Just outside of Toronto, a food court stall serves up Macau's distinct fusion cuisine.
Downtown Toronto chefs at restaurants like The People’s Eatery and Oddseoul have made names for themselves by serving creative fusions of Asian and Western food. But the strange legacy of colonialism has produced culinary experiments that are far more inventive. One of the oddest real-life experiments has to be the food of Macau, the island city off the coast of China that was a Portuguese colony until 1999.
Macau, which is just an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong, is better known for its gambling dens than its hybrid Chinese/Portuguese cuisine. But if you’re curious, there is at least one place in the Toronto area to get Macanese food: a stall called Macau/Portuguese Food in the New Kennedy Square food court, an extremely busy Chinese mall on Kennedy Road south of Highway 7 in Markham. The restaurant was created by Joe Ng, a former chef at Macau’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.
As none of us was familiar with Cantonese, ordering food was a comedy of errors. There are multiple menus with several different numbering systems. After several attempts, assistance from another patron, and an inexplicable four glasses of soy milk, we had a feast of interesting dishes at the table.
African chicken is a classic Macanese dish. It’s a tasty slab of chicken cooked with garlic and coconut milk and slathered with a slightly spicy red sauce. The dish is said to have been originally created by a Macanese hotel chef who was inspired by a trip to one of Portugal’s African colonies.
Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.