Egg TartPortuguese egg tarrrrrrrts. Ha! OK, trust me, if you knew what Portuguese egg tarts were, you’d find that joke funny. Maybe.

About an hour away from Hong Kong by super-fast ferry, the former Portuguese colony of Macau actually was home to pirates until the early 20th century. So pirate jokes are particularly appropriate here.

As for egg tarts, they’re probably the best food I had in China. The tarts combine egg custard (like eggy crème-brûlée) with a pastry crust and a thin layer of browned sugar on top. The originals are found at Lord Stow’s Bakery on Coloane Island, although KFC also makes a surprisingly good version.

Coloane is a laid-back, relaxing place with waterfront views and a tiny village that still has a colonial feel. Other good restaurants on the island include Cafe Nga Tim and the wonderful Espaço Lisboa. My favorite main dish in Macau was African Chicken, which is baked with coconut, peppers, peanut butter, garlic and Chinese spices — flavors borrowed from several Portuguese colonies.

The atmosphere on the island contrasts sharply with that in the rest of Macau, where hotel and casino development has been exploding. For years, the casino scene in Macau was dominated by places like the Casino Lisboa, where crowds of people in smoky rooms play Chinese dice and prostitutes hang out nonchalantly in the hallways. But the monopoly was broken a few years ago, and now major Las Vegas companies are moving in. Just a couple days after we were in Macau, the largest casino in the world — a replica of the Vegas Venetian — opened on one of the islands. Vegas is betting (ha! another clever joke!) that China’s economic growth and love of gambling will make Macau a huge destination for Asian tourists.

But even if you go to Macau for the gambling, I recommend taking a break from the tacky buildings and heading to Coloane, at least for a meal.