Day 2 in City of Dragons!
Ok. So I booked this restaurant that’s been awarded 2 Michelin Stars and for some reason, I assumed it was in Hong Kong. While planning my itinerary, I realised that the restaurant is actually located in Macau’s City of Dreams. I almost panicked when I decided to turn a moment of folly on my part, into something positive – instead of missing out on what was supposed to be awesome Cantonese cuisine, I decided to make a day of it and visit Macau. After all, I’d never been!
Woke up Sunday morning and prettied myself up. I packed along my dress and new shoes to change into because ain’t nobody got time for running around Macau in heels! Then, I headed straight out into the outdoor sauna Hong Kong was turning out to be, towards the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal.
It took me about 15min to get there from the hotel but it was a straightforward walk so no time lost going in the wrong direction on the way there. It was really fast going through immigration and took no more than 10min from the main entrance of the building to get to the berth.
I used Cotai Water Jet which can be booked online. They’re quite organised and everyone is assigned a seat on board. STILL! When the ferry was open for boarding, there was a huge group of people (I won’t say where they’re from but I’m thinking that the first thought in your head may be correct) who jumped up from their seats with such rapid synchrony that I could only gape in awe at their coordination.
Within seconds, they were jostling to get ahead of the queue which just totally boggled me since we had allocated seats! I got so annoyed with this one lady who keep grinding against me trying to push past while yelling to her husband to ‘go go go!‘ that without thinking, I actually said “Stop Pushing!” in my basic mandarin. The lady looked momentarily shocked before pulling herself together and backing off just a little although you could so tell that she was dying to scramble ahead.
The seats were quite comfortable and the ferry was really clean, proving to be a pleasant 1 hour ride from Hong Kong to Macau. Funny how I’m perfectly fine with the bobbing of the waves while being at sea compared to when there’s turbulence up in the air. It was so soothing I slept most of the way there.
Funny story: When we docked at Taipa Ferry Terminal, the First Class passengers alighted first and were quick to step onto the travellator leading to the immigration counters. They happily stood there travelling along, while I decided that I didn’t want to get stuck behind them, so I carried on walking and just as I was passing them, this one woman saw me and panicked, quickly pulling her trolley bag behind her. Only, her fellow travelling companion yelled something out to her and she had to turn back while I zoomed ahead and made it FIRST to the immigration booth. Talk about the power of Singapore Kiasuism (Fear of losing).
From the ferry terminal, I took the shuttle bus to The Venetian where I then crossed the road to City of Dreams, which is really this incredibly plush mall housing all the world’s top brands.
It’s quite a new building so everything looked sparkly and pretty. It also has a casino somewhere on the inside but it was nowhere as exposed compared to the casinos at The Venetian and Galaxy Casino.
Dressed and ready for lunch!!
Bad angle of me but I haaaad to take a picture with this giant ornamental thing.
Service from the minute I stepped into the reception area of Jade Dragon, until the moment I departed, was top-notch.
They’d set a lovely table for me facing an open area where I could delight in the opulent furnishings of the high-ceilinged restaurant. I chose to forgo the Set Menu knowing that it might be a bit too much for me and settled for their ala-carte menu.
Before my orders were served, I was presented with an amuse bouche. I was to start on the right with their hot appetiser of Prawn Dumpling which had a touch of Sour Plum Sauce to accentuate the flavour of the sweet crustacean. On the left was a refreshing one-bite ‘salad’ of lightly pickled Cucumber and Yuzu.
The first dish served to me was the Steamed White Truffle Crabmeat Dumpling. This turned out to be my favourite of the meal with the infusion of truffle perfuming the dainty dumpling, yet not quite overshadowing the fresh, tasty filling of crabmeat. There were tiny cubes of daikon I believe, cooked to retain a crisp crunch that not only added texture, but also enhanced the overall natural sweetness of this dumpling.
With its beautiful Jade green hue, this Jade Dragon Dumpling was like an elevated version of the more humble, traditional Har Gao (shrimp dumpling). With its thin, elastic skin coloured with Spinach Juice to achieve that beautiful colour, and that gentle speck of gold leaf, it was definitely a sight to behold. Held within were plump, juicy morsels of prawns and blue lobster.
This was the Steamed Kagani Crabmeat Dumpling which was also the priciest piece of dim sum on the menu. Sadly, the delicate skin broke when it was picked up so the sweet broth that whispered tales of the sea flowed out, thankfully into the bowl so I managed to spoon some up. Still, I felt denied of maximum satisfaction from this elite form of Xiao Long Bao. Was it tasty? Yes. Would I pay for it again? No. Personally, I would much prefer to have the Truffle Crabmeat Dumpling again and again and again.
Taking its time to swim to mama was the final dumpling I ordered – Steamed Crystal Dumpling with Garoupa Fillet chilling in Sweet Corn Soup. I thoroughly enjoyed the subtle nature of this dumpling that allowed the freshness of the garoupa to shine. The soup was punchy with its flavours and complemented the mild flavours of the fish dumpling.
