Last month, my family and I went to Macau for a short weekend break. However, instead of frequenting casinos and clubs,we planted ourselves onto very familiar territory- restaurants! Albergue 1601, a traditional Portuguese restaurant, was one of the places that we had the opportunity to visit, and I’m happy to report that I had a great meal here.
The restaurant is located in the very picturesque St. Lazarus Quarter area of Macau, a historical neighbourhood with cobblestoned streets and brightly coloured edifices. At the heart of this lies a beautiful square with two large camphor trees and sunshine-yellow courtyard buildings. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, and it’s a pretty intense contrast to what the rest of Macau is like, with hordes of tourists everywhere you look and casinos as far as the eye can see.
A brief history about the building quarters- it used to be a home for elderly, unmarried women (hence its Chinese name “婆仔屋”- which can be loosely translated to ‘grandmother house’) but was later converted into a restaurant. The camphor trees are centuries old and really add to the tranquil atmosphere of the area.
Although we did not make reservations, we were seated beside the window overlooking the trees (apologies, I forgot to take photos of the interior).
We were first served a couple of papo secos (portuguese sweet buns) as appetisers for our meal. These were crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, and were great for lapping up any remaining sauce in the dishes to come.
Next came the bolinhos de bacalhau (salted codfish cakes). Whilst I appreciated the crispy exterior and flaky interior, I felt that there was too much potato in the cakes and I couldn’t really taste the salty codfish. Nonetheless I gobbled them up as I’m a sucker for anything with potatoes 🙂
The Tuna and kidney bean salad consisted of a generous heaping of potatoes, tuna, kidney beans, eggs, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers. I enjoyed the Mediterranean flavours in this dish, but my sister commented she had expected some kind of lettuce base to the salad. I think that this would have probably given the salad more of a crisp crunch but I enjoyed it as it was nonetheless.
We all enjoyed the Lulas Recheadas (stuffed squid), which were stuffed with onion, garlic and chouriço (Portuguese chorizo). The squid had a nice bite to them and were very delicate yet packed full of flavour.
The Casquinha de caranguejo- stuffed crab shell tasted different to the stuffed crab au gratins I’m used to in places such as Queen’s Cafe, which are quite cream-based and heavy. Instead, this stuffed crab shell had chopped up bits of onion and celery, which brought out the natural sweetness of the crabmeat exceptionally well. I also liked the breaded crust on top of the crab shells which gave the crab shells more texture and made them taste more golden and fragrant.
We all unanimously agreed that the Arroz de Marisco- seafood stew with rice -was our favourite dish of the meal. This dish consisted of a flavourful, umami-rich and spicy tomato broth with various types of seafood such as mussels, squid, prawn, fish and crab. The rice made the dish more hearty and filling, whilst the parsley and onion added an extra freshness and crispness to the stew. There was plenty of rice and seafood to split between the three of us and so it’s definitely more of a sharing dish than one that you can tackle on your own.
All in all, I had a lovely dining experience here, with great company, and great food in an unique atmosphere that you wouldn’t be able to find in the rest of Macau.
P.S Credits to my sister for some of the photos!