I often find myself wondering who are the people preparing the Michelin Guide, and what criteria they use to award stars to an eatery or none at all.
The first time we dined at The Eight, which specializes in Chinese cuisine, was back in 2007 when it had just opened at the Grand Lisboa.
At that time we were certified fanatics of Portas do Sol at Hotel Lisboa, particularly their to-die-for barbecued pork.
So when we went to The Eight, we wanted to try their dim sum, fried noodles and char siu, the Cantonese-style barbecued pork, and see how they compared with Portas do Sol’s offerings.
Well, our unanimous verdict was that we should stick to Portas do Sol; what’s new is not always better.
The Eight has recently become the first and only Chinese restaurant in Macau to be awarded three Michelin stars for two years in a row. So we decided to give it another try.
The restaurant’s interior design was highly sophisticated with the appetite-inducing color scheme of red and black, and the service was pleasant.
On those two counts, the restaurant has lived up to the standards of a premium three-Michelin-starred restaurant.
However, we did have reservations about the food.
The reason is that after having partaken of lavish lunches for two days in a row, we preferred something simpler from The Eight that night.
Of course, we were a bit out of line for having that kind of expectation from a prestigious restaurant.
Anyway, we started off with baby abalone with a small dumpling as appetizer – hardly impressive. It’s a standard item in fine dining, but I think it’s tasteless.
As we wanted to test the real culinary strength of the kitchen, we sought out some classic dishes: poached chicken in fresh shrimp paste with dried shrimps, sweet and sour pork, steamed minced pork with salted egg, pea sprouts porridge and claypot black Périgord truffles rice.
The poached chicken was fantastic; the broth was prepared from lightly pan-fried fresh shrimp heads and dried shrimps.
The sweet and sour pork came next; the cut was from the neck. Together with a thin layer of batter, each bite was crispy with an above-average sweet and sour sauce.
The main problem was the meat had not been marinated.
The steamed minced pork surrounded by a circle of egg white and topped with pieces of salted egg yolk looked really nice.
But apparently the meat was not slapped until it became elastic before steaming, thus yielding no texture.
The pea sprouts porridge was awful. The vegetable and porridge were prepared separately as the porridge did not come with the fragrance of the pea sprouts, which did not yield the taste of rice either.
The most outstanding dish of the night was claypot black Périgord truffles rice, which just had the right degree of heat, the right fragrance and the right flavors.
Lastly, we were served with a small cup of Hong Kong-style milk tea and a mini Portuguese custard tart. The former was cold with weak tea and the pastry was mushy without the fragrance of egg.
So that’s it.
I just couldn’t quite understand why there’s a world of difference in terms of the quality of food between Robuchon au Dôme and The Eight.
Both Grand Lisboa outlets are rated three Michelin stars.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 1.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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