[Macau] Eight - Michelin 2*

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Eight is one of the Michelin-rated restaurants within the Lisboa Complex in Macau. With 2 Michelin stars under its name, it is an intimate Chinese restaurant with a delightfully lavish interior. Offering exquisite Cantonese and Huaiyang cuisine, it is certainly a classic Chinese dining experience with an elegant touch. A name like 8, which is an iconic numeral which Chinese would associate with fortune and prosperity, it was no surprise the fame it accredited in Macau, where casinos are dotted across the island.

With a reservation made in advance, we managed to get a private room. Now let the stomachs and taste buds do the talking and judging!

The above blinds were not to be taken lightly! One of the servers kindly explained to us that these goldfish were carefully embroidered with precision and the sheer size of this embroidery was a marvel! 

Amuse - bouche

Normally, Chinese restaurants would serve small side plates of peanuts or pickles, but these two were individually portioned and served to each diner on the table. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons but done so at chef's selection and discretion. This would usually provide a glimpse into the chef's style and approach of cooking to prepare the dining guests. With a crispy 'net' serving as the base of the appetizers, it offered a good crunch and complemented the sweet savoury bite-sized teasers.

Chilled sliced lotus roots marinated in honey and stuffed with glutinous rice- 云腿密莲藕片($75/-)

Not quite a fan of lotus roots, so I did not get to trying it but according to the other diners at the table, this was quite a well-received dish with a mild sweetness from the honey to glaze the soft and evenly sliced lotus roots. The sweetness from the honey was well infused into both the lotus roots and glutinous rice, giving it a very distinctly bold flavour.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Chilled sliced trotter with marinated jelly fish with vintage wine - 海蜇醉花蹄 ($90/-)

Pig's trotters were really first brought onto the tables of fine-dining by Chef Marco Pierre White who inherited the recipes from his mentor Pierre Koffmann. The trotters were evenly sliced, exposing a thin layer of fat surrounding the tender meat. The selected cut had a perfect mix of lean meat and fat to give each bite a juicy and succulent touch. Complemented with the accompanying chewy, bouncy and elastic jelly fish infused with wine, it offered a good balance in texture and summed up a very flavoured appetizer.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Deep fried Macau sole with spicy salt - 椒盐龙脷仔($75/-)

I thought that the rabbit cherry tomato was a good decorative item on the serving plate, just to dress the dish and infuse some 'life' into it. This was a classic Cantonese dish in my opinion with spicy salt but the sole was deep fried to a perfect golden brown with a sheer layer of crispness. It was brittle and snapped easily with each bite, though there was barely any flesh from the fish to savour. It was more of a tantalizing treat for the taste buds, giving a solid punch of flavours from the spicy salt and a great texture from the crunch.

Verdict: 8.0/10

Chilled marinated cucumber with thousand year old egg - 手拍青瓜皮蛋 ($50/-)

I enjoyed the texture of crunchiness from the fresh cucumber chunks balanced with the softness from the century eggs but the marinate did not suit my palate. The garlic taste was overwhelming and empowered the flavours of this supposedly light starter. The century eggs were however fresh but the condiments to the dish did it injustice.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Double-boiled sea whelk with birch seeds and red dates - 滋补炖响螺 ($110/bowl)

The soup was light but very tasty in flavour, with a warm, hearty punch. You could tell by tasting that it was a perfect bowl of slow-cooked soup which brought out all the flavours from the ingredients. 

Verdict: 8.5/10

Double-boiled shark's cartilage with conpoy and bamboo piths - 瑶柱竹笙炖鲨鱼骨汤 ($95/-)

This was a stark contrast to the sea whelk soup, for this was rich and luscious. It was explained to us by the servers that it had been double-boiled and slowly cooked to perfection, resulting in the shark's cartilage melting into the broth, which gave a very substantial after taste after each sip.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Shredded roasted duck with cantaloupe, melon, mango and caramelized walnuts - 锦绣玉鸳鸯 ($180/-)

This was one of the best dishes of the evening in my personal opinion. Recommended by the server as one of the owner's favourite dishes, we thought it would be worth a try, considering that the dish was inspired by Singapore's version of 'Yusheng' enjoyed during Chinese New Year. There was a lot going on with each mouthful, the natural sweetness from the ripe melons supplemented by the caramelized walnuts to give a bolder flavour. This was contrasted by the piquancy delivered from the fresh mangoes, which gave a sharp tinge of sourness that bit but in a pleasant fashion to complete the palate. The succulently tender shredded duck meat coupled with the crunch from the walnuts and the crisp roast duck skin augmented the overall texture of the dish, giving substance to the refreshing dish.