To end, I had the Double Boiled Yunnan Organic Mushroom Soup with Fish Maw and Wild Bamboo Pith. This was full of flavour and depth which you can see from the deep colour of the broth. It was rich yet light at the same time, and accompanied by a generous piece of fish maw.
I had to take a picture of my dining companion since it so very patiently waited for me through every single course.
I was extremely satiated from my wonderful meal and almost ready to go when the staff at Jade Dragon informed me that they were putting together complimentary petit-fours for me.
Presented elegantly in a Chinese Tea Pot were two Mini Cones – one filled with Milk Tea Ice-Cream and the other with a Peach Sherbet. The former was full-flavoured and restrained, standing right on the cusp of being on the bitter side. The sherbet was so smooth and fruity, so much so that it took all my will power to put down so that I would have room for the other bites of dessert.
Plated, there were Sesame Macarons, a Coconut Macaroon, a Red Date and Walnut Nougat, and an Osmanthus Rice Roll. The fragrant sesame of the macarons was sublime. I might even say there could have been just a touch of sesame oil and soy to further highlight its earthy flavours.
The nougat was chewy, though not overly so, while the rice roll was incredibly light with a subtle floral infusion. Both were not too sweet which certainly delighted me. As for the macaroon, as with most macaroons, it was rather on the sweet side and not quite to my taste.
Switched back to more comfy clothes to tour around Macau.
Lunch set me back HKD 616, an amount I would never spend on myself for a meal in normal circumstances. But hey, I figured that this was supposed to be a birthday holiday for me and so, I can afford to spend on myself dining at fine-dining restaurants.
I found this beauty of a dragon just before leaving City of Dreams. It’s magnificent to look at and the colours of the lights shining onto the dragon changes every few seconds. I was quite mesmerised and could have stood there hypnotised if not for the fact that I had places to go and things to see.
My plan was to take the shuttle bus over to Galaxy Casino where apparently, you can just cross the road to get to Old Taipa Village where there’re Macanese Street Foods galore and all sorts of knick knacks.
I reached the casino, and then realised I didn’t know which exit I had to take to Taipa Village. And let me tell you, the place is a maze!!
I found this cool dancing fountain that seemed to have captured the interest of passers-by, me included. I only took a quick snap before wandering some more. Finally, I found Banyan Tree Resorts and asked the concierge for directions. Apparently, Banyan Tree is on the West side of Galaxy and the exit to Taipa is on the East side. I wasn’t convinced when he informed me that it would take a good 20min to get there. I mean hello! It’s just a mall. Only, it’s a HUGE mall surrounding a HUGE casino so I did take about 20min to reach the exit.
I stepped out, felt the wave of humidity and heat hit my skin, looked at the time, and decided I’d best be heading back to The Venetian since I wanted to have a look around there too before heading back to Hong Kong.
By the time I reached The Venetian, I only managed to reach this area where the gondolas are. Honestly, I felt pangs of claustrophobia being in a place where there was no natural light and where everything felt so artificial. I didn’t have too much time to roam around as I didn’t want to be late catching my ferry home so after a walk around this area, I went back to West Lobby to get the shuttle back to the ferry terminal.
I don’t think Macau’s really my kind of place. Sure, I would have liked to have at least reached Taipa Village which may have exuded a different aura altogether but the places I’d seen felt like they lacked character and authenticity. Big, tall, extravagant buildings everywhere, but lacking in soul.
Whereas Hong Kong…
Is packed full of character from its dizzying stairs-filled streets, to its neon lights; its frenzy of movement as people rush around, to its laid-back tea-drinking culture; from its dilapidated buildings that threaten to crumble, to its modern skyscrapers.
It is a city where hipster, vegan cafes can operate alongside old-school traditional roast goose stalls, where youth traipse the streets sipping on bubble tea while older folk sit within their usual cha chain tang drinking hot milk tea, where foreigners frolic around soho while the locals continue to bolt towards their favourite wanton mee stall for comfort food.
Speaking of wanton mee.
After an afternoon of wandering around going nowhere in Macau, I found myself considering my dinner options. I ended up settling on going to Tsim Chai Kee just to give my wallet, and stomach, a bit of a break.
I know that Mak’s Noodles just across the road is a crowd favourite, but seeing that they’ve opened an outlet here in Singapore already, I decided to stick to Tsim Chai Kee which is known for their outrageously huge balls… of wanton.
I was still bloated from lunch so I settled on a bowl of King Prawn Wanton Soup and a side serving of Blanched Kailan with Oyster Sauce, which set me back HKD44.
Those were amply filled dumplings that had big, crunchy prawns stuffed within. For some reason, I remembered these to be different. I wasn’t so keen on the seasoning this time and found the soup to be leaning towards the salty side. But them veggies though! They were so simply prepared but so tender, so sweet, and such a delight to eat.
Day 2 was really more in Macau than in Hong Kong but I’m glad I was able to plan my time well enough to at least see enough of the city, and to get my transport back. I remember feeling somewhat content with myself at one point because it felt pretty cool being able to navigate around and get to places I wished to go even if not always using the most direct route. Still, I was quite excited to be heading home the next day just because I missed Flo, and my bed, and the sweet smell of home! But first, I had one more awesome lunch planned before my flight!…