Macao Trading Co.
311 Church St (btwn Walker/Lispenard Sts)
Although Executive Chef Joshua Blakely’s wide ranging influences at Macao Trading Co. in Tribeca stem from China, Spain and Portugal, the highly skilled and adorable firecracker himself hails from North Carolina. Blakely formerly trod the culinary boards at Babbo, Tia Pol and Employees Only and based on our experience the night we dined at Macao Trading Co., it’s all a perfectly good arrangement.
Despite the dim, subterranean recesses to which we were ushered, we were able to observe the various touches of Orientalia and things admirably scattered about us as we sipped a gorgeous Mai Tai ($15), crafted with Santa Teresa 1796 Rum. Several of them in fact went down quite smoothly as mint and lime garnishes tickled our noses.
From Small Plates, loosely formed Bacalhau Fresco Tartar ($12) was a tasty starter but it took some doing to eat even given our nimble fingers. Chicken Dumplings ($9) were delicious although we felt the dipping sauce was largely salty regardless of chili oil’s fiery intentions. Giant Grilled Blue Hawaiian Prawns ($15) were wonderful and except for the head and tail, I ate shells and all!
From Large Plates, sumptuous Sauteed Diver Scallops ($26) had just the proper consideration of curry and the dish was furthered by country ham, smartly taking a cue from one of our cocktail party favorites, bacon-wrapped scallops.
How to praise the Braised Heritage Pork Belly ($15)? Kale and mustard greens shared the plate with a wondrous complement of grapefruit and balsamic dressing and it was all rather divine with the white Grapes of Roth Riesling ($50/bottle) from Long Island. Grilled Lamb Chops ($16) narrowly escaped being overly gamey, but we did like the green mango slaw that accompanied. Crispy Fried Whole Fish (MP) arrived, eyeing us curiously. It was good, but we just couldn’t look back at it. The house-cured bacalhau fried rice that came with however was an entirely different matter and we graciously devoured it.
We had to leave before Malasadas ($8), Portuguese style doughnuts, with guava and rum sauce were thrust upon us. So, until our next excursion, ciao for now, Macao!
First published in part in Next magazine.