• Golden Flower at Wynn Macau, Rua Cidade de Sintra, NAPE, Macau
  • www.wynnmacau.com/en/dining/golden_flower.html

I pause at the restaurant’s entrance. Large Golden Flowers (from which the place is named) are pinned to the walls in varying shades. Pod shaped UFO’s dangle from the ceiling, illuminating the room. My head tilts back. Tea pots conceal miniature light. “What’s up with these?” I ask. The hostess smiles. “These are a symbol of good fortune. In Chinese culture, when they are hanging upside down it means wealth is pouring on our guests.”

My waitress Miranda greets me immediately. “Can I get you something to drink?” “Anything special on the menu?” “Let me get one of our sommeliers to assist you.” “There are two?” I clarify. She nods. “One for wine and the other for tea.”

I glance at the menu. Ten pages of tea varietals intrigue me. “I think I’ll have some tea.” “As you wish. Although we recommend that you wait until you choose your dishes in order to pair the tea correctly.” “Of course,” I smile.

A complimentary starter, eggplant with spiced oil is served warm. It’s slippery and spicy, delicate yet tasty. It reminds me of a sushi dish, baked eel. The chef earns my trust and I tell Miranda to bring me his favorites.

Tan, as the local cuisine is called, is an upscale dining experience very rare in Chinese culture. The style of food, dating back 100 years, is a mutation from overturning of the Qing dynasties.

Miranda returns with a Bejing Roasted Pork, doused with a honey glaze. There’s no excess fat. A good start. As I bite into it I let out an uncontrollable, “Oh My God.” It’s blissfully tender and succulent.

The Cabbage, cooked in a chili vinaigrette sauce, is both sweet and spicy. Wrapped and stuffed with mango, the dish starts off tangy but leaves my mouth sizzling for more. Meanwhile Aggie, the sommelier, has chosen the perfect accompaniment. A cup of filtered Red Dian Hong Tea, a flowery winter drink, that is mild in caffeine and has a musk feel. Perfect to calm the spiciness.

Miranda clears my food and brings a set of clean chopsticks. Stir fried prawns arrive in Sichuan pepper-zest oil and served with macadamia nuts and a side of rice, a favorite at Golden Flower. I eat my way around the red peppers and savor the rest. My mouth is on fire. “More tea please,” I ask. “Certainly.” The staff outnumbers the customers and tends to me tirelessly. Almost too much.

“Would you like dessert?” I can hardly move, but I must not be rude. “Whatever you recommend.” She returns with a Mango-pumpkin pudding. It’s easy and light. As I sip, I discover little jewels of candy at the bottom, similar to boba, and fresh mango bits. Before I can finish a second dish arrives. “No no just one,” I stop her. “But Sir,” she insists, “this is compliments from the chef. “He is honored that you have shown a liking for our culture and has prepared a special dessert for you.

“First eat, then drink,” she instructs me. I pop the Jelly covered bean into my mouth. It’s slippery and gooey with a grainy candy in the center. The drink is a refreshing shot of lychee.

Five minutes later she’s back. “He said you must try this as well. “It’s his personal favorite. Not on the menu. Strawberries covered in caramelized sugar”. As I take a bite a rush of sugar is welcomed. The strawberry’s juice bursts like a balloon full of liquid flavor. “What’s inside?” I ask. “It’s a herb, commonly found in Beijing and sold on the streets, called droll apple or harrow fruit. In Chinese culture, we use it to make jams. It aids in increasing appetite and digestion.” I thank her. “I think I need both.”

When the check arrives I squint. 411?? Impossible! “I think there’s been a mistake” Miranda comes by: “Sir,” she giggles. “These are Hong Kong Dollars, but it’s 50 USD.” I think about complaining again. For this meal, I should have paid twice that.

It would have been better if… everything had been a little bigger.