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August 18, 2008

Eat local. Eat cheap

We've recently made another visit to Macau, the ex-Portuguese colony that is one of China's "Special Administrative Regions".

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One of the ambitions we didn't fulfill on our last visit was to get some really cheap Chinese food in an authentic little lunchtime spot. Well, this time, we managed it.

We'd gone on a sight-seeing walk around town, looking at a selection of (inevitably) Churches, and had reached lunchtime. We were aiming to eat in a little Portuguese restaurant listed in our guide book, but when we got there they hadn't opened for lunch yet.

Well, we'd spotted a small Chinese food joint down the road, which unusually had some of the menu listed in English. We decided to go for it, and were immediately shown in and sat down to share a table with a rather surprised looking Chinese guy.

Macau is littered with food places like this. They are not sit-down restaurants, they are more like the equivalent of a British worker's cafe. There were about 8 guys around the 4 tables in the place, nearly all of them wearing overalls of some kind.

We ordered our food just by pointing at the menu, and got our free tea. Then, obviously spotting that we were idiot Westerners, they bought us our fork and spoon - we didn't even get the option of the chop-sticks that everybody else was eating with.

We were served two massive plates, one with roast pork and duck and rice, and one of beef. It was absolutely gorgeous, and then our biggest surprise came when we had to pay the bill. We weren't sure if you had to pay for the rice, and some of the dishes had a couple of prices next to them. We nearly burst out laughing when the bill came to 39MOP. That is about €3.50, and cheaper than just having a Greek salad in Athens. To put it in context in Macau, before we headed back to the house we popped into Starbucks for a couple of Choca-loca-Mocha-Frappacinos, and the bill for that came to 65MOP!

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