a hearty stew of pork knuckles, sausage, chicken, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and rice.

Wash down the meal with plenty of Vinho Verde. This Portuguese wine is light and dry, slightly fizzy and low in alcohol. Its name, "green wine," comes from the fact that it is usually consumed within a year of its production.

A Petisqueira is crowded at dinnertime, and reservations are highly recommended. Prices are reasonable for the area, with a dinner for two including wine usually running about 400 to 500 patacas ($50 to $62).

A Petisqueira — Rua S. Joao No 15 C/D, Ilha Da Taipa, Macau, China. Telephone: 853-2882-5354. Open Monday through Friday from noon until 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. until 10:15 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from noon until 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. until 10:15 p.m.

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