The Parisian Macao is the home of fine establishments such as La Chine and Le Buffet. And tucked away on the third floor of the esteemed hotel is Lotus Palace, a jewel in the crown of Sands Resorts Macao’s restaurants.
When you enter the elegant dining space, you’ll notice beautiful details such as the dark-framed glass panels decorated with reflective gold flakes. The menu is full of contemporary takes on Cantonese cuisine. Shredded chicken and crispy chicken skin with pomelo dressing and fried prawns with creamy pumpkin sauce are popular favourites.
The signatures are what best represent this restaurant, and the following are the must-tries on the menu on your next visit.
Suckling pig with foie gras on deep-fried ‘man tou’
Suckling pig is a symbol of wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture, as only those of means can afford to sample the delicacy. To see suckling pig on the menu usually means that it’s a special occasion such as a wedding or the grand opening of a store. However, in the wake of social progress, this item is now more commonly consumed outside banquets.
So Executive Chef Hew Choong Yew of Lotus Palace decided to boost the level of opulence. While eating just the crispy skin with a slice of Chinese bun or man tou is already a delicacy, the version served at this contemporary Cantonese restaurant has a thin slice of foie gras sandwiched in the middle. Not only that, the man tou is also deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown colour, adding a toasty aroma and a textured crunch to the bite. All three elements combined make for a burst of richness that elevates the average suckling pig to a whole new level.
Braised beef short rib with morel mushroom and pan-fried foie gras
If you’re after innovation that is a melding of East meets West, then braised beef short rib with morel mushroom and pan-fried foie gras is a must-try. Short ribs come from the beef chuck portion of the bull. There are the five short ribs from the chuck section that is too small to be used for steaks, and the meat in between these bones is from a muscle that is heavily used, and therefore has less tenderness but much more flavour. The kitchens at Lotus Palace braise the cut with Chinese herbs for five hours.
The meat is slow-cooked to a desired tenderness where it is the same consistency as the imported foie gras from France, giving the diner a seamless bite.
Morel mushrooms are terrifically versatile and add a great depth of earthy flavour to any dish that includes them. These are an extravagant addition to the plate because of their rarity owing to their very short growing season. Sampling the meaty, earthy flavour in between bites of decadent foie gras and short rib is the right way to intersperse the meal.
Fresh oyster with bean curd custard topped with spicy lemon jelly and caviar
As far as creativity goes, this appetiser will start any meal with a bang. First of all, the presentation is visually stunning: the dish arrives on top of dry ice and emits a steady plume of vapours, something that is absolutely Instagram-worthy.
Perched on top of the tofu is plump oyster with a dollop of caviar garnish, and we cannot help but swallow it in one sumptuous bite. The shellfish is so fresh that it offers a sweet top note which subsides into the usual steely flavour of oysters. Then, the umami of the superior caviar is ushered in, bringing back the sweetness and teasing out the aromas on the palate.
Next, we dig into the underlying tofu where the texture is incredibly silky and smooth but firm enough for the spoon to slice it without compromising the structure. The first note to hit is the fish broth, matching the first bite of the oyster. A refreshing, spicy lemon jelly surrounds the bean curd custard which, when combined with tofu, morphs into an aromatic plumlike flavour.
Baked crab claw with crystal noodles, ginger and spring onion
In Cantonese cuisine, there is no better match made in heaven than spring onion, ginger and seafood. This combination is as common as ham and cheese and so prolific in Chinese cuisine you’d be hard-pressed to find a seafood restaurant that does not dish all assortments of crustaceans with this pairing.
Lotus Palace elevates this common menu item by using superior ingredients. The crab claw in this dish is large and fresh. Baked and shelled, it is tender and juicy, a testament to the skills of Chef Yew. Crystal noodles are used instead of the usual vermicelli, giving the dish a bouncier bite. The noodles’ added thickness allows for more absorbency of the crab, ginger and spring onions of the pot it is cooked in – often considered to be the essence of the whole dish.
The crab is served on a hotplate, keeping the ingredients steaming hot and a pleasure on the lips when you’re eating. Do not be afraid to ask for more noodles – it’s worth it.
Braised beef short ribs with cumin seeds
Cumin is a staple spice in many cuisines, especially Mexican, Indian, African, and Asian. In some Southeast Asian countries, the seed is said to help with digestion, coughs, pain, and liver health. In Iran, people use cumin to treat seizures, while in Tunisia it is utilised to help fight infections and lower blood pressure.
Getting the right mix of chilli powder and cumin is the be-all and end-all when you dry rub on beef. The powder on the short rib is a medley of chilli, cumin, cloves, salt and other superior herbs to enhance the original flavour of the meat while it’s cooked to the perfect tenderness. This is one for spice fans!