Lifestyle Eat

The business of lunch

Written by The Panda

This article first appeared in the Sep/Oct 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Vida Rica, Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, NAPE, Macau
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Phone:  +853 8805 8918
Email: [email protected]

The Panda and The Dragon were planning to meet two business associates from Hong Kong for lunch and a few beverages. Normally the Panda would be the first to put his paw up with a recommendation but he went with The Dragon’s suggestion of Vida Rica at the Mandarin Oriental, because he had been curious about it for a while.

A business lunch is always a tricky meal. Who is going to pay? Should you order dessert? How much should you spend on a bottle of wine? Often what is called for in these situations are spur of the moment decisions based on the goodwill shown around the table. Some restaurants cater well to business lunches and something about this place helped to oil the wheels of these social hurdles.

As The Dragon and I entered the Mandarin Oriental we were running a little late and were very grateful to be efficiently directed to the restaurant. It is easy to get lost especially in Macau’s mega resorts where you might find yourself a fair distance from any given restaurant, particularly if you take an early wrong turn.

We were greeted at the table by our associates and a lovely glass of crisp sauvignon blanc which was a pleasant way to start off proceedings. The restaurant sports a lot of dark leather which is something I quite like. It was comfortable and there were some lucky diners seated with impressive water views. Gold trim and marble added a touch of class and the vibe combined well with the warm friendly staff.

As with many of these business lunches, we chatted and drank for the best part of an hour before eventually deciding on the set lunchtime menu, which was comprised of two courses plus a dessert option. The menu here is extensive and offers a wide range of Asian and Western dishes. Many hotels try this ‘fusion’ technique and it can often lead to average, overpriced food peddled to those too lazy to leave the premises once they’ve sat down. I tend to favour restaurants that know what they do well and stick to it.

The lunchtime menu was well priced and I started with a shellfish salad. It was a fresh and vibrant dish, perfectly matched with our second bottle of sauvignon blanc. The Dragon tucked into an interesting duck sushi dish which he enjoyed with his usual gusto. If it wasn’t a business meeting I might have asked for a taste but I thought I might embarrass myself with such a request.

I was then handed the wine list and asked to choose a red. I picked out a big Australian shiraz, my favourite style of wine for full-bodied flavour. I chose a wine I was familiar with in the Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in South Australia. At around HK$1,000 it was a touch on the expensive side for what it was, but it was drinking fantastically and I could rely on it being well received.

My main course was a well-cooked veal dish and it came with delightful side servings. My dining companions tried different options all of which looked good without being exceptional.

The best thing about this place was that it was perfect for the occasion. We wanted a restaurant with reasonable food and good wine, but most importantly one that suited the ‘business lunch’ format. It was quiet and we spent nearly five hours draining bottles of wine and discussing important things. The staff were excellent and bent over backwards to help us, which is always a plus.

Vida Rica is a good restaurant and was perfectly suited to our needs. Admittedly I haven’t tried their dinner menu or the chef’s specialties, which did look interesting. But from what I could see it is a restaurant that prides itself on service and cleanliness and does the simple things very well.

Food 6.0/10
Service 9.0/10
Setting 8.0/10
Value 6.5/10
Wine 6.0/10
Overall 12.5/10