Date of review: November 2, 2011 | Reviewed by:
Vida Rica the restaurant continues the beautiful Art Deco-inspired interior of the bar of the same name found just across the lift lobby at the Mandarin Oriental Macau. The interior of the main restaurant is a cleverly thought-out one. Individual dining areas are elegantly sectioned with black marble walls, turning areas into their own “booths” and muting conversations from nearby tables, leaving the dining room fairly quiet considering its size and the height of the ceiling. Studded leather seats and velvet chairs atop maroon carpeting make it more informal than a restaurant, comparable to an upmarket bar or modern brasserie. Black marble walls contrast with large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bridge over Nam Van Lake and parts of the South China Sea.
The menu at Vida Rica is broken into Cantonese and European sections with a small Portuguese menu in between. The soups here are almost meals in themselves with an excellent blue crab chowder with plenty of spring onion and chunks of blue crab giving texture. A lighter appetiser is a signature salmon mosaic with sashimi-grade salmon topped with egg white pearls and salmon roe which burst in the mouth. The main courses at Vida Rica are an exercise in value for money: a wild sea bass in a clam, lemon and basil broth comes in a large oval bowl, the fillet exquisitely cooked and topped with a light, crunchy skin, and surrounded by little neck clams sauteed in what is a heavy, buttery sauce - more beurre blanc than broth - and chock-full of fatty, smoked chunks of chorizo. The portion itself isn’t too large but the broth is heavy-handed, which is a similar flaw with the Barberie duck breast. While excellently cooked and with a rich gamey flavour, the duck arrives accompanied with a bewildering amount of components. An extravagant portion of goose liver tops what is already a generous helping of duck breast; a breaded duck leg confit takes up another area of the plate and if that wasn’t enough, five giant, dense and creamy gnocchi adds unnecessary weight to the dish. Thank heavens for the finale, a beautifully presented - and more importantly, light - coconut and lychee mousse arrives on a plate of brushed black sesame paste, accompanied by pandan ice cream and a tart orange passionfruit jam.
A good selection by the glass, with Rieslings and Gewürztraminer suited particularly well with the Cantonese selection. Wait staff are a little hesitant with pairings and when asked for a light red suggestion, we were recommended a particularly heavy cabernet sauvignon, perhaps a prescient choice given the heartiness of the mains.
Staff are friendly and competent with recommendations and preferences but could be better versed on individual ingredients or descriptions of details.
Vida Rica is excellent value for money. A meal for two including wine will cost around MOP1,100 and there is zero chance you will leave hungry.