Verdict: 9.0/10

Baked sea whelk with crabmeat and diced chicken in Portuguese Sauce - 葡式焗响螺 ($90/piece)

The Portuguese sauce is a sauce made of curry powder and coconut milk, which is milder in terms of the spiciness and richer than the usual curry. There was some broccoli and carrots within the sauce to add more flavour to the sea whelk, but somehow I felt that it dominated the taste of the whelk completely. To give some credit, the whelk was cooked to perfection, with a chewy texture like that of clams.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Pan-fried crab claw coated with shrimp mousse, accompanied with crabmeat, shredded ham and turnip deep-fried rolls - 百花煎蟹柑伴蟹肉银丝卷 ($450/-)

The deep fried turnip and crab claws were served together on the same plate and each had very contrasting textures and tastes. The crab claw coated with shrimp mousse was soft, fleshy and somewhat flaccid. It was fresh and the crab meat was cooked to a perfect firmness. In comparison, the deep fried turnip rolls had a crispy batter on the outside and fine evenly sliced turnip on the inside. It was good but was not a dish that would impress.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Stir-fried Boston Lobster with egg, minced pork, and black bean - 广东式炒波士顿龙虾 ($880/-)

While most of the diners were full of praise for this dish, it did not suit my palate entirely. It was savoury and full of flavours owed mainly to the black bean. Personally, I always enjoyed lobster meat more on its own where the freshness and natural sweetness could be put to a better test. It was served in a classic Cantonese fashion which would appease the appetite of most.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Sauteed kale with dried shrimps and shrimp paste in casserole - 芥兰 ($80/-)

It tasted pretty pedestrian to me, like any pot of kale. It was savoury like most of the other dishes but the usage of dried shrimps on top of shrimp paste helped to impart the unique umami taste to the dish.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Fried rice with diced scallops and crab roes - 明太子炒饭 ($100/-)

The fried shallots and dried shrimps helped give a crunchy texture to the golden fried rice. It was delicious but it was slightly too salty for our liking. The wok-fire was good, which imparted the flavours evenly onto the rice grains. Chef might want to go easy on the salt though.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Stewed sliced chicken with chestnuts served in a whole coconut - 椰香栗子燴鸡 ($120/-)

Fans of coconut dishes would almost certainly love this. It was luscious, rich and creamy but beware that it might satiate your appetite pretty quickly too. The chicken slices were well-cooked, each consistently succulent and tender. What I liked most about this dish was the unique presentation within a coconut.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Puff pastry with red wine pear - 红酒雪梨酥 ($28/-)

The presentation was perfect and the sculpting was quite a delightful marvel itself. On the inside, it was pear with lotus paste infused with a tinge of red wine but the alcohol element was barely evident. The pastry was buttery and very smooth, crumbling and melting in your mouth with each bite. It was the filling that was somewhat of a let down.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Puff pastry with egg custard in Ginseng flavour - 奶黄人参酥 ($32/-)

The dominating taste of this dessert was the puff pastry and there was barely any ginseng flavour to the dish. Presentation wise, it was impressive that it resembled that of a real ginseng, but more work might need to be done to improve the richness of the custard to leave us with a better impression more than sheer cosmetics.

Verdict: 6.5/10

With a wine cellar at hand, it was a restaurant worthy of their 2 Michelin stars. The service was impeccable and servers were attentive to our requests. Eight is a restaurant that serves food with intricate details being observed and consistency in each of their servings. That is a strict requirement demanded of a Michelin restaurant, in addition to their presumably impressive culinary skills. Rounding up the Michelin dining experience is not only the quality of food but also the ambience of the restaurant, which would be perfect for special occasions and business meals.

2/F Grand Lisboa Hotel
Avenida de Lisboa, Macau
Tel: +853 8803 7788

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