Gourmands of Macau have an indisputable plethora of incredible restaurants to choose from but there are only a few that truly offers discerning diners and food lovers the pinnacle of the haute cuisine echelon. The energetic city offers diverse fare at every turn but while choices are bountiful, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t sample Portuguese food in the region. Macau’s roots are deeply entrenched in Portuguese heritage which is why Chiado should unquestionably be on top of that list led by highly-acclaimed celebrity chef, Henrique Sá Pessoa who has a long celebrated reputation for a truly immersive gastronomic experience.
Chef Henrique, at the helm of Chiado is renowned for his impressive career, Michelin stars, TV shows and a glorious journey in the culinary world having extraordinarily championed the vibrant and flamboyant flavors of Portugal. The mastermind of Portugal’s prominent restaurant Alma explains why his foray to Macau’s dining scene is an adventure of a lifetime. A labor of love for the versatile chef, the menu is thoughtfully curated with modern inspired interpretations of traditional Portuguese flavors and ingredients. Focusing on hints of what came before and infusing contemporary details to dishes reflecting Chef Henrique’s culinary philosophy of blending flavors in harmony.
Behind Chiado’s name
Situated at the spectacular Sands Cotai Central on the Cotai strip, Chiado is poised to be a world-class culinary affair that punches above all others without being intimidating, an atmosphere present in some fine dining venues. The restaurant name itself is inspired by the historical values of a small neighborhood in Portugal. Chiado originates from the name of a square and its surrounding area in the city of Lisbon where Baroque style architectures outline the scene. Revered as an important cultural area with several museums and theatres within its sphere, this quaint location was beloved by Poet Fernando Pessoa amongst a pool of creative patrons that frequented the area.
Meanwhile, in Macau, where the dining landscape is having its own renaissance period, Chef Henrique’s Chiado presents masterpiece dishes that are complemented with warm interior and graceful design shaping a superb restaurant experience. Chiado creates a gastronomical tour of Lisbon’s sophisticated scenes and history through the portraits proudly displayed on its walls. This vibrant quarter of the city is immortalized here as an ode to the charming place similarly echoed by the restaurant’s comfortable setting. The muted sand-toned colors around the space, wooden accents, and elegant lighting of the restaurant provide the ideal backdrop to an exceptional culinary journey.
If there is one memorable dining experience to have on your list this year in Macau, it should be none other than Chiado. And, what better way to understand the ethos behind this dining destination than speaking directly with Chef Henrique. Meet the man behind the captivating dishes and discover a beautiful feast offering food fused from the Iberian Peninsula leaving a cultural bite and a remarkable experience.
The beginning of a glorious journey
Talking to Chef Henrique is mesmerizing with the admirable man being a true creator and storyteller of gastronomy. Taking pride in his career growth and pilgrimage, he ventured into culinary school after graduation. He resided and worked in leading restaurants in London and Sydney for a few years before eventually moving back to Portugal where he opened his first restaurant in Cascais. In 2009, he embarked on his most personal project by launching Alma and indeed the restaurant has captivated the dining arena. He also started doing TV content around the time of the launch. In 2015, at its peak of success, Alma went from Santos to Chiado, Lisbon and these past three years were more Michelin-star focused. To date, Chef Henrique has six establishments in Portugal and one outside Portugal, in Macau – Chiado!
The epitome of contemporary Portuguese cuisine in Macau
Discover a unique approach to Portuguese culinary favorites at Chiado. It is apparent that the menu represents all the typical Portuguese dishes such as cataplana, codfish, and more but it isn’t the same traditional food that one is accustomed to because it serves contemporary cuisine. Believing that it isn’t ecologically sustainable to import all ingredients from Portugal, Chiado’s kitchen team also utilizes local resources, especially vegetables. However, it is important to acknowledge that to achieve authenticity special pieces such as Parma ham, chorizo, codfish, black pig and more are imported from Portugal. The fish served at Chiado comes from the Mediterranean and some of the seafood actually comes from Morocco.
Chiado prides itself in allowing guests a glimpse of real Portugal in a noble way with high-quality ingredients and deliciously prepared dishes adapted to the local palate. One of the signature dishes includes the tataki tuna that bagged Chef Henrique a win in a competition back in 2005 in Portugal. With progressive views when it comes to cooking and managing a restaurant, Chef Henrique affirms his trust and respect with Dario Santos, the head chef of Chiado who he personally appointed. He emphasizes the strength of his restaurant unit in propagating the principles and training to ensure the vision of Chiado as a contemporary restaurant executed in an exemplary manner.
The legacy of two Michelin stars, illustrious TV career and a book
Not one to shy away from truth and reality, Chef Henrique values his Michelin star as a result of hard work and passion. Achieving a Michelin star is any chef’s dream and he was bestowed not just one but two. His path to achieving this dream was a little different as he worked at restaurants and under chefs without any Michelin stars and achieved his recognition from scratch. It was through diligence and dedication at his restaurant, Alma, in Portugal, that eventually granted him his first star in 2016 and then a second in 2018.
The devoted chef also has a strong presence on television and he’s probably one of the first chefs of his generation to appear on the small screen. Other than traditional TV appearances, “Entre Pratos” is a series which stars Chef Henrique sharing his cooking secrets. Filled with excitement and high spirit, he shares that he is working on a new program that will pay homage to Portuguese food. More than just the traditional approach, it will also feature a part that highlights reinterpretations of popular dishes into healthier versions. With an innate talent that knows no bounds, he has also authored a book in English called “Secret Ingredient” which is available in bookstores.
Three to try
The focus on flavors at Chiado signifies the best of Portuguese cuisine. Even it’s signature olive oil can be purchased in the restaurant separately because that’s how iconic this ingredient came to be in association with Chef Henrique. This exceptional element of food has been expertly crafted and is now available in Macau. The consistency of quality across all the chef’s brands is quite admirable and the majestic menu is diverse with a degustation menu and a full à la carte menu. There is also an abundance of sharing plates for a truly enjoyable dining experience. One must savor these sublime dishes to feel the essence and meaning of the quote “food is an expression of culture”. There is no single piece de resistance here and to be honest every dish shines on its own. However, one needs to begin with these three signature dishes to grasp the essence of Chiado.
- Tuna tataki with vegetable escabeche and tomato tartare
- Salted cod ‘à brás’ with slow cooked egg yolk and onion purée
- Chocolate bombe with salted caramel and hazelnut ice cream
Chiado Shop 2206, Level 2, Sands Cotai Central, Cotai, +853 8113 8988 or [email protected], www.sandscotaicentral.com/restaurants/western/chiado