Guest Chef Feature: Jose Avillez Portuguese Fine Dining at Vida Rica, Mandarin Oriental Macau

I had the pleasure to catch José Avillez when he was the guest chef at Viva Rica restaurant in Mandarin Oriental Macau and am happy to say that he is every bit as talented as his write-up said he is, as one of the most famous chefs in Portugal with Michelin stars in his pocket. He just happened to be cooking when I was visiting so my sister booked us a lunch! We had the 5-course menu which was super duper reasonably priced at $73 SGD - something you can never get in Singapore. 

We started with some refreshing Lychee Lemonade, and freshly baked bread. 

For amuse bouche it was a trio of things, starting with the port wine tonic served as 2 yellow balls on ice. What is this sorcery! The ball exploded into liquid when we put it in our mouths. Super fun!

There's also the olive in 3 ways - my favorite will be the spherical olives on the bottom right because it also exploded in my mouth.

Then something more exotic - foie gras crusted with roasted hazelnut. It looked like Ferrero Rocher, but it is savory inside.

The highlight of the meal would be the marinated mackerel fish in rice vinegar with apple-beetroot puree and coriander sprouts. The mackerel was fishy in a good way because it was so fresh - coupled with the acidic and fruity counterbalance from the puree to bring out the flavors even more.

Then there was the Portuguese stew with red tiger prawn, cherry tomatoes, ratte potatoes and fresh herbs. Would you look at that prawn? This was also superbly done - the sweetness from the soup enveloped the prawn like a shawl around a women's neck. Very comforting and rich.

Would you look at that!

For mains we had a choice between the tenderloin and cod. Since there was me and my sister, we each took one and shared it. The beef tenderloin with chickpea cream, garlic and slightly smoked bone marrow, roasted lettuce with cumin and lemon confit sauce was a classic, and perfectly made. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Thinking back, it is amazing how much fine and good food went through my mouth at that time. If only this happens more regularly! The portuguese shredded cod fish with fried potatoes, scrambled egg and explosive olives is apparently a very Portuguese dish, and I'm glad I've had the chance to experience probably what is the finest example outside of Portugal, somewhere closer to home.

Lastly, the egg tart mille feuille with cinnamon ice cream which was great too - the mille feuille was so flaky and delicate it was like eating air. With bits of egg tart cream. Wonderful.

Some petit fours and a cup of mint tea to end off the incredible meal. It's really amazing how the chef can manage all these creations. 

Of course I jumped at the opportunity to take a photo with the talented chef.

I enjoyed myself massively at this lunch with my sister. Writing about this just brings back all the food memories! I hope you had fun reading and seeing all the food porn too :)

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