Lights glittered at the gates leading to the Sai Van Lake Square as the region’s iconic Macau Tower looms overhead. We just came from the City of Dreams, reserving our tickets for the next day’s showing of The House of Dancing Water. With no meals yet, except those we had at TurboJET when we crossed Hong Kong to Macau, we decided to drop by at the Macau Food Festival, where a feast undoubtedly awaited us.
|THE MACAU TOWER, ON OUR WAY TO THE CITY OF DREAMS AND DURING THE FOOD FESTIVAL|
We actually have no idea about the event until the concierge from Metropole Hotel told us about it as we were about to leave. Don’t forget to drop by the food festival, he said. What food festival? We stopped on our tracks and asked a few more questions before walking out to the nearby stop where our free bus ride to the City of Dreams awaited.
|FOOD STALLS RIGHT UNDER THE WATCHFUL GAVE OF THE MACAU TOWER|
Macau, it turns out, annually celebrates a 17-day food festival during the month of November. Our timing can’t be more perfect. Not only do we get to attend the food fest, but we also get to have a peek at the Macau Grand Prix (or more accurately, hear the whizzing of the cars), which was happening at the same time.
After claiming our tickets, another free bus delivered us right to the gates of the Sai Van Lake Square. It was way past dinnertime and we were quite excited to fill our tummies with local dishes.
|THE JAPANESE FOOD ZONE|
Organized by the United Association of Food and Beverage Merchants of Macao and now on its 15th year, the Macau Food Festival not only serves Macanese dishes, but also cuisines from select part of the globe. The square is divided into five food zones; European, Asian, Chinese, Desserts and of course, Macanese cuisine. Aside from those, a separate Korean Village is also set along the grounds.
|AMUSEMENT PARK GAMES ALONG THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS|
Besides food, a section of the festival grounds were littered with amusement-type games (ala-perya style in the Philippines) made especially for kids. A portion of the food stub comes with free credits for playing, but we thought the kids running around the park would enjoy it more, so we simply gave them away to the cutest one we saw.
|HUGE, CRISPLY FRIED SQUIDS|
The first thing I noticed was the abundance of seafood. Most locals, it seemed, are crazy for big-ass prawns, fat crabs and delectable giant lobsters. Unfortunately, we didn’t have no budget for those though.
|FOOD STUBS, THE ONLY WAY TO BUY FOOD AT THE FESTIVAL|
With our dwindling funds, we bought MOP 200.00 (PHP 1,168.38) worth of food stubs (you can’t buy directly from the stalls with cash) subdivided into smaller denominations. An important thing, since hawkers won’t be giving you change for your stubs should you exceed the food prices.
|CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES|
To be honest, what I thought would be easy pickings, turned out to a nightmare. With all the choices around, it was quite hard to choose where to spend our stubs on. We were initially hoping to try out local dishes, but were soon driven into confusion; what’s Macanese food, really? Isn’t it the same as Chinese?
|THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF SKEWERED MEAT, OF COURSE|
We did what we usually do in such situations, we picked the most flavourful looking food within our budget and converged on a table near the stage (where a Filipino band was belting out western cover songs and a Chinese version of Freddy Aguilar’s Anak).
|MY DINNER, NOODLES AND MORE NOODLES|
I bought a styro-plate of what appears to be thick Malaysian noodles topped with porkchops and another one filled with spaghetti omelette. My buddies on the other hand bought, gasp, lechon manok, from a Filipino stall, together with fried rice. Come on guys, we’re in Macau! Lol.
|THE DELECTABLE MACANESE EGG TARTS|
To redeem our sins, we each bought a cup of the city’s famous Macanese egg tarts—a creamy snack which has its roots from Macau’s Portuguese past. They were, judging from looks alone, extraordinarily good. Transgressions forgiven.
|THE MACAU SKYLINE LOOKS MAGICAL AT NIGHT|
|BOARDWALK AT THE NAM VAN LAKE|
|GRACEFUL TENT ARCHITECTURE ALONG THE LAKE|
With bellies full, we decided a walk to back to our hotel would be best. And indeed it was, Macau’s skyline reflecting and glittering across the dark waters of Nam Van Lake. We were desperate to burn our late dinner, we needed that precious tummy-space for beer later at Senado Square.
Macau Food Festival
Festival Date: November Every Year
Address: Sai Van Lake Square (in front of Macau Tower),
Se, Macau, China
Open Hours: Afternoon to Midnight
Entrance Fee: Free
GPS Coordinates Map: 22.180451, 113.536418