Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Value Three-star Meal

It's unfortunate that the non-stop rainstorm which started in the afternoon pretty much washed out all our plans to try more places to eat for the rest of the day, so after lunch we were stuck inside those mega shopping malls on the Cotai Strip walking aimlessly in dire attempt to burn off some calories. Then at night, we went out again for dinner at The Eight at the Grand Lisboa.

Compared to the decor of the rest of the hotel complex lavished with bright gold color, the interior of The Eight - right above the lobby on the second floor - was actually quite acceptable. That is, except the cheesy "8" symbols which were literally everywhere - from the furnishing on the wall to the menu cover. We were led through the dark and long corridor into the spacious dining room with recessed lighting and restrained use of red and amber colors around - which were of course, along with the "8" design, symbolized auspiciousness.

Surprisingly it was not a full-house on a Saturday evening, but nonetheless for some reasons, they still decided to put us at the far corner at a rather small table. Still comfortable by all means, but I was just curious. It took us a bit of time to sort out the menu and the wine and I was a bit disappointed when we found out they have sold out their signature char siu. We were still a bit stuffed from the long lunch so we decided to go for just a few simple dishes and also skipped the wine - a bottle of Tsing Tao worked just as fine.

We began with a whole abalone served chilled on top of pomelo salad in a ceramic spoon as our amuse-bouche. An unusual start and it's delicious. Our first dish was the "gold-coin chicken", with a thick piece of pan-seared goose foie gras sandwiched between two thin slices of char siu and a generous brush of a sweet glaze. Obviously it's an upgrade to what we were more used to, using foie gras instead of chicken liver, and it worked great with the soft texture and rich flavors.

We went for suckling pig after being told their char siu has been sold out, but in retrospect, it's not bad an alternative. Served with the thin flour wrappers with green onions and hoisin sauce as condiment, the pork skin was roasted perfectly crisp and the meat very tender.

Torn between the two crab claw dishes prepared in totally different styles, we ordered one of each to share. In terms of the presentation, the one steamed with egg custard was clearly the winner, with the giant crab claws placed in the middle of a deep dish of the silky, still slightly wobbling steamed egg custard. While the steamed one was pretty and tasty, turned out both of us were even more impressed with the deep-fried version, cooked with a thin batter and with generous sprinkles of deep-fried garlic. A few other places may have offered the same dish, but this one was a league on its own.

There were a long list of poultry dishes in the menu but the shredded chicken with crispy skin and pomelo was one of their signature dishes. The succulent chicken meat was shredded and mixed with bits of pomelo, the skin was carefully cooked with hot oil in the wok until it turned to a deep golden color and crisp, then put on top of the chicken-pomelo salad and with lime zest adding to a refreshing, delightful aroma. We loved this contemporary-style dish and admired the conventional Cantonese cooking skills it required.

We finished our meal with a vegetable dish - a home-style sauteed mustard green with dried shrimps and shrimp paste, which again was outstanding. The veggies were crunchy and the seasoning of shrimp paste and black beans was done just right. We didn't order any dessert - we didn't see anything interesting on the menu - but they brought us Portuguese egg tarts and a small cup of Macanese-style milk tea as "Petit Fours". Both were street food specialty in town and we appreciated their small gesture.

Overall I think the cooking here was no doubt top notch, though I was a bit hesitant about agreeing to the 3-star notion it received from the Michelin inspectors - to me it's worth a detour at best. Other than the incident of the seating arrangement, the service was a bit slow especially towards the end when the staff was too busy setting up the tables for TOMORROW's lunch service. The meal was above average and probably offered good value, but nothing so spectacular that made me felt bad at not able to order more dishes on the night we went.

More pictures in my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157663138381120

When? January 16 2016
Where? The Eight, Level 2, Grand Lisboa Hotel, Macau
Menu Highlights? Shredded Chicken with Crispy Skin and Pomelo in Honey-flavored with Lime Sauce
Web: www.grandlisboa.com/en/food_and_beverage/index_id_1.html

(Macau Food Crawl - Part 3)


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