Those wishing to taste the true flavours of old Macau can do no better than stop by Riquexó, a restaurant serving Macanese cuisine, a blend of Portuguese, Chinese, and on occasion, Southeast Asian ingredients and cooking styles.
The restaurant is still run by its original owner, Aida Jesus:
who despite being in her mid-90s, continues to look after Riquexó on a daily basis and, on occasion, even contributes dishes herself, such as xarope de figo, a sweet drink made from fig leaves. Besides being one of the few interested in preserving the culinary heritage of Macau, Dona Aida is also apparently one of the only remaining native speakers of Pátua, an old dialect of Portuguese that was previously spoken in the former Portuguese colony.
As the sign (above) suggests, Riquexó is self-service, and in fact is more like a cafeteria. You queue up, point to whatever looks good, and a tray will be brought to you.
Scanning the day’s offerings I immediately ordered capela:
I’d read about this traditional Macanese meat loaf, but had never previously tried it. The dish was rich and well seasoned, and the steamed greens were a perfect accompaniment. The cheesy crust and minced olives were signs of the dish’s Portuguese origins, and accompanied by rice and a cold Sagres, it was my favourite part of the meal.
We also ordered a dish of feijoada:
the bean stew that is also the unofficial national dish of Brazil, another former Portuguese colony. Riquexó’s feijoada featured a thick broth, the result of using a pig foot, and was supplemented with cubes of pork, carrots and cabbage.
And finally we ordered what is probably the most beloved Macanese dish of all, minchi:
Paradoxically, the dish has little resemblance to anything Portuguese or Chinese, and the name is most likely a corruption of the English word “minced”, but according to Célia Jorge, author of À Mesa da Diáspora, a book on Macanese cuisine, minchi single handedly embodies comfort food for people of mixed Portuguese and Chinese heritage. The dish combines minced beef (or pork, or a blend of the two) wok-fried with little more than onions and two types of soy sauce, and is served over rice or cubes of deep-fried potatoes with, on occasion, a fried egg. I’ve made it at home on a couple occasions and was particularly excited to try the ‘real’ version, which to be honest, wasn't quite as tasty when served at room temperature.
Additional information about Riquexó and Aida Jesus is available in this article, which also has a recipe for capela.
Riquexó 69 Avenida Sidónio Pais, Macau +853 2856 5655 Noon-10pm
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