Tuesday, September 4, 2012

30 Hours in Macau Part 2 - High Life of Spa and Feasting in Lobster

This is the second part of the write-up about our 30-hour "staycation" in Macau, courtesy of Wynn (Part 1 can be found here)

1630: After a quick tour of the hotel we came to the favorite part of the trip - The SPA! Encore Tower has its own spa located on the 3rd floor, so guests don't have to venture all the way back to the Wynn Tower. There are only 8 spa suites (with one being the couple room) so that guarantees privacy and personalized services. We were booked into their only couple suite, in which there were ample rest area, Jacuzzi bath in the middle, as well as steam/shower room with state-of-the-art equipment, sauna and treatment rooms at the back - all treatment came with extra time for us to use these amazing facilities at our leisure. Gosh if only we could just hanged out here all day long - that alone would have been our perfect vacation.

Their Signature Treatment is the Four Hands Massage, during which two therapists worked your body in synchronized actions with oil and fragrance to relax your muscles and mind. It's such a rejuvenating experience - reminds me of spas that we went in Bangkok. Our Thai therapists were top-notched and right to the point, literally. I quickly dozed off soon after the massage began (to me, an indication of how good that was) and woke up feeling well-rested and soothed.

1830: I held off the temptation of trying my luck at the blackjack table and headed straight to dinner at Mizumi, Wynn's Japanese restaurant which was recently re-modeled and re-branded. Of course I didn't mention this to our gracious host at the time of visit, but now I confess I didn't have particular high expectation before coming in. We thought this is just going to be one of those places where jackpot winners come and spend their "hard-earned" money on some thick slices of toro and abalone sashimi or other extravagant (and often over-priced) items on the menu, with their loud voices and warm sake cup in hand.

But Chef Hiroshi Kagata quickly quashed my negative feeling with the presentation of the appetizer course, which comprises of several small dishes served in beautiful bowls and plates. This resembled the sakizuke course commonly seen in Kaiseki-ryori - Chef Hiro started his career at a ryotei restaurant in Kyoto so this probably traced back to his culinary root. I particularly like the presentation of the shrimp with summer vegetable jelly - with boiled shrimp and slices of ocra inside which reminds me of flower petal floating on a quiet lake - and the flavor combination of cucumber and miso paste brought awakening to the palate for what it is to come.

The "amuse bouche" was quickly followed by sashimi then sushi courses. The uni sashimi was presented in a martini glass in its shell and toro sashimi on a "bowl" made of thin slice of daikon - representing lily flower floating along flowing water, as Chef Hiro explained. How romantic, and see, I was so wrong when I said I expected some cliché sashimi. The quartet of sushi with ebi, kimedai, anago and toro roll was fresh and tasty too - as we were told that the fish was jetted in daily from fish market in Kansai area.

But tonight it's the cooked dishes that impressed us the most. We were each served a lobster tail with uni followed by a shabu-shabu served in a paper pot. The lobster's perfectly broiled with generous portion of sea urchin lying on top giving the dish much succulent flavor, and on the side is a sauce made with lobster tomalley (the greenish stuff inside the cavity) - simply delicious. The shabu-shabu used Omi beef, one of the finest breed from Kansai. I ate mine just slightly cooked and without any sauce. For a perfect meat like this, you really don't need to do anything to it. We finished off with a dessert platter with Japanese fruits and cheesecake and once again, it's nicely presented.

Apparently the menu changes daily and I think this certainly represented great value for money (even taken the ferry tickets into account), with the quality of ingredients and cooking on par of any high-end Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong.

Day Two:

1000: We switched off the alarm and let our body (not the clock) dictating when we rose from bed. That's the beauty of the vacation, I suppose. We had our breakfast at Cafe Encore downstairs, the casual and cozy restaurant round the corner from the Encore Tower lobby and away from most of the casino and shopping crowd. Here instead of running a breakfast buffet like many hotels do, they do a la carte and gave you quite a number of options to choose from. (but if you are more into the usual all-you-can-eat breakfast extravaganza, you can also go to the Cafe Esplanada located on the Wynn Tower side)

I went for the Macanese set which consists of an egg omelette with chorizo (served with mushroom, tomatoes and potatoes) and a hearty bowl of fish ball noodles. I finished off with a Portuguese egg tart - the most famous legacy to Macau by their former sovereign country. Of course for traditionalists you can always opt for the usual suspect of Western set with French Toast and fruit bowl, or the Chinese set with congee and noodles, whatever that suit you best.

1230: So, did we ever step out of Wynn Macau during the trip, you may ask? Well we actually did. We had our lunch at Guincho a Galera, who took over the old Robuchon site at Hotel Lisboa right across the street. It's a decent Portuguese restaurant all right, but my advice? Stop expecting this is the fine-dining dining mecca this once was, and you will find this a nice place for a quiet, delicious and certainly good-value lunch.

Of course sometimes it's fun and eye-opening to be travelling around to far away places, walking in new towns, seeing new things, meeting new people, and eating in new restaurants, but as we realize from our quick getaway to Macau, it can be as much enjoyable just being away from busy life and do absolutely nothing.

"Staycation" has become such a buzz word in travel industry in Europe and America - many people thought this is to save money, but for me, it's about splurging on things you enjoy about traveling, and avoid spending on things you can live without. Saving the trouble of flying away and spend time chilling in somewhere near with someone you care most - that's my idea of an epic staycation. 

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