The Art of the Tart: Macau’s 'Jagra de Ovos'

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The smell of this sweet treat lines the streets of Macau

These delicious egg tarts reflect Macanese history.

In 1997, Lord Stow expanded his egg tart empire with a branch in Hong Kong. Soon, there were lines around the block and many imitators, and a craze was born. Egg tart bakeries started appearing in Chinatowns in across the world. Today, Lord Stow’s has five branches in Macau and outlets in Hong Kong, South Korea, the Philippines, and Japan.

"Everybody comes from all over the world for them," says Jay Pascua, a baker at Lord Stow’s original bakery in Coloane, where they are still using Stow’s secret recipe since his death in 2006. "There are lines out the door, but we make them in fresh batches, so they sometimes they have to wait, but they (are best when) eaten hot," he says.

Marca Dychingco, an employee at the Lord Stow’s Bakery and Café in The Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian Macau, said that the tarts are unique because they are made by hand with special toasted tops and that the custard is cooked after being poured into the baking cups without added water or thickeners.

After a divorce, Stow's ex-wife Margaret Wong started her own egg tart emporium in 1992, called Margaret’s Café e Nata. The Café is hard to find, but it's a worthwhile offshoot that features milk tea and created a great debate as to whose egg tarts are better. Her version tweaked the recipe a bit, with a little less sweetness, caramel, and creaminess. Wong also exported her egg tarts abroad to KFC restaurants in Singapore and elsewhere.

Another contender for great local egg tarts is San Hou Lei Café, on the "food street" strip. San Hou Lei also features milk egg tarts and bird’s nest egg tarts, especially good for those who want their tarts without the crème brûlée burnt tops or might want a coconut-topped version.

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What makes Macau different from other gambling and tourism destinations is the spark generated from its unique hybrid culture that has resulted in its electric street life and robust Macanese sweet life — especially through their magnificent egg tarts.