Evolved from pastel de nata, a traditional Portuguese custard pastry that consists of a crème brûlée-like custard caramelized in a crust, Portuguese egg tarts were brought to Macau by Portuguese colonisers. Although Macau is situated near Hong Kong Island, there is a slight difference between egg tarts from Macau and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong tarts being more glazed and smooth. Portuguese egg tarts are a common sight along Macau’s narrow streets, with the two highest-ranking bakeries being Lord Stow’s Bakery and Margaret’s Café e Nata. The owners of the two bakeries, Andrew Stow and Margaret Wong, share a rather interesting history – they used to be married! Unfortunately, not all marriages work out well and the two became rivals in the Portuguese egg tart industry.
Personally, I prefer Portuguese egg tarts to the run-of-the-mill egg tarts in Singapore. Portuguese egg tarts are irresistibly creamier than Singaporean egg tarts and while Singaporean egg custards are baked to perfection, Portuguese egg custards tend to be slightly charred and lightly caramelised, giving the Portuguese egg tarts a distinct flavour that cannot really be put into mere words. The crust of Singaporean egg tarts are also more buttery and take the spotlight away from the egg custard itself. While they are being baked, the Portuguese egg tarts give off a tantalising smell that makes your mouth water, but Singaporean egg tarts seem to portray a drier aroma.
If you get the chance to try Portuguese egg tarts, do take up the opportunity and remember to eat the tarts when they are warm!
Chua Wei Ting (2T)