The noodles came one after the other. It seems overwhelming but after at least a two hour- flight, we were famished and ready to eat just about anything. It’s my first time in Macau and what better way to get started but to sample some good ole local food. “We’re heading to the Little Turtle,” said Joao, our Portuguese with Chinese lineage guide. The name was intriguing enough to make everyone want to check it out.
We were in an old neighborhood of Macau where tall buildings are home to many of the city’s residents. Many of the buildings’ façades are already showing their age – with aircon stains and barred windows. On a street corner, a hawker stall was billowing smoke and a little man wearing glasses greeted us. “Please meet Little Turtle,” he said. He’s dressed as if he just rose from the comfort of a couch while watching TV, then whipped up food in a flash.
I felt my stomach grumble a little as the aroma of fried noodles wafted in the evening air, and drifted by the passing vehicles. The little man flashed a friendly smile to acknowledge our presence and then continued cooking, shaking the pan and deftly putting in the noodles so instinctively that you could tell he’s been doing this for a long time now.
Just a few steps away and bordered by rows of scooters was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant typical of Chinese shop-houses. It’s small and a bit cramped but that doesn’t stop people from dining inside the place. We found a table on the second floor and started off with bottles of Vitasoy Soya Milk to stave off our hunger. The soya milk seems to be spiked up with sugar. But still, I drank it heartily.
Then, the first noodle dish arrived. It was Beef Fried Rice Noodles and everyone on the table noted its similarity to Char Kway Teow. But this concoction is lighter, with a subtler flavor. The beef strips were also very tender.
Another plate of noodles slid over to our table. It was Octopus Noodles. Some tentacles curled-up along the rounded strips of egg noodles, reminding me of pancit canton back home. I liked the seafood flavor and true to what we were told, the octopus was tender and easy-to-chew.
To give our palates a break, a plate of Fried Shrimp Dimsum was heaped on our noodles. It was hot and crispy and oh so good, it seemed to have vanished as easily as it appeared. We should have had two plates of that.
Then a plate of Deep-Fried Fish Balls came rolling in. It’s not the street hawker type of fish balls that we know as these are crispy outside and yet soft with a more intense fish flavor inside.
A third plate of noodles came in. It was like Pancit Bihon but they call it Pork Noodles. I found it okay as I liked the taste of pork and multitude of textures of the noodles but I did find myself snapping my chopsticks back and forth to the Beef Noodles and Octopus Noodles.
A large bowl of Fisherman’s Congee overwhelmed us with its presence. It’s literally a hodgepodge of leftovers from the kitchen creatively blended and cooked by the chef, our guide Joao revealed to us. This congee varies with each order and for this incarnation, we got strips of fishcake and tofu along with some other ingredients I can’t recognize.
Then came a plate of Small Fried Fish heftily topped with crunchy garlic bits and chili. I enjoyed its crispy taste and Joao told us we can eat the fish from head to tail but I found myself choking on some fish bone close to the tail end. Even so, I enjoyed the crunchy garlic bits and chili that I started sprinkling them over my congee and noodles.
At the end of the meal, our table was this beautiful mess of leftover food bits and crumbs in between empty bowls and plates. We washed our taste buds again with Vitasoy as we surveyed this scene of gluttonous revelry. It was just our first day in Macau and if this is any indication of things to come, we’re ready. We made our way down the resto and headed to our coach. We bid goodbye to Little Turtle and he flashed out that smile again before his small frame disappeared into the confines of the hawker stall – much like a turtle would retract his head back inside his shell.
Little Turtle Noodle Restaurant
Shop 2C, G/F Edf. Lok Sze, Travessa da Saudade, San Kiu, Macau
Tel No. 2895 3106
Open from 6:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.