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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cafe de Macau, Haymarket Chinatown

cafe de macau

EDIT November 2010: Cafe de Macau has closed. It has been replaced with Yummy Chinese BBQ

I'm not sure exactly when Cafe de Macau opened, but one day there was once a travel agency and then when I next walked past, it had suddenly become a Macauese eatery.


After less than a month of my first noticing its arrival, we headed here for lunch last week. It was packed. We were lucky to get one of the last large benches, sharing our table with six other diners. By 1.00pm there was a queue of ten people waiting outside the motion-sensor glass door.

Over one hundred people filled the cafeteria-like space, a long room filled with modern white chairs and tables. The open kitchen could be spotted down one end, a bar overflowing with used glasses down the other. Red beams dotted with spotlights overhead make the room seem even longer, and bored diners can always look up at the plasma screens that broadcast Chinese programmes.

pumpkin soup
Pumpkin soup (complimentary with the lunch special)

One glance at the menu and we can start to see why this place is so popular. $8.30 gets you a dish from a list of thirteen. Also included is the daily soup and you can add a hot drink for 50c.

We place our orders and within seconds, a waiter arrives with two huge bowls of soup. It's pumpkin soup, thick, sweet and starchy with the grit of added potato.

hong kong coffee
Hong Kong style tea mixed with coffee (50c with lunch special)

I'd always wrinkled my nose whenever my mother talked of tea mixed with coffee. "Everyone drinks it like that in Hong Kong" she'd told me. It never appealed, but it's funny how when it appears on a menu, I'm happy to try it.

A few sips later and I'm still not convinced. It has the bitterness of strong instant with a faint taste of tea.

baked pork chop
Baked pork chop with rice $8.30 (includes soup)

Our dishes arrive as we're finishing our soup. B has ordered the baked pork chop - a crumbed pork chop coated in a thick sludge of sweet-and-sour like tomato sauce.

portuguese chicken
Baked Portuguese chicken with rice $8.30 (includes soup)

I've ordered the baked Portuguese chicken, thinking that if you're going to eat at a Macauese eatery, you are obliged to try something that reflects its colonial history.

Chopped pieces of chicken leg are bathed in a mild and sweet yellow curry sauce. There are bits of carrot, a few slices of Spanish olive and a slice of spicy chorizo that is dusted with coconut. Although fragrant and visually inviting, I find the curry is very mild, bordering on bland and in urgent need of salt.

Both of us are struggling with the enormous portions though. I can barely even finish the chicken, let alone the mountain of rice underneath. The starch-rich soup we'd both eaten may have also had something to do with our reduced stomach capacity.

There are benefits to communal tables, as we sticky beak at the dishes arriving around us. A female diner next to us is having the stewed duck with rice, a huge maryland of duck that looks very inviting. Two diners along and another female is having the stewed duck served in a bowl of soup filled with slippery white noodles.

Next to me a plate of spaghetti bolognaise arrives, thick spaghetti noodles topped with a dollop of bolognaise and served with a side of garlic bread. Her friend is having the Hainan chicken, boiled and served with rice and a saucer of ginger shallot oil.

Around us we spot a plate of the Macauese fried rice, a beef noodle stir fry and plates of Singapore noodle. Also on the menu are the grilled fish fillet in sweet corn sauce, Malay curry chicken (HOT! it warns on the menu), combination fried noodles, Buddhist delight and the most intriguing-sounding Russian beef with rice.

pasteis de nata
Homemade Portuguese custard tart $1.60

We are so full that have to order our Portuguese custard tart takeaway. The pastry is super crispy but a tad oily I think, the custard is sweet and eggy. It tastes like a cross between a Chinese custard tart and a traditional Portuguese custard tart.

ground floor

Lunch specials are served from 11.30am-3.00pm. They also have afternoon tea sets served from 3pm-5pm. Along with your tea or coffee, small meal options include a sweet bun, japanese-style udon or portuguese-style chicken fettucine. Prices start from $5.00.

Breakfast sets are served from 10.00am-11.15am and cost $5.90. Of the six choices, the ox tongue with baked beans and hash brown sounds like a must-try to me.

Cafe De Macau New Generation Eatery
EDIT November 2010: Cafe de Macau has closed. It has been replaced with Yummy Chinese BBQ
761 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9280 2800

Open 7 days 10.00am-11.00pm
14 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 3/24/2007 05:38:00 pm


  • At 3/26/2007 11:09 am, Blogger Lil said…

    I've been to the one in Eastwood and it has similar décor.

    With the potion size, it's best to go in a group and share the dishes.

    It's good, cheap food and drink - Hong Kong café style!

  • At 3/26/2007 2:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ohh, I walked past this last week on my way across the road to China Noodle King, i was wondering what it might be like.

    Lucky for me, I can always count on you AG to try things first! I'm adding this one to the list.

  • At 3/26/2007 7:59 pm, Blogger VB said…

    I wondered whether it's a francise of the one in Eastwood. Their breakfast set is great.

  • At 3/26/2007 9:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm not a big fan of the tea / coffee thing either tho I can confirm that HK taxi drivers esp, swears by them! Its kinda like an Asian style chai latte and have the potential to be good except Chinese can't make coffees! (and I can say that cuz I'm a nip myself LoL)

  • At 3/27/2007 12:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yeah me too.. I'm a frequent visitor in the Eastwood branch. Although the food isn't really anything to shout about, but it's quite reasonably portioned. And the breakfast deal is really cheap.

  • At 3/27/2007 2:05 am, Blogger papa lazarou said…

    yeh, been to the eastwood one a few times.. and this city one twice last week... nice & cheap, clean and comfortable place... i used to love the coffee/tea (yin yang) drink.. even bought the instant mix at the grocery store too... these days, just prefer the iced milk tea...

  • At 3/27/2007 7:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I drove past when they were renovating and I was pretty excited about the arrival of a Macanese restaurant in Sydney! So, rather fortuituous of you reviewing it for me, so to speak!

  • At 3/27/2007 10:38 pm, Blogger Vintage Wine said…

    Tea/coffee mixture? :-) I saw that someone in the comments above mentioned chai latte, is it similar to that? Chai latte is not really my cup of tea ;-)

  • At 3/28/2007 3:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    mmm the food looks good

  • At 3/29/2007 3:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    see, i said i mite be slightly addicted to ur site... Not big on the instant stuff either Hell No! M an ex barista so have high expectations of my caffeinated rush-in-a-cup so am thinkin.. NOTHIN could make it taste better.. heh he

  • At 10/25/2008 4:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Foods are eatable, but serving is hopeless. When I paid for my meal, they didn't accept my 5c coins and the reason was they had too many of them. Does it make sense??? :-(

    At that time I was so~ embarrassed!!

  • At 10/25/2008 10:37 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - How bizarre. Five cent coins are legal tender so I suppose you could've called their bluff and just left the money there. If they want the money for the dish, they would have no option but to take it?

  • At 6/25/2009 4:56 am, Anonymous Helder Fraguas said…

    Great post!
    In Sydney you can find lots of people from Macau, where food is a form of culture. It is nice to know that you can even find a cafe named after this great town.
    Helder Fraguas

  • At 11/13/2009 5:46 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Helder - I don't know many Macanese in Sydney, but I agree - it's so great we have a Macanese Cafe at our gastronomic disposal :)


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