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‘Just like the tart, I by no means change’: The key behind Macao’s most well-known dessert

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Macao (CNN) — You possibly can scent it earlier than you see it. The candy scent of sugar, egg and custard, baking til it is cooked good. Flaky pastry on the surface, comfortable custard on the within, and crispy, burnt, sugar on high.

It is the signature scent of Margaret’s Café e Nata — one of the in style locations to eat in Macao, a former Portuguese colony.

The cafe is particularly well-known for one factor: the Macanese egg tart. It is a candy pastry impressed by its Portuguese and Chinese language counterparts, made contemporary each day by proprietor Margaret Wong.

If guests aren’t there for a deal with from the bakery, chances are high they’re there to see Wong.

After three a long time within the meals enterprise, she’s a colourful persona who nonetheless spends each day working exhausting on the cafe. She could be noticed working the money register or bustling about within the kitchen.

A household affair

Margaret's Café e Nata's famous Macanese egg tarts.

Margaret’s Café e Nata’s well-known Macanese egg tarts.

Maggie Hiufu Wong/CNN

Few individuals know Macanese egg tarts higher than Wong, who started making the dish 30 years in the past together with her late ex-husband Andrew Stow.

The couple based their first bakery enterprise, Lord Stow’s, in 1989. At this time, Lord Stow’s is run by their daughter Audrey and Andrew’s sister Eileen.

Margaret’s Café e Nata, which she subsequently based in 1992, is fully run by Wong herself.

Some on-line stories counsel that Wong based her cafe to compete with Lord Stow’s — which netizens declare was born on account of a home feud following the couple’s divorce.

She would not touch upon the rumors, although she spoke overtly concerning the early days of their romance.

“We had been married 3 times — as soon as in Hong Kong, as soon as in England and as soon as in a church,” she says.

In line with Wong, the couple met in an area church, the place she performed the organ.

“In the future my foster mom was visiting from America, and we ran into Andrew, who gave me a hug and a kiss and I went all pink. He was associates with all people so I did not suppose I used to be something particular … however my mom stated ‘Margaret, I believe that is the appropriate one for you.'”

The 2 had been married in 1988.

As much as 10,000 tarts a day

Macao visitors lineup outside Margaret's Café e Nata.

Macao guests lineup outdoors Margaret’s Café e Nata.


Collectively, the couple created their signature egg tart dish, which is now an iconic Macao dish. Purists argue this egg tart tastes nothing like its Portuguese or Chinese language counterparts.

In line with Wong, that is the purpose.

“After we began our bakery, somebody requested Andrew to make a pasteis de nata, as a result of they had been extremely popular in Portugal. The primary tray got here out burnt and improper, and Andrew wished to throw them away. I stated, maintain on, they’re edible, so let individuals simply strive them. They tried one, after which two, and by the third I stated, ‘I’ve to cost you as a result of clearly, it is good!’ ”

It is this similar recipe, three a long time later, that continues to be offered throughout Macao.

At this time, tons of of vacationers and locals alike line up at her cafe for a chunk of this now well-known pastry.

Wong’s cafe alone could make as much as 10,000 tarts a day — all of that are sure to promote out.

“Typically individuals stroll in and say — can I’ve only one egg tart — and I say, not even one chunk.”

‘Just like the tart, I by no means change’

Visitors to Margaret's Café e Nata will usually find her in the kitchen or behind the till.

Guests to Margaret’s Café e Nata will normally discover her within the kitchen or behind the until.


Each single dish offered by the bakery is graced with Wong’s magic contact. Along with egg tarts, different gadgets on the menu embody brownies, muffins and croissants. There’s additionally a salad and sandwich bar.

Regardless of lengthy working hours, and the bodily demanding nature of her work, she nonetheless spends virtually each day bouncing forwards and backwards between the kitchen and the store.

“A few of my workers have been working with me for 15 years, they know all the pieces, however nonetheless typically I’ve to ensure all the pieces is nice — I am the boss!” she says.

She’s the boss, however she’s additionally an area movie star. Throughout our interview Wong is recurrently interrupted by associates and followers dropping by to want her effectively.

“I open the store at 8:30 a.m., and I am right here till we shut at 4:30 p.m., and I’ve an hour for lunch. My good friend’s say I am loopy… and I am exhausted,” she says with fun. “I say I am getting previous, that is why.”

Clearly younger at coronary heart, Wong abruptly cuts our interview quick, informing us she wants to move to a rock ‘n’ roll dance class — however leaves us with a style of knowledge.

“As of late, youngsters, they at all times wish to change their jobs. However for us, we by no means change. Just like the tart, I by no means change my recipe, I do not wish to.”

Margaret’s Café e Nata, 17B R. do Cmte. Mata e Oliveira, Macao; +853 2871 0032


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