Restaurants & Bars

The Eight (by Chef Au Kwokkeung) - Macau

Bu Pun Su | May 22, 201510:20 AM     3

I could not find any thread specific to this restaurant – might as well start one here

Slowly but surely, Macau tries to emulate what Las Vegas has done. It has evolved from the epicenter of gambling to have diversified itself in many other ‘fields’ such as (high-end) shopping, MICE, dining and family activities. Like it or not, the Lisboa group has the most outstanding restaurants serving top quality food in Macau (Note that - I never like Lisboa hotel, both the old and new; somehow the overall design is quite tasteless except for some individual outlets). Last month, I had the opportunity to dine at the Eight, Michelin’s latest 3-star that has been under the radar until recently. As of now, the “8” is the 2nd Cantonese restaurant holding the famous red book highest accolade. Since I was staying in the Taipa area and the fact that I was alone, I decided not to go for the dim sum.

The Eight is relatively new, opened in 2007 and located in the second floor of the Grand Lisboa hotel. The dining room is big and opulent; can easily fit in at least 150 people in addition to several private rooms. Since it has no view and window, it goes all out to make the dining room beautiful. The décor was indeed quite impressive, dominated by black color with bright lighting and red/orange ceiling. The remarkable center piece, upon entering the restaurant’s corridor, was hundreds of crystals in sphere form suspended by delicate & thin threads. Behind it was a large wall adorned by carefully designed goldfishes. Lastly, as the restaurant’s name suggest – there are number “8” (the most auspicious & favorable number among the Chinese) in different forms everywhere; my favorite one is the ‘chandelier’ made of jade-ringlets. It may not be as lavish as Robuchon au Dome’s interior, but I find the “8” dining room was more harmonious and pleasant.

Eating Chinese food alone is often not that easy especially if one wants to try as many dishes as possible but the degustation menu was not available. It was ... but for a minimum order for 2 people. I took a look at it; it was lots of food but a few things I was not fond of so I did not “push” for it either. Instead I went for a la carte and fortunately there were several dishes that can be ordered either per piece or per person. Here what I had:

-I began with French foie gras a la ‘char siu’ served with preserved Chinese sausage. A modern interpretation by using duck liver that happened to be very rich combined with sweet sausage. Too strong for my taste; hot tea with bitter/strong flavor helped
-It’s followed by deep-fried chicken wing filled with shark’s fin, pork and crab meat – served hot. Each element cooked separately and it was well-executed. The wing’s skin was still nicely intact and the dish was moist and tasty with a hint of lime while the shark’s fin provided interesting texture. Oh it was not greasy at all; good job
-The best dish of the evening was the meaty and succulent crab claw’s ‘meat’. It was perfectly executed with superb flavor. The dish was served with silky egg white with some flavor of Chinese wine and subtle ginger aroma. I could not finish the egg white and but should have no problem for another serving of claw ;) by the way, the waitress was kind enough to allow me to order only one crab claw dish

-I often see baked sea whelk in Portuguese sauce at the menu in HK restaurant; it looked appealing with local flair, however never actually tried one. So I did eventually here – the presentation was appealing. Inside, there were a few other things such as pork, onion, parmesan cheese etc. Because there were many other produce and heavy sauce, I could hardly taste the sea whelk itself. The gratin crust was pleasant, but I was not a fan of the stuffing below – too rich and can hardly differentiate/taste the ingredients
-In addition to the crab claw, I also loved my “main” course. Seriously, I ordered suckling pig filled with fried rice and preserved meat – half portion and I got the ‘head’ part while the table near me got the ‘tail ’ part sharing among 3 ladies. I love suckling pig’s crispy skin especially the baby/younger one. The skin was crunchy (and not hard) along with delicious thin layer of fat below. The rice was quite flavorful too (using glutinous rice might be better). It was almost as wonderful as the one I shared with my wife at Kimberley hotel’s restaurant. The good part, here was smaller too and I managed to finish 80-90% of the skin, including from the head and half the rice. My maître d’ who thought it would be too big for one person looked perplexed for a moment.
-Finally, for the dessert I picked what I initially thought was the copy of typical Thai sweet – coconut glutinous rice with mango. Some dishes here were cooked up to Chef Au’s creative interpretation. It was more ‘complicated’ than just ‘rice’ and mango with coconut milk. The kitchen also put mousse, white chocolate and lots of ‘mango sauce’. It was rich and flavorful. The sauce was a bit too much; I only consumed ¾ of it. I slightly prefer Thai’s “khao neeo mamuang” since it’s ‘cleaner’ on my palate.

Throughout the meal, I drank Taiwan’s tea (Dong ding wu long) which was freshly boiled in front of me prior serving at the beginning. Generally, the taste was soft and ‘long’. Generally, the food at the “8” was solid and delicious; arguably the best in Macau and can compete with the best one available in Hong Kong. I would rate it 92 pts (about 2 ¼ *). Furthermore, it was reasonably priced. It seemed fine dining places in the Lisboa hotels were subsidized quite substantially and not allowed to go ‘bankrupt’. What’s better than the food was actually the service. The dishes flowed smoothly with perfect timing. Usually when dining alone, there was a period I spent some times on my mobile while waiting for the food, but not here and neither did I feel rush. The service was excellent; the ‘F&B manager’ was walking around and talking to some tables including mine. However, the main star was the waitress attending my table. She was friendly, attentive, enthusiastic and efficient. Moreover, she spoke Mandarin, Cantonese and English with ease – much better than any waiters I met at Robuchon au Dome. She also consistently asked my opinion about each dish and often gave additional information about the food (how they’re prepared and added info on ingredients used that’re not mentioned in the menu). Given the enjoyable dining experience, the next time I am in the area (and not alone), the Eight was likely to be the only restaurant I would like to visit (again)

You can see the pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357...

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