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Portas Do Sol means “Gateway to the Sun” in Portuguese but this Cantonese restaurant at the Hotel Lisboa has nothing to do with sunshine or Portugal; instead serving up some of the city’s best dim sum and Chinese cuisine. First timers to the restaurant might get lost finding the restaurant bypassing the casino floor. Head up the escalator or grand marble stairway and you’ll arrive at what looks like an old ballroom converted into a large Chinese restaurant complete with bright chandeliers and velvet curtains to meet the demands of the largely local clientele, many of whom have been loyally coming for years. Good acoustics create a bustling ambience filled with Cantonese chatter of multi-generational family diners, typical of an old school yumcha place. The décor is endearingly steeped in the 1970s, reminiscent of how people socialised over long lunches and dinners.
The dim sum menu is modest, but they do it well here and have included some innovative fusion creations like deep-fried chicken liver and avocado rolls and deep-fried shrimp dumplings with pineapple and Thousand Island sauce, which might pique the interest of the more adventurous. The a la carte menu is not limited to Cantonese favourites, featuring dishes such as Shanghainese hot pot rice alongside the dim sum menu. Seasonal dishes like hairy crabs and festive menus are displayed at the front of the restaurant, and seafood: abalone cooked different ways features particularly prominently. The shredded chicken with crispy skin and pomelo is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes and has complexities of flavours and textures more than its name on the menu clues in. Half a chicken yields perfect crisp skin served on a bed of shredded chicken and pomelo, whose citrus acidity cuts through the fat of a deliciously roasted skin – marrying both sinful grease and sweet tartness perfectly. Choose your leafy greens from spinach, Chinese kale to seasonal pea sprouts stir-fried or with an option of lightly blanched in a broth. There is a variety of noodles and rice dishes to share, including vegetarian options. The beef rice noodles with chef’s special sauce leaves you with a fragrant smoky flavour after-taste – the hallmark skills of a Chinese chef who knows his wok, bringing out the best of the ingredients that go in it.
The wine list here is extensive reflective of the enviable Lisboa cellars with some of Macau’s best collections. They also serve red and white wines by the glass here, from both the new and old worlds, especially the US, Portugal and France. There is a comprehensive list of tea that span the spectrum of premium to regular to accompany dim sum lunches.
Service is prompt and friendly and you get an introduction on seasonal specials, portion sizes and recommendations before they take your order.
It’s the quality lunches that draw in the local crowd here where one can enjoy fresh pristine dim sum, including a la carte dishes without breaking the bank. Lunch for two should set you back MOP500, without alcohol. The restaurant gets very busy at peak hours, but good acoustics make the chatter welcoming rather than noisy – reminiscent of the ambience at old school teahouses.