Food Review: Fernando’s Macao – What A Letdown!

May 13th, 2008

ALWAYS GO where the crowds are for good food, but it turned out to be a major culinary letdown for me and a friend recently.

We’re in Macao for a holiday and we’ve read superlative reviews about Portugese restaurant, Fernando’s on Hac Sa beach. Never mind the scruffy surroundings or the indifferent customer service, the reviewer said, the food alone was good enough to justify the long wait and discomfort. So eagerly, we set off for our culinary adventure. It took us 50 minutes to bus from Macao Island to Hac Sa Beach.

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After a customary wait of 20 minutes, we were finally shown our seats behind the cashier. A grim faced Portugese waiter came to take our order. We asked for his recommendations. He looked preoccupied and didn’t offer any. Seeing that he wasn’t going to say anything helpful, we quickly settled for a Portugese classic – grilled codfish.

Fifteen minutes later, the highly-rated dish was served.

The Portugese classic was the saltiest cod fish I have ever tasted. The saltiness was so deadly that it numbed my taste buds. It was like biting into a thick clump of salt. Our meal would have been impossible to eat if not for the two slices of bread and broiled potatoes which helped to neutralize the saltiness a little. I suspected the chef must have been over zealous with his salt toppings.

It tasted so bad that I just had to risk offending the grouchy owner, Mr Fernando.

“All cod fish is salted fish,” he said, grudgingly.

“You mean, it’s supposed to taste like ‘hum yu’ (meaning preserved salted fish in Cantonese)?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Fernando abruptly, as he walked away in a huff. Business is so good that he has no reason to bother with unhappy customers.

Now, what he said was a new culinary discovery – I never knew that cod fish was supposed to taste like preserved salted fish.

For MOP/HKG 190, it’s an awfully expensive meal for preserved salted fish, even if it included two slices of bread, one broiled potato and a bowl of soup.

On hindsight, we should have be forewarned by the local taxi driver’s indifference to Fernando’s. On our way to Fernando’s, we asked the cab driver what’s so good about the restaurant. He thought for a while.

“The bread. They make their own bread,” he said.

“Anything else?” I pressed.

“…the bread, the bread is good,” he reiterated in Cantonese and continued driving.

Fernando’s Macao? I shall take heed from the locals and give it a miss the next time I visit Macao.

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