(CNN) — When traveling, food is often as much of a draw as historical and cultural sites. Such is the case with Macau, the autonomous region in southern China.
The city has a multitude of must-try foods, some of which are considered cuisine signatures. Here's a start:
1. Portuguese egg tart
The line for Macanese food starts here.
The Portuguese egg tart is Macau's most famous food. It consists of a flaky pastry shell, with a rich, sweet egg custard filling with a consistency similar to creme brulee. A caramelized top plays an integral role in the taste.
It's best eaten warm. Everywhere from restaurants and hotels to street food vendors sell them. Among many good choices, Lord Stow's (several outlets) and Grand Hyatt hotel rate highly with foodies.
Lord Stow's Bakery, (near Largo do Presidente Antonio Ramalho Eanes), Coloane Downtown. Tel: +853 2888 2534 Grand Hyatt, City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai. Tel: +853 8868 1234
2. Pork chop bun
Crispy pork, chewy bread, happy customers.
courtesy wei-te wong/flickr/creative commons
Another well-known Macau street snack, the pork chop bun is literally a seasoned pork chop on a bun. At Tai Lei Lok Kei in Taipa, the bone-in, incredibly tender and flavorful pork chop rests in a piggy bun, which has a crunchy exterior, soft center and good chew. Simple but satisfying.
In operation since 1968, this humble establishment serves the buns only in the afternoon, while stocks last.
If you miss out, street food vendors around popular areas such as Ruin of St. Paul's serve their own version. Rolls at Tai Lei Lok Kei cost $4.15 (MOP33).
Tai Lei Lok Kei, 35 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa Village. Tel: +853 2882 7150
3. Mashed potatoes
Macau's mash to die for.
courtesy leon brocard/flickr/creative commons
With three Michelin stars, everything is good at Robuchon au Dôme.
However, the mashed potato side dish is beyond compare -- it takes skill to give greatness to something so simple. The dish is velvety and rich with a 2-to-1 ratio of potatoes to butter (a lot), and made with ratte potatoes (cooked with skins on for extra flavor) and French butter that's added cold.
All of it is vigorously stirred and passed several times through a drum sieve to achieve an ultra-smooth texture.
Robuchon au Dôme, 43/F Grand Lisboa, Avenida de Lisboa, Macau. Tel: +853 8803 7878
4. Egg rolls
When your egg rolls are this good, your stall doesn't need a name.
Courtesy David Boté Estrada/Flickr/Creative Commons
Egg rolls aren't confined to Macau, but they're hugely popular here.
For a combination of a freshly made snack and local color, it's hard to beat a tiny street stall with no name run by an eccentric local who hands out free samples. His are crispy, sweet and so featherlight that it's easy to eat more than one.
They're best when served hot off the griddle. Rolls cost $0.75 (MOP5.50) for three.
(No name), 312 Rua Direita Caros Eugenio, Taipa.
5. Portuguese seafood rice
So much to like.
Portuguese seafood rice is the soupier cousin of its Spanish and Italian counterparts.
The highlight is not the succulent mussels nor the giant prawns but the comforting soupy rice stewed with a bunch of other ingredients in the tomato seafood broth.
Newly reopened restaurant Temptations treads the border carefully with its Portuguese seafood rice -- stewing it long enough that the flavorful seafood juice is locked into the rice without losing its distinctive texture.
It's topped off with a spoonful of seasoned Portuguese olive oil, homemade by Joe Chan, the restaurant's Macanese executive chef.
Dish costs $16 (MOP128).
Temptations, 16/F, Starworld Macau Hotel, Avenida da Amizade, Macau. Tel: +853 8290 8688;
Gelatina Mok Yi Kei is known for its serradura.
courtesy wei-te wong/flickr/CNN
Serradura translates from Portuguese as "Sawdust." That's not an appealing name for a dessert, but it is much loved -- served as a chilled pudding, in a semifreddo style, or as ice cream.
A layered dessert of sweet biscuits (crushed super fine to resemble sawdust), cream, condensed milk and vanilla. It is found on the dessert menu of many Portuguese or Macanese restaurants in Macau. It is also sold at bakeries and snack vendors.
One of the most well-known options for the ice cream version is Gelatina Mok Yi Kei, located in the heart of old Taipa. It costs $2.50 (MOP20).
Gelatina Mok Yi Kei, 9A Rua da Cunha, Vila de Taipa. Tel: +853 6669 5194; .
7. Prawn tartar
Tartar de Gambas: that's fresh prawn tartar dressed with lemon and olive oil to you.
Courtesy Taipa Village Macau
Serving contemporary Spanish cuisine, Casa de Tapas brings new life to an old house with a charming terrace.
A standout is the prawn tartar -- succulent, sweet prawns briefly marinated in lemon juice and combined with olive oil, which gives them a roundness in the mouth.
There's nowhere to hide with the dish, the prawns have to be the very best and a deft hand is required to add seasoning that elevates the natural taste of the seafood. Other dishes include sous-vide suckling pig, paella, and stuffed squid. Prawn tartar costs $15 (MOP120).
8. Almond cookies and sweet pork jerky
You can try all of them, until you get kicked out.
Courtesy Hiufo Wong
These two items are often sold by the same vendor, and are found everywhere. One the best-known places to buy them is Koi Kee Bakery, with numerous branches.
Its almond cookies are baked on the premises, and have a gritty texture and nutty flavor, made with mung bean flour. A slight saltiness prevents them from being too sweet. There's also a varied selection of dried meats, ranging from spicy beef to wild boar.
Samples of both are given out, as well as tastings of its other products, such as coconut ginger candy, peanut candy and black sesame cookies.
Prices start at $2.50 (MOP20).
9. Pork lard
Casa dos Grelhados (Grill House) specializes in Portuguese and Filipino grilled foods, and attracts a mostly take-out clientele. (They do deliver to the nearby Irish Bar.)
It has a handful of seating options to enjoy dishes such as the grilled chicken sandwich, pork spare ribs and grilled Portuguese sausage (chourico).
The dish with the most guilty-pleasure indulgence is described on the menu as Pork Lard. It has the taste (and appearance) of smoked, porky, thick-cut bacon -- grilled and tender with crispy fat, it's served with warm bread and a house-made chilli sauce. It costs $6 (MOP48) for three pieces.
There's a small selection of Portuguese wine and the beer is extremely cold.
Casa dos Grelhados, 347-410 Estrada Governador Albano de Oliveira, Nam San Gardens, Taipa. Tel +853 2882 1167
10. Black garlic chocolate
Black garlic (fermented garlic) has been touted as a super food (it's supposed to have a high antioxidant content), and has a flavor and complexity that allows it to be taken to a sweet extreme.
At McPherson's Sweet's Shoppe, two pieces of dark chocolate sandwich a rich black garlic gananche (there's also the option of black garlic ice cream).
The cafe also sells durian ice cream. Trying ice cream made from the infamously stinky fruit is a foodie adventure test -- less challenging options are frozen chocolate bananas and green tea ice cream.
Prices from $2-$6.30 (MOP15-50).
McPherson's Sweet Shoppe, Block A, Edf Cheong Son, 7-15 Patio Da Palha, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro. Tel: +853 2835 8003
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2013. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.