Macau Congee: Cheng Kei
Cheng Kei is one of Macau’s traditional breakfast places that sell out before noon, tucked literally in an alleyway – a very tight narrow long space of open air dining spots we call da pai dong in Cantonese. I call the owner “boss” so I’m not sure what his real name is, he always tells me in jest that he’s also called handsome. Congee boss man is one cheerful character singing and offering a string of famous food places in Singapore he’s been everytime he sees me. He can even sing Tagalog songs and speak Malay. That’s very refreshing as not all locals are half as friendly as he is.
I love this place as it’s so old school and reminds me of my childhood going to Chinatown with my parents on Sunday mornings in Singapore for freshly made congee with fresh sliced fish and a raw egg hidden beneath the blanket of white cloud piping hot congee.
Portraits shot by Macau photographer Julius Santos.
And we shared a table with a 92 year old lady with barely any teeth! I asked her how long she’s been coming to this place for breakfast, instead of counting years, she says many decades!
I’ve been playing with the Vine app lately and got back to exploring imovie, the last time I made a short film was in 2009.
Congee boss man speaks English, so don’t be afraid to order the whole works here, the signature porridge or 招牌 pronounced “Jiu pai” in Cantonese, comes with fresh slices of fish, minced pork balls, liver cooked a delicious medium rare and tripe. Order a side of crispy fried dough sticks to go along with it and garnish with the powdery white pepper – the only condiment on the table beside a container full of neon coloured chopsticks.
It’s communal tight dining here, with plenty queuing up with their metal tiffin carriers for takeaways – exactly how my parents used to buy breakfast home from the hawker centre in Singapore.
Cheng Kei Congee – It’s literally in an alley way, but once you find Rua de Felicidade, it’s on the end of the street near a small square, you’ll see the queue for the congee. and go before 12 noon. Various site spell the shop’s name as Chen Kei and Cheng Kei, so they are likely the same place if you see variations.