Billing itself as an Asian tavern, Macau is named after a region in China that was formerly colonised by the Portuguese. Knowing this important fact will clear away any confusion as you check out the menu, which offers everything from maki and massaman curry to paratha, chorizo and dim sum. Suddenly the seafood espetada and prego-steak bao make more sense! Macanese cuisine is unique, consisting of a blend of southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines, with ingredients and seasoning from Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and India.
Bucking the trend in Cape Town, it’s not tapas for sharing, so you may have to ask the waiter which portions could be considered starters and which are mains. On some further advice of the chef’s specialities, we begin with chicken, chive and garlic potstickers, and a vegetarian bao. The dim sum twists are golden and beautifully crisp and then tender inside, with a superb soy-based dipping sauce. The bao with tempura veg and spicy mayo is also delicious, with textures that play nicely with the bun. It’s not the lightest dough, but it’s tasty.
Under the ‘From the land’ section, the crispy duck is flavoursome and executed brilliantly, with sweet, sticky sauce and fine julienned greens to roll up in thin Mandarin pancakes from a woven basket. All of the above is truly mouthwatering, but it’s the vegetarian dish, a china bowl of sizzling green beans in a complex Szechuan sauce, that might make the meal.
For dessert, Macau-inspired flavours are inserted into classics like a Portuguese custard tart with green tea ice cream and an admirably oozy chocolate truffle fondant with a light taste of wasabi soil but no basil ice cream, as promised.
A concise, one-pager wine list presents familiar bottles – both affordable and pricey – including Lourensford, Hamilton Russell, Spier and Alto. There are also one or two generously poured options by the glass per varietal.
Charming, if a little absent-minded.
Macau is a stunning spot in the best possible sense. Your eyes will be drawn to the vases of flowers, artworks and plants decorating the heritage brick walls, shelves and ceiling of this double-volume space. A sunbeam-streaming skylight and whirling fans add an exotic atmosphere that whisks you straight out of Cape Town.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy for more details.
It was actually my dinner at Three Wise Monkeys last night that reminded me of the review about Macau I'd been meaning to write.
Macau is the place for first impressions. Almost everyone I knew who have been here, had a great first time experience. But consequently, their second return was less than desirable and also, often, their last return.
This is definitely the case for me.
My first visit was in June, for a girls night. The entire experience from arrival to departure was flawless from a service point of view. Our food was sensational too. My only criticism would be the oily smell in the air, which is at first quite comforting, but eventually sticks in your nose and makes you nauseous. My hair also smelled of oil when I got home.
The second time around was with my partner. We both enjoy Sundoo and Three Wise Monkeys, which we frequent, so we were fully expecting to love Macau.
Even though I booked a table, my reservation seemed to confuse everyone (table for 2) and we spent some time at the bar while the staff decided where to put us.
Once we found a table, we ordered some starters, which took very long to arrive. Upon my first visit, we were a group who ordered a variety of dishes to share, and maybe we got lucky, but everything we ordered was totally yum. With 2 people only, we decided to each order a main. The menu itself is massively intimidating, with about 6 different categories to choose from.
Now I don't consider myself an expert in running a restaurant, but even I know you cannot have 50+ dishes on the menu and be excellent at every single one.
One of the great things about both Sundoo and 3WM is that the menu is small and condensed to what they do really well.
While my first experience saw me win the food roulette with great dishes, my second experience was not. The udon noodles in the seafood broth were so soggy they broke up with a spoon. My salmon was overcooked and totally bland. I added salt, which helped.
The atmosphere was also vastly different on the Friday night (our girls dinner was in the week) with a live DJ. I have always considered this a weird touch for a restaurant. No one could hear their own table's conversations, and naturally no one is dancing because it's a restaurant.
Oh, and the fryer smell is even more pronounced when they are busy. I see other patrons complaining of the same thing.
