We’ve been to Macao Trading Company countless times over the years. What brings us back regularly? They really have great food and the cocktails are still among our favorite even in the wake of the cocktail bar craze. Or are we still in the midst of that craze?
Macao is a gambling city in China ala Las Vegas which was formerly a Portugese colony. The food in this region is a fusion of Portugese and Chinese. Macao originally attempted to present a menu mirroring the two cuisines. Not so sure people got it so it has morphed over the years. But the concept was not lost on me! Having been to Macao I will say the Portugese food there is more than a bit scary with its bizarro Chinese twist. Macao had the right idea.
4/9/2011 First Review
Macao Trading Co. has a fantastic atmosphere which feels like a hidden cocktail den in Asia, maybe Macao. But its just a cool looking cocktail bar/club atmosphere. It is so very dark with openwork metal, glass, wood, lofts, flowers, wooden booths and Chinese screens in the hip basement. Photos are nearly impossible with a phone.
Macao does an interesting menu twist, serving the same items in two ways – Chinese and Portuguese. This is not a fusion, rather the menu is split. For example:
Chinese Style with black beans & chilies
Portuguese Style with choriço
Everything we’ve had there is delicious, but we do have favorites. Namely, the Portugese style meatballs and the Chinese style jade dumplings. The 5 spice lamb chops are really spicy and compliment the sweeter cocktails. We also love the mushroom and truffle croquettes. These are all considered small plates. We have not had a sit down dinner at Macao.
5 Spice Dry Rub Lamb Chops & Chinese Vegetable Salad
Meatballs Portuguese Style – lamb balls filled with cheese and served with Marinara sauce
Jade dumplings with crab, shrimp & cilantro dip
Mushroom & Truffle Croquettes 11
The cocktails are very special – the bartenders are true ‘mixologists’ who wear chef’s coats and show off their skills. They are part of the Employees Only group, which is known for being at the center of the cocktail bar scene in NYC. I totally recommend sitting at the bar, tasting the drinks and keeping yourself sober with a flow of small plates. Many of the drinks pack a hidden punch. They’ll also make you anything you’d like if you describe your desired flavors or liquor.
We have found that every bartender there has been amazingly friendly. It is always nice to be treated like a local at a hotspot. And they are very consistent. To digress a bit, a story about drinking at Macao comes to mind every time we go.
On Oscar night 2010 we met Vincent. He generally works at Employees Only and at the time Macao on Sunday nights. We were with our friend Derek and had been doing the rounds all day. Vincent was speaking highly of his ability to chug a beer and bragged of how he could beat anyone. Ha. Vincent, meet Derek. Derek accepted this as a challenge and asked if they had Guiness on tap? No? Derek walked down the street to South’s, where his friend poured him two, which he brought back to Macao. On three, here we go…One…Two…Three. And it begins one…two…three. It’s over. Derek can chug a pint in 3 seconds. The rest of the night was a blur…shots. Drinks. And later Jeff Bridges won best Actor and then came the white Russians at South’s. The dude abides. We saw Vincent again once at Employees Only. He remembered us and made sure we got annihilated. Our friend Anne Marie was with us that time.
These are some of our favorite cocktails…
DR. FUNK 14
Mekhong Thai Rum served tall with Homemade Grenadine, Ginger Beer, dressed with Fresh Fruits and Mint & topped off with a drizzle of Absinthe
Vodka w/fresh Meyer Lemon & mint
KAFFIR JIMLET 14
Kaffir Lime-infused Fords Gin mixed with Lime Juice &Agave Nectar, served straight up
DRUNKEN DRAGON’S MILK 15
Charbay Green Tea Vodka shaken with Young Coconut Puree,Thai Basil & Macao Five-Spice Bitters, served tall
4/21/2013 Follow Up
Two years later, we still frequent Macao. And still tell the story of the Guinness. And still order the croquettes, but that is all that remains. The dumplings have changed to chicken and pork. Why? And no more presentation in the bamboo steamer?! We like the new grilled bacon buns, which is essentially a pork belly bun.
We did bring Steve’s Aunt and Cousins to Macao one night for dinner. We ordered a variety of dishes and were quite pleased with everything. It was a really fun shared plate experience with top notch cocktails. We felt everyone loved not only the food and fun, but the atmosphere there as well. This is an excellent choice to take a group for dinner. We had just about everything on the menu but the steak and it was all great.
We also had to evacuate our apartment for Hurricane Irene, during which time we stayed across the street at the Tribeca Grand. As soon as they were open for business, we planted ourselves there. Our friend Paula took a cab for $10 from way uptown and the result was a day off Monday!
Most recently, we dropped in on a Sunday evening with our friend Lee. Daniel, the bartender, told us about the new Sunday BBQ program. The chef does a different BBQ preparation every Sunday for the locals. We ordered that right up along with the dumplings and the croquettes. On this particular week it was fried boneless chicken with spicy sauce and the grilled bacon buns on the side.
Until we meet again…
311 Church Street – TriBeCa