Macau- The Eight- ✪✪✪

Yet another in a long string of confusing-how-they-earned-it Chinese Three-Stars, Au Kwok Keung's Cantonese-style restaurant is named the luckiest number in Chinese culture. Fitting that it's inside an enormous casino, the Grand Lisboa, which is in fact the very same casino as the other Three Star in Macau, Robuchon au Dome. The Eight is, without any doubt, the inferior of the two.

 The Eight's Main Entrance

The Eight's Main Entrance

MACAU, CHINA

SERVICE: 5.0/10

FOOD: 4.0/10

PRICE PAID: $220 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 6.0/10

FINAL SCORE: 5.0/10

 The Eight Interior

The Eight Interior

References to the number Eight are literally everywhere, and I have to say I found this restaurant's interior like something from a Bond villain lair. Female wait staff are outfitted in extremely slinky cocktail dresses and high heels, which look incredibly uncomfortable and contribute to said ambiance further. 

 First Bites, "Abalone Dumpling," 7/10

First Bites, "Abalone Dumpling," 7/10

One of the restaurant's signature dishes- we are first presented with a dumpling with abalone sauce, and abalone with pomelo. Only after we've consumed both does the waiter come over and inform us that it wasn't really an abalone, it was a mushroom! You guys got us! 7/10.

 Course 1: Pork + Goose Liver, 3/10

Course 1: Pork + Goose Liver, 3/10

This next course is the interpersonal equivalent of coming on way, way too strong way too early. A heaping slab of barbecue pork prepared Char Siu-style is garnished with an even-larger hunk of goose liver. This makes the goose liver appear bigger than it is, balancing unsteadily on the pork like a big, sweaty elephant on a circus ball. When you think about how fatty and heavy both of these things are together you wonder what might make this a good starting dish for those who haven't skipped lunch (and maybe breakfast before that). On top of that, the goose liver is dry and the pork is overcooked. Poor. 3/10.

 Course 2: Beef + Watercress, 8/10

Course 2: Beef + Watercress, 8/10

This next course is, once again, really heavy, but it has the new feature of actually being delicious. Beef from the tropical Japanese island of Kagoshima is super tender, and pairs almost perfectly with the watercress,which is crunchy and has a great texture. 8/10.

 Course 3: Sea Whelk + Abalone + Red Date Soup, 5/10

Course 3: Sea Whelk + Abalone + Red Date Soup, 5/10

The menu charmingly describes this dish as "double-boiled sea whelk, abalone, and silky fowl with red dates." Sea whelk, a type of sea snail, is gamey and chewy; the same idea as escargot but less tasty. The sweetness of the dates is pronounced and welcome, but along with the rubbery-chewy abalone it makes for an extremely difficult-to-eat soup. 5/10. 

 Course 4: Boston Lobster + Egg + Minced Pork + Black Bean, 4/10

Course 4: Boston Lobster + Egg + Minced Pork + Black Bean, 4/10

I feel terrible for this lobster, who followed me all the way from the US (Boston) only to be badly cooked and dumped in a vat of mushy, poorly-articulated sauce and minced pork. Very difficult to pull the flavors apart here, and the undercooked lobster didn't help straighten anything out. 4/10. 

 Course 5: Seasonal Vegetables + Ginkgo+ Bean Curd, 3/10

Course 5: Seasonal Vegetables + Ginkgo+ Bean Curd, 3/10

What could only safely be described as an orgy of green vegetables came next; the second dish in a row that seems to be drowning in its own sauce. I got barely a third of the way through before deciding that this A) tasted like a crappy take-out side dish that one orders purely out of guilt for how unhealthful the rest of the meal is, only to wish they had fully committed to the oils and fats and B) was an enormous waste of my and someone else's time. 3/10.

 Course 6: "Shark Fin" + Rice Vermicelli, 3/10

Course 6: "Shark Fin" + Rice Vermicelli, 3/10

The first thing anyone confronted with this plate would probably ask, of course, is: "What in the holy hell is happening right now?" This pile of rice vermicelli, conpoy (dried scallops) along with fake shark's fin was a bland, soulless dish that tasted exactly like eating a bowl of plain pasta mixed with bran cereal. We are told by our server that this is, in fact, fake shark's fin; real shark's fin is a delicacy, they worked tirelessly to re-create the flavors and textures for this dish. A similar idea to the abalone that was actually a mushroom from earlier. I'm sure someone gets the significance of this effort, but it is completely lost on me. 

 Course 7: Taro Pudding, 2/10

Course 7: Taro Pudding, 2/10

From just looking at this dessert, there's no way you'd think it was totally gross, right? You'd be wrong. Lukewarm, sickly-sweet flavored, in a bath of sugar milk. 2/10. I broke off one of the wings, only to find it also bland and brittle, leaving the small fake butterfly staring forlornly at the crystal Bond-villain drapes. A sad image evocative of my experience here. 

 Course 8: Coffee Service, 5/10

Course 8: Coffee Service, 5/10

A final dish- coffee service- is brought out, complete with gold leaf on the white-chocolate rose to remind you that this meal is not only bad but also expensive. What a strange and disappointing place. Please avoid at all costs.