08 July 2006

Jade Garden Restaurant, Macau

Name: Jade Garden Restaurant
City: Macau
Address: 35-39 Rua Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo

Website: Unknown

Cuisine: Cantonese

Critique: Wow! What great dim sum! I must admit that I have had good dim sum before, so I honestly wasn't expecting too much when we decided to eat at Jade Garden. We had a group of 13 or so, therefore we got a private dining room. That was nice, but tends to cut down on the level of service. The wait staff at Jade Garden surprised me again. We had really good service.

The problem for the casual diner will be a language barrier. The menu is in Chinese, so if you don't know what you want (or how to say it in Cantonese) it could be a problem. We were seated on the fourth floor of the restaurant (due to the private room), but I think if you sit on the second or third floors, you would have a better chance of getting what you wanted by pointing to others' tables or that I seem to recall them pushing some dim sum carts.

I don't deny being partial to cha siu bau. I happen to think that is the best single element of dim sum. They certainly didn't disappoint in this regard, either. We also ordered some noodle dishes and some rice dishes. I don't recall anything being bad or even "ify". My children really enjoyed the experience and ate well.

Comments/Recommendations: I definitely recommend the cha siu bau, but also a nice dish of gong chau ngau haw (beef chow fun). Their ying-yang rice tasted good, but the design wasn't too evident in the dish. I am giving this restaurant one fry less than what I think it should get, but I base that on the language barrier thing. If they were to get an English menu, I could give them the 4 fry rating. I'll have to go back from time to time to see about that!

Rating: 3 Fries

First Bite Sandwich Expert, Macau

Name: First Bite Sandwich Expert
City: Macau
Address: Rua do Monte 2-2A R/C

Website: Unknown

Cuisine: Western, Sandwich

Critique: This place has real potential. I ate there on two occasions, recognizing that this restaurant cannot handle a larger group. First and foremost, the first time there was the best sandwich I have had at any restaurant in Asia. I had smoked pork & mozzarella on a giant croissant. It was incredible. The croissant was just what you would expect at a great deli/sandwich place. I was really impressed. What I was not impressed with was that it took about 45 minutes to get my sandwich. I went back a second time, with just my family, to see if service would improve. It did. Immensely. However, the sandwich wasn't as good the second time. So, therefore I conclude that consistency is not their high point.

They do have a great variety. I think I remember their menu boasts 38,000 or so different combinations available. What I absolutely do not like is their menu system. They give you a "ticket" in which you create your own order for your sandwich. I don't like it that they place cheese and meat in the same category. What that means is that if you want cheese on your sandwich, you'll have to pay extra. With the large group, they got all the orders messed up and even took the liberty of changing some of our tickets. That didn't go over very well.

It is a smallish two-storey jobber with a nice decor. The wait staff were friendly, but didn't do a great job. For example: there was one young man whose job it evidently was bring the customers their drinks. The first night, their were 11 of us at our table. He made 11 trips with one drink each time. He took about 30 minutes to do this! The second time, with the 4 of us, he made two trips with three drinks but never brought my younger child her Coke. I had to ask another waitress to bring it. My children gave it a "thumbs up".

Comments/Recommendations: I absolutely would recommend this place. I do, however, in the same breath, recommend that you do NOT go in a large group. I also suggest that you put your name on your "ticket" so that they know to whom to give the sandwich. I recommend the smoke pork sandwich and I also recommend their giant croissant and/or their baguette.

Rating: 2 Fries

Fernando's, Coloane, Macau

Name: Restaurante Fernando
City: Coloane, Macau
Address: 9 Praia de Hac Sa

Website: unknown

Cuisine: Portuguese

Critique: This restaurant has enjoyed a high praise from those who have eaten there previously, from the Macau Tourism Board, and from other restaurant reviewers. I have to say that I was entirely disappointed with my experience there. First of all, the restaurant is all the way on the southern tip of Coloane Island on Hac Sa Beach. It takes a long time and a lot of effort just to get there.

I have nothing against al fresco dining, however, this particular restaurant seemed to be in a broiler. It was simply too hot to enjoy the food. At this point, however, I will interject and say that the cold water to drink was very, very cold. That is definitely a plus. I went with a very large group, so we were able to sample many different dishes. Now, there were things that I enjoyed; I simply see this restaurant as being previously over-rated. I want to bring some balance to that with this visit.

It is also fair to state that it isn't pure Portuguese food; Fernando is from the Azores, so it has a taste of the islands. Fernando was OK; a little curt, but not too bad. The service was adequate, but nothing to write home about. The portion size: cost ratio was a little eschew. It averaged US$7.60 per person. I didn't feel that I got my money's worth.

My children didn't enjoy the food very much and complained about it being so hot. There was a large area for them to play outside and there was also a foosball table. My children did not have a good experience there.

Comments/Recommendations: The bread is very good as is their pork with garlic. I would honestly recommend not going in the summer months, or only going there if you are already at Hac Sa Beach. Be sure to get the cold water; you'll need it.

Rating: 2 Fries