Overall, in a city full of sensational food options, it's unlikely we'll return here. We'll continue to support Sundoo and 3WM, who are definitely nothing fancy, but also not confused about who they are and what they do.
Macau is a miss for me.
Loved our meal. Will definitely be back. Pity our waiter wasn't more knowledgeable ito the menu options. Only negative is the very poor ventilation. Expect to walk out smelling like you spend the evening in a deep fryer. Should be easy to fix.
What a gem!
This has quickly become my favourite restaurant. The decor is simplistic yet intriguing, service is impeccable and the food is exquisite.
I fall more in love with this place every time I go back.
My first experience makes me want to go back and I would. The food takes you on a trip, exploring different flavors and aromas. Mind you I had a variety of dishes to try from, and I finished all I had to eat. Service was excellent which made it special as it was my birthday and I even had management and owner wish me. I got a surprise dessert for the table (that’s what you call customer service) and just being in the space you definitely won’t think you’re still in Cape Town
Vibey! Good service and Great food!
Gawie De Beer
Great Vibe, Great Staff, Great Food. All round great time! Food is amazing, staff are great at helping you decide what to eat. Its a great venue for dinner with friends, or just a romantic dinner for two.
Went to Macau between meetings one day and fell in love with the place. The food was awesome, haven't had better sushi anywhere else. Staff are friendly and i has a great vibe. Macau is great for a night out with friends, a family dinner, or just a place to park off for a quick bite while you work between meetings.
I absolutely love this place. The food is amazing, service is great, wine is out of this world.
Kristi de Freitas
A friend and I went for lunch at Macau. We started off with the chicken & garlic chive potstickers, and the honey glazed cha siu pork. The potstickers are packed with stuffing with a thin pastry casings; honey glazed pork is crispy, tasty, with a sweet taste at the same time.
What stood out the most for me was the aromatic crispy duck with mandarin pancakes. The make-your-own pancake concept is something you don’t often find, and everything married so well. Wrapping the crispy duck, fresh cucumber, with a dash of the homemade Hoisan sauce in the thin pancake was heaven.
The Macau Roll takes sushi to a new level with the flame seared salmon. The freshness comes out and the mayo adds a bit of tang to the dish as well.
Just before dessert, we tried the salt cod fritters with garlic aioli. This little balls melt in your mouth, and the pure cod flavor isn’t over powered by anything.
You know when you order fondant, you want that oozing middle? Well, omg did Macau’s truffle chocolate fondant ooze for sure! It was a rich fondant that paired perfectly with the green tea ice cream and chocolate soil.
Kristi de Freitas
Went there for lunch on Friday 21st. We were a group of 6, friends. Do yourself a favour and go and indulge in the fantastic food, with such an array of flavours.
We started with Seared Scallops, served with a Thai salsa, melt in your mouth with a taste of Thailand, exquisite. The others had the scallops is a Thai curry sauce and they said it was really good.
I decided on the Crispy Duck with pancakes, which was excellent.
The rest of the group had a selection of dishes,Tonkatsu Pork Chasiu Ramen - A creamy rich pork lard broth with soy braised eggs , scallion and seaweed - which was discribed as excellent.
This is the first time that we have been to this restaurant and we will all definitely be back.
Chef Kuan is a really talented chef.
May they go from strength to strength.
Do yourselves a favour and go and discover the taste of Asia on our doorstep.
As the QE1 sank in Hongkong so sank this restaurant in Cape Town.... you sit like in a Tokio subway, the service does only work with support of the guest and the food .... just forget it.... I‘ve travelled the world but I’ve never found a duck in such terrible way ... you expect at least average as the restaurant is only about to be seen ... but to squeeze in a nieche and chew on bones is not what you want for dinner ... the sooner this place closes the better it is .... but ... what is positiv... immediatelly when we complained, the owner came and tried to compensate... but how to compensate a broken glass... wines are great, service is willing but uneducated, food needs definitely a severe refurbishment
Don’t go there when you try to avoid disappointments