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“Macao Trading Company”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Asian Tribeca Moderate Great

I’ve never been to Macao, but my friend Kathy has, and she describes this former Portuguese colony as a sort of Asian Las Vegas, a buzzing, overly energized island supporting various levels of sin (drinking, gambling, perhaps some other things, too) that’s easily accessible by a quick ferry ride from Guangdong Province, China. Kathy is right. According to the Times, “While gambling remains illegal in mainland China, it is pure oxygen for Macao, which Portugal handed back to China in December 1999. The tiny territory, which has been enjoying a gambling-tourist-building boom since 2004, relies on gambling for 75 percent of its tax base.” Indeed, as I recently learned, it’s a port of temptation for many Chinese, including a mayor who dipped into the municipal kitty, losing $12 million. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Wow. Well, it’s seems fair to say that Macao has come a long way from its former spice trade route between China, Portugal and Africa.

Here in New York, on a barren stretch of Court Street (in the former Sugar space), the team behind Employees Only has eschewed the current incarnation of Macao to bring to life the colonial port city of the ‘40s, creating a stunning industrial replica of Macao’s red lantern district.

Photo Credit: Urban Daddy 

To say the room is sexy is like saying Beyonce has a nice figure. Sure it’s true (and then some), but it’s too one-dimensional a description. She’s got a killer body, a load of talent, plus glamour and charisma, too. Similarly, the room—a speakeasy-styled hideaway, which boasts a long and comfortable bar as you enter and an 82-seat dining room towards the rear—is not only drop dead gorgeous, it’s got depth to its design. It’s rich and layered with exotic details. An intoxicating haze of candle lights flicker off jewel-toned apothecary bottles lined up on back lit glass shelves behind a magnificent mahogany bar. Stained glass and iron lanterns sway from the ceiling, intricate lattice wood work divides an area of banquettes into snug sectional dinner spaces with walls constructed of weathered brick and wood. Sturdy booths that might have once been filled with sailors trafficking between the co ... [more, click below]